The Yakima FrontLoader is the simpler and slimmer sibling of the HighRoller bike rack that BikeRadar recently reviewed. Many of the features that we loved with the HighRoller can be found in the FrontLoader, which wraps them up into an even simpler design.
The FrontLoader holds the bike by its wheels and nothing else. A two-part brace wedges the front wheel, which in turn keeps the bike upright. The rear wheel then straps in place for additional security.
The benefit of this rack style is that no matter what frame design, material, axle style or delicate paintwork the bike has, carrying it in the FrontLoader will never be a problem.
The secret behind the frontloader’s holding ability is all at the front wheel: the secret behind the frontloader’s holding ability is all at the front wheel David Rome/Future Publishing
The FrontLoader holds the bike by its front wheel, so there’s no risk of damage to the frame
The FrontLoader’s simple design uses a spin knob to tighten the front wheel brace in place. It’s possible to load the bike onto the rack by yourself, because once the front wheel is located, the bike is supported. Removing the bike is trickier process, especially if you have a heavier bike.
The rack is designed to carry bikes with 20in wheels or larger. In order for the rack to carry such a range, crossbar placement is crucial, and at first, we placed them too wide for shorter wheelbase bikes to strap into.
Shorter wheelbase bikes won’t fit if the crossbars are installed too far apart: shorter wheelbase bikes won’t fit if the crossbars are installed too far apart David Rome/Future Publishing
The FrontLoader can hold bikes with 20in wheels or larger, but you’ll have to get the crossbars in the right place for the bikes to fit
With securing knobs in the center of the rack and a removable wheel tray, there is no problem in accessing the rack, whichever side or direction you place it on the cross bars.
Tire widths above 2.5in stretch the rack’s capacity. The FrontLoader is best suited to users of road, hybrid, commuter or mountain bikes with rubber under 2.4in wide. Front fender equipped bikes are unlikely to fit either.
We wished the previously tested HighRoller locked directly to the crossbars. Pleasingly, the FrontLoader features a twin-lock system, for which you need to purchase the SKS lockcores separately – US$35 a pair. One lock is for securing to the cross bars, while the other is for the reinforced cable, to secure the bike.
Installation is simple and straightforward – the FrontLoader fits a large range of aftermarket and OEM roof rails, including our tryingly shaped Prorack Whispbars.
When the rack’s not in use, the rear wheel tray has a tendency to create knocking noises when you’re stopping and starting. For this reason, and to prevent it from being stolen, we recommend removing this wheel tray when not in use – which is easily done with its tool-free retaining clip.
We’re huge fans of this style of rack – it means we never worry about paint or frame damage during transport. The lower aero profile, crossbar lock and simpler design make it perfect for those who can set the rack up for one or two regular bikes. But for those who carry everything from kids’ bikes to downhill bikes, the HighRoller that we previously tested offers greater versatility and a heavier build.