Roof racks: frame or fork mount? Which one?
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  1. #1
    Formerly known as gotj
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    Roof racks: frame or fork mount? Which one?

    I'm looking for one or two rooftop bike carriers for my 2003 VW Passat sedan and 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan. I have round Yakima bars on both, with identical front-to-back spacing. I'd like something that is relatively easy to move from one car to another, and that works with both MTB and road bikes.

    Frame or fork mount? Frame seems simpler and faster, but perhaps fork is more secure? Specific recommendations for each type would be appreciated (Yakima or Thule, assuming I can use a Thule bike carrier on Yakima bars).

    I also will use a Yakima Platinum Pro 16s cargo box on the rack at the same time as the bike carriers. Will I be able to fit two bikes up there at the same time as the box on the Odyssey?

    Finally, would you recommend the use of a fairing? Is that compatible with the cargo box?

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    fork mount for me...

    I've had both and prefer the fork mount. While the frame mount was a bit more convenient, I found that the clamp often damaged the decals on my downtube.

    The fork mount seems a bit more secure too. Taking the front wheel off is no big deal, although I do remember being at a century start once when the guys in the car next to me discovered they had left their front wheels in the garage. Bummer, especially since they drove from out of state.

    I've got the Yakima and use a fairing to cut down on wind noise, etc.

  3. #3
    Formerly known as gotj
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    thanks, Steve. I'm leaning a bit toward the frame mount, particularly b/c they seem to have some now that attach to the wheels rather than the frame, though I wonder if those are secure enough:

    http://yakima.com/Product.aspx?id=13

    http://thuleracks.com/thule/product....t_id=8&sku=594

    anyone have any opinions on the Yakima King Cobra vs. Thule Sidearm?

  4. #4
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    I prefer fork mounts. They seem more secure than the frame mounts that I've used. Moving Yakima fork mount racks from car to car would take no time at all. I have the front wheel carriers for mine so I don't have to worry about where the wheels are going and it's easy to check if I remembered them before we take off. Don't know if you could fit those on with racks and a carrier as I've never used a carrier. If the fairing fits with the carrier I would highly recommend getting one unless you want to be driven crazy by wind noise. The reduction in wind noise afforded by the fairing (on my car at least) is very noticable.
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  5. #5
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    I use a fork mount as well. I had my bike a a frame mount on top of a car with a sunroof and I could see the front wheel shimmying. Probally not doing anything bad, but it annoyed me. The fork mount is simple, secure, and as someone else mentioned you don't have to worry about scratching your bike, or scaping off the decals.

  6. #6

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    I have a fork mount which I don't use very often for my road bike (I just ride from my front door), but I've heard that fork mounts can over the long term cause damage to carbon forks and/or place additional stress on the headsets. Is there any truth to this? After all, just imagine the stress being placed on these attachment points when the bike's mounted and you're cornering in the car. Factor in the drag of highway speeds (ie. high speed lane change) and is there the potential for future fork failure?

  7. #7
    Formerly known as gotj
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    sounds like lots of people like the fork mount.

    just to clarify, I'm not a racer and don't transport my bike on the car all *that* often. what I'd be using it for would be for quick trips to the auto mechanic (I drop the car off and then bike to work), etc. around town, and for 5-6 hour family car trips (with another few bikes on the Saris Bones trunk rack in back (we can't fit all five bikes on the back of the car).

    for that reason, I'm leaning toward the frame mount (that, and the lack of need to store the wheel during transport). but if the fork mount is really better, perhaps I should go with that.

    would a fork (say, the Yakima Viper or Sprocket Rocket) or frame (say, Yakima King Cobra or Thule Sidearm) rack be easier to move from one car to another? I downloaded the mounting instructions for the Yakimas, and none looked particularly simple to move that way.

  8. #8
    n00bsauce
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    Neither, tire mount. They are just as secure as a fork mount. The main problem with any mount is operator error. Did you see the footage of the bike coming off the team car at the Giro? I"ll bet a dollar to a donut that the bike wasn't properly mounted and when the car hit the bump it went flying. I wouldn't have wanted to be one of the spectators hit by that flying hunk of metal. Hope no one was seriously hurt.

    They are simpler because you don't have to take the wheel off and just as quick if not quicker to mount the bike. You don't have to mount the front wheel on an extra carrier or find a place to stow it in the car. Your buddies don't have to wait for you to put the wheel on when you take the bike off the car. They fit all types of bikes (some fork mounts and some shock forks on mountain bikes are not compatible, especially when they're disk brake equipped) including BMX or others without quick release wheels. You don't have to strap down the rear wheel.
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  9. #9
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    Yakima King Cobra

    I use the King Cobra for convienence and ease of use, plus I can also carry friends bikes that don't have quick detachable wheels. I've never had a problem holding the bikes in snuggly (including all of the wheels) and the cable locks are a nice security feature for use while enjoying the after ride meal!
    Either way if you decide quickly, REI is having a Yakima rack special for 20% off through May 14th.

  10. #10
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    Fork mount, solid as a rock.

  11. #11
    Formerly known as gotj
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    Yep, tire mount is what I really meant

    Thanks, Mel and Oscar. I should have stated tire mount, rather than frame mount. That's exactly what I meant--thanks for the correction.

    And the King Cobra is precisely the model I'm looking most closely at, and I would get it at the REI sale tomorrow if I go that way (REI has all Yakima stuff at 20% off right now, I think).

    How hard is the King Cobra to move from one car to another? I'm thinking about getting one for each car, but I'd like to be able to move one if I want to carry two bikes on one car.

    Finally, how hard is it to install and uninstall fairings? The rack on my Passat is very noisy, so I'd like to try a fairing. But I don't think a fairing is compatible with my cargo box, so I'd need to be able to take it on and off on occasion (mostly going from ski/cargo box winter weather to summer/bike rack weather).

  12. #12
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    Thumbs up Fork mount all the way ...

    I have Yakima Vipers and would not trade them for a frame mount of any type at all. They have a more secure locking (with SKS lock cores) mechanism, lower profile (more aero than upright types when bike is not attached) and extremely easy to remove and/or reposition on the bars when unlocked. As for the fairing, 1 minute install TOPS. The new design will probably facilitate the cargo box without requiring removal. The fairing makes one HE!! of a difference r.e. windnoise on my car (Mazda6 wagon).

  13. #13
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    King Cobra

    Quote Originally Posted by SkiDiver
    Thanks, Mel and Oscar. I should have stated tire mount, rather than frame mount. That's exactly what I meant--thanks for the correction.

    And the King Cobra is precisely the model I'm looking most closely at, and I would get it at the REI sale tomorrow if I go that way (REI has all Yakima stuff at 20% off right now, I think).

    How hard is the King Cobra to move from one car to another? I'm thinking about getting one for each car, but I'd like to be able to move one if I want to carry two bikes on one car.

    Finally, how hard is it to install and uninstall fairings? The rack on my Passat is very noisy, so I'd like to try a fairing. But I don't think a fairing is compatible with my cargo box, so I'd need to be able to take it on and off on occasion (mostly going from ski/cargo box winter weather to summer/bike rack weather).
    I cant' help you with the fairing part (I''ve never used one). As for moving from one car to the next; I havn't tried yet, but after building it the first time most of the work should be done, however it will take more than a few seconds. If it's for a weekend trip or something similar, it should be easily doable, but I'm not sure I'd want to do it regularly.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkiDiver
    sounds like lots of people like the fork mount.

    just to clarify, I'm not a racer and don't transport my bike on the car all *that* often. what I'd be using it for would be for quick trips to the auto mechanic (I drop the car off and then bike to work), etc. around town, and for 5-6 hour family car trips (with another few bikes on the Saris Bones trunk rack in back (we can't fit all five bikes on the back of the car).

    for that reason, I'm leaning toward the frame mount (that, and the lack of need to store the wheel during transport). but if the fork mount is really better, perhaps I should go with that.

    would a fork (say, the Yakima Viper or Sprocket Rocket) or frame (say, Yakima King Cobra or Thule Sidearm) rack be easier to move from one car to another? I downloaded the mounting instructions for the Yakimas, and none looked particularly simple to move that way.
    I have two vipers and a king cobra. I have a short and narrow roof that doesn't permit three bikes side by side with fork mounts or one of the fork mounts reversed so I got the cobra to get one bike up so it's handlebars are above the other two. On the cobra the bike has a little more sway in high winds or fast tight corners but it holds the bike very securely in any circumstance. The vipers have very little sway at any time.
    It's quicker and easier to move the cobra than the viper. With the cobra you just untighten three knobs, lift the cobra off and pull the snaparounds off the crossbars. With the viper you need to unscrew the quick release, open the front, untighten the knob in back and pull off the back snaparound.
    If you want or need an upright I think you should be quite happy with the cobra. If you can use a fork mount I'd get a viper over a cobra. The viper locks to the crossbar easier and holds the bike extremely secure with very little sway. The cobra holds the bike securely, with more sway at times and has a built in cable lock that you can lock it to the crossbar with only if the crossbars are in the right location.. If the crossbars are too far apart or too short apart, like mine, then you'll need either a long cable lock or use something else to lock it to the cross bar when you're away from the car.
    Last edited by brecht; 05-12-2006 at 05:16 PM.

  15. #15
    All I wanted was a Pepsi!
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    Don't know if you heart is set on Thule or Yakima, but when I was looking for roof rack stuff I checked Rocky Mounts and found exactly what I wanted. I already had a rack that came with the car so I just bought the trays and they were good to go. My particular trays were a bit more expensive, but I saw plain black ones for $50 online. To your original question, I've only used fork mounts, but it takes about 11.2 seconds to throw a bike up there and the wheel in the trunk.
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  16. #16

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    I use a frame mount. Bike goes on easy and comes of easy. Also the rack comes off the care in less than 3min. So swapping vehicles would be a breeze.

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