The Yakima HighRoller is a versatile roof rack that holds bikes by the front wheel, eliminating frame contact. It does not require removal of the front wheel and is a good option for bikes equipped with 15mm or 20mm through axles.
The Yakima HighRoller excels at carrying full suspension bikes, which can be hard to fit on trunk mount style racks or roof racks that require front wheel removal.
This model is the highest scoring roof rack we tested in this category. It uses a retention system similar in function to the Kuat NV. Bikes are held by the front wheel, eliminating contact with the frame. We love the HighRoller for transporting full suspension bikes and bikes with unique frame shapes. These types of bikes can pose problems for racks that use the frame as the retention attachment point. The HighRoller can also be used on both round and square crossbars. As tested, it will not work with factory crossbars, but Yakima makes adaptors to fit called Mighty Mounts that can be purchased from Yakima for $45. With a weight capacity of 50lbs, the HighRoller can handle almost any bike.
Ease of Assembly and Attachment
This contender comes out of the box ready for attachment. No tools are required. Three Snap Around clamps are used to secure the rack to your crossbars. The clamps come ready for round crossbars, if you have square crossbars you will need to remove the plastic tabs on each clamp. Carriage bolts are threaded through the front clamps and secured with thumbwheel knobs. The rear clamp is secured with a carriage bolt that slides in a track on the tray and a T shaped nut. All thumbwheels and nuts are tightened by hand. Two plastic base plate covers slide into place, covering the thumbwheel knobs, and you are ready to go. We found attachment to be quick and the directions well composed. We would recommend that the rack be left on the vehicle and not removed on a daily basis, but this is our recommendation for all roof racks.
Ergonomics/Ease of Use
The HighRoller fell a bit short here, when compared to the Yakima ForkLift. This is primarily due to the increased height that a bike must be lifted to in order to load it on the rack. Bikes are loaded on the Yakima ForkLift with the front wheel still on, forcing the user to lift the bike up to a foot higher off of the ground to load. If you have a vehicle with a low roof height, such as a sedan, this may not be an issue for you. However, many of our testers found it difficult and awkward to load. Heavy bikes compound the problem.
If you can manage lifting a bike onto the rack, securing it is relatively easy. The front hoop is set to the desired wheel size from 20" to 29". The rear hoop is pushed into contact with the back of the front wheel and tightened down with knob at the level of the tray. The rear wheel is secured with a ratcheting strap.
The HighRoller is well built, and sturdy enough to handle even heavy downhill bikes. We did experience some difficulty releasing the front tire clamp in very cold conditions where the release button would stick and require a lot of force to release. Other than that, we had no issues during testing, and the HighRoller held up well, even when used with heavy downhill bikes on rough roads.
The HighRoller comes with a cable lock that extends from the front wheel clamp. While the cable is included, the lock core is not, and you will need to purchase one from Yakima in order to secure your bike. We like the cable lock, it is easy to wrap around the downtube of all of the bikes we used to test the rack. Yakima recommends that the rack be secured to the crossbar on your vehicle when not in use. Unfortunately, the cable was not long enough to reach to our cross bars in order to secure the rack. The Snap Around clamps used to hold the rack to the crossbars are another security weakness. They are made of plastic and quite thin. They could easily be cut, allowing a thief to remove the entire rack with the bike attached.
The HighRoller is best suited to vehicles with lower roof heights such as sedans. If you can manage the challenging lift, it will safely transport any bike. We love it for carrying full suspension mountain bikes, and bikes with through axle front forks. Not having to remove the front wheel prevents you from having to carry a dirty wheel inside your vehicle, and eliminates an additional task between you and the trail.
With an MSRP of $199, the HighRoller is the most expensive roof rack we tested. It offers the advantage of not having to remove the front wheel, and the ability to carry bikes with through axle forks without purchasing additional adaptors. So for those with through axle equipped bikes, it is a good value. If you will primarily be transporting road bikes or other bikes with standard 9mm quick release forks, you will be better served by a less expensive option, such as the Best Buy RockyMounts JetLine roof rack.