Are you in the market for a roof mount bike rack? The Yakima FrontLoader Rooftop rack is no doubt a top pick. It’s a simple, easy to use roof mount rack that’s secure and durable. The Yakima’s versatility allows it to carry any type of bike effortlessly, from 20-inch kids’ bikes to the heavy and powerful mountain bikes that conquer the rugged terrain of the countryside.
The FrontLoader has superb holding ability, which not only ensures the bike’s stability as the car moves but also safeguards it from potential lifters. The FrontLoader is a very capable bike carrier with a straightforward setup on many crossbar types on the market.
The Yakima FrontLoader rooftop bike rack is a versatile carrier that transports your bike fully assembled. It fits wheels of 20 to 29 inches for both road and mountain bikes. The FrontLoader is compatible with a wide range of crossbar shapes and types, which is one of this rack’s nicest features. When not in use, the FrontLoader nicely folds into a slim profile so you don’t have to uninstall it from your car every time it’s not in use. In the rest of this review, we take a detailed look at the FrontLoader’s features, setup, and use.
Features & Setup
The Yakima FrontLoader has a nice but not so simple design. Nonetheless, it is assembled right out of the box so no major setup is required before installing it on your car. Like the Thule Sidearm carrier we previously reviewed, the FrontLoader’s installation requires no tools whatsoever: simply bolt it to the crossbars and you’re done.
Thanks to its universal clamping system, the front loader installs on just about any type and shape of roof cross bars. We must point out that it seems to get the best fit with Yakima’s proprietary round bars but all other crossbar types are compatible as well. The FrontLoader features a 56-inch black-coated removable wheel tray that holds the bike’s rear wheel. The tray is cut out in the center to prevent dirt from the tires from collecting at the base.
At the front of the rack is a wheel cradle, with an adjustable brace that holds the front wheel in place. The adjustable brace slides up and down the cradle by releasing the levers on either side. Once you match the wheel size, tighten the levers to secure the wheel in place. This way, the cradle can accommodate wheel sizes of 20 to 29 inches. On the opposite side is another shorter brace that provides additional support for the front wheel. This is what gives this rack its real holding capability.
The rear wheel is held in place by means of a ratcheting strap. The tray accommodates tire widths of 2.5 inches and below. Anything bigger than 2.5 inches is a stretch. You can remove the wheel tray when not in use. Not only does this prevent unnecessary noises as the tray rocks back and forth but also prevents potential theft. The FrontLoader’s installation is a breeze: open the clamp at the front and fit it snug around the front crossbar on the roof. Secure the rack to the crossbar by turning the spin handle at the front clockwise until you get a tight grip.
Do the same for the rear clamp. It works slightly different than the fixed front clamp but the end result is the same: it secures the rack onto the crossbar so that there’s no movement. Crossbar width should ideally be 16 inches on the minimum and 48 inches on the maximum side. Keep in mind that crossbar width and placement is crucial for this rack to work properly.
You can then load up the bike once the rack is tightly secured to the bars. Fit the front wheel into the front cradle. Tighten the whole clamping setup using the big red knob at the bottom of the clamp system. Secure the rear wheel to the rack with the tie down strap and you’re all set for the ride.
To augment the rack’s and bike’s safety, the FrontLoader is equipped with a twin locking system (one lock on the front clamp to secure the rack to the crossbars and another on a locking cable for securing the bike to the rack). However, you have to purchase the SKS cores separately.
- One of the major benefits of the FrontLoader’s rack style is that it holds bikes only by the wheels, regardless of the bike’s frame design, paintwork on the frame, and axle type. As such, just about any type of bike can be transported on the FrontLoader.
- The FrontLoader has some nifty safety features, particularly the twin-locking system. It also uses the one-key locking system for added convenience.
- The bike is pretty stable, thanks to Yakima’s ingenious front wheel clamping system that this rack uses.
- The rack is easy to install on the crossbars. The whole process is tool-less as it’s assembled out of the box.
- There’s no need to worry about paint damage on your frame since the front loader only secures the wheels.
- A relatively low aero profile ensures smooth rides.
- Limited capacity, obviously, since it’s a single bike carrier. If you expect to transport more than one bike on any trip, skip this rack.
- It’s not easy to load and unload the bike. The FrontLoader has a solid clamping system that guarantees stability and safety, but also requires intricate loading and unloading of the bike.
- While the rack provides a solid locking mechanism, you have to spend more money buying lock cores to make it work.
- Height clearance issues for low overhangs. This is not specific to this rack but most roof mount racks.
The quality of the Yakima FrontLoader rooftop bike is instantly evident the moment you unpack it. It is a well-built rack that provides good stability and security for your bike. Mounting it on the roof is easy although loading the bike isn’t so straightforward. Nonetheless, the whole system works perfectly once everything is set up. No component of the rack touches the frame so you don’t need to worry about scratches to your paintwork.
This rack does not come cheap though but the price point reflects the quality and, perhaps, the trusted name brand. Overall, we strongly vouch for it in the rooftop rack category.