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  1. #1
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    Roof rack or hitch for GTI

    Hey fellas,
    Im stuck between a roof rack or a hitch rack for an 08 GTI. I know the roof rack would keep my 3k bike out of the way of stupid drivers that might rear end me but the hitch rack would make it easier to load up. Anyone else have an opinion on which would be better for the GTI? Thanks.

    Chris

  2. #2
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    Roof rack. I have a passat now, used to roll a hitch rack on my 4runner. About a month after swapping vehicles.... some jackass rearended me on I-70 on my way back from Keystone. Had I not slapped that Thule roof rack (w/ 594 sidearms)... well, there would have been hell to pay.

    Its a pretty easy toss on top of a little car like a GTI. Just be aware that your bike is up top when you are cruising around... drive thrus, garages, etc.

  3. #3
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    We went with the VW roof bars on our '07 Rabbit 3-door. The car is low enough to make loading/unloading pretty easy...even after a hard ride. The only downside is the wind noise. I ran a Thule fairing on the front for a while and it didn't really help at all, so I took it off.

    I prefer transporting on top as opposed to out back due to the plethora of idiots driving on the road today. Granted the bike would be covered by the at-fault idiot's insurance (assuming they even have insurance), but I don't want to have the stress of dealing with my bike AND my car repairs.

    Plus, the roof rack and the GTI/Rabbit have gone together like peas & carrots since the 70's.

    Here is mine before I slid on a second carrier.

    Last edited by A1an; 04-06-2008 at 05:32 PM.
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  4. #4
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    Factory Roof

    I use the VW factory rack with a Thule bike mount. I had to engineer/rig the Thule, but it is very secure. I can do 90mph with the bike on top (if need be) . I personally think roof racks are more secure, and don't know if I would want the weight of 2 bikes hanging off the back of the car. Plus, I need access to the hatch without removing or sliding the rack out of the way.

    The Factory roof is soo much nicer than the Thule aftermarket rack.

    One of these days I'll post up a how-to on the Thule conversion I did.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by A1an
    We went with the VW roof bars on our '07 Rabbit 3-door. The car is low enough to make loading/unloading pretty easy...even after a hard ride. The only downside is the wind noise. I ran a Thule fairing on the front for a while and it didn't really help at all, so I took it off.

    I prefer transporting on top as opposed to out back due to the plethora of idiots driving on the road today. Granted the bike would be covered by the at-fault idiot's insurance (assuming they even have insurance), but I don't want to have the stress of dealing with my bike AND my car repairs.

    Plus, the roof rack and the GTI/Rabbit have gone together like peas & carrots since the 70's.

    Here is mine before I slid on a second carrier.


    the rack may be noisy because of the slot in the top....did you cut and replace the rubber strip in the slot after you mounted the bike racks? It helps a lot...cut the stirp and place it anywhere the slot is exposed.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    I can do 90mph with the bike on top (if need be)
    Why take the huge hit in gas milege though? The hitch rack pays for itself over a year or two compared to the roof rack, the roof-rack continues to suck money due to the excessive drag, even when there are no bikes on there. Milege is hugely dependant on drag, especially above 50mph. With a solid reciever and a T2, 120mph is easy to do, but I won't go faster than that with the rack on. Who is going to pay you when you run your bikes on the roof rack into the garage door or an overhang while driving? How many people get rear-ended with bikes on? The arguments against hitch racks makes it sound like every person gets rear ended a few times a year or something.

    There's also no way roof-racks are more secure in terms of holding your bike on, that much mass that far from the center of rotation (turns, body lean, etc) is going to magnify the effects compared to when it's just sitting there. With a hitch rack you can get some sway forces, but it's such a solid connection that even if there's movement, it's not causing any big problem usually. It's a far cry from the people who've ripped their roof-racks right off during driving, and if you look in the archives of this forum you can find a few. Not to mention that bikes on the hitch rack are probably subject to less drag in the first place (so less force on it). To put it simply, the roof of a vehicle isn't meant to take a lot of load (carrying something on top of it). A hitch on the other hand, for cars that can take one, is meant to deal with several hundred pounds of tongue weight and the stresses that towing a small trailer will cause.

    The modern hitch racks tilt down for hatch/trunk access. There are cars that can't take hitches, but for those that can, I've never been able to think of one good reason to put a roof rack on the car over a hitch rack.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  7. #7
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    I have an Civic Si Sedan and have a curt 1-1/4 hitch with a swagman xc-2. I love the hitch mounted rack. I would suggest it to anyone

  8. #8
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    I like the roof....

    I had a hitch rack for my Jetta sedan and noticed more aero drag vs the roof. The hitch rack also caused the bikes to bounce a bit when following large vehicles.

    Watch out, however. It is necessary to drive more carefully and smoother with each.

    I also prefer fork mount roof racks......the additional frontal area and increased height of the bike makes things worse.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Why take the huge hit in gas milege though? The hitch rack pays for itself over a year or two compared to the roof rack, the roof-rack continues to suck money due to the excessive drag, even when there are no bikes on there. Milege is hugely dependant on drag, especially above 50mph. With a solid reciever and a T2, 120mph is easy to do, but I won't go faster than that with the rack on. Who is going to pay you when you run your bikes on the roof rack into the garage door or an overhang while driving? How many people get rear-ended with bikes on? The arguments against hitch racks makes it sound like every person gets rear ended a few times a year or something.

    There's also no way roof-racks are more secure in terms of holding your bike on, that much mass that far from the center of rotation (turns, body lean, etc) is going to magnify the effects compared to when it's just sitting there. With a hitch rack you can get some sway forces, but it's such a solid connection that even if there's movement, it's not causing any big problem usually. It's a far cry from the people who've ripped their roof-racks right off during driving, and if you look in the archives of this forum you can find a few. Not to mention that bikes on the hitch rack are probably subject to less drag in the first place (so less force on it). To put it simply, the roof of a vehicle isn't meant to take a lot of load (carrying something on top of it). A hitch on the other hand, for cars that can take one, is meant to deal with several hundred pounds of tongue weight and the stresses that towing a small trailer will cause.

    The modern hitch racks tilt down for hatch/trunk access. There are cars that can't take hitches, but for those that can, I've never been able to think of one good reason to put a roof rack on the car over a hitch rack.
    Jayem, I don't have any specific disagreement with your comments; you actually raise several good points. I only want to point out that we are discussing a specific vehicle here, and not speaking of racks in general. The factory roof rack on the GTI is bombproof, extremely secure, and can safely and securely hold 3 bikes. The factory rack is held to the roof in 4 places and was integrated into the design and construction of the vehicle. VW has been selling these racks for years with nary a problem.

    Besides, up until a year ago a roof rack was the ONLY option in the states for someone that wanted a rack to haul there bikes on the GTI. When I went shopping for a rack in 2006/07, there were NO receivers available for this car in the US, as it was new to the market in 2006. So for me, it was a no-brainer: VW rack or . . . nothing.

    Of course, now a receiver hitch is available for the GTI so there are other options. And I will probably get one one, if for no other reason than to on save gas $$ when I go to Northstar or Annadel. But I'm still not pleased that I have to remove a bike from a hitch rack before I can fold it down and access the hatchback. And it is unlikely I would drive my car into a garage with a bike up top. These are preferences, of course, and I'm sure I could live with it.

    Lastly, while no bike is ever 100% secure, people seem less inclined to mess with a bike when it is on top of a car. I have no proof of that, of course.

    I do agree with your comments about gas mileage. Plus, a roof rack is noisier . . . a lot noisier.

    Take care.
    Last edited by Random Drivel; 04-12-2008 at 09:37 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    One of these days I'll post up a how-to on the Thule conversion I did.
    lets have it. thats a nice, clean installation.

    im about to get sidearms for my jetta and have some ideas of my own, but would like to see how you did it.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod
    lets have it. thats a nice, clean installation.

    im about to get sidearms for my jetta and have some ideas of my own, but would like to see how you did it.
    Will do. Very easy mod, you have to order a couple of cheap parts from Thule to make it work, that and a trip to the hardware store.

    But first I have to locate my camera . . . .

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the replies guys. Tons of info. Looks like Im sold on the roof rack. I just picked up my 08 GTI on tuesday Hopefully a new bike and rack with it this weekend. Ill post pics when they are all together.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    Jayem, I don't have any specific disagreement with your comments, but only want to point out that we are discussing a specific vehicle here, and not speaking of racks in general. The factory roof rack on the GTI is bombproof, extremely secure, and can safely and securely hold 3 bikes. The factory rack is held to the roof in 4 places and was integrated into the design and construction of the vehicle. VW has been selling these racks for years with nary a problem.

    Besides, up until a year ago a roof rack was the ONLY option in the states for someone that wanted a rack to haul there bikes on the GTI. When I went shopping for a rack in 2006/07, there were NO receivers available for this car in the US, as it was new to the market in 2006. So for me, it was a no-brainer: VW rack or . . . nothing.

    Of course, now a receiver hitch is available for the GTI so there are other options. And I may just end up getting one, if for no other reason than to on save gas $$ when I go to Northstar or Annadel. But I'm still not pleased that I have to remove a bike from a hitch rack before I can fold it down and access the hatchback. And it is unlikely I would drive my car into a garage with a bike up top. These are preferences, of course.

    Lastly, while no bike is ever 100% secure, people seem less inclined to mess with a bike when it is on top of a car. I have no proof of that, of course.

    Take care.
    roof racks are for starbucks drinking, spadex wearing yuppies.....

    on a more serious note this guy is right.....you could get them to pay for your bike if they hit you and how fast can you really enjoy your gti around a corner with your million lbs bullit sitting on the roof. remember low center of gravity = fun

  14. #14
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    VW hatch rack

    After pricing a hitch and a hitch rack. Then the cross bars and roof rack I decided to go with the VW hatch rack. I saved about $175 compared to the roof and hitch racks. The trays are a little small for 2.3 tires but I added extra straps and it seems to work great. A nice feature is that you can still open the hatch with the rack mounted. It only takes about 3 minutes to put the rack on the hatch.
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  15. #15
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    Here's my 2007 GTI, I decided to go with the roof rack, true , I would think the gas mileage might not be as good as with a hitch mounted rack but ......this rack looks badass....
    I'm doing a lot of cross country driving with the bike on top most of the time and it works just fine. Very secure if you mount it at the specs the rack company provides in the installation brochure. Rack is a Yakima, with King Cobra mounts.

    ps. you can always buy a used one on Ebay or Craigslist and just get new crossbars if they're too small...
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 07 Prophet
    After pricing a hitch and a hitch rack. Then the cross bars and roof rack I decided to go with the VW hatch rack. I saved about $175 compared to the roof and hitch racks. The trays are a little small for 2.3 tires but I added extra straps and it seems to work great. A nice feature is that you can still open the hatch with the rack mounted. It only takes about 3 minutes to put the rack on the hatch.
    Been there, done that. I will never, ever, buy another on-the-trunk or hatch rack. I had one and so did a buddy back in the day. This one had straps that would anchor the rack at the leading edge of the trunk or the top edge of the hatch and a second strap at the tail end or even the bottom of the bumper back when they made bumpers out of steel or aluminum. I'd set it all up, put all of my skinny 125 pounds on the load bars while pulling on the lower straps to get the thing secured on the trunk and I'd still arrive at my destination with the lower straps dangling in the wind. Not only that but the contact points left the paint with all kinds of scratches and even some mild dents from me putting my weight on it to try to get it secure. It turned out that my buddy had the exact same problems I was having.

    I have a Thule roof rack for my '06 GLI and I really like it. I'm not 100% happy with it but it's good enough that I will continue to use it now that I'm taking it all apart to remove it from my car instead of trying to remove the rack and trays as a single unit. It is very secure once it is mounted on the car and I have no worries about any of my bikes falling off once everything is buttoned down.

  17. #17
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    I actually bought a roof rack system but after further thought I decided that I didn't want to deal with constant lower mpg and having to hold my bike over my roof. You can take the rack off but who is going to do that when they aren't using it to carry bikes? Probably not many. Plus I would imagine that mpg would drop dramatically with a bike or two up there. Also I was afraid of driving into my garage.

    I eventually went the hitch route and couldn't be happier. There is the risk of getting rear ended but I guess theres risk with everything. I have a mada3 hatch so I guess it's similar to your car in that it has a hatch that needs to be accessed. Honestly I never even go into my hatch so maybe that's why it's no biggie.

  18. #18
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    my mileage dropped 4-6 miles on my jetta with a rack alone with no bike on top, its not too stable either, for short distance drives i dont mind driving with the bike on the roof
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  19. #19
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    Having used both hitch and roof, I'd go with a hitch rack. I have always been a big fan of roof racks until I bought the Thule T2 rack. On my jetta, I had the integrated roof rack, which was without a doubt the best roof setup out there. That said a few things really bothered me.

    1. picking the bike up and placing it on the rack. Since I have a 20mm TA, it was a pain to get it lined up, then push through the fork.

    2. I can't load my bike the night before. I like to have all of my stuff loaded and ready to go for my early rides. I would have to back the car out of the garage, grab the bike, load it, take the garage remote out of the front of the car and put it in the trunk to avoid accidently running into the garage. With the T2, I can load everything, hop in my car in the morning and I am off.

    3. The rack is always causing drag, and more importantly, it was very NOISY. The wind noise would drive me crazy. This was better with the jetta, but I hear nothing with the T2.

    4. Better security. I rarely ever leave my bike on a rack, but when I do, i can run a chain through the bike, rack and hitch. A quality large chain (I run the chain through a DH tube) will be very difficult to get through.

    5. The T2 can go with me from vehicle to vehicle.
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  20. #20
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    I just made a trip up to Annadel yesterday for a mid-day ride. Appx. 30 miles from my doorstep.

    My normal freeway mileage to Santa Rosa, sans rack: About 29-30 mpg.

    With rack and bike: 26 mpg. Without the bike (rack only) it is about the same, or maybe half a mpg higher.

    It may not seem like much, bit over the course of a year it will add up.

    Now, If someone would post up mpg for the 2.0FSI with 6 speed, running a hitch rack, we will have all the answers.

    Quote Originally Posted by pancho4
    roof racks are for starbucks drinking, spadex wearing yuppies.....
    In other words, goaters.

  21. #21
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    This is the most secure hatch mount I have ever seen. There are no fabric straps attaching it to the car. I think you would actually have to significantly bend the edges of the hatch to get it to come off. the VW engineers put some thought it to this one.

  22. #22
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    Ok, forget the roof rack. I just drove the GTI around on the freeway and the wind noise is just annoying as hell. The sales person at Rack N Road told me there isnt a hitch for the 08 GTI. Is this right?

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    I use the VW factory rack with a Thule bike mount. I had to engineer/rig the Thule, but it is very secure. I can do 90mph with the bike on top (if need be) . I personally think roof racks are more secure, and don't know if I would want the weight of 2 bikes hanging off the back of the car. Plus, I need access to the hatch without removing or sliding the rack out of the way.

    The Factory roof is soo much nicer than the Thule aftermarket rack.

    One of these days I'll post up a how-to on the Thule conversion I did.

    Looks like China Camp

  24. #24
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    GTI hitch

    Quote Originally Posted by ElBandito
    Ok, forget the roof rack. I just drove the GTI around on the freeway and the wind noise is just annoying as hell. The sales person at Rack N Road told me there isnt a hitch for the 08 GTI. Is this right?

    I just got one for an 06 GTI, new body style. I got a "draw tite" class I hitch from etrailer.com for about $115. Im going to bolt it on tomorrow and I'll post a pic of it. It seems pretty simple, only 4 bolts. I just hope my Thule Ridgeline does not drag on bumps or dips.
    I heart my 29er

  25. #25
    meh... whatever
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    Quote Originally Posted by monogod
    lets have it. thats a nice, clean installation.

    im about to get sidearms for my jetta and have some ideas of my own, but would like to see how you did it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Random Drivel
    Will do. Very easy mod, you have to order a couple of cheap parts from Thule to make it work, that and a trip to the hardware store.

    But first I have to locate my camera . . . .
    patiently waiting.... (nudge, nudge)

    my sidearms arrive today with the quality order, so its time to retire the 599xt's.
    "Knowledge is good." ~ Emil Faber

  26. #26
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    GTI w/ Trailer Hitch

    I dig it! I only had one problem with the install. I had to use a pry bar to bend the muffler hanger about 1/4 inch towards the center of the vehicle. It was stopping the driver side bolts from lining up. See bottom pic. It only took me about 30 mins to bolt up. I use a Thule Ridgeline to carry the bikes. I have not bottomed it out yet. I am thinking of putting a lift kit on my GTI... and by lift kit I mean 20"s!

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2459417928/" title="hitch3 by jwstrojny, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2393/2459417928_18955fb0ed_o.jpg" width="589" height="442" alt="hitch3" /></a>
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2459417902/" title="hitch2 by jwstrojny, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3082/2459417902_7b1bc797a4_o.jpg" width="589" height="442" alt="hitch2" /></a>
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2459417942/" title="hitch5 by jwstrojny, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3190/2459417942_99e60349bb_o.jpg" width="589" height="442" alt="hitch5" /></a>
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2459419994/" title="muffler hanger by jwstrojny, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm3.static.flickr.com/2367/2459419994_7807e980e7_o.jpg" width="589" height="442" alt="muffler hanger" /></a>
    I heart my 29er

  27. #27
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    looks great! definitely going that route now.

  28. #28
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    Interesting, does that mount come in a 2" version? I want to run the T2, and the 2" is more stable from my exerience with going through 2 renditions.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyBidnezz
    Interesting, does that mount come in a 2" version? I want to run the T2, and the 2" is more stable from my exerience with going through 2 renditions.
    The only receiver I could find for a GTI was 1 1/4". I have not had a problem with it yet, but I have only put 2 bikes on it so far.
    I heart my 29er

  30. #30
    TLL
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonkeyBidnezz
    Interesting, does that mount come in a 2" version? I want to run the T2, and the 2" is more stable from my exerience with going through 2 renditions.
    It only comes in 1-1/4. I have seen a T2 on the back of a GTI with a Drawtite, it looked very stable.
    Hadley rear hub service here and here.

  31. #31
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    you could always get a 1-1/4 to 2 inch hitch converter, only you cant tow with it, only bike racks and luggage hitch racks

  32. #32
    TLL
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnws
    I dig it! I only had one problem with the install. I had to use a pry bar to bend the muffler hanger about 1/4 inch towards the center of the vehicle. It was stopping the driver side bolts from lining up. See bottom pic. It only took me about 30 mins to bolt up. I use a Thule Ridgeline to carry the bikes. I have not bottomed it out yet. I am thinking of putting a lift kit on my GTI... and by lift kit I mean 20"s!
    Looks like you have an '06, same as me. I just picked up the Drawtite hitch and a T2 rack. Looks like a simple bolt up. Going to think twice about lowering the car though!
    Hadley rear hub service here and here.

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