The Swagman Standard roof rack is a simple, robust, and practical carrying solution if you need to transport one bike. As with most racks in this category, however, there isn’t a whole lot of features to talk about.
The Swagman roof rack comes with just enough features to carry your bike from one point to another effortlessly. With a tool-free assembly, you’ll load and unload your bike within seconds. It’s pretty cheap for a name brand rack and most buyers are primarily attracted by its affordability. That’s not to takeaway from its elegant design and ease of use.
The Swagman Standard roof rack is designed for those times when you just want to hit the road without dealing with complicated rack setups. With the Swagman Standard rack, all you need is for your car to have compatible crossbars installed. It’s a fork mounted roof rack, which means there’s zero risk for damaging your bike’s frame. But that also means you’ll need to remove the front wheel to load the bike onto the rack, a miniature inconvenience that, nevertheless, some people hate.
That said, the Swagman Standard is a true minimalist’s rack for transporting your bike securely atop your car. In the rest of this post, we take a detailed look at this rack’s features, upsides and downsides to help you make an informed purchase.
Features & Setup
The Swagman Standard rack comes from Swagman’s impressive range of roof mount racks. It uses a fork down clamp system to secure the bike onto the rack. With this clamping system, the front wheel is removed to provide access for the 9-mm skewer to secure the front fork. Ideally your bike should have a quick release front wheel to cut down on installation time but it’s not a requirement to use this rack.
This rack works best with square bars (so that the u-bolts for attaching the rack sit flush with the bars) although it also fits oval and round cross bars. On purchase, the rack ships with a tie down strap for securing the hind wheel. The Swagman roof carrier works with any car but you need to have the crossbars fitted on the roof before installing it.
The rack is secured onto the bars using the supplied u-bolts (which come in small and big sizes to cater for varying crossbar widths.) As we mentioned earlier, this rack is built to work with a range of cross bars. Thus, installing it on your car is a matter of making a few tweaks to customize it down to the type of bars you have.
The rack has multiple bolt slots on the sides and bottom of the tray to allow you adjust the rack based on the size of your crossbars. The slots on the sides are for strapping the hind wheel to the rack. To mount the rack on the roof, center it over the crossbars, ensuring that the slotted holes are properly aligned with those on the bars. Tighten the rack onto the crossbars using the bolts and wing nuts; feed the bolts from the bottom and tighten with the wing nuts on top.
Once the rack is securely mounted on the roof, you can load the bike. The 9mm skewer clamp fits with all bikes with standard 9mm axles. To load the bike, fit the front wheel fork into the skewer and tighten with the bolt on the side to ensure it is snug and tight. Move to the rear side and slide the rear wheel into the rack tray. Using the tie-down strap, secure the wheel tightly to the rack.
That’s it with the installation and bike loading. You’re now ready to hit the road. As with most roof racks, there are a couple of things to look out for when carrying a bike on the roof. The most important is height clearance, which may not only damage your bike but may also lead to unwanted financial consequences. Be sure to watch for low hanging branches and low entrances such as garage.
Swagman Standard Roof Rack Pros
- The fork-down clamping system that’s used on this rack fits with a wide range of bikes, provided the front axle is 9mm.
- It is relatively easy to install on the roof of a car.
- The rack fits with multiple crossbar types, including square, round, and oval, as well as name brand and factory bars.
- The front clamping system ensures safety of your bike. The chances of theft are greatly lowered.
- Can carry bikes weighing up to 35lbs.
- The rack is backed by the Swagman limited lifetime warranty.
Swagman Standard Roof Rack Cons
- Being a single bike carrier, the Swagman Standard rack is definitely limited in carrying capacity.
- The rack increases your car’s height profile and causes height clearance issues.
- It can be a pain if you garage your car. At best you have to load and unload the bike each time you’re getting into the garage.
- You have to contend with speed limitations when transporting a bike on your roof.
- You don’t get the same level of stability as other mounting options such as hitch mount racks.
The Swagman Standard roof rack joins a competitive space of roof mount racks from renowned name brands such as Yakima and Thule. In terms of price point alone, the Swagman is hard to beat. Besides its affordability, the Swagman is a very practical carrier that’s easy to load and unload on the roof. It’s compatible with the most common crossbar types including square, round, and oval. It’s a single bike carrier designed for a very specific purpose. It has no sophisticated features and you won’t be able to transport multiple bikes at ago.
In addition, there are a few issues you’re going to deal with –as with any roof mount rack – especially with clearing low overhangs. Overall, the Swagman Standard rack gets the job done in a simple and convenient way. Once you find a way past its inconveniences, this rack is a pleasure to use.