Yakima HighRoad Review
Compare prices at 2 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
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|Pros||Secure hold, easy rack installation/removal, no bike frame contact||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact||No front wheel removal, holds any axle type, easy install||Very inexpensive, no assembly required, lightweight, folds small for storage|
|Cons||Works best on lower vehicles, harder to load bike, lock cores not included for integrated lock||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load||No locks included, difficult to load, not fat bike compatible||Not adjustable, support arms may not work with all frame shapes/styles, no security features|
|Bottom Line||A quality roof-mount bike rack that is particularly easy to install and remove and works best with lower vehicles and lighter-weight bikes||A versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratio||A roof-mount rack with an exceptionally sturdy and secure hold of your bicycle with no frame contact||A favorite for sedans and other vehicles with low roof heights||A very affordable, bare-bones trunk rack for the infrequent rack user on a tight budget|
|Rating Categories||Yakima HighRoad||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Yakima Front Loader||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)|
|Ease Of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Yakima HighRoad||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Yakima Front Loader||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Lock?||Available but not included||Yes||Available but not included||Yes, sold separately||No|
|Rack Weight||18 lbs||44 lbs 2 oz||17 lbs||13 lbs||7 lbs 9 oz|
|Max Weight Per Bike||not specified||60 lbs||44 lbs||30-40 lbs (varies based on crossbar spread)||35 lbs|
|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||T-slot compatibility with additional SmarT-Slot Kit||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory||Fits Yakima round, square, factory or aerodynamic crossbars||N/A|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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