The Bottom Line
Roof-based bicycle carriers are not perfect, as they have a couple of fitment limitations. They are the best solution for anyone who is nervous about overtaking other vehicles or parking with extra car length to clear. They are also great for consumers who want minimal form when the rack is not in use. The Upside rack is super-simple to fit (both bike and car), easy to store when not in use, and built with the highest quality materials.
These are optimum features offered when you buy the Upside Rack. The value-for-money price tag is the cherry on top.
The Australian company, Upside, has taken that country’s upside-down bike rack concept and made it safer, simpler, and more secure for the car, cycle, and rider. What they did was flip the roof-mountable bike rack upside down, and it’s amazing how much more stable the design is. Read on to see how it works.
The Best Upside-Down Bike Rack of 2020
After bike stands and wall mounts, the bike rack for car transport has to be the most useful piece of bike equipment kit you can own.
Bike racks have really taken off with the major utilitarian access a vehicle tow bar offers. You just stow the bike rack attachment in the trunk of your car and attach it to your tow bar whenever you need it. This has come to the assistance of more than one cyclist stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire. How do roof-mounted bike racks stack up against this kind of convenience?
How the Upside Rack Works
With any roof-based bike carrier, you have to attach the roof-rack crossbars to the roof first. These are sold separately and come with crossbar-designated tracks, bolts, and special straps. From there on, you can mount the bicycle either without a front wheel in place or clamping the frame. It is possible to clamp the front wheel in position as well.
If you are a weekend cyclist that uses a rack to transport your bike to meeting places or rendezvous, you’ll typically leave your bike carrier on throughout the week. This is fine if all you use your car for is a trip to the shopping mall once or twice a month. If you use your car for a long commute or traveling, bike carriers are most likely to irritate you by creating drag and costing you extra fuel.
This is where the Upside Rack is different. It uses the same roof rack crossbars to mount onto the car roof, but the genius concept is that the carrier is attached to the bicycle first (at the handlebars and saddle sections of the bike). Only when that has been done, do you flip the bicycle upside-down and then clip the bike rack onto the crossbars.
Where the Upside Rack is Better
This useful feature of only installing the fittings when needed is where the Upside holds the most benefit to busy cyclists. When you don’t need it, you simply fold the kit down to a convenient 62cm/24.5 inches length and approximately 2kg/4.5lb weight. This seems feather-light compared to the usual 6 to 9kg / 13 to 20lb weight of other bike racks.
The Upside rack is easy to use, as well. It holds the bike’s handlebars in a straight and rigid line opposed to the rear wheel. This solves the common trouble of having to keep the front wheel of the bike from tipping when you hoist the bike over your head. Additionally, there’s no need for clamping the thin walls of frame tubes or fragile fork dropouts because the Upside rack touches the same places of your bicycle as you do when you are riding it.
Where the Upside is Similar to Thule Up-Ride and Yakima High-Road
The Upside is a good fit for almost any bike on the market, like its Thule and Yakima competitors. It makes no difference what frame shape, wheel size, or axle type the bike features. The only limitation to the Upside Rack is if the bike has a challenging handlebar shape or if it’s heavier than 17kg/37.5lb.
These handlebar shapes and bike weights are out:
- Dedicated TT handlebars
- Time-trial handlebars
- Deep aero-road handlebars
- Heavy downhill bikes
As most cyclists would know, these specifications eliminate roof-mounted bicycle carriers from use anyway.
The Upside is a one-per-bike purchase. If you are going to place your bikes head-to-toe next to one another, you will need two Upside racks. Two Upside racks will comfortably fit most car models. If you have a larger vehicle, it’s possible you would be able to fit more than two Upside racks on your roof. There are some car models and handlebar widths that would only fit one bike: a mountain bike width on the crossbar length, for example. This is because the rack and bike are required to be fitted in a straight line.
If this is a problem for you, take a look at our 10 Best Saris Bike Racks review for alternates.
You can buy the Upside with or without the electronic lock that secures the rack to the crossbars to deter theft. This is a surprisingly smart device, as it uses a fob system similar to those security systems in modern buildings. This electronic lock disengages the pawls which allow the rear-side hook to tightened or loosened. When the rack is installed and the electronic lock activated, there is no way it can be removed.
You can purchase the Upside without the e-lock, and it arrives packaged in a recyclable, reusable cardboard box. A carry case is an additional purchase to make if you don’t want to use the cardboard box.
This roof-mounted bike carrier is a good buy for anyone who wants bike transport that can be installed when needed. The handiness of attaching it to the bike first and then folding away for easy storage is a convenient feature. The Upside fits most car crossbars, with room to spare for another.
Because the Upside is so easy to fit, simple to store when not in use, and built with such high-quality materials, the competitive pricing of this product makes this bike rack one to recommend.