The Bottom Line
In a perfect world, you’d either have a bike rack for every occasion or one that fits any position on your vehicle, hitch, roof, trunk, or even your spare wheel. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. My preferred option is the Yakima Frontloader Rooftop Bike Mount, which is roof-mounted. When I’m towing the trailer, the roof was the obvious choice.
That’s how I came to look at the Yakima Frontloader Rooftop.
At a Glance
Yakima can be considered one of the world’s leading brands and has an impressive array of options for carrying any bike. They first came into existence 40 years ago, but the company really came to life when Steven Cole and Don Banducci took over in 1979, within 5 years their products were on every vehicle at the Summer Olympics.
From there, they have got bigger and better, becoming a respected household name.
As the name suggests, this is a roof-mounted option, let’s take a closer look.
There are plenty of positive features with the Yakima Frontloader:
No Need To Remove The Wheel
Most, (although not all), of the roof-mounted bike carriers on the market, require you to remove the wheel and secure your bike with a spindle lock. This means you’ve got to spend time removing the wheel and have somewhere to stow it.
That’s not an issue with the Frontloader, your bike can be lifted onto the roof in one piece.
The system incorporates a two-part brace which both secures the wheel and keeps the bike upright. All you need to do is lift your bike into position and slide it forward, the front clamp will create a ‘V’ around the wheel.
You can then slide the clamp downward, locking the wheel into place. A simple twist knob system allows you to tighten the clamp into position or release it ready for removal.
The rear wheel is secured with a ratchet strap, just to ensure the bike does not move in transit.
It should be noted that the bike will stand up by itself as soon as you place it into the stand, this makes it very easy to load your bike into position.
Flexible & Easy To Fit
It should be possible to fit this aerodynamic, and surprisingly stylish, bike rack onto your vehicle in approximately 5 minutes. You’ll find the instructions are easy to follow and no tools are required.
In fact, this rack should fit any vehicle, although you will need roof bars already installed. The good news is that the Frontloader is compatible with all types of roof bars, factory, square, aerodynamic. None are an issue.
Just check out this video to see how easy it really is.
In essence, you position the bar and then tighten the clamps around your roof bars with the supplied bolts. They have large knobs on the top to ensure easy tightening.
Of course, you will need to set your roof bars at the right distance first to accommodate the length of your bike.
Fits Any Style Bike
It doesn’t matter what style of frame you have, which type of axle, or even if you’re worried about a custom paint job. The wheel clamp doesn’t touch the frame, providing the wheel fits the clamp will hold your bike securely, without risk of damage.
It should be noted that because it incorporates a tire tray there is a maximum tire width of 2.5”, it is also likely that bikes with fenders will not fit onto the platform.
The clamp system can be folded flat when not in use, allowing you to leave the Frontloader attached to your roof. It remains stylish and aerodynamic while making it very easy for you to lift your bike into position whenever you want.
It’s pleasing to see easy-to-follow instructions accompanying a high-quality rack. This makes it unlikely that you’ll have an issue that you need to contact customer services about.
However, if you do need to contact them, you’ll find the service is responsive, friendly, and very helpful. That’s a real plus in an increasingly digital world.
Lifting The Bike
This is not actually a fault with the Yakima Frontloader but it is something to be aware of. Lifting the bike into position is simple thanks to the design of this rack. However, you do need to consider the weight of your bike, the heavier it is the harder it will be to lift.
Removing it can actually be more difficult, as you’ll need to balance it while releasing the clamp and then lift it down.
The good news is that SKS locks are available. You’ll need a pair as one secures the rack to your vehicle and the other is a cable-style lock for securing your bike to the rack.
The bad news is that they are not supplied with the Frontloader, you’ll need to purchase them separately.
Although this is not a deal-breaker, it is disappointing as, in most cases, security is essential, you never know when you’ll be leaving your bike unattended.
The wheel tray on this rack is removable and it’s a good idea to take it off when it’s not in use. If you don’t, you’ll find that it creates a knocking noise while you’re driving. You’re likely to find this annoying!
Fortunately, it uses a tool-free retaining clip, making it very easy to take off.
If you have different-sized bikes that you need to carry you may find that you’ll have to change the positions of your crossbars to accommodate the different bikes.
The tray on the Frontloader does move, but not extensively, which is why you may need to move your roof bars. If this is the case and you regularly carry different-sized bikes, you may find this inconvenient.
It s important to be aware of the cost, it is certainly not the most expensive option on the market, but it’s also not the cheapest. Personally, I believe it’s good value for the money but you’ll need to decide if this rack is within your budget or not.
There is little to fault with the quality of the Yakima Frontloader Rooftop Upright bike mount. In fact, it is exceptionally easy to use, the only complication being the weight of your bike when you lift it down.
You can, of course, place more than one of these racks on your roof, allowing you to carry several bikes. I use two, alongside my kayak trailer and am struggling to find an issue with it.
In short, if you need to put your bikes on the roof, the Yakima Frontloader Rooftop bike mount is more than worth considering, you should be getting one today!