How to Choose the Best Roof Mount Bike Rack for your Vehicle

If you’ve read our ‘How to Choose the Best Bike Rack for your Car, Truck or SUV’ post and have decided on a roof rack, we can help!

How to Choose the Best Roof Rack to Carry your Bike on your Vehicle

Here’s what you need to know before purchasing the best Swagman Roof Rack to carry your bike on your vehicle. 

Your Vehicle’s Roof Rack System

To use a Swagman Roof Mount Bike Rack, you must have crossbars installed on your vehicle. Many vehicles come with factory crossbars, while others will require you to visit a roof rack shop to outfit your vehicle with the necessary hardware.

Swagman Roof Mount Bike Racks are designed to work with all common crossbar sizes and shapes, including square, round and aero-bars. 

It is important to reference your owner’s manual and confirm the load capacity of both the roof of your vehicle as well as crossbars themselves. You must make sure that your vehicle can safely handle the weight of both a bike rack and the bike(s) that will be installed.

Bike Frame/Fork Material

The frame material of your bike and fork is an important consideration when choosing a bike rack.

If you have a carbon fiber bike, you should look for a roof rack that does not touch the carbon fiber areas of your bike, such as a Zero Frame Contact rack or a *Fork Mount Rack. 

*Fork mount bike racks can be safely used with carbon bikes only if the dropouts of the fork are reinforced with aluminum or other metal. If the dropout is bare carbon, you risk damaging the fork when using it with a fork mount rack.  

Zero Frame Contact Roof Racks

Zero frame contact racks can be used with almost any bike, aside from those with front fenders. This is because the arm to secure the bike to the frame must contact the front tire, where a fender would interfere. Zero frame contact racks are perfect for carbon fiber bikes or other high-end models. They are also very convenient, as they do not require you to remove the front wheel from your bike.

Fork Mount Roof Racks

Fork mount racks work by taking the front wheel of your bike off and attaching the fork directly into your rack. You must get the correct adaptors to fit the fork of your bike if necessary. Certain Swagman models come with common adaptors for thru-axle sizes out of the box, whereas others require the additional purchase of the correct adaptors.

Please note that fork mount bike racks should not be used if your fork has carbon fiber dropouts, as it may damage your fork.

Don’t forget your front wheel before you drive away! Stash it safely somewhere inside your vehicle.

Frame Clamp Roof Racks

Finally, some roof mount bike racks, such as the Swagman Upright Roof Rack, clamp the bike frame directly. This is only suitable for aluminum or other metal frames. Ensure the size of your downtube is compatible with a frame-clamp roof rack before purchasing.


Ready to shop for a Roof Mount Bike Rack? Click here to shop the best Swagman Roof Mount Bike Racks for your vehicle.