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RockyMounts BrassKnuckles Review

A straightforward, sturdy, and user-friendly roof mount rack
RockyMounts BrassKnuckles
Photo: RockyMounts
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Price:  $250 List | $249.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Sturdy, user-friendly, no wheel removal, compatible with most roof bars
Cons:  No locks included, expensive for roof mount
Manufacturer:   RockyMounts
By Jeremy Benson ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 29, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#17 of 23
  • Ease of EveryDay Use - 20% 7
  • Ease of Removal and Storage - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 20% 9
  • Security - 20% 5
  • Ease of Assembly - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The RockyMounts BrassKnuckles is a roof mount rack with a user-friendly design. It utilizes a sturdy clamp arm that secures the bike by the front wheel with no frame contact and the ability to fit a large range of wheel sizes and tire widths. It has a relatively simple and intuitive design with a robust and durable construction. It's compatible with all types of aftermarket and factory crossbars and works best on vehicles with low roofs due to its higher loading height. Testers didn't love that the BrassKnuckles doesn't come with locks, although they can be installed, and found this rack to be less secure than some of the competition. Overall, testers were impressed with the quality and user-friendliness of the BrassKnuckles and feel this is a good roof mount option to consider.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Sturdy, user-friendly, no wheel removal, compatible with most roof barsReasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locksSecure hold, easy rack installation/removal, no bike frame contactVery secure hold, no frame or fork contactVery inexpensive, no assembly required, lightweight, folds small for storage
Cons No locks included, expensive for roof mountSits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly requiredWorks best on lower vehicles, harder to load bike, lock cores not included for integrated lockDesign seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to loadNot adjustable, support arms may not work with all frame shapes/styles, no security features
Bottom Line A straightforward, sturdy, and user-friendly roof mount rackA versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratioA quality roof-mount bike rack that is particularly easy to install and remove and works best with lower vehicles and lighter-weight bikesA roof-mount rack with an exceptionally sturdy and secure hold of your bicycle with no frame contactA very affordable, bare-bones trunk rack for the infrequent rack user on a tight budget
Rating Categories RockyMounts BrassKn... RockyMounts MonoRail Yakima HighRoad Thule UpRide Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...
Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Versatility (20%)
9.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Security (20%)
5.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
2.0
Ease Of Assembly (10%)
7.0
6.0
10.0
10.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs RockyMounts BrassKn... RockyMounts MonoRail Yakima HighRoad Thule UpRide Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...
Style Roof Hitch (tray) Roof Roof Trunk
Bike Capacity 1 2 1 1 2
Lock? Available but not included Yes Available but not included Available but not included No
Weight 19 lbs 44 lbs 2 oz 18 lbs 17 lbs 7 lbs 9 oz
Other Sizes Available? No Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately No No Yes, 3 and 4 bike versions
Cross Bar Compatibility Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory N/A T-slot compatibility with additional SmarT-Slot Kit Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

RockyMounts makes all types of bike racks and the BrassKnuckles is one of several roof mount racks in this review. It is a user-friendly and versatile rack that is limited only by its rooftop location and lack of security features. If you're looking for a quality roof mount tray rack we think the BrassKnuckles is a great option to consider, you just might want to buy a cable lock to go along with it.

Performance Comparison



The BrassKnuckles is a solid roof mount bike rack. It's...
The BrassKnuckles is a solid roof mount bike rack. It's user-friendly and well made.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Ease of Everyday Use


Testers found the BrassKnuckles to be well suited to everyday use. As with any roof mount rack, the most difficult part of the process is lifting the bike up onto the roof of your vehicle. The BrassKnuckles is easier to use than most roof racks, however, due to the fact that there is no wheel removal required, although you do need to lift the bike slightly high to load it than with a fork-mount.

This rack works best on vehicles with lower roof heights. This...
This rack works best on vehicles with lower roof heights. This Toyota Rav 4 works but is about as high as we'd go.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Once this rack is installed on your roof bars, you simply need to open the front and rear wheel straps, flip open the metal wheel cradle, and articulate the clamp arm all the way forward. Then hoist your bike up onto the long tray and secure the front wheel with the stout ratcheting clamp arm. This clamp arm is almost identical to those found on many platform hitch mount racks, although this one has a grip reminiscent of a set of brass knuckles as the handle. Both the front and rear wheels get secured even further with a ratcheting ladder strap. To get the bike down you simply reverse the process.

No axle adapters needed here, this clap arm secures the bike by the...
No axle adapters needed here, this clap arm secures the bike by the front wheel and fits a huge range of wheel and tire sizes.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

This rack easiest to use on vehicles with lower roofs like sedans and station wagons due to the fact that you have to lift the bike all the way up onto it. The higher the roof, the more challenging it becomes. When not in use, you can fold the clamp arm and the wheel cradle down and the rack becomes quite low profile. It's nearly as streamlined as the fork mount roof racks when fully collapsed.

Ease of Removal and Storage


Generally speaking, roof mount racks typically get mounted on your crossbars and left there for an extended period due to the more time-consuming and involved process of attachment and removal. This style of rack is more of a set it and forget it than something you'd want to put on and take off after every use.

This rack is best for people who will put it on their vehicle and...
This rack is best for people who will put it on their vehicle and leave it there for extended periods. It doesn't take a long time, but tools are required to install and remove the rack on the crossbars.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

When you do choose to install or remove the BrassKnuckles from your vehicle it really isn't all that difficult but it does require the use of a 5mm Allen key and just a little bit of time. The rack can be mounted to virtually any style of crossbar, RockyMounts, Thule, Yakima, and most factory styles. The front mount point is at the connection of the tray and the clamp arm and consists of a rubber-coated metal strap that is tightened or loosened by turning a screw underneath the lockable plastic cover. The rear attachment point consists of two screws and a metal plate that tightens around the crossbar, both screws are on the same side of the tray making them easy to reach. Mounting or removing the BrassKnuckles takes no more than 5 minutes.

The rear crossbar attachment on a factory crossbar. We like that...
The rear crossbar attachment on a factory crossbar. We like that both screws are on the same side of the rack for convenience.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

The BrassKnuckles is significantly heavier than the fork-mount style roof racks but at only 19lbs it isn't really that heavy. Once the rack is off your vehicle it is 63.25" long, but only 12" wide and 5" thick, making it quite easy to store in the corner of your garage or shed, especially compared to the massive hitch mount racks in this review.

Verstaility


The BrassKnuckles shines in the versatility department. This rack can fit a huge range of wheel sizes, wheelbases, and tire widths from road tires up to massive fat bike rubber (with the fat bike adapter kit). When used on aftermarket crossbars it has a weight limit of 45lbs, and 35lbs on factory bars. It can handle any bike in your fleet with the exception of heavyweight e-bikes, but who wants to lift a 50lb bike on their roof anyway? Due to the fact that this rack makes no frame contact to secure your bike, it should appeal to a huge range of riders, including those with oddly shaped tubing or fragile carbon frames. The front wheel clamp is one size fits all, and no adjustments are needed when switching between different wheel sizes or tire widths. Unlike the fork mount style roof racks, the BrassKnuckles doesn't have any axle compatibility issues.

We mostly tested the BrassKnuckles with mountain bikes, but you can...
We mostly tested the BrassKnuckles with mountain bikes, but you can fit just about any size wheel or tire on it. If you have a fat bike they sell an inexpensive kit to secure tires up to 4.5" in width.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Ease of Assembly


When you open the box that the BrassKnuckles comes in you'll notice that it comes in several pieces. The assembly is somewhat more involved than other racks that come completely or mostly assembled from the factory.

It's more involved than some of the other racks, but assembling the...
It's more involved than some of the other racks, but assembling the BrassKnuckles is really pretty easy.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Putting the rack together is quite simple with easy-to-follow instructions and all the tools needed included. You basically connect the front and rear halves of the tray, slide the wheel retention straps into place and then push the end caps of the tray into place on both ends. Assembly of the BrassKnuckles takes 5-10 minutes with another 5 minutes or so to install it on top of your vehicle. We don't feel that this assembly time is a deal-breaker, but it's certainly more time-consuming than racks that come fully assembled.

Security


Unfortunately, the BrassKnuckles doesn't come with any security features. It is designed to accept lock cores in both the clamp arm handle and the front tray attachment cover, and lock cores are sold separately. So, on its own, it doesn't offer much in the way of security for either the bike or the rack, but assuming you spend the $20 to get a set of lock cores this rack quickly becomes much more secure. Even without the lock on the front attachment plate of the rack, one would need a 5mm Allen key and 5 minutes or so to get the rack off of your vehicle, a lock would add significantly more deterrent. Adding a lock to the clamp arm would also do wonders to deter a would-be bike thief, but even then it only secures the front wheel, the rest of the bike remains unlocked unless you happen to secure it to either the rack or your roof bars with a cable lock through the frame.

You can install lock cores on the clamp handle and on the rack...
You can install lock cores on the clamp handle and on the rack itself. While this adds a measure of security we feel the design of the BrassKnuckles is inherently less secure than some other racks.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

The most similar rack in the test, the Yakima FrontLoader also doesn't come with any locks included, although it does have an integrated cable that needs a lock core to become a functional security measure. Other roof mount racks we tested that require the removal of the front wheel, like the Kuat Trio come with integrated cable locks and lockable fork mounts for extra security.

Durability


During the course of our testing, we've been very impressed by the durability of the BrassKnuckles. With a name like that you'd expect this rack to be tough, and as far as we can tell this is a sturdy and robust rack that is built to stand the test of time. The rack attaches securely to the vehicle and holds your bike steadily at highway speeds and when it's windy. This is thanks to the stout clamp arm and secure clamp mechanism, as well as the ratcheting straps that secure each wheel to the tray. Due to the lack of bike movement, you can tell that this rack is rugged, and the steady bike will help to prevent its parts from breaking down over time. All of the moving parts are still in perfect working order, and in case anything breaks RockyMounts sells every part on their website.

The BrassKnuckles feels sturdy, plus the handle on the rack looks...
The BrassKnuckles feels sturdy, plus the handle on the rack looks like a set of brass knuckles.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Value


At its retail price, the BrassKnuckles is one of the most expensive roof mount bike racks in this test. We feel this rack is a good value to the right consumer as it is high quality, user-friendly, durable, and impressively versatile. We'd be more inclined to buy this rack over most of the fork mount roof racks due to its ease of use and versatility, although most of the fork mount racks cost less and have better security.

The BrassKnuckles is a great roof mount rack option.
The BrassKnuckles is a great roof mount rack option.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Conclusion


The BrassKnuckles is a well-designed roof mount rack that is user-friendly, durable, and very versatile. It has sturdy construction with a beefy clamp arm that holds the bike securely on your roof. It's easy to load, for a roof mount rack, and doesn't require the removal of a wheel or any special adapters. It's also relatively streamlined and folds down small when not in use. Our biggest gripe is that it doesn't come with locks, though they can be added, and this rack provides a lesser degree of security than many other competitors.

Other Versions and Accessories


RockyMounts makes a full line of bike racks to suit every need and budget. In addition to the BrassKnuckles model reviewed here, they also make a similar model called the Tomahawk that retails for $150.

Lock cores are sold separately for the BrassKnuckles, and a set of two retails for $20.
RockyMounts also makes a Fattie Kit, $20, to accommodate tires up to 5" wide on the BrassKnuckles rack.

Jeremy Benson