The new rack is easy to use and looks good, too.

Good looks, better gas mileage, and ease of use (especially for bikes with thru-axles) were the driving factors behind the design and engineering of the soon-to-be-released RockyMounts Brass Knuckles, an upright roof rack that will retail for $200 and be available starting in May.

The rack functions like most upright-style models on the market, utilizing a cradle, telescoping arm, tray and ratcheting plastic strap, which work in unison to keep your bike securely attached to the top of your car. Flexible patented rubber-coated steel straps fit any style of crossbar.

The rack's name is a tongue-in-cheek homage to company founder Bobby Noyes' New Jersey roots, where (wink, wink) brass knuckles are as common as bad hair and fake tans. The rack's ergonomically shaped handle bears resemblance to the crude gangland weapon, but it's not removable so thankfully that's as far as the comparison goes. It does, however, make the arm-and-wheel hook easier to pull down when mounting your bike.

We got a sneak peek of the new rack during a recent product launch at RockyMounts headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, where new company president Bruno Maier explained the goal was to create a rack that looked cool on the top of your car or truck. The showroom model featured a bright blue handle. Expect at least a half dozen other color options when the rack becomes available in the spring.

"We're extremely excited," said Maier. "Our product team has done a fantastic job of designing and engineering an innovative bike rack that we feel is the best upright mount available."

These brass knuckles aren't brass, nor are they made for fighting.

The Brass Knuckles rack was engineered with aerodynamics in mind, and when stowed, RockyMounts claims that the 2-inch profile height is less than half that of the competition. The rack is compatible with wheels from 20"-29", up to 2.7" wide. The company is also working on a fat bike adapter, but says that wont be available until next fall at the earliest.

The pivoting arm has been engineered to allow for efficient driver-side or passenger-side installation. The handle includes a non-pinching trigger and RockyMounts' positive ratcheting engagement, which allows the wheel-hook to move in finer increments resulting in a more securely attached bike.

Other features include stackable contact pads that enable you to a level your bike even on crowned crossbars, and a secure locking system that locks the rack to your car and bike to the rack with Rocky Mounts lock cores. Two are required and they are sold separately.

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