Bikies: recommend a roof rack

My Matrix has no roof rack at all. I’d like to be able to use my back hatch window, so a back end strapping thing is not preferred. Is there something that accomdates a bike or two for a reasonable price? Since I would be loading this alone, I think it would be preferable to take off the front wheel and fix the bike to the rack as it rests on the forks. I imagine the ones that strap to the wheels make for a three hand task.

The best and safest way of transporting bikes is via a tow bar-mounted rack, think you would call it a hitch bar in the US. Of course, you need a tow bar mount on your car, and the cost of getting one fitted, plus the cost of rack, can be expensive. I know you asked about roof racks, but just wanted to point that out.

As far as roof racks go, I’ve only ever used Thule ones where you bolt the forks down. I got mine secondhand for peanuts, new they’re quite expensive - ca. £100 for just the bike mount over here, so that’s £200 for two, plus whatever the actual roof rack costs. Another quality make is Mount Blanc. You could save money by getting a store-brand version, whatever the US equivalent to Halfords is. They work fine IME, but the expense, awkwardness of mounting the bike plus hammering of fuel economy makes them third choice for bike transport IMO.

If you get one - don’t forget that the bikes are on top of the car! I’ve seen a few posts on cycling message boards of mangled bikes from being driven into folks garages.

Just to add to this, a hitch installed would probably run you $200-$300 and a hitch mountwould be another $100+. I’d buy one from a physical store to be sure it’s one looks sturdy and easy to mount the bikes. If you’re handy you can buy a hitch for $160 and install it yourself.

A Matrix is capable of towing so I mention this in case you decide you want a small trailer down the road to get more use out of the vehicle. People with roof mounts can chime in on how easy they are to mount but a hitch mount is a 1 minute affair. You just slide it in and pin it in place. I’m sure the roof mounts are sturdy but if you could see my face right know it’s all scrunched up thinking about it along with the hassle of lifting the bikes up without scratching the car.

I know you wanted a roof mount but I thought I’d arm you with more info just in case. You’ll also want to buy a hitch pin lock so toss another $20 for that.

Back when I was single and went mountain biking on nearly a daily basis, my rack of choice for a Volkswagon GTI was Thule. Mine at the time mounted the whole bike on top without removing the front tire, but they make many models. They’re not too cheap, though. The bars might be around $150 and the bike carrier about another $150-175, maybe. That’s from memory; shop around. I sold mine a few years ago on ebay. If you do this you’ll probably just have to buy the feet for your particular car, as they vary.

Nowadays we throw the bikes in the back of the minivan.

Yakima roof racks work great for me and my kayaks and bikes. A lot of people like the Yakima trunk mounted bike racks, they are easy to use.

I would look into a hitch-mounted rack. I picked one up on Craigslist this summer for half the cost and it looked brand new. My vehicle didn’t have a hitch, but I was able to order one from a local place for about $120 and installed it myself. There were holes pre-drilled in my vehicle’s frame and all I had to do was bolt the thing on. This company is probably one of the best hitch makers in the country. Plug in your vehicle info and they’ll tell you what you need. I’ve also seen a lot of hitches on Ebay.

Can you expand on this. I was looking at the Thule site and it looks like you would have to buy 2 bars at $400+ each plus a bike rack for each bike at $150 each. For 2 bikes that would be over $1,000 US.

Are the bars permanently bolted to the roof of the car?

Keep in mind this was about 20 years ago, but I didn’t spend nearly that much- maybe $400 total. It was while I was working my first job out of college, so it’s not as if I had $1,000 to spend on roof racks. Looking at the Thule site, it looks like they may have jacked their prices up considerably.

You have to get 2 bars, 4 feet which sort of clamp down using the rain gutter but are removable, and the bike carriers. If you buy used, you might only have to buy the feet new, unless you luck out and can find feet that are made for your make/model car.

Since it’s been so long since I bought mine, let’s put it this way- price aside, I can recommend Thule as a quick, secure, adaptable roof rack system. I went on to add a 2nd bike carrier after I got married, then a ski carrier years later, and just bought new feet to fit a subsequent car.

I will say that at the time I got my roof rack/bike carrier, a friend of mine bought a trailer-mounted version from the bike store. He had to modify it with angle iron and additional hardware because even though it was ostensibly built for 4 bikes, it couldn’t support the weight of his one bike before he modified it. I’m sure there’s an option out there that’s better than what he bought but cheaper than the Thule system. I highly recommend buying used.

I’m not sure where you got your prices
load bars $62.95 for 2
feet: $143.95 (for all 4 I think)
fit kit $62.95 (I think, I picked a 2005 Toyota Matrix)
bike rack $116.95

total $386.80

(obvioulsy more if you add a second bike rack)


I have a Yakima highroller and it is great. The bike goes up on the roof quickly and I don’t have to modify the bike (remove front tire or whatever).

The advantage of a highroller is that it keeps the bike up high, so that if you are rear-ended your bike doesn’t get squished along with your car. This matters when your bike is worth $8,000. Another advantage is that thieves are much more out in the open when they are trying to steal your bike. They aren’t concealed by the bulk of your vehicle.

The disadvantage of a highroller is that if you have a tall vehicle and/or you are short, it can be tricky to get your bike up on the rack without scratching up your vehicle. It can be awkward.

Another disadvantage is that if you forget that the bike is on the roof and you go into a parking garage or under a low bridge you stand a very good chance of ruining your entire day. Along with toasting your bike you will do a lot of damage to your vehicle as well. I’ve seen it happen and it is not pretty. Put your bike on the roof and measure the height. Add a foot. Memorize this number and start reading those clearance signs like you’re driving an 18-wheeler. I also put a post-it strip on the windshield right in my line of sight as a reminder that the bike is on the roof. It’s really annoying but I never forget my bike is up there.