Roof or Hitch???- Mtbr.com

Poll: Roof or Hitch???

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  1. #1
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    Roof or Hitch???

    What do you prefer and why... do you prefer a roof rack or a hitch mounted rack???

    FYI I have a '94 Golf that this will be going on...

    I have been leaning towards a hitch mount for the ease of access and low height. but then I have also been looking at the roof style for the fact it's up off the ground and away from impending rocks and ditchs....yes I wheel my Golf as hard as my 4x4 truck or at least i think i do... So anyways, give me your thoughts. I'm sure this is posted somewhere but this beats starting a post asking where to find that one post about that one thing. ha ha ha.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    I have both a full yakima setup and a Saris hitchmount.. They're used on a Chevy Tahoe. The Saris is my fave just due to the height of the truck. Its a PITA to lift most bikes up there. That said on a car I prefer the roof racks. The bikes are definitely safer unless you forget and drive under something. I've seen that happen quite a bit! Both are perfectly secure and transport very nicely. The Saris is a 4-bike model and I've never had any issues even fully loaded. Everybody likes how fast the hitch rack is too. 30 seconds is all it takes on or off.

  3. #3
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    Hitch mount. You can see your bike, you won't smash your bike into your garage, you won't dent your roof when you slip and drop the bike, easier to put on and off, etc. Dunno about wheeling though. On a Golf the hitch is gonna be pretty low.

  4. #4
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    i have some fabricating skills so i have thought about just building a hitch system and bike rack from scratch... but I do see what you say about it being a bit low on my car...

  5. #5
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    Hitch or Roof Rack


  6. #6
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    I far prefer my roof to a hitch as I can now easily transfer my bars and Atera Giro to pretty much any car just by changing the feet, at a relatively low cost, and not having to worry about the expense of fitting a hitch to a new car. I had hitch rack on the back of my 98 VW Golf but there is a lot of pissing around with truck straps, cardboard (to separate the frames so they don't get damaged), taking wheels off due to the low height when you had 3+ people kit and bikes. Bare in mind that I used something similar to Yakima SlickROC/Thule Roadway/Parkway. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
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    I've got a 05 Golf and I am doing a roof setup. We had the goofy setup on the hatch but it sucked big nuts.

    Plus I'm still trying to coerce my better half to buy me a roof box. The Golf is too small for camping trips with a kid and gear...

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  8. #8
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    Racks where the bike hangs from the top tube are for Huffy's and Next bikes from the local Wally world. If you're going hitchmount then it has to be a wheel mounted type. Doing silly stuff like bungieing and trying to keep bikes from touching always seems to fail. Something inevitably gets scratched. Not to mention that any dirt that accumultes on the top tube acts like sandpaper to really mess up your prized ride.

    The cheapest of the wheel mounted hitch type is sold through performance under the name "Xport" theyre pretty good but still touch the top tube. I have the Saris Cycle-On and love the thing. It only makes contact with the rubber of the front wheel and rubber/1" of rim on the back. I do wish it would fold down so I could open the main hatch on my truck, with the bikes on.

    The Thule T2 seems to be the best of the breed. It was bought from a comp-any that makes commercial racks for busses and the like.

  9. #9
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    Roof rack.

    If you want to use the rack to carry something else such as skis or a kayak, the hitch is worthless and you'll need to spend money on another rack. Be done with it and get the roof rack.
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  10. #10
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    It's a very personal choice, and sometimes you need to experience both to figure which you perfer, and when.

    Hitch have some definite benefits: gas mileage on highway trips, ease of mounting, no overhead clearance issues, no dead bugs.

    Roof also have benefits: out of the way of tailgaters and parking lot mischief, don't block the lift gate on wagons and hatchbacks, easier to leave in place when not hauling bikes.

    With my low wagon, the roof is my preference. My wife, who is 6" shorter than me, still prefers the hitch if only for ease of mounting (but she doesn't drive the car every day and have to deal with the tailgate access issue. For a longer trip, I'll sometimes mount the hitch up just to save a few bucks on gas. My hitch has been rear-ended before, luckily no bikes on the rack, while I've yet to hit anything other than low brush with bikes on the roof -- and I like my odds there.

    The biggest peace of mind with a roof rack comes in a parking lot. If I'm sitting down for a post ride burrito & beer, it's so much easier to park in a spot where I can mosty see the bikes propped up on the roof, out of harms way. I was always paranoid with bikes on the hitch, where my view was usually obstructed and seemingly anyone could walk up and pick a nifty something or other off of a bike without me seeing.
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  11. #11
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    I prefer the roof mount...especially on a hatchback (I have a roof rack on my '07 Rabbit). Easy to quickly throw the bike on the roof and open up the hatch to throw my Camelbak, shoes, helmet, etc in the back. Hitch mount gets in the way when you want to quickly gain access to the hatch area.

    Also...being in auto insurance I know that rearend accidents are the most prevalent. I'd rather have my bike up out of the way in case some idiot decides to slam into the back of my car. Bad enough the car would be damaged, but I'd rather not have to deal with repairing/replacing my bike too.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate

    Roof also have benefits: out of the way of tailgaters and parking lot mischief, don't block the lift gate on wagons and hatchbacks, easier to leave in place when not hauling bikes.

    Well, a good hitch rack does NOT block the rear access of the car/wagon.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Well, a good hitch rack does NOT block the rear access of the car/wagon.
    It sounds as if your definition of "blocking access" is different from mine.

    Again, it's a very personal choice. Dropping the rack clear of my wagon's lift gate, whether carrying a bike or stowed vertically, is an inconvenience I am happy to be done with. This wasn't even an afterthought when I drove a sedan.
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  14. #14
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    i think i'm leaning towards a roof mount now, for the fact it will be up out of the way and i too am paranoid, plus i want to have something that doesn't look crappy hanging off the back of the car like a hitch to snag on. (especially in snow, gotta love drive through +12" of snow in a '94 golf ) my only real issue would be the possibility of parking in a parking garage. like at REI or something. I'm kind of curious now as to the highest part of the bike (fork mounted style, no seat attached) while it's on the rack. I was trying to measure the other day and it seemed extremely high from jsut my quick measurements. like 88" from the ground to the top of my bike.

  15. #15
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    Hitch, roof rack means no parking in city garages, scratches or drops after a hard days ride. some days i can hardly lift my bike on to my wheel mount hitch rack. i woulnt want to think about lifting the bike's ontop of my sports car. the hitch acts as a frame stiffner so i get better handling out of the rear end of my sports car and if i have to i can pull a small trailer....also i dont have to worry about low hanging branches grabing the bike / bikes off the roof and smashing them into the ground. saw a post where some one had that happen with a roof rack. if you are worryed about dirt and dust make a cloth cover for the bike that slips over it after its in the rack......
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by merchant
    Hitch, roof rack means no parking in city garages, scratches or drops after a hard days ride. some days i can hardly lift my bike on to my wheel mount hitch rack. i woulnt want to think about lifting the bike's ontop of my sports car. the hitch acts as a frame stiffner so i get better handling out of the rear end of my sports car and if i have to i can pull a small trailer....also i dont have to worry about low hanging branches grabing the bike / bikes off the roof and smashing them into the ground. saw a post where some one had that happen with a roof rack. if you are worryed about dirt and dust make a cloth cover for the bike that slips over it after its in the rack......
    Well, I'm picking up a Thule 444 today with two bike trays for $100 so i'm not complaining I do like the idea of the hitch mount still, due to the fact that i can't go into parking garages but i rarely go in them any ways, but i guess when the time comes that i need to, i'll park elsewhere. I will have to watch out for branches, but i'm usually pretty careful about stuff like that, hmm, just thought of ferries, i wonder if they have a height limit, meh, oh well i'll just ride with the big boys

  17. #17
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    Ferrys? They can take trucks and box vans, right? My car with bikes on the roof (upright mount, both wheels on) results in just shy of 9'0" clearance. Obviously a little lower with a fork mount setup, or a little higher with a taller car or SUV.

    Parking garages? Hmmm... I saw a blingy looking road bike ruined when some poor joe drove his car into a parking garage 'round here. Pretty bad, aluminum vs. concrete.

    However, what are you going to do with a bunch of expensive bikes on a hitch rack in a dark parking garage? I'm just asking. Personally? I wouldn't walk away from my bikes for a minute (paranoia again, remember?) -- too much shit goes down in parking garages, people feel anonymous in the shadows. I wouldn't want to walk back from getting a cup of coffee or whatever to find my seatpost or handlebars or brake calipers MIA. That'd blow.
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  18. #18
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    never said leave the bike in garage, just said you cant drive in one with the bike's on the rack. so garage with roof rack = remove bike or bikes chain to something or have someone watch them park car then get bikes. garage with hitch rack = park car remove bikes to hotel room or where ever with out having to leave them unattended
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  19. #19
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    They've both got their merrits. I personally prefer a roof rack for a couple of reasons. They are high visibility if you go in to have a bite to eat, and they are a little more of a theft deterent than a hitch mount. Please understand i didn't say they are theft proof, because they're not. Anyone who wants something bad enough will get it. That said, i also have a sportworks hitch mount rack too. I can carry six bikes and six people with their gear in my minivan.

  20. #20
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    Persoanlly I've found...

    that the vehicle I'm driving pretty much dictates my preference. I've owned both hitch and roof mounts. Neither was safer or more secure than the other. I prefer hitch mounts on larger and/or higher ground clearance vehicles, i.e. SUV's and Vans. Keeps the bikes out of the slip stream and doesn't affect mileage as much. For smaller vehicles that are much lower to the ground I prefer roof racks. Keeps the bikes higher and safer from road debris, rear end collisions, and less worry about backing or steep parking lot or drive way approns. Try mounting a hitch rack on a Honda Civic SI and you'll get what I mean about drive way approns! A Pickup is another story. I prever a roof rack type of arangement that mounts above the bed between the side rails and uses a roof rack type tray for the bikes. The bikes are mounted lower than a regular roof rack, and the cargo bed is pretty much free for your load of camping gear etc.

    For my current vehicles I'm usuing a roof rack for my Civic. For the Minivan (what can I say, the wife loves it even though the kids are gown and gone) I use a glide board and Saris Traps fork mounts. With the rear seats down and the bikes loaded we have enough room for all our camping and bike gear for a nice 2 week stay anywhere we want to go. Biggest advantage to this set up is the bikes are INSIDE out of the weather and protected from debris. That and the bikes are more secure when we hit the rest stop or need to stop for food or fuel. Deep tinted windows for less visibility, lock the doors, arm the alarm, and they're as safe if not safer than bikes locked in an external rack.

    Like I said, my rack preference is pretty much dictated by the vehicle I'm driving.

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  21. #21
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    Hitch mounts suck. Way to trash a new s-works frame, stupid hitch mount.

  22. #22
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    I have had both, and prefer roof mounted on a vehicle with factory rails. Same reasons as most. Bikes are secure and solid ( fork mount).Hitch rack bashed and banged our bikes around too much. Cost of a hitch plus a "quality" hitch rack is very high. Swinging the bikes and rack out of the way everytime I wanted into the hatch was a real pita. And the roof rack (Yakima) is multi-functional, I needed a rack for canoeing & skiing as well. Last & least, roof mounts just look a lot better imo! But I also agree with those saying the type of vehicle somewhat dictates. I now drive a hatchback car. When I had an SUV I had the hitch mount 'cause I didn't want the hassle of loading bikes up onto the high roof.
    Last edited by BlackCanoeDog; 07-17-2007 at 04:38 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squash
    Try mounting a hitch rack on a Honda Civic SI and you'll get what I mean about drive way approns!
    Works fine on a WRX.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Works fine on a WRX.
    What brand of hitch do you have on your WRX? I'm interested in an upgrade.

    I've got a Draw Tite on my Legacy and I've got to be careful to pick a shallow entry/exit angle from most driveways. Straight in/out and I scrape. This is just the bare receiver hitch, when no rack is installed.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    What brand of hitch do you have on your WRX? I'm interested in an upgrade.

    I've got a Draw Tite on my Legacy and I've got to be careful to pick a shallow entry/exit angle from most driveways. Straight in/out and I scrape. This is just the bare receiver hitch, when no rack is installed.
    Factory, but it's not just the hitch, it's the design of the T2, it rises "up" the further back it is from the hitch, so it ends up providing a very adequate amount of clearance. It doesn't just "stick out". I have not scraped it anywhere, and that includes places where I use to scrape the front air-dam on my neon, so the WRX is simply designed with approach angles much better, and the T2 kind of follows suit.
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  26. #26
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    Roof. Rear end accidents are the number one accident you'll get into. Not only will you have a car that is destroyed but bikes too. I've been rear ended while my bikes were up top on my thule. Bikes were fine....Car was destroyed. Little do people know people's insurance is only required to cover the damage to the vehicle not optional accessories. Yeah they are liable to repair your car, but not your bikes. You can sue them over your bikes but what if the person is broke. Doesn't make any sense to sue a poor person. Your own insurance will cover the optional accessories, many people have it to cover for just this type of incident, but there's that whole deductible thing that insurance companies do and oh yeah it's a claim so might as well get used to paying a little more every month for the increase in premiums.

  27. #27
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    This is a good debate!!! I can see the reasons for both.

    I actually just got my Thule rack put on the other day and have yet to put the bikes on and get pics (probably tonight) so we'll see what it does to aurodynamics and i'll now have to be careful of clearance issues, cus that last thing i want to do is destroy two brand new bikes

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinkerjuarez
    Roof. Rear end accidents are the number one accident you'll get into. Not only will you have a car that is destroyed but bikes too. I've been rear ended while my bikes were up top on my thule. Bikes were fine....Car was destroyed. Little do people know people's insurance is only required to cover the damage to the vehicle not optional accessories. Yeah they are liable to repair your car, but not your bikes. You can sue them over your bikes but what if the person is broke. Doesn't make any sense to sue a poor person. Your own insurance will cover the optional accessories, many people have it to cover for just this type of incident, but there's that whole deductible thing that insurance companies do and oh yeah it's a claim so might as well get used to paying a little more every month for the increase in premiums.
    But if someone rear ends you, it's their fault 99.99% of the time and you're getting a new car anyway. Having those bikes out there probably also helps with visiblitiy. Lots of people run their bikes into garages, more often than I see people with bikes get rear ended.
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    But if someone rear ends you, it's their fault 99.99% of the time and you're getting a new car anyway. Having those bikes out there probably also helps with visiblitiy. Lots of people run their bikes into garages, more often than I see people with bikes get rear ended.
    Two or three bikes on a hitch did a pretty good job of hiding all three of my cars brake lights. In fact, I believe Thule and Yak sell tray-type racks in Europe with auxillary brake and marker lights, probably due to sensible guidance from the applicable governments.

    Personally, I would rather entrust myself not to hit the garage / low tree branch / drive-thru awning (or deal with my lapse in judgement, if I should), versus entrusting the thousands of other drivers, with whom I share the road with on my drive to a ride, not to rear end me (or deal with the complications of their insurance, etc.).

    Either carrying location has its risks, and as I've said previously (for me, anyway), the type of vehicle heavily influences my choice.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Two or three bikes on a hitch did a pretty good job of hiding all three of my cars brake lights. In fact, I believe Thule and Yak sell tray-type racks in Europe with auxillary brake and marker lights, probably due to sensible guidance from the applicable governments.

    Personally, I would rather entrust myself not to hit the garage / low tree branch / drive-thru awning (or deal with my lapse in judgement, if I should), versus entrusting the thousands of other drivers, with whom I share the road with on my drive to a ride, not to rear end me (or deal with the complications of their insurance, etc.).

    Either carrying location has its risks, and as I've said previously (for me, anyway), the type of vehicle heavily influences my choice.
    My thoughts exactly. If you have a lapse in judgement and run your bikes into the garage, awning, or parking garage then it's your fault you have no one to blame but yourself. I trust myself more than I trust the other drivers. I also have the benefit of a sun roof on my car so I always have a visual of the bikes up top, whether to remind me or just a quick check to see if anything has come loose.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Upandatem
    Hitch mounts suck. Way to trash a new s-works frame, stupid hitch mount.
    Roof racks suck. Way to trash my Marzocchi forks (snapped in two, when the 'great' Thule clamp failed, car badly scratched and the risk of killing innocent people), stoopid roof racks.

    I guess everything and its opposite can be true depending on your point of view.
    From mine, roof is the place for skis and boards, not bikes.

    But the right answer is buy a Honda Element, like a did, and put your bike inside the car as it is .
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle
    Roof racks suck. Way to trash my Marzocchi forks (snapped in two, when the 'great' Thule clamp failed, car badly scratched and the risk of killing innocent people), stoopid roof racks.

    I guess everything and its opposite can be true depending on your point of view.
    From mine, roof is the place for skis and boards, not bikes.

    But the right answer is buy a Honda Element, like a did, and put your bike inside the car as it is .
    ZT
    was it the clamp style or locking style or both??? I must say that if it was a structural flaw on the clamps part, can't they do something about it as far as warranty goes?


    I think you are mistaken on the right thing to do being purchasing a honda element I would rather drag my bike behind me with bailing wire before I was caught dead in a honda element

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zen_Turtle
    Roof racks suck. Way to trash my Marzocchi forks (snapped in two, when the 'great' Thule clamp failed, car badly scratched and the risk of killing innocent people), stoopid roof racks.

    I guess everything and its opposite can be true depending on your point of view.
    From mine, roof is the place for skis and boards, not bikes.

    But the right answer is buy a Honda Element, like a did, and put your bike inside the car as it is .
    ZT
    I wouldn't drive a Honda Element so that's not the answer for me. I have never had a clamp or anything fail for me. It was either user error or a flaw in the product. Flaws in products happen sometimes if companies could make everything perfect every single time then we wouldn't need warranties. If it was fork mount and it snapped a marzocchi fork in half it could have been either a failure of the fork or the rack so maybe it wasn't the rack at all.

  34. #34
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    Where's the poll option for "it depends"?

    Longer trips I prefer to use the hitch mount for better fuel economy, in town I like to keep my bike up top, where it's less likely to get taken out by some SUV driving soccer mom paying more attention to the kids in the back and her phone call than she is the road ahead of her.

    Having both means that I can carry four bikes and riders comfortably, even in a small car, when the need arises.

  35. #35
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    I've had extensive experience with all 3 types, because my family has an SUV with a hitch-mount and a pop-up camper with a roof-mount, and I drive a small car with a trunk-mount. I've decided that I'll never, under any circumstances, use a roof-mount when either of the other two is an option. Roof-mount is by far the hardest to use, and the least stable. Trunk-mount works far better ( I have a Saris Bones 3), and hitch-mount is my personal favorite (I've used a Yakima Fullswing 4 and a cheaper 4-bike Yakima). My next vehicle will likely be an SUV, and I'll be buying a hitch-mount for it. Hope that helps...
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    There must be something wrong with your roof mount because every one I've used has been the most stable when you compare it to other methods. Trunk mounts are by far the worst. If you put a full load of bikes on there all that is holding the thing to your car is nylon straps. I don't know how many of these things I've seen stretch and break leaving a very expensive payload on the road. Hitch mounts I've also seen driving behind people and seeing the bikes sway back and forth, not only on the rack but from swaying back and forth where the rack goes into the receiver.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by chinkerjuarez
    There must be something wrong with your roof mount because every one I've used has been the most stable when you compare it to other methods. Trunk mounts are by far the worst. If you put a full load of bikes on there all that is holding the thing to your car is nylon straps. I don't know how many of these things I've seen stretch and break leaving a very expensive payload on the road. Hitch mounts I've also seen driving behind people and seeing the bikes sway back and forth, not only on the rack but from swaying back and forth where the rack goes into the receiver.
    plus you get more lateral force on your bikes tires and components (if they are tire mounted style racks) from acceleration and braking, as opposed to on a roof rack where the only force is in turns and really only under harsh, quick turns would it be bad...

  38. #38
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    Thing I don't like about roof racks, on a small underpowered car, is the rack with bikes will destroy the aerodynamics and cause some serious drag. Too, they screw up the looks of the car. I can remove my hitch rack in a minute. Oh yeah, watch your head when around some of those roof racks.

    I think the the only way to go in either case is a fork mount type rack.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ado
    I've had extensive experience with all 3 types, because my family has an SUV with a hitch-mount and a pop-up camper with a roof-mount, and I drive a small car with a trunk-mount. I've decided that I'll never, under any circumstances, use a roof-mount when either of the other two is an option. Roof-mount is by far the hardest to use, and the least stable. Trunk-mount works far better ( I have a Saris Bones 3), and hitch-mount is my personal favorite (I've used a Yakima Fullswing 4 and a cheaper 4-bike Yakima). My next vehicle will likely be an SUV, and I'll be buying a hitch-mount for it. Hope that helps...
    Don't know what kind of rack you were using, but it must have been defective or incorrectly installed.

    I feel quite comfortable with the stability, at any speed, of the roof racks that I've owned, the hitch rack is also confidence inspiring, unless I'm in traffic,and probably the best bet if you have a high-profile car or SUV.

    Not only is the trunk mount that we have by far the most difficult to use, both mounting to the trunk and loading the bikes - my duallie is next to impossible to get on that thing, but I have to recheck the tightness of the straps at every stop and the bikes move around so badly in the mirror that I'm afraid to go too fast for fear I'll lose them. It also allowed pedal to trunk lid contact during loading once that left a nasty scuff on my wife's decklid. I'm not talking some bargain basement rack either, we have the most expensive, top-of-the-line Yakima available at the time.

    I won't even go into the paint damage to your vehicle that is almost impossible to avoid with trunk mounts or the inability to get into your trunk at all. At least hitch mounts can usually be wrestled around to get something out of the trunk or hatch.

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