Yakima High Roller v Thule Sidearm: Or Why I don't trust my King Cobra anymore- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Upset Yakima High Roller v Thule Sidearm: Or Why I don't trust my King Cobra anymore

    I think it's time to replace my roof mounted Yakima King Cobras which I've had for 4+ years.

    This weekend I was driving home from a ride 20 miles from my house. I'm 100 yards from home going 10 mph, turn through a roundabout, hear BOOOOOOM, and look over to see my bike smashing into the side of my 3 week old car

    Evidently I picked up a thorn which caused a slow leak. When the tire completely depressurized it slid out of the King Cobra and caused the damage ($1,200 body shop estimate).

    I've had the rack for over 4 years without a problem but don't think I can trust it anymore.

    I haven't had a chance to examine the High Roller up close n' personal. From the web photos it looks like the spring mechanism is in the rear so I'm hoping that it pushes the bike forward thus minimizing the chances of the above happening again. It's also lower profile which may result in less wind noise and a bit better aerodynamics.

    The Thule Sidearm is also appealing. I have a Thule T2 hitch rack on my wife's SUV and I've always appreciated its simplicity and the low profile design. But I think a tire depressurization may cause the bike to slip out of the rack .

    Any thoughts & opinioins? (and, yes, I've already submitted the claim to insurance).

  2. #2
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    Wow, that is a bummer.

    As for the tire deflating, I think it would be bad in either case. Did you have the rear wheel strapped in? What happened with that?

    As for wind noise, there is a thread on here with reviews as well as a review on sicklines.com....the thread here had the consensus that the HR was louder than the Cobra.

    How is the bike?

  3. #3
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    Rear wheel was strapped in and I had to actually deflate the rear to release it because it was hanging at an odd angle. Bike is fine.

    Louder than the cobra? Intersting and not what I'd think given the lower profile design.

    It was just plain old bad luck.

  4. #4
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    I've been using the Sportworks version of the Sidearm for years with no trouble, but I think that you may have had the same thing happen if you had been using them.

    I make extra sure that it's ratcheted down nice and tight on the wheel before I go, and I run tubeless with Stan's, so I have never had a problem.

  5. #5
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    That unfortunate.

    I have a Yakima King Cobra and I don't really like it. For me, the locking screw to keep the swing arm in place always comes loose after driving a couple of miles. No matter how tight I crank it down, the knob always manages to come loose.

    I've been looking for a replacement bike rack myself.

  6. #6
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    Crikey, Mate!

    I suspected this was possible, but am surprised. I've had tires deflate, and I've had the red knob loosen to the point it was dangling, but never have I found the bike to be loose enough to fall over. I believe the rear wheel strap holds the bike with enough force that the front wheel remains supported in the big hoop.

    The one BIG difference in my case is (due to liftgate interference) I run the racks with the bike's facing "backwards."

    In your case, 20 miles of wind resistance may have been enough to nudge the bike and rear wheel strap back far enough to leave the front wheel unsupported.

    Curious: Did you notice if your red knob worked loose? I'm thinking it had to for this to have happened. It's not hard to imagine, if there was no resistance on the small hoop from the deflated tire.

    If the bike was facing backwards, if anything, airflow would push the bike -- and the front tire -- further into the big hoop, keeping it secure.

    Random thoughts:

    - The High Roller doesn't support the bike **at all** by the front hoop along. Unlike the Cobra, where you can roll the bike into the forward hoop and "let go," on the High Roller doing this will result in the bike falling over. I have to hold the bike upright with one hand while I raise the smaller hoop.

    - The smaller hoop is ratcheting, but not spring loaded. It won't adjust itself if the tire deflates. But unlike the Cobra and the infamous Red Knob, it won't work loose while driving. I'll have to do a test deflation and see if everything still holds.

    - The rear tire strap on the High Roller is much easier to torque down on, compared to the Cobra strap (which can be a royal pain to undo if over-tightened). I'll have to check to see how easy it slides once the bike is mounted up.

    - The worst case scenario -- two tires with slow leaks, combined with a long drive on the highway -- is entirely conceivable. Hmmm.... again, a backwards-facing bike is a good thing in this situation.

    - Alas, the High Roller is indeed noisier than the Cobra. You'd think Yakima would have tested this!

    I'll do a flat tire test and report back.
    speedub.nate
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  7. #7
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    Ok, tests complete, and I'm happy to say I feel comfortable with the rear-facing High Roller.

    After mounting the bikes, then deflating the front tires (tested both a 26"x2.1 and a 29"x2.3), I couldn't rock or twist the front wheel out from between the two hoops while applying forces in the expected direction (due to air resistance and vehicle acceleration).

    The plastic bit on the end of the smaller hoop -- the piece that captures the tire -- has "wings" which capture the rim's sidewalls, even when there is room to rock back and forth on the flat rubber. The wheel can get a little sideways, but rests securely in the big hoop when forced in that direction.

    Mounted forward is another story. I don't know how strong the air flow is against the frame, nor do I know how hard to push to simulate hard acceleration.

    With "straight back" pressure against the small hoop, the bike is about as stable as it is in the opposite direction.

    But I noticed the tire has the ability to "climb" the small hoop -- rising vertically -- and this causes problems. This allows the rim to unseat from the wheel tray, and a slight sideways motion is all it takes to cause the rim to come back down on the edge of the wheel tray.

    Once propped high on the tray's edge, under acceleration and cornering, it can easily come dislodged from between the hoops. With the rear wheel secure, the result would be a "bike flop" similar to what you experienced.

    There is no quick way I can see to use the cable lock to prevent the bike from climbing out of the small hoop. It might require multiple wraps of the down tube.

    Also, facing rearward, there is no way for the front wheel to "climb" out of the bigger hoop.

    Again, this applies to the High Roller, not the Cobra. I still expect the Red Knob loosened on your Cobra, but given you completed a 20 mile trip and were making a tight turn when this happened, it probably could have happened either way.

    Oh, I also deflated the rear wheel, but this had almost no impact. The rear wheel strap, though completely loose, interfered enough with the spokes that it effectively tensioned up when I tried to roll the bike. I don't think a flat rear tire would play a role in the bike popping loose.

    So to summarize: The High Roller facing backwards seems secure if the tire deflates. Front facing combined with hard acceleration or high freeway speeds *might* cause problems if the driving forces cause the front wheel to climb the small hoop (exactly how "hard" or how "high," I don't know).
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  8. #8
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    Thanks Nate. Unlike others, in 4+ years I never had significant red knob loosening.

    The one mistake I may have made was putting the rear tire strap too far towards the rear. The last bike on that rack was my friends and his bike is 2 sizes bigger than mine so the strap was set for a longer wheelbase. I generally center the strap on the rear tire, but this time it was one or two spoke towards the rear. That may have been enough to allow the extra slack when the tire deflated.

    Sounds like I have little to gain, and $300 to lose, by swapping the King Cobra for the Highroller. I guess I'll stick with what I have and hope for the best.

    thanks

    PS. Just received an email from the repari shop with the official estimate. It's worse than expected: $1800 - although anything after my $250 deductible doesn't matter anyways.

  9. #9
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    Hmmm... based on what you're saying:

    The Cobra "little hoop" raises and lowers with the weight / forward motion of the front wheel into the big hoop.

    If the rear wheel strap was indeed "pulling" backwards on your bike, I'm almost positive that:
    - the flat tire created play between the hoops
    - the red knob loosened on the highway (mine had done it numerous times; a lock washer helped)
    - the slack knob allowed the rear wheel strap to "pull" the bike free of the big hoop
    - turnabout
    - crash

    The one difference with the High Roller is that the little hoop would stay where it was originally set.

    $1800 -- ouch! Got pictures to share?
    speedub.nate
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Hmmm... based on what you're saying:

    The Cobra "little hoop" raises and lowers with the weight / forward motion of the front wheel into the big hoop.

    If the rear wheel strap was indeed "pulling" backwards on your bike, I'm almost positive that:
    - the flat tire created play between the hoops
    - the red knob loosened on the highway (mine had done it numerous times; a lock washer helped)
    - the slack knob allowed the rear wheel strap to "pull" the bike free of the big hoop
    - turnabout
    - crash

    The one difference with the High Roller is that the little hoop would stay where it was originally set.

    $1800 -- ouch! Got pictures to share?
    Pictures don't do it justice.
    Major dents to the passenger door and milder denting to the rear quarter panel. Damage to the door handle and a bunch of various window molding (which are very labor intensive to replace and account for a chunk of the repair).
    Unfortunately it's a BMW so everything on the repair costs a bit more than it should.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclon
    No matter how tight I crank it down, the knob always manages to come loose.

    Have you tried lock tight, avail at most hardware stores??

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canon_Addict
    Have you tried lock tight, avail at most hardware stores??
    I don't think Locktite would be a good idea because the red knob is the locking and releasing mechanism for the swing arm that holds the bike down; meaning the red knob needs to be able to turn freely when needed.

    Yakima is sending me a new knob so I'll have to see if that'll fix the problem.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclon
    Yakima is sending me a new knob so I'll have to see if that'll fix the problem.
    Yakima tried to pull that one on me, too.

    I told them that unfortunately, the problem lies not with with the Red Knob, nor the nut it contains, nor the 'T' rod, but with the design.

    A lock washer sandwich does okay. A simple safety latch to prevent the red knob from spinning would be even better. I'm happier they redesigned the whole thing with the High Roller, but was surprised when they kept selling the Cobra.
    speedub.nate
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    Yakima tried to pull that one on me, too.

    I told them that unfortunately, the problem lies not with with the Red Knob, nor the nut it contains, nor the 'T' rod, but with the design.
    Which is why I was gonna sell off the King Cobra to get something else. It's just that I'm still on the elusive search for that "something else".

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedub.Nate
    I'm happier they redesigned the whole thing with the High Roller, but was surprised when they kept selling the Cobra.
    I agree that the red knob design is a little weak, but overall I think I like the way the Cobra works better. I can just throw the bike up, roll it forward and let go. With the High Roller, I think you have to hold the bike upright while you tighten it down. No?

    I've had my Cobra for 3 years and never had any trouble with the red knob coming loose, but most of my trips are under 1.5 hours. I do hate that you have keep turning the knob so much to tighten/loosen it. Maybe a larger knob or wider spaced threads would have been better.

  17. #17
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    I find that preloading the fork while tightening the red knob prevents backing out

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by wankel
    I agree that the red knob design is a little weak, but overall I think I like the way the Cobra works better. I can just throw the bike up, roll it forward and let go. With the High Roller, I think you have to hold the bike upright while you tighten it down. No?
    Agreed.

    My biggest complaint with the High Roller is just that: It lacks the stable "self supporting" ease of the Cobra when first rolling the bike into the big hoop.

    But the other day while I was playing with the flat tires, I check to see what really happens when I roll it in and let go.

    For the most part, the bike does lean over a few degrees, but for the most part, it stops and sits there at a funky angle. It takes a little bit of a shove to make it fall over, out of the tray, and onto the roof of the car (nope, I didn't take it that far!).

    So I'm a little more comfortable taking my hands off of it, but it's nowhere near the upright stance when using the Cobra.
    speedub.nate
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