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Thread: Looking for advice on a car top bike rack -- Thule / Yakima?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* avusblue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Saint Paul, Minnesota

    Default Looking for advice on a car top bike rack -- Thule / Yakima?

    Spring is coming and I have a new road bike in my plans. I want to also acquire a used rooftop bike carrier rack like the Thule / Yakima ones that are commonly seen. New ones are outrageously expensive compared to what used ones go for on eBay. But it's hard to figure out what kind I want and how to ensure fit on my car (a 2003 VW Jetta sedan).

    Any CPFer's also cyclists that have experience with these racks? What's the best way to go? Thanks,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Valencia, Calif.

    Default Re: Looking for advice on a car top bike rack -- Thule / Yakima?


    I used to race road bikes for a living and I have used Yakima (and to a lesser extent Thule) racks for many years. I would go with Yakima due to their superior overall quality, parts availability and customer service. Yes, they're exepensive but quality costs $$$$.

    As you may know Yakima sells their products in a modular format. There is a huge variety of options. Once you have the proper crossbars and bike mounts you can buy towers to fit almost any car. If you find a good deal on E-bay but the towers are not correct for your car simply purchase the right towers from an online dealer.

    Check and go to "choose my rack" to see if a Yakima fits your car.

    If you are dead set on a roof rack that's fine, but consider a hitch mount as well. Your new Jetta probably does not have a hitch but installing one may be cheaper than you think, and Yakima hitch racks are much cheaper on a per bike basis. Roof racks expose your mount to the airstream over the car, resulting in decreasd gas mileage and tons of dead bugs stuck to your bike. I don't have to tell you how bad bugs are during midwest summers. I spent hours cleaning my bike after driving to races there. It is also MUCH easier to hang bikes on a rear rack than it is to lift them onto the roof.

    Have fun and ride safely.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    FL panhandle

    Default Re: Looking for advice on a car top bike rack -- Thule / Yakima?

    Never carried one for a bike but I have seen the effects. A friend just traded her 2002 Passat with 9k miles and a bikerack on the roof, she kept the rack. The window gutter mount rack had taken the finish off the edge of her roof. I second the idea of the tow hitch idea for this reason and the ones mentioned above for a Jetta.

    I bought a used Thule cargo rack the other day. I was going to sell it but there was no interest in Buy/Sell/Trade. I mounted it tonight to see how it looked and I like it. It attatches to my existing roof rack. Now I can tell my wife's Suburban from all the others.

  4. #4
    *Flashaholic* Darell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    LOCO is more like it.

    Default Re: Looking for advice on a car top bike rack -- Thule / Yakima?

    In a word: Yakima.

    I have been using Yakima for as long back as I can remember. I've been forced to use Thule a couple of times. While I find Thule makes some quality gear, I just like what Yakima does better - and I like round bars for many reasons - strength being the biggest. Being able to rotate some of the accessories out of the slip stream is another.

    I never let a rack touch the pain on my cars any longer though. I either attach the Yakima tracks and use RailRiders or I modify whatever factory rack the car maker sells to use Yakima bars. I don't know what VW offers in the way of factory racks, but see if there are any factory mounts in the roof. If there are, you're in luck. I agree with DieselDave above, and having a rack touch the paint will end up wrecking something eventually. Plus I hate deforming the door seals so much to hold them on.

    Behind or in the car is even better from an efficiency, cleanliness and lift-in standpoint, as Darkaway has mentioned.

    I add a Yakima RocketBox to my Civic when we go on long family trips. Doubles the cargo capacity and costs about 1.5mpg (bringing me down to the neighborhood of 36mpg). Some excellent deals can be found on Ebay. Do a bit of research on the Yakima site and find out just what you need - then keep your eyes peeled. Bicycling classifieds is another good place to look.

    Good luck!

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