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hey all, looking to get into biking but as a beginner i am not sure i am ready to sink a bunch of time, money and energy into installing a hitch and a hitch rack.

that said, i do think a roof rack makes sense because not only can it be used for bikes (granted, probably not as convenient/good as a hitch rack) but also for surfboards, skis, snowboards, bags, etc.

any thoughts on Yakima or Thule racks?

additionally, i am perusing classifieds (Craigslist, FB Marketplace, Pinkbike, here, etc.) to find some cheap, used racks as i know they pop up fairly often.

the one issue i am having is confirming fit for a 2017 Forester. if i am reading the Yakima website correctly it's either the Railgrab (discontinued) or the Timberline (current). is this correct? are there no other towers that can/could work?

thanks!
 

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While you're deciding on a system, just remember to consider if clearance might ever be an issue for you. I know, seems obvious, but more than one person I know didn't consider that over the years... myself included. :) The Forester doesn't look to be extremely tall, but there may be a drive through overhang waiting for you.
 

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While you're deciding on a system, just remember to consider if clearance might ever be an issue for you. I know, seems obvious, but more than one person I know didn't consider that over the years... myself included. :) The Forester doesn't look to be extremely tall, but there may be a drive through overhang waiting for you.
This can be an issue no matter what vehicle you have - I don't fit some places even with my WRX.

Pro tip - pay attention!

Personally, I prefer Yakima products. Seem better made in general, and they have the only roof tray I'm aware of that will fit tires from 20" BMX up to 29 x 3" MTB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
This can be an issue no matter what vehicle you have - I don't fit some places even with my WRX.

Pro tip - pay attention!

Personally, I prefer Yakima products. Seem better made in general, and they have the only roof tray I'm aware of that will fit tires from 20" BMX up to 29 x 3" MTB.
thanks - can you think of any other resources to check other than CL, FB Marketplace, Pinkbike?
 

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Having a roof rack and now a hitch mount tray system....I'll stop riding bikes before I ever go back to a roof rack. No way in hell.

That said...when I had my roof rack...other than the total PITA of putting bikes up on the roof of my car...I was happy with my Yakima bars and towers and Front Loader trays. I had an old tray system that used clamps that clamped to the downtube. One broke and dropped my bike on the roof of my brand new car (not even made the 1st payment yet) and dented to roof. Contacted Yakima and they replaced both trays with the new Front Loaders and offered to pay for the damage to my roof. Can't get better service than that. And I was the second owner of the trays...not even the original owner. Now I have a Thule T2 XT and I really like it a lot and it's WAY WAY WAY better than my roof system. And I used to be a roof rack die hard.

I haven't used Thule's customer service yet but I hear it's good. Take all that for what it's worth.
 

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Having a roof rack and now a hitch mount tray system....I'll stop riding bikes before I ever go back to a roof rack. No way in hell.
Never had anybody back into my bikes when they were on the roof. ;)

I actually would've went with a hitch rack for my WRX, but installation would've been a major PIA. Have to take rear of the car apart, drop the exhaust, etc. So up they went.
 

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I did have to go to the trouble and expense of putting a hitch on my current car because Yakima and Thule don't offer a roof mount solution, but prior to the current vehicle I've had Yakima roof racks for my bikes since 1987. I like them for the versatility since I also use them to carry skis, snowboards, kayaks, and a cargo box as needed. We still have that setup on my wife's SUV, along with a hitch rack.

Like most everyone else who has roof racks, I have had a clearance issue, driving into my garage with the bike on top. Fortunately there was no bike, house, or car damage and it only happened once. Only the rack attachment was damaged.

Your gas mileage will suffer horribly if you are going far with the roof rack, and top speeds are affected with the bikes up there. I prefer bikes on the back for long road trips.
 

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Never had anybody back into my bikes when they were on the roof. ;)

I actually would've went with a hitch rack for my WRX, but installation would've been a major PIA. Have to take rear of the car apart, drop the exhaust, etc. So up they went.
Never had anyone back into my hitch mount rack in 4 years either. But I've seen people with roof racks destroy their bikes, rack, and damage their car hitting things too low over head.

And yeah...in your case...that would be close to a deal killer. I have an Outback and luckily installing my hitch was pretty easy. My previous car was a Focus ST with the exhaust in the center of the rear bumper. I had a roof rack on that car...the one that actually got the dent on the roof. Not sure I would have put a hitch on that one either because of the exhaust.
 

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Your gas mileage will suffer horribly if you are going far with the roof rack, and top speeds are affected with the bikes up there. I prefer bikes on the back for long road trips.
That's very true. I think I was losing 5-7 mpg...maybe a little more.

If I was a multi-sport person...I might keep a roof rack for those things but I still wouldn't carry bikes on my roof anymore.
 

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I have a 2013 Forester with the factory roof rails and crossbars and a couple of RockyMounts bike racks on them. I’ve put bikes up there for 6 years now and it works fine.

However, I’m getting a bit tired of hoisting bikes. I’m 5’6” and the roof is high enough that I either have to stand on a small step stool or the rear door sill to reach up there. My wife has a 2016 Forester and it’s even taller. I’m about to add a hitch and rack on the back, so much easier to load.

All that said, I was like you at first and wasn’t sure I wanted to do the whole hitch thing. I negotiated for the crossbars when I bought the car, and the bike racks weren’t that expensive.

Do you have rails on your car? The factory crossbars are super easy to add although they don’t have locks. I’d recommend aero style bars as they are a lot quieter than the round or square bars. I had a Yakima WhispBar system on my previous car and it looked and worked great. Yakima customer service is pretty solid in my experience.

I don’t notice much of a gas mileage hit, but I don’t take long trips with my bike on top.

Good luck!
 

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I've used both Yakima and Thule roof racks in the past. I've had a truck for the last 20+ years so I don't need a roof or hitch rack.
My company, Exodux, makes a truck bed rack that lock and secures the bikes in the bed and protects both the bike and the truck. My other company( which I started in 1995 and sold in 2003), Hurricane Components, designed and manufactures the"Fork Up" thru axle adapters, which are labeled under Hurricane, Thule and Yakima.
Never once did I have an issue with using a roof rack and always felt they were the most secure way to carry bikes outside of the vehicle, especially using the fork mounted attachments.
I once used a Kuat hitch rack that I borrowed to carry eight bikes and gear to Mammoth, 4 bikes and gear in the truck bed, 4 bikes on the hitch rack. I hated using the hitch rack. It totally limited my parking abilities, crew cab truck, with 4'+ behind it, and also every time I came to a stop light or stop sign with someone behind me, it felt like I was going to get rear ended, because it blocked the tail lights and stuck out so far. I couldn't imagine using one in a crowded area.
With a roof rack, you will lose mileage, but you will also using a hitch rack.
 

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My mileage hasn't suffered with the hitch rack. Went up after getting rid of the roof rack. My brake lights aren't blocked, they are fully visible. All three of them. And no **** parking will be an issue driving a crew cab truck with a 4 bike hitch rack. What would you expect? I have a two bike rack on a Subaru Outback and have yet to have any parking issues when the rack is folded down.
 

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I have the Yakima roof rack and I like it. However, my car is low. Your Subie is a taller vehicle, so consider if you'll reach ok or if you're going to use a stool or something.
 

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You know, although the OP didn't have a crew cab truck or large SUV, a lot of people do, so parking could be an issue, just noting it.

As far as your brake lights showing, good for you, because I've seen a lot of cars where the lights are obstructed. Did you know in Europe you have to have auxiliary lights behind your rack?, so it is a problem.

You may not know that the airflow being disrupted behind a car from a rear rack will cause drag, therefor causing some mileage loss, I realize not as much a roof rack however.

I just posted stating potential issues from either rack system, not trying to call you out.
I realize that some people may not be able to use either rack type
 

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I'll echo what some others have already said. I've had roof racks on three vehicles. I won't ever go back if I can help it. Gas mileage takes a huge hit, can't park in garages, and they are a pain to get on and off of the vehicle. Hitch rack all the way

Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
 

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You may not know that the airflow being disrupted behind a car from a rear rack will cause drag, therefor causing some mileage loss, I realize not as much a roof rack however.

I just posted stating potential issues from either rack system, not trying to call you out.
I realize that some people may not be able to use either rack type
But it's much easier to take off a hitch mount rack when you don't need it than it is a roof rack. I'm too lazy to so I'll take the 1 or 2 mpg hit opposed to the 10+mpg hit that a roof rack will give. Not sure I've ever really noticed a car with a hitch mount that I had any issue seeing brake lights. I'm sure there's some out there...but seems that most newer racks are a bit more compact perhaps in an effort to combat that issue.
 

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Funny thing, just yesterday there was a car with a hitch rack with 2 bikes, that was 2 cars ahead of me. The car made a left hand turn and the car in front of me missed hitting him by inches. The cars brake and turn signals were almost completely obstructed from view.

There are pluses and minus's of each, but its hard to ignore the popularity of hitch racks.
 
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