Yakima Highroad vs Highspeed Bike Rack Review
Yakima has a few new bike racks for on top of the car in 2017 including the Yakima Highroad and Highspeed bike racks. These top of the car bike racks are compatible with both mountain and road bikes. There are trade offs between each rack between ease of use, locking options and the use with fat bikes. I had the opportunity to test both bike racks out side-by-side on my 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. I used them for both in town travel along with longer weekend trips, with a travel time of up to 6 hours each way. Both racks were tested out at speeds up to 85mph on the highway and standard in town speeds of 20-40 mph. I primarily used these racks for mountain bikes with tire sizes of 27.5 and 29 with standard widths, but tested the fit out with a road bike as well.
Yakima Highroad $229
The Yakima Highroad bike rack fits mtb bike tire sizes 26, 27.5, 29 and standard road bike tires. Tire widths between 23mm and 3.25″ work with this rack.
Setup of the Highroad
The setup of this bike rack was pretty easy. Yakima says it takes 5 minutes, but I would advise giving yourself 10 minutes if you’re not used to setting up bike racks all the time. I set up the Highroad bike rack with factory Subaru crossbars sitting on factory cross rails. The crossbars are pretty flat and easy to work with, so mounting both the Highroad and Highspeed bike racks were a breeze. The rubber on the bottom of the Highroad rack and the rubber strap used to secure the rack kept my factory racks from getting scratched and keeps the rack from moving once it is locked in place. The rack locks on both the front and back crossbars and can adjust to fit different distances of your crossbars. Once you have the Highroad where you want it on your car, there is a keyed lock to keep people from pulling the rack off your car.
The only thing you need to do to get the rack ready is to place the rear tire strap through the locking mechanism and install the Yakima lock cores into the locking cable if you opt to purchase these, which I highly recommend.
A nice benefit of both racks is that they don’t run too long which can interfere with opening your back hatch. With my Subaru model, I have no problem with the back of the rack running into the hatch when it opens. This goes for many other hatchbacks as well.
Easy of Use
One of the best features of the Yakima Highroad is that you don’t need to take off the front wheel when loading your bike on the rack. If you’re crunched for time, it’s nice to know you can toss your bike onto the rack, tighten the rack on your front, strap in your rear tire and you are ready to go.
Depending on the weight of the bike, height of the car and the strength of the person lifting the bike, you may or may not have issues loading the bikes. This is true for any roof mounted bike rack, which is also why you are seeing more lower trailer hitch bike racks around town and at the trailheads. I find that when you get the bike up on the rack, you can slide the front wheel latch to secure the bike in place while you lock it down.
To lock the bike down, you swing up the front hatch and turn a big fat knob, which Yakima calls TorqueRight. There is no guess work with how far to turn this knob. It’s similar to a gas cap on a car in that when you tighten it all the way, it will start to make a clicking noise. For people with not as much arm strength, they may or not not have issues with torqueing the knob. My wife with average arm strength doesn’t always get it to click, so take that as you will. You can still get it to stay in place without it clicking, but it gives you peace of mind when you hear the clicks.
Highroad Bike Rack Quality
The Yakima High Road Bike rack is solid and sturdy, no use of chinsey materials here. When driving down the highway at 85 mph, there was a tiny bit of wiggle of my bike in the rack, but this is pretty standard with all roof racks at high speeds. I usually don’t drive 85 mph, so I’m not super concerned with this.
While I can’t promise you that the Highroad rack will hold up 10 years from now, I can attest to the heavy duty metal and plastic that is used in the design. Having used other Yakima products for the past 10+ years, I can say that the materials Yakima uses hold up to the sun, rain, snow and wind very well.
I would like to see better locking mechanisms for the Yakima Highroad bike rack. All you get with this rack is a cable that you can lock into place if you buy the Yakima lock cores. This cable can barely reach around your bike frame and depending on the bike size, it might not be able to reach around the frame.
On the Highspeed bike rack, you can lock the TorqueRight knob into place, keeping people from being able to loosen your rack around the front tire. Given the increase in bike thefts, I would like to see all bike rack companies doing a better job at allowing you to lock up your bike more securely. This is especially true as bike prices continue to increase.
With your bike being upright on this rack, you’re a little less arrowdynamic compared to a rack where you remove the front tire or where you place the bikes on the back of your car. This in my mind is common sense and you know what you’re getting into when you buy it.
Yakima Highspeed Bike Rack $219
The Yakima Highspeed Bike Rack is a top of the car rack designed for both road and mountain bikes, including fat bikes with tires up to 5″ in width. This rack designed to take off the front tire and works with nearly every type of front fork. The rear of the tire is secured by an adjustable plastic strap that fits nearly every tire size.
I tested the Yakima Highspeed bike rack out with a Specialized 29’er and a Trek 27.5 mountain bike. The front rack works with through axles 12mm, 15mm, 20mm and also accommodates 9mm quick release axles. There is an attachment that acts as a through axle for the quick release axles that you will need to attach the fork to.
Setup of the Yakima Highspeed
The Highspeed was pretty simple to set up on the roof of the car. The Highspeed is almost exactly the same as the Highroad with exception of the Highroad having a larger platform up front.
One area of concern in the Yakima Highspeed bike rack is securing the through axle. I have a couple Specialized bikes that don’t have a rounded out through axle, instead it has a spoke like shape. When cinching down on a rounded through axle, I worry that with time, it might compromise the structural integrity of the through axle. This is due to squeezing the through axle between two pieces of metal, similar to a vice, but a little friendlier.
The other downside to the Highspeed rack is having to take off the front tire. Having to take the front tire off is obvious, but depending on how much space you have in your car, this can be a pain. It would be nice to see some sort of feature where you can lock on your tire to the rack. I end up using a bungee cord and a lock to keep the tire attached on the roof of my car. Given the cost to replace some wheels, It would be nice to see a nice secure option without having to keep the tire inside your car. When I am using my bike racks, I’m usually taking a trip and the inside of my car is already filled to the brim with gear, people and dogs.
Side by Side
If I were running out to the store or shopping online and deciding between these two racks, I would choose the Yakima Highroad bike rack. The main reason for this is not having to remove the front tire. Having to remove the front tire is a hassle that I don’t like to deal with. For an extra $10, you can kiss that hassle goodbye and make life so much easier. The Highroad is the first rack that I have used without having to take off the front tire and I don’t think I will ever go back. The one X factor for buying the Highroad is whether you have or plan to buy a fat bike. Head on over to Yakima.com for more information on these two racks and other options by Yakima.