Bike roof racks

I have a bike rack for the back of my hatchback which I think is fine. Hubby thinks it is fiddly and not secure for long trips - he thinks it seems wobbly, however tight it gets/additional cords I use. We also usually take his car for longer trips (not a hatchback and he assures me my bike rack won't fit). We have just come back from a trip when we put the bikes in the boot - but this won't work later in the year when we'll have people with us so won't be able to put back seats down. Hubby is determined we need a roof rack thing, but I'm not sure.


1. Are roof racks really more secure than ones hooked on back of cars? Studying ones on cars ths week they still seem pretty wobbly but are they a more secure wobbly?

2. Is one or other more or less fuel inefficient?

3. Should we be considering a tow bar option?

4. Do you have any recommendations, suggestions, things to look out for?

To say nothing of how on earth do you even get them up there (or am I just too little!!!).

Will need to carry two road bikes for trips of about 7 hours.

Thanks in advance.


  • Not an expert at cars and stuff but IMO

    1 secure wobbly seems normal.
    2 roof bars would suggest less fuel efficient, can be noisy if only one bike on, not two. I only know this from a friend who uses roof bars.
    3 If you already have a towbar, great, use a rack that fits on, we bought a 3 bike one, it only really fits 2 adult bikes comfortably plus bar can be locked onto car and bikes locked onto rack for security.
    4 Thule, is a make that seems robust and been doing roof stuff and bike racks.
    Yes, valid question of how do you get them up there? I am also too little, would need to take a set of steps with me if that was my method.
    Also if bike is on the roof you have to remember when going into car parks with height restrictions. I have heard 2 tales of crunched bikes when it was forgotten.

  • I have Thule roof bars and fork mount racks for the bikes. It doesn't get better quality or more stable than this. Firstly the roof bars alone are noisier than with a roof box fitted. The bikes don't make it any quieter. Anything over 90 with the bikes on gets very noisy. Anything over 110 with the roof box on is silly, it is also Thule and speed rated for Germans. I only drive at these speeds in Germany.

    They allow easy access to the boot. The bike gets hit with 70mph winds. Roof mounted bikes aren't fuel efficient. It does keep them out of the crap thrwon up by vehicles but puts them in direct contact with flies.

    If I had a tow bar (and would likely always have one) then a tow bar mounted rack is probably the best method. Roof bars don't fit all cars, need changing when you change the car etc but a tow ball mount is a tow ball mount.

    And yes roof bars are high up. IF you get a 4*4 then they are even higher.

    Hope this helps.



  • My only tip if you do get one is, don't do like my friend did and put the bike on then drive out of the car park through a height restriction exit image

  • I've got a 3 bike tow bar one but tbh you'd need to remove the pedals to fit three bikes you were at all concerned about as there isn't that much room.    I also find it a bit worrying how it bounces about but it hasn't actually fallen off - though at times I have stopped and checked it is tight enough - it always has been.    I think if I was buying again I'd just go for a decent strap on one like you already have and make do.  

  • I bought basic roof bars and racks from Halfords and never had a problem with them. No idea about fuel efficiency.  Don't find them noisy (though I do always drive with music on).  

  • Thanks all - really helpful, and food for thought on lots of points.

    I would almost certainly crash into a height restriction immediately which is probably why when I offer to drive he insists he's fine image
  • The worst thing about my friend was that it was in the car park for the flats he lives in and he only just put the bike on the roof 1 minute before driving out. 

  • yes was in a car when they forgot the bike on top and went into a carpark just so that we could check direction on the on the floor and roof bars ripped off leaving dents etc on the car................

    I would never have one because i have heard a few stories like this on the just forget its there when you pop into macdonalds drive through on the way home........

    if we have to take bikes and people we just take two cars .expensive for the trip but then it only happens occassionally...........

  • If your bike is carbon then it shouldn't be suspended from the top tube.

    I carry mine on the roof with a sea sucker vacuum rack. Have also used on the tailgate, and half on roof and half on boot. Doesn't come cheap but doesn't need bars and will fit any car, have driven at well over 100 MPH and it stayed in place.
  • At IMUK - the Reebok Stadium had a barrier which at least one person got their bike tangled in.

    I don't think I could trust myself not to forget - bikes in the car for me or MTB on a tow bar mounted ancient holder.  I do always lock the bike onto the spigot thing so if it does jump off it'll be attached by cables and destroy the back of my car rather than kill anyone behind me.

  • Thanks everyone, really helpful. I'm swaying with Seren and sticking to using boot of car - with fuel inefficiency of a roof rack fuel cost of two cars may be diminished a bit. Hubby is looking into other suggestions/recommendations above, so there may be a show downimage

    Dubai Dave - no carbon, so I'm safe with my boot rack for shorter trips, but useful to know for the future!

    Thanks again.
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