HighRoad Roof Rack Review By Dave Krueger
I generally have a choice when I want to travel with one or more of my bikes: do we leave my bikes home and take the kids, or leave the kids to fend for themselves and bring whatever two-wheeled steed I favor? Of course the kids always win. Well, most of the time.
Another issue that has arisen with the advent of fat bikes and car racks is that some sort of modification is needed to allow your fatty to fit – if they fit at all. Hitch racks generally need new fat-compatible trays and roof racks generally need you to remove the front wheel. Fortunately, manufacturers are quickly adapting their racks to fit most bikes right out of the box. Hmm, I wonder if the Yakima HighRoad will fit my road, cross, and fat bike?
The aptly named HighRoad ($229) is a roof-rack that places your bike high above the road. It attaches to most factory and aftermarket cross-bars. If you are the lazy type like me, the HighRoad is an upright bike carrier which does not require the front wheel to be removed. The rack functions by securely clamping the front wheel whilst a strap secures the rear. This system of securing the bike has the sweet benefit of only touching the wheels and not the frame. Thus the Highroad does its best to keep your sexy frame scratch-free.
Setup of the HighRoad was very easy. Without reading the directions, I had it secured to my factory crossbars and ready to go in less than ten minutes (and now that it’s properly adjusted, it take about three minutes to put on/take off). The sturdy, yet flexible, straps are tensioned via an adjustment screw then snapped into place via a camming lever. There are two straps up front and one strap with a SKS lock on back to affix it to the cross bars. The clamp arms are tightened to the front wheel via a knob with a built-in torque setting. Just turn the knob until it clicks and your bike is secure!
My test rack came with a 2-pack of SKS Lock Cores ($39) – one to lock the rack to the rails and one for the integrated cable lock (one key works for both). The cable lock is long enough to secure the rear wheel and frame only. That is probably plenty for most scenarios; but I did throw an additional cable lock through the front wheel,frame, and rack when I left a bike for longer periods of time.
For their part, Yakima has made the HighRoad fit 26” to 29” wheels and those wheels can be securely held whilst being wrapped in 23mm to 3.25” rubber.
Wait, you say. That there bike in that there picture has 4” tires!? Indeed, and that is why I really like the HighRoad! Yakima says 3.25”, but what they mean is 4.0”! Now here is where I will describe how this rack is great for folks like me, but not necessarily great for everyone. As advertised, my road and cross bikes fit right out of the box. I was pleasantly surprised that my 60mm deep aero rims fit just fine with the stock strap.
To fit my fat bike, I did have to swap the stock rear strap with the Yakima Fat Straps. As Meatloaf famously sang, “don’t be sad, ’cause two out of three bikes ain’t bad.” It’s a $10 add-on to allow me transport every bike I own, so I’m ok with that.
Now this is where the HighRoad will lose a few riders. The good news is that I don’t think this will be a problem for most folks. As I just mentioned, I can fit my fat bike on the rack with the addition of a fat strap. I also found that I needed to let just a little air out of my front tire to squeak through the rear front clamping arm. Once the tire is set in the rear clamp, there is a little less than a half an inch between my 85mm rim and the clamp.
The clamp never rubbed on the rim, as it held the tire very firmly, but it is clear that a rim wider than 85mm would not safely fit on the rack (or at all). Sorry 100mm homies; this rack will not work for you. Now Yakima could have made the rear clamping arm as wide as the front to potentially solve this issue, but then the rack would likely lose the svelte nesting of the rack’s arms when not in use. Perhaps the engineers at Yakima can warp space-time and make it work in the future.
So the good news is that standard 80mm rims (or less) shod with 4” or less rubber will fit with minimal work. And that is what makes the HighRoad strapped to the top of my car so extra-freaking-special. It has the capability to transport my road bike shod in 24mm rubber, my cross bike wearing 33s, and my fat bike rocking four inch tires.
I’ve had a bike for all seasons for years, now it appears there is a roof-rack for all seasons as well. This rack works fantastic for all of my bikes and I imagine it will work great for others in similar situations. The HighRoad is a very nice, very solid rack that suits me perfectly. As soon as Yakima makes me to return this one, I’m going to be forced to get one for myself.