Bike rack options

Looking for some feedback or opinions on what rack to purchase.

I used to have an SUV with factory roof racks and as a result, bought a Yakima Raptor which was excellent, other than reaching up to put the bike on. Fast forward and I have a new SUV, but without anything on the roof, and a Mazda 5 crossover/ van, that is bare as well.

I am wondering two things:

  1. Should I buy a roof mounted system or install a hitch and hitch mounted system??? I know the hitch/ hitch mounted system is more expensive, especially since I already have a roof carrier, but the roof racks are vehicle specific, so when a new vehicle comes in, the roof racks more than likely won’t fit.

  2. Which vehicle is best suited for carrying bikes??? My Mazda seems like the logical choice for roof racks as it is lower to the ground so it would be easier to load/ unload, but if I go with a hitch, is one better than the other?

Anyone with a similar experience or opinions on each type of rack fire away, as I would like to know as much as possible before I decide on something.

When I had my Hyunai Santa Fe the hitch mount I had from swagmann that held the bike by the tires was super convenient.

I moved on to a Honda Ridgeline and now don’t need a rack at all. One bike fits perfectly on the diagonal and I have a gate pad to haul up to five bikes perched on the gate. Love that truck.

I have both roof rack and trailer hitch and I never put the bike on the roof, I don’t even put the carriers up there unless I have to. I purchased a Swagman XTC 2 from MEC. It requires a bit of TLC to keep it going, but it is so quick and easy to use. It tends to rock a little but if the bike is tight it shouldn’t rub off the paint. It was also relatively inexpensive. Now if you have a hatch back, which I know you have on the Mazda and probably on your SUV, it won’t open with a bike on the inside tray. I looked into Thule and Yakima hitch carriers and they were quite expensive, though I’m sure you get more for your money. I’ve put hockey tape on the trays and have already disassembled and painted the XTC and will probably do it again this year. To be fair, I put it on and leave it on until the snow flies so it gets a lot of abuse from whatever is on the road.

I’ve had several roof systems over the years and they’re fine but with tall vehicles like our Honda Pilot, rooftop is damn near impossible if the car isn’t perfectly level.

I definitely prefer the hitch mount, although our 5 bike top tube mount (I have three kids) Thule kinda sucks. It takes at least 30 minutes to get all of the bikes on there and all the seats need to be removed. Bloody annoying. I’m going to replace it with a 4 bike wheel mount rack, and simply put the smallest bike in the trunk.

Have a Saturn Vue SUV with a hatch. The bikes ride inside almost always. When I was looking, one of the criteria for my vehicle was that bikes had to fit. Have to remove the seats and front wheels to stand them up. With split seats we can carry people and bikes.

On the rare occasions we’ve got too many people or too much gear we have a hitch rack. Our rack has an adapter that extends it far enough that we can open the hatch with the rack mounted. Ours is a Saris top tube type which requires adapters since we’ve got odd frames. It works pretty well but a tray type that holds the wheels would be better.

I considered roof racks but the bikes would be way up and I’m not very tall. I was also a little nervous about having a bike slip and go through the sunroof.

I have a Mazda Protege 5, a little lower to the ground than the Mazda 5 I guess. I have a roof rack and I love it. I’ve never had a hitch mount rack but when I’ve used them they are OK, too. I think for a small vehicle the roof rack is more convenient because it’s easier to access the hatch.

The drawback to a roof rack even for a small vehicle is you need to remember if bikes are on top before you try to enter a garage or even a drivethru. No difficult lifting our bikes up there but the heaviest we have is only about 35lbs.

OP: I bought thule cross bars for my car last spring for about $500, I’m kind of regretting it now when I see people with similar cars driving with hitch mount accessories. If you are concerned about gas mileage or road noise the hitch mount is the way to go. I find have the cross bars on the car annoying (loud and less efficient) when they aren’t being used.

That being said, I see a lot of you guys have both hitch and roof mount systems. Would anyone be willing to sell their roof mount system? :smile: