Roof racks commonly hold your bike in one of two ways: by clamping the front axle, with the wheel off; or by clamping the frame. With frames getting thinner and featuring more complex shapes, and three different mountain bike front axle standards to contend with, a third option is needed. Yakima has a solution: clamp the front wheel. It works.
The HighRoller holds the bike by holstering the front wheel in place. Once the front of the wheel is inserted into the adjustable wheel tray, a second arm squeezes the wheel from the back. This second arm features a ratchet mechanism that quickly grabs the wheel so the bike's weight is taken. At this point, a small dial, placed low down for easy access, is used to further tighten the clamping mechanism.
The rear wheel is then clipped in place via a long ratcheting buckle that can be adjusted from either side. To release the bike, you simply loosen the dial and use the red quick-release button to disengage the one-way ratchet mechanism on the second arm, making for a quick exit.
Push the red button for a quick release
The wheel arm is easily adjusted via a tool-free clip and has stepped positions for common wheel sizes, starting from 20in. We had no problems carrying road bikes and 29in mountain bikes at the same setting, although there is a separate position for 700c wheels. With a load limit of 23kg and space for 3in-wide tyres, the HighRoller will easily handle a gravity-orientated bike.
As much as we love the clamping system, the HighRoller isn’t without its flaws. The mounting bolts can't be accessed when the wheel arms are down or holding a bike, protecting the rack, but the tool-free installation makes theft that little bit easier. (To increase security, you could replace the tool-free install nuts with normal hardware that requires a spanner.)
More importantly, the only theft assurance for your bike at coffee time is a steel cable lock (the lock cores are sold separately for US$35 a pair, providing the option to have a whole range of Yakima products on one key). With a more refined and secure locking system, this rack would have scored even higher.
Lock the rack to the rail – a built-in locking system would be cleaner and less temping for theft
Something else to beware of is that the HighRoller sits higher than other racks, which could be an issue if you're height-challenged with a tall car. With a frontal profile that’s larger than other options, it may not be the best wind-cheating rack, but nor is it a beast. At 120kmh, the empty rack remained whisper quiet when combined with our Prorack Whispbar crossbars.
Finally, the HighRoller does come at a cost. However, the lifetime warranty and design that isn’t limited by axle standards or frame shapes means a long product life.