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Yakima HighRoad Review

A quality bike rack that is best suited for lighter bikes and small vehicles.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $249 List | $249.00 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Secure hold, exceptionally easy installation/removal, no frame contact
Cons:  Extremely difficult on taller vehicles, harder load process for shorter riders, 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
#6 of 25
  • Ease of EveryDay Use - 20% 6
  • Ease of Removal and Storage - 20% 10
  • Versatility - 20% 7
  • Security - 20% 7
  • Ease of Assembly - 10% 10
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Yakima HighRoad is an impressive roof-mounted bike rack that features a secure hold and a very easy installation process. We only recommend this rack for riders with small, compact vehicles such as a hatchback or a wagon. Even on small to mid-sized crossovers, the HighRoad is challenging to use, even for our 6'1" tester. When it is used in the appropriate application, 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 cost. For the price, this rack is a decent value. It delivers impressive performance at a price that is in-line with other high-end roof racks.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

Analysis and Test Results


The HighRoad is a quality bike rack. When used on a small vehicle, it is an excellent option for city-dwellers or those who want to avoid a hitch rack. It posted a decent score in the ease of use metric while ease of removal and storage and ease of assembly were clear strong points. This bike rack can hang with some of the better options but the load process could be improved. If you have a heavy mountain bike, it is awkward and it would be really easy for your bike to tip over onto your roof or head.

Our tester is 6'1" and loading bikes on this crossover takes some attention. Shorter riders with heavy bikes will have problems.
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 relatively intuitive. The big x-factor is the height of your vehicle.

Let's start with the good. We really like the design of this rack. Yakima borrowed from the Front Loader to design the HighRoad. First, raise the front hoop into the forward position. It will bottom out. Next, lift the bike 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 grabbing position dialed. With the bike resting on the rack, ensure the front wheel is pushed forward against the front hoop. Next, raise the rear hoop, which grabs the rear of the front wheel. Turn the dial clockwise, and the rear hoop will squeeze the front wheel forward. Both raising the rear hoop and turning the dial must be done with one hand, while the other stabilizes the bike. 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 practice, this is a decent design. The bike is held quite tight. We tested this bike with road and mountain bikes and it works well. The loading process is fine, albeit a little complex.

Where things get wonky is when you introduce a slightly taller vehicle. We aren't talking about a big SUV or truck here; we are talking about small SUVs and crossovers. Anything aside from compact sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons can be difficult. Our tester is 6'2," and the load process was challenging on a Ford Edge. Any taller and things would get even more complicated. This effect of vehicle height isn't as big of a deal with other models. The problem with the HighRoad is the process is complex and you need to be supporting the weight of the bike during the whole process.

Loosening the bolt with the silver knob on the left de-tensions the strap. This provides the slack to maneuver it around your crossbars.
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 on your vehicle. This was one of the most impressive aspects of the rack. Installation and removal is 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 form, it can be easily leaned up in the corner of a garage or a shed without occupying much space. At only 18-pounds, it is quite easy to maneuver.

Versatility


The HighRoad is a very versatile bike rack. It works with all of the major wheel sizes and accommodates fat bike tires up to 4-inches wide. To be sure, the majority of fat bike tires range from about 3.8-inches to 4.8 inches. That means not all fat bike tires will work. We tested this rack with a road bike and a large, slack, enduro mountain bike. The tray was plenty long enough to fit this bike.

The biggest restriction will be the weight of your bike and the height of your roofline. Shorter riders with heavy bikes will have some problems, and that limits versatility.

The large knob puts tension on the rear hoop which squeezes your front wheel and locks it in place.
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 built out of the box and there is nothing to do except strap it onto your car.

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. In other words, it comes with the cable, but you can't use the lock unless you purchase the locking cores. A two-pack is available on the Yakima website for forty bucks.

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

Durability


Throughout testing, we observed no significant wear. We don't have any serious durability concerns either. 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 caveats as to vehicle type, bike type, and rider 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 a little clunky and can be challenging for shorter riders with heavier bicycles. In addition, this rack is a far better option for a hatchback or wagon as opposed to a crossover or SUV. All-in-all, this is a very good rack for the right buyer and the quality of the design is stellar.


Pat Donahue