Bicycle Roof Racks/Carriers for Bikes with Fenders

I like to put my bike on a rack on the roof of my car because I don’t have a garage to accidentally drive into while my bike is still loaded and I like to be able to access the tailgate of my station wagon while I have a bike on the car. I prefer wheel-off fork mounts rather than the upright wheel-on mounts with arms that hold your bike down. I have long front fenders on my bikes and this can cause problems as when you remove the front wheel and drop the bike down, the fender will hit the tray.

I thought I had solved the problem by cutting a hole in my tray to allow the fender to drop through, and while somewhat awkward, this did work until I built my last bike with a front fender that comes inches from the ground.

While the fender still made it without hitting the roof of my car, I had lowered the fender struts so much, that they now hit the side of the tray. Fed up and not wishing to drill new holes in my nice fenders I decided to look for a two piece fork mount rack.

There are some solutions that raise the front fork and might work with fenders that were short to even somewhat on the long side, such as  the Atoc Draftmaster Bike Topper or the Hurricane Components Fork Up Riser, but these might not work with my bike, as the front fender comes within inches of the ground.

There two other racks that seem like the perfect solution, though. The Yakima Boa or the Rhino SQRS/RBC-012.

Both of these seem like they might work great, except that I unfortunately have Thule Aero bars, which seem to be incompatible with just about every other manufacturer’s products in addition to many Thule products. While they look nice, the attachment system is inane. Please don’t buy these, just get the ugly black square bars.

I like the self-centering fork mount of my Thule Echelon rack so I decided to remove the tray entirely and use a slightly modified Thule Wheel On carrier as the rear restraint.

By removing the aluminum arms I could use the tilting base in much the same manner as the Yakima Boa. The removed arms even left room for one or two retention straps:

I mounted the fork mount, without the tray and was slightly concerned about the weight of the fork wanting to rotate the mount around the bar. The moment isn’t that great, but bars use a silly slot to retain a couple of large square head bolts. In normal use, these aren’t really loaded very much, but they’re not designed to resist rotation of what is attached to the bars. Without the tray to resist rotation, I fear that the thin aluminum slots would quickly fatigue and then snap off on the highway so I clamped everything with two stainless hose clamps.

With square load bars this is not an issue as the fork mount is clamped all the way around the bar, so even if it did rotate, which is unlikely, there wouldn’t be a catastrophic failure. Here is the fork mount flying in the breeze so to speak:

And here is the bike mounted on the rack, note how close the front fender is to hitting the roof:


3 Responses to “Bicycle Roof Racks/Carriers for Bikes with Fenders”

  1. 1 Philip Williamson April 13, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I really like the hole cut in your rack tray. I feel it’s probably time for me to grow up and get a bike rack, but wasn’t sure how that would work with my fendered bikes. Thanks for the simple solution.
    The bike is beautiful, especially with the extra-long fenders.


    • 2 bennobelhumeur April 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks. I’d really recommend one of the split trays mentioned above,like the Boa, if you can get your load bars far enough apart for that to work. The hole in the tray works, but it’s a bit of a pain particularly if you have mudflaps.

  2. 3 Philip Williamson April 14, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Thanks for that – I like that the Boa seems like the cheapest option, too.


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