Roof Rack vs Hitch Mount Rack



skinned_knee

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Jul 14, 2006
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I would think this has been discussed here, but I have looked and didn't see anything.... I did search too...

Now - I'm in need of a way to carry my bike with my car. I currently have a receiver hitch rack that we use on my wife's suv, but my car does not have a receiver hitch. I am trying to decide between a roof rack or a reciever hitch to be installed on my car.

The roof rack is more expensive, and I've heard you can plan on about a 10% drop in fuel milage with one. On the other hand, I think they look great on cars.

The hitch mount is less expensive, but I've heard there are problems with the car's exhaust being too close to the wheels (v6 Accord, so dual exhaust). I've also heard it isn't a good idea to carry a carbon frame on this kind of rack.

Please help!
 

Scotty_Dog

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Jul 30, 2004
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Hitch Rack pros: lower cost, somewhat protected from insects/debris, easy to load, can use hitch for towing/additional storage

Hitch Rack cons: can obstruct rear view

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Roof Rack pros: can use roof braces for additional storage

Roof Rack cons: higher cost, not protected from insects/debris, difficult to load, worse fuel economy, kills bike if you pull into a garage with bike loaded

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Whichever you decide, I recommend buying a wheel mount type of rack. These racks hold your bike by the wheel/tire and do not touch your frame.
 

skinned_knee

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Jul 14, 2006
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Unfortunately, I already have the rack if I go with installing a hitch on my car, and it is the type that holds the frame.

Is the question/problem of the car's exhaust (heat from it) causing a problem hitting the bike's tires really a problem?

I can do the hitch thing for about $200 - the roof rack will be $500... I'm trying to find a way to justify the roof rack other than just "I think they look cool" - which I realize is a matter of opinion, but I do like the way roof racks look on cars - but not enough to make up $300 difference plus the fuel milage hit.

I'm just too darned indecisive!
 

cPritch67

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Apr 12, 2004
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My experiences........

Roof rack:
(+) looks nice, touch points are fork and/or both wheels, can fall out - bust fork (happened to me with my Colnago C40 :eek: )
(-) significant wind drag, bugs/ debris, subject to low clearance items

Hitch rack
(+) less wind resistance (some protection from wind), quick and easy load/unload
(-) subject to bike damage if rear ended by another vehichle (not sure what happens if it is on the roof rack and you get rear-ended - maybe the same result)

For my wagon I have a Yakima King Cobra roof rack (leave both wheels on), after the incident mentioned above, I refuse to use fork mounts. On long road trips I hate driving due to the drag, esp if windy.

For my wife's truck/family road trip car, I have the Sportsrack (now Thule) hitch rack, very simple to use, load bike into tray, tighten rear wheel strap and secure lever over front tire - perfer to have rack touch tires and wheels before carbon frame parts.

Bottom line, I prefer to put the bike inside for least gas MPG loss and most secure feeling for xporting the bike - but not always feasible.
 

Scotty_Dog

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Jul 30, 2004
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skinned_knee said:
Is the question/problem of the car's exhaust (heat from it) causing a problem hitting the bike's tires really a problem?
I've never had a problem with heat from the exhaust. Most racks raise the bikes higher than the exhaust. Not trying to sound like an ass, but only you can determine if your rack allows your bike tires to be too close to your exhaust.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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skinned_knee said:
Is the question/problem of the car's exhaust (heat from it) causing a problem hitting the bike's tires really a problem?

Once, I did melt a Mich. Carbon tire on the rear wheel, so yes, having the wheels to close to the exhaust can be a real issue.
 

Guaps

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Aug 14, 2006
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My trunk mounted rack allows for enough adjustment that the exhaust doesn't hit my bike, so I've had no problems. Not sure if there is any adjustment on a hitch mount though...

I used to have a roof rack. I also used to have a nice bike. Now I have a crappy bike, a dented car roof, and a damaged garage. Pulling into a garage with your bike on the roof is easily the most sickening noise you will ever hear...
 

skinned_knee

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Jul 14, 2006
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Thanks - I guess what I really wanted to know is if the heat from the exhaust is even a threat, and I realize that is dependent on the car, among other things - glad to see some responses to that.

I just tried to hold my hitch mount rack up where I thought it would be to see, and it's hard to tell. Unfortunately, I won't know for sure until after the hitch is installed, and at that point, it's too late (money already spent).

I'm assuming the adapter that takes a 1 1/2" hitch to a 2" rack isn't any kind of issue.
 

RussB

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Jul 21, 2006
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I decided last year that when I replaced my SUV to get one with a hitch reciever just for my bike. As far as the exhaust hitting the tires, I would measure out where the exhaust would hit the bike assuming you decide to get a hitch. From what I can see on my rack the bike is held well above the tailpipe. If it is a problem you might want to consider tailpipe extensions or a different hitch mount rack. they aren't very expensive. Just check out amazon.com. Just an FYI: if you hand slips when putting you bike on a roof mount rack, are you prepared with touch-up paint for your car, and the lower trade-in value?
 

Bro Deal

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Jun 26, 2006
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cPritch67 said:
...For my wagon I have a Yakima King Cobra roof rack (leave both wheels on), after the incident mentioned above, I refuse to use fork mounts. On long road trips I hate driving due to the drag, esp if windy.

Bottom line, I prefer to put the bike inside for least gas MPG loss and most secure feeling for xporting the bike - but not always feasible.
I like the fork mounts. I find them a lot more secure and stable. When I crank my Yak Vipers down and lock the quick release, there is no way a fork with intact layer lips is coming out.

As you say, for long trips bikes are safer and I get better MPG if I pop them in the back of my scooby.
 

ozelise

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Aug 12, 2005
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I prefer the roof rack without the fork mount. I use the Thule full rack. Entire bike pops on in seconds, no wheel to remove, no disc calipers to realign. No frame damage with the clamping arm and rubber protectors. Secure (have driven it @ 150km/h with 2 bikes) and lockable so can leave in shopping centres etc unattended. Leaves access to the trunk free at all times and the interior of the vehicle for the tribe. Just need to ensure 3 m clearance. Wind noise not an issue (with windows wound up) though mpg probably suffers (its fairly frugal already as a Tdi).
q72.jpg
 

artemidorus

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Mar 10, 2004
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ozelise said:
I prefer the roof rack without the fork mount. I use the Thule full rack. Entire bike pops on in seconds, no wheel to remove, no disc calipers to realign. No frame damage with the clamping arm and rubber protectors. Secure (have driven it @ 150km/h with 2 bikes) and lockable so can leave in shopping centres etc unattended. Leaves access to the trunk free at all times and the interior of the vehicle for the tribe. Just need to ensure 3 m clearance. Wind noise not an issue (with windows wound up) though mpg probably suffers (its fairly frugal already as a Tdi).
q72.jpg
Those with weird frames such as Trek Y-bikes should realise that racks with clamping arms won't fit.
 

ozelise

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Aug 12, 2005
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artemidorus said:
Those with weird frames such as Trek Y-bikes should realise that racks with clamping arms won't fit.
Which is why my middle rack is a fork mount.