By Dave Iltis
In 2012, I upgraded my mountain bike to a new 29er. The bigger wheel size has been great in the dirt – it rolls over bumps and rocks more easily than the 26er. But, it presents problems for traveling with the bike. The bike is about 6’ end to end with wheels on. Without the front wheel, it barely fits into the back of my small station wagon. Using the old rooftop mounts wasn’t an option because of the through-axle in the front. And, using an adapter made for the through-axle with them proved to be unstable and iffy.
What’s one to do to carry a big bike on the roof of your car? Enter the Yakima FrontLoader bike mount.
I’ve had the opportunity to try it out recently and have been very pleased with it. A big advantage of this bike mount is that you can leave the front wheel on the bike. This is especially useful for front through-axle bikes, and leads to much less hassle going to and from the trailhead.
The mount was easy to setup. I used it in combination with a set of square bars (as opposed to Yakima’s round bars). The mounting system is set up to use with just about any shape bar, including factory bars. One necessary tip is to make sure the front bracket is tightly screwed down so that the mount doesn’t wobble at all on the bars.
Once on the rack, the mount again proved easy to use. Just flip up the large horseshoe, hoist your bike up into the mount, and tighten the orange knob. Then secure the rear wheel with the strap and ratchet system. The nice thing about the Yakima system is that the bike is secured by the tires, and thus the frame is less likely to get damaged or scratched by the rack. With all of the odd size frame tubes and different materials being used these days, this is an important consideration.
The only ding against the FrontLoader is that the rear tire strap was too short for the 2.4” tires that I’m using. This is a common issue with bike mounts. Although you can get a longer strap as an add-on, it seems like this should come standard. Also, don’t forget to buy a pair of lock barrels to secure your mount to the rack, and for the onboard cable lock. Note that the cable is good to prevent people from quickly running off with your bike, but it won’t stop a determined thief. You may want to use a U-lock or hardened chain in addition.
All in all, the FrontLoader is a perfect bike mount for roof racks for your 29er, road bike, or any bike with 20-29” wheels. I would rate it Hors Categorie (5 stars).