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Yakima HighRoad Review

A quality roof-mount bike rack that is particularly easy to install and remove and works best with lower vehicles and lighter-weight bikes
Yakima HighRoad
Photo: Yakima
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $249 List | $249.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Secure hold, easy rack installation/removal, no bike frame contact
Cons:  Works best on lower vehicles, harder to load bike, lock cores not included for integrated lock
Manufacturer:   Yakima
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 19, 2020
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Yakima HighRoad is an impressive roof-mounted rack that features a very easy installation/removal process and secure hold of the bike. Due to the roof-top location of this rack, we only recommend it for use on lower vehicles such as a sedan, hatchback, or wagon. Even on small to mid-sized crossovers and SUVs, hoisting your bike into position on the HighRoad is challenging, even for our tall testers. When used on the appropriate vehicle, this rack delivers a rock-solid hold with no frame or fork contact. This makes it an excellent option for riders who baby their bikes and want to avoid a scratch or scuff at all costs. We feel the HighRoad rack is a decent value, and it delivers impressive performance at a price that is in-line with other high-end roof racks.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Yakima HighRoad
This Product
Yakima HighRoad
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $249.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$619.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$599.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$449.95 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$250 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Secure hold, easy rack installation/removal, no bike frame contactEasy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installationLow loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removalReasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locksVery secure hold, no frame or fork contact
Cons Works best on lower vehicles, harder to load bike, lock cores not included for integrated lockHefty, priceyHigh price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use, questionable durabilitySits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly requiredDesign seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load
Bottom Line A roof-mount rack that's easy to install and remove and works best with shorter vehicles and lighter bikesA thoughtful design makes this versatile rack incredibly user-friendly and we think its the best hitch mount rack availableA lightweight alternative to other hitch racks, with great adjustabilityThis rack combines solid performance and a reasonable priceAn highly engineered and somewhat complex rack that does a wonderful job holding your bike
Rating Categories Yakima HighRoad Thule T2 Pro XT Yakima Dr. Tray RockyMounts MonoRail Thule UpRide
Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)
7
9
8
8
7
Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)
9
7
9
7
8
Versatility (20%)
7
9
9
9
7
Security (20%)
7
8
6
8
8
Ease Of Assembly (10%)
10
7
8
6
10
Durability (10%)
7
9
7
8
7
Specs Yakima HighRoad Thule T2 Pro XT Yakima Dr. Tray RockyMounts MonoRail Thule UpRide
Style Roof Hitch (tray) Hitch (tray) Hitch (tray) Roof
Bike Capacity 1 2 2 2 1
Lock? Available but not included Yes Yes Yes Available but not included
Weight 18 lbs 51 lbs 34 lbs 44 lbs 2 oz 17 lbs
Other Sizes Available? No Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 1 additional bike Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately No
Cross Bar Compatibility T-slot compatibility with additional SmarT-Slot Kit N/A N/A N/A Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory

Our Analysis and Test Results

The HighRoad is a quality bike rack. When used on smaller vehicles with lower roofs, it is an excellent option for securely transporting one bike. Aside from the obvious need to lift the bike to roof level to load it, it is relatively easy to use. It is also impressively quick and easy to install/remove from the vehicle when not in use. This bike rack can hang with some of the top-rated competitors, and feel it is the best option for those who don't want to keep their roof rack on their vehicle at all times.

Performance Comparison


Our tester is 6'1" and loading bikes on this crossover takes some...
Our tester is 6'1" and loading bikes on this crossover takes some attention. Shorter riders with heavy bikes will have problems.

Ease of Everyday Use


The HighRoad is a mixed bag in terms of ease of use. On the one hand, the design is pretty slick. The way it holds the bike is very secure, there is no frame contact, and the loading process is relatively intuitive. As a roof-mounted rack, of course, it does require the user to lift the bike to the level of the roof to load it, so it works best on vehicles with lower roofs and with lighter-weight bikes that are easier to handle.

Overall, the loading process is relatively straightforward. Yakima borrowed some design features from the popular FrontLoader when they made the HighRoad. First, raise the front/larger wheel cradle from its folded down position up into the forward/loading position and open the ratchet strap for the rear wheel. Next, lift the bike up onto the rack by gripping the lower leg of the fork and the chainstays. The taller the vehicle, the more important it is to get your hand positions and bike balance dialed. With the bike resting on the rack, push the front wheel forward against the front wheel cradle. Next, raise the rear cradle up against the back of the front wheel. While supporting the bike with one hand, turn the wheel tension dial with the other hand until the front wheel is squeezed securely between the two wheel cradles. Lastly, secure the rear wheel with the reversible ratchet strap.

The HighRoad works very well with road bikes.
The HighRoad works very well with road bikes.

In some ways, this design is more user-friendly than fork-mount roof racks because you don't have to remove the front wheel or fiddle with adjusting the fork axle mount. At the same time, having the front wheel on the bike means you have to lift it slightly higher to load it. With the HighRoad, we found the bike hold to be very secure, plus it works well with a range of wheel sizes and tire widths.

The obvious drawback to this style of rack, and any roof rack for that matter, is the fact that you must lift the bike to the height of the roof of the vehicle to load it. We found it works best on sedans, station wagons, and similarly low vehicles. We tried it on a small/mid-sized SUV, the Ford Edge, and loading the bike was quite difficult. Likewise, the heavier the bike, the more challenging it is to load.

Loosening the bolt with the silver knob on the left de-tensions the...
Loosening the bolt with the silver knob on the left de-tensions the strap. This provides the slack to maneuver it around your crossbars.

Ease of Removal and Storage


The HighRoad is exceptionally easy to install and remove. This was one of the most impressive aspects of the rack. Installation and removal are extremely quick and can be done in just a couple of minutes once you understand the process.

This rack attaches to the vehicle with a strap/clamp system that does not require tools. Simply flip up a lever to expose the tightening device, loosen the straps, feed them around your crossbar, and shut the clamping device. Simple as that. The design takes a little getting used to, but once you are familiar with the process, it becomes exceptionally easy.

The HighRoad is easy to store. In its most compact/travel form, it is long and thin and can be easily leaned up in the corner of a garage, shed, or closet without occupying much space. At only 18-pounds, it is also quite easy to handle and move around.

Versatility


The HighRoad is a relatively versatile bike rack that should work with virtually any adult bike. It works with wheels between 26-29-inches and width ranging from 23mm up to 4-inches with no adjustments necessary. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit wheel sizes smaller than 26-inches, so kids and BMX bikes won't work. With a max wheelbase length of 48-inches, it should wor with all but the longest of enduro mountain bikes.

The biggest restriction will be the weight of your bike and the height of your roofline. Yakima doesn't specify a weight limit for the HighRoad, but heavier bikes, anything over 35 lbs or so, will be more difficult to load and that limits its versatility.

The large knob puts tension on the rear hoop which squeezes your...
The large knob puts tension on the rear hoop which squeezes your front wheel and locks it in place.

Ease of Assembly


The HighRoad scored incredibly well in terms of ease of assembly. Why? The answer is quite simple. There was no assembly required. The rack is completely assembled out of the box and there is nothing to do except attach it to your vehicle. Thanks to its tool-free installation design, this is a quick and easy process.

Depending on which side of your vehicle you decide to mount the rack, you might have to flip around the reversible rear wheel strap. This is an exceptionally easy and intuitive process.

Security


The HighRoad has an integrated cable lock that stows away into the tray. It is located at the rear of the rack. Simply pull the cable out, loop it through the desired area of the frame, and lock the cable to itself. The catch? The locking cores are not included. So, while it does come with the cable, you can't use the lock unless you purchase the locking cores. A two-pack is available on the Yakima website for forty bucks. Even with the locking cores, this cable lock is little more than a theft deterrent. We'd suggest adding a more robust aftermarket lock to the equation for another layer of bike security.

The HighRoad arrives completely assembled.
The HighRoad arrives completely assembled.

Durability


Throughout testing, we observed no significant wear and we don't have any serious durability concerns. With some racks, we can pinpoint areas that stand out as concerning or are worth monitoring. That is not the case with the HighRoad rack, and everything seems to be quality and dialed.

The mechanism on the knob that tightens the rear hoop against the front hoop to secure your front wheel feels sturdy and robust. We tried over-tightening this system to see what would happen. We have nothing to report and it still works swell.

This rack takes a bit of upper body strength to load.
This rack takes a bit of upper body strength to load.

Value


For the money, the HighRoad is in line with most high-end roof racks. While there are some considerations as to vehicle type, bike type, and user height, there is no doubt this rack works well. It delivers a secure hold of your bicycle, is exceptionally easy to install and remove, and has a built-in cable lock. We feel this rack is a strong value for the right buyer.

Conclusion


The Yakima HighRoad is a high-end roof rack that delivers a secure hold of your bicycle. It works with all kinds of bikes, including fat bikes with tires up to 4.0-inches wide. Installation and removal are incredibly breezy and requires no tools. The loading process is relatively intuitive, although with obvious limitations based on vehicle height, bike weight, and user height. We recommend this rack for riders with lower vehicles seeking a roof rack that makes no frame contact and requires no front wheel removal.

Pat Donahue