How to Transport Your Modern Mountain Bike With Yakima Racks

In the olden days you could transport just about any mountain bike with a simple trunk- or roof-mounted rack system but today things are a bit more complicated. Most full suspension bikes don’t have enough front triangle clearance for a trunk mount and newer mountain bike forks with through axles aren’t compatible with fork-mounted racks either. Fortunately Yakima is on top of things and offers solutions to all your mountain bike transportation situations.

Full Suspension Bikes With Tight Triangles

Long travel rigs and even smaller FS cross country frames (like mudhunny’s) won’t fit most trunk mounted systems which is a bummer since these are often the most economical solution. Fortunately Yakima offers several alternatives including:

  • Holdup and Stickup hitch mounted transport racks. These racks are great because they’re low to the ground (no heavy lifting above your head required) and you don’t have to remove your wheels to strap on the bikes. If your vehicle doesn’t already have a hitch receiver you’ll need to get one installed separately which can be a little pricey but worth the effort (jet skis!).
  • Almost all the Yakima top-mount racks should work for your FS bike, though there may be rare cases where the Highroller, Raptor, or Frontloader might not work with your downtube. All the other top-mount racks allow you to attach your front fork without touching the bike frame. I’ve used the Steelhead top tray (similar to Copperhead) for years and recently added the Universal Forklift to my car and both work great.
  • Truckbed racks: These racks hold onto your front fork so there are no compatibility issues.

Through Axle Forks (15mm, 20mm, etc.)

Mountain bikes with through axles pose a problem for traditional top-mount racks because it’s not possible to drop the fork into the mounts. Also if you have a fork with a through-axle you know what a pain it is to remove the wheel every time you get in the car so keep that in mind when choosing a transport system:

  • Once again, the Holdup and Stickup hitch racks have you covered. If you don’t already own a rack, buy one of these because they’re the most compatible with modern mountain bikes. And heck, even if your bike isn’t fancy you probably have friends with fancy bikes who will want a ride!
  • Highroller, Raptor, and Frontloader top-mount racks allow you to leave your bike’s wheels in place so you don’t need to worry about compatibility with through-axle forks.
  • Fork Adapters. If you’re like me and have already invested in a top mount tray system from Yakima, you can spend just a few bucks on an appropriate fork adapter (15mm, 20mm, 24mm, and 25mm sizes available). Admittedly these things are cumbersome to use but they hold tight and they’re a whole lot cheaper (less than $40) than buying a whole new rack or trays.

Disc Brakes

While certain top-mount racks from Yakima (like the Forklift) explicitly state they are “disc brake compatible,” in our experience most trays will accommodate bikes with discs. Yakima hitch and trunk mounted racks are also thoroughly disc compatible.

Mountain bikes have changed a lot in the years since we bought our first Yakima roof rack but the company continues to come up with innovative transportation solutions. Choose the best rack for you based on your future bike (or your friends’ bikes) and you can’t go wrong!

Thanks to the folks at Yakima for providing the Fork Adapter for review.