Roof or Hitch Rack?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Roof or Hitch Rack?

    The wife is going to get a new car so I am wondering if I should have the dealer install a trailor hitch for a bike rack. We have road & mtn bikes and just wondering if it would be better to go with a hitch rack or a roof rack.

    I would think the hitch rack would be much more convenient to use but always interested in some good feedback. Thanks

  2. #2
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    Depends on the car.
    My 99 Grand Cherokee hitch was better. Roof was a pain after riding all day and trying to load up our bikes.
    I have a Thule T2 with add on for the Grand Cherokee and my Wrangler.
    My Kia Soul I ordered a Kuat Sherpa for the hitch and Thule removable rack. That way I can carry 4 bikes.
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  3. #3
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    The wife is looking at a new Toyota Rav-4 and it is about $300 for a trailer hitch.

  4. #4
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    $250 to $300 is about right for a new installed hitch (depending on the class). If you don't mind getting a little dirty go to your local auto junk yard and get one. Remove it yourself for about $30, they usually can remove it for you for maybe $20 more. They are simple to install, might just want to use new bolts and nuts.

  5. #5
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    With a RAV you may have to use an extension so it will clear the spare tire.
    Also consider if she rides without you. Pick something she can load her own bike up without any problems.
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  6. #6
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    Funny, the wife loading her own bike? not happening!

    It will be a 2014 so there is no spare tire on the back and no chance of finding a one in the junk yard, not for a 2014!

  7. #7
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    most hitch's mount to the cars frame through existing holes, the presence or absence of a spare tire should not matter. Unless the frame of the vehicle has been changed, which is unlikely unless it's a completely revamped model year, hitches from previous model years will work. check out hitch companies on the web and the recommended hitches are most often the same ones for many model years

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyc View Post
    most hitch's mount to the cars frame through existing holes, the presence or absence of a spare tire should not matter. Unless the frame of the vehicle has been changed, which is unlikely unless it's a completely revamped model year, hitches from previous model years will work. check out hitch companies on the web and the recommended hitches are most often the same ones for many model years
    I will check on line to see whatis available and fits. Thanks for the info!
    Last edited by rickcin; 03-08-2014 at 07:11 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazyc View Post
    most hitch's mount to the cars frame through existing holes, the presence or absence of a spare tire should not matter.
    In vehicles with a tire on the rear door it does matter because the bike rack may not come far enough away from the back of the vehicle to put a bike on it due to there being a tire in the way. However, in rickcin's case it does not matter since the 2014 rav4 does not have a spare tire on the rear door (previous model years of the rav4 did which I assume is where owtdorz comment came from).

  10. #10
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    Correct, the new Rav-4 does not have the rear mounted spare tire!

  11. #11
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    This has been a little bit of my experience on both.
    On my Honda Civic I like the roof rack. I was about shoulder level or so. It was pretty easy to get on and off and I could also put my surboards up there too. The downside was the roof rack killed my mpg's.

    On my Tacoma with 32" tires, a 2.5" lift, a camper shell that's 3" taller than the cab, roof rack and cross bars would put the bottom of the tires at 6'11". I barely fit into the parking garage as it is and that's a foot taller than the top of my head. No thanks. The hitch rack is a bit higher than waist hight and I can secure to the roof rack brackets so it doesn't swing around and get damaged like the last time I took it down a jeep trail with 2 mountain bikes on it. I only leave the brackets on and take the cross bars off unless I need to put something on the roof. Otherwise the roof rack kills my mpgs.
    I like to ride bikes.

  12. #12
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    I fully understand what you mean about the height, it depends on just how high the vehicle is. I always prefer the ability to be able to transport the bike with either car, the wifes or mine. The trailor hitch rack must be the most conveinent since the lifting height is lower and we both have 29ers and mine is a FS so there is more weight.

    The down side of the hitch mount would be I need a trailor hitch on both cars, so it does cost!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickcin View Post
    I fully understand what you mean about the height, it depends on just how high the vehicle is. I always prefer the ability to be able to transport the bike with either car, the wifes or mine. The trailor hitch rack must be the most conveinent since the lifting height is lower and we both have 29ers and mine is a FS so there is more weight.

    The down side of the hitch mount would be I need a trailor hitch on both cars, so it does cost!
    The other downside is that a bike on a hitch rack becomes a target for someone to rear end you. I swear I've had more close calls while I have bikes on my hitch rack in the last year than I've had the previous 18 years of driving.
    I like to ride bikes.

  14. #14
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    True, rear ended with two 29ers would be a costly fender bender. Currently, I drive a Honda Element so both bikes are inisde without removing any wheels. Locked up, dry and out of sight.

  15. #15
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    IMHO go with a hitch rack. I have a roof rack on my Xterra that uses fork mounts. It's a pain in the ASS to loft it up there, let alone worry about scratches. I ended using a step stool to avoid problems, for now I mostly end-up throwing it in the back Got to get a hitch added so I can go back to a hitch mounted rack like I used to have

  16. #16
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    Yeah, I am thinking it is a whole lot more convenient, faster to load without scratching the vehicle and the rack is easily removed.

    Bottom line, if we have 2 cars we really need trailer hitches.

  17. #17
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    I prefer the roof rack. But, once I forgot I had a bike up there and drove into a parking garage. So there's that.
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  18. #18
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    If you drive in inclement weather, hitch racks are the worst. Your bike will be wearing all of the road grime by the time you get to where you are going. That is why I have both a hitch and roof rack on my XV.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    If you drive in inclement weather, hitch racks are the worst. Your bike will be wearing all of the road grime by the time you get to where you are going. That is why I have both a hitch and roof rack on my XV.
    That is a good point that I never considered. I like your preference, just own both!

  20. #20
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    Hitch rack, all the way, had a roof rack on my Touareg and since I am 6'2 I didn't have a big problem loading my bike, but the wife, no way. It also killed my MPH which already sucks on that thing. Hitch mount, no problems, wife can do it, no MPH change.
    I have heard of cops pulling people over for blocking the rear plate. It's never happened to me but it makes me think about it sometimes after a couple beers with dinner.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    Hitch rack, all the way, had a roof rack on my Touareg and since I am 6'2 I didn't have a big problem loading my bike, but the wife, no way. It also killed my MPH which already sucks on that thing. Hitch mount, no problems, wife can do it, no MPH change.
    I have heard of cops pulling people over for blocking the rear plate. It's never happened to me but it makes me think about it sometimes after a couple beers with dinner.
    I cannot imaginge setting my FS 29er on a roof rack mounted on an SUV. I think the roof rack works best for a lower or small car but would be difficult at best to secure it to an SUV, and I am 6'-2" tall.

    Thanks for sharing!

  22. #22
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    It was pretty ridiculous sometimes, helped to be parked by a curb. My touareg also has air suspension so I could lower it before I loaded it.
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  23. #23
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    Roof or Hitch Rack?

    Hitch rack only. It only takes one second to forget bikes r up there and u smash into the garage. Also roof racks are noisy.


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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    ..... It also killed my MPH which already sucks on that thing. ...
    Yup, come to think about it, my mpg sucked on the way to Tahoe last summer with my bike up top... damn it

  25. #25
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    I like both. I recently bought a 2014 Forester and I installed a Thule side arm on the roof. I use it the most as I drive a few miles to the trail head or if I'm driving by myself to ride.
    I also installed a trailer hitch on my Forester. I throw the Thule T2 on there if we take my car on a family ride. The versatility of having both can't be beat.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by pikeman View Post
    I like both. I recently bought a 2014 Forester and I installed a Thule side arm on the roof. I use it the most as I drive a few miles to the trail head or if I'm driving by myself to ride.
    I also installed a trailer hitch on my Forester. I throw the Thule T2 on there if we take my car on a family ride. The versatility of having both can't be beat.
    Trying to talk my wife into considering a Forester, iI think they are a great car. She likes the looks of the Rav4, which is good as well but I favor the Subarau, women!

  27. #27
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    I got the XT with the 2.0 Turbo motor. It's a blast to drive and my wife likes the sportiness of it. We drove the RAV, CR-V, Crosstrek, Honda Cross Tour and the Mazda. All good cars, but since it was for me, I went with the Subaru.
    Also, and this might mean something to your wife, the Subaru had the best safety ratings of the bunch.

  28. #28
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    One other thing to take into consideration is how often you use them. I find since I use my racks 4-5 times a week so I prefer having roof rakcs as I do not need to take them on and off. On my wife's car we use a hitch rack as we do not take her car very often when goign riding. I also drive and Impreza wagona nd she drives a Forester. Even just the extra bit of height of her car is a pain for me, at 5'8" to put the bikes on the roof. On my Impreza, no issues, even when putting three bikes up there. On the Rav I would likely go for a hitch rack since it is higher up but consider that you have to take it off (or should be I guess) when not using it.

  29. #29
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    I just installed a class 1 receiver hitch to my Honda Element. It was $113 from AutoAnything.com. I had to drill into my trunk pan and it mounts to the tow hook on the rear, took less than an hour. I didn't do any wiring because I'm not going to tow anything. Now I have a roof and hitch rack.

    The roof rack is better for long trips, and better if you ski. You can fit a lot of stuff up there where it's out of the way, like a cargo box. Of course it's harder to get up and down, and you have the risk of forgetting your bike is up there and going into a garage or carport.

    The rear hitch rack is more convenient especially if you have a tall car. But it makes getting into your hatchback a hassle and the bike is easier to steal.

  30. #30
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    Hitch rack for me as well. I do have both, but MPG, ease of loading, and less chance of overhead collision leans me towards hitch racks.

    Regarding the cars, I would just sit back and let your wife decide. If you push her into something, and an issue happens to come up, you will never hear the end of it. Luckily, my wife picked a Subaru Outback over a CRV/Rav4, but I just sat back and let her pick. If anything goes wrong--she can't blame me!

  31. #31
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    For a car that has a small footprint I would go with a roof(like my escort wagon) but an suv will do well with a hitch. The small footprint cars suffer from crossmounted bike wind drag. Major mpg losses. An SUV or wider car keeps the bike in a shadow so the effect is negligible. My Jeep liberty actually improves mpg on highway with two bikes on the hitch(with extension). Go fig.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by pikeman View Post
    I got the XT with the 2.0 Turbo motor. It's a blast to drive and my wife likes the sportiness of it. We drove the RAV, CR-V, Crosstrek, Honda Cross Tour and the Mazda. All good cars, but since it was for me, I went with the Subaru.
    Also, and this might mean something to your wife, the Subaru had the best safety ratings of the bunch.
    Good point, I will work on the wife!

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