It’s pretty much a given that I’ve been a bicycle enthusiast for way longer than I can remember. Therefore, it’s only natural that I’ve come across and used a lot of different carriers through the years. However, there are two racks that have always been my favorites-the Thule UpRide and the Yakima HighRoad.
There was a time when even I was confused about which one I preferred more, the UpRide or HighRoad. However, today I’m going to settle this once and for all and declare that I like both of them equally well.
It’s time you found out which one is best between the Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad if you are as confused as I was back in the days, because it’s time you found out which one is better between them.
My Experience with the Two Roof-Mounted Racks
There is a possibility that I will begin yapping about the differences and similarities between the carriers, however, I do not think this is wise, at least not for me. You should take a look at the detailed reviews of the carriers first before taking a look at the differences and similarities between the carriers. If you don’t know anything about the racks, it would be like trying to connect the dots without actually knowing where they are.
Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack
It is my pleasure to tell you a little bit about how I became acquainted with the Thule UpRide roof rack. The Thule UpRide is one of my favorite roof racks, but it’s not because of its design or features. It is on my list of racks-I-love because the carrier comes with almost everything you need at a reasonable price, so I recommend it.
Yes, you have heard that right. The rack isn’t very expensive, but that is one of the many things I like about the carrier, as well as how light it is. It only weighs 18.5 pounds, which means that lifting it up on my SUV or carrying it from one place to another was a breeze.
In my case, I own and drive a Subaru XV Crosstrek; it’s a medium-sized sport utility vehicle. Naturally, a roof rack can be difficult to install on an SUV since you have to lift it and place it on the roof, but since the UpRide doesn’t weigh much, I was not too concerned about doing so.
In order for the carrier to be installed, you will need a crossbar. However, the good news is that the UpRide is compatible with all Thule and almost all factory crossbars. I installed a factory crossbar on my SUV a few months before I bought the rack. I was a little worried it wouldn’t fit, but it did perfectly.
There is a maximum weight capacity of 44 lbs for the carrier so anything under this weight will be able to sit easily on the top without any problems, provided that the bike you’re using doesn’t have a tire size larger than 3 inches.
As you might expect, the rack is not designed to accommodate bicycles with a 4 or 5-inch tire out of the box. However, it can accommodate bikes whose wheels are between 20 and 29-inches in diameter, so you are able to mount a wide range of bicycles on it.
When it comes to holding a bike with 4 or 5 inch tires, you will have to use the Thule UpRide Fat Bike Adapter if you want to use it with a bike with these sizes.
As it turns out, you will need to buy it separately, which means you’ll have to spend some extra money on it since it is not included in the rack.
Apart from that, the carrier comes with an arm and a hook for the front wheel and a ratcheting strap for the rear wheel. You will never have to worry about frame-to-rack connections with the hook and arm that connect to the front wheel. I did notice that the carrier was a little wobbling when I took it for a spin, but it wasn’t a huge deal.
There is a locking cable at the bottom of the carrier which can be used to lock the carrier to the back of the car. However, if you wish to use this cable to lock the carrier to the back of your car then you will need to purchase the locking cores separately.
What I Like About the UpRide
- It is reasonably priced, and you can afford it even if you’re on a tight budget
- The rack can accommodate 20 to 29-inch bikes
- I was able to use the adapter to carry fat-tire bikes
- It doesn’t weigh much, so lifting or moving it around is easy
- The carrier is suitable for almost all the crossbars out there
What I Think Could be Better
- I had to buy an adapter separately to mount fat-tire bicycles on the carrier
Yakima HighRoad Roof-Mounted Rack
This is the Yakima HighRoad rack that I have used a few years ago, and it lived up to my expectations. To begin with, let me clear out some basic information about the rack first. As its name implies, the Yakima HighRoad is a roof-mounted bike rack, and it can only carry one bike.
The weight of the rack is around 18 pounds, so it will be easy for you to lift or carry it everywhere. I used the same Subaru XV Crosstrek to carry the rack on the same vehicle. Installing the rack was a breeze, and it only took me a few minutes to do so. If I had read the instructions, I probably could have done it faster.
There’s an important thing to keep in mind: the crossbar you’re using on your vehicle must have a spread between 18 to 35 inches. If your crossbar does not have that spread, you won’t be able to mount it on top. My crossbar had the right size, so I didn’t have any problems mounting it on top.
As far as the installation goes, there is no need for any tools at all, and if you ever feel like converting the carrier to work with T-Slots at some point down the road, you can easily do it with the help of the SmarT-Slot conversion kit. However, it is not included with the rack, so you will have to buy it separately.
As one of the primary benefits of the HighRoad is that it is capable of accommodating bicycles with 23mm or 0.9-inches to 4-inches wide tires, so it does not matter if you are riding a thin tire or fat tire bicycle.
However, one of the downsides of this rack is that it is only suitable for bicycles with wheels of 26 to 29 inches. As such, if you are thinking about getting a rack for a kid’s bicycle, then I would suggest you look elsewhere.
As part of the testing, I used two different bikes with the rack. The first one is the Cannondale Treadwell Neo 2 Remixte, and the second one is a Yeti SB130. Both bicycles weigh less than 44lbs, and I made sure that the maximum capacity of the rack was 44lbs as well.
As you can see, the first item is a fat tire bike, while the second item isn’t. It may seem like it would be a problem, but in reality, the carrier handled it like it was nothing.
The rack comes with two arms at the front and a strap at the back to keep your bike securely attached to the rack. The arms, similar to the ones on UpRide, are connected to the front wheel, not the frame. Therefore, scratching the frames was not my biggest worry.
It was very easy and safe to mount the bikes on the carrier thanks to something called a TorqueRight tightening knob. The TorqueRight tightening knob is a special knob that allows you to adjust the fit of the arms to your bike’s front wheel. It helps you keep the arms from being overtightened or too loose by rotating it in certain directions.
In addition, the HighRoad carrier does not come with a locking core, but it does come with a cable. This means that if you want to secure your bicycles to the carrier safely, then you will need to purchase the locking cores separately.
If you would like to know more about the Yakima HighRoad, then you should or can check out my blog about the Yakima HighRoad and FrontLoader if you are interested.
Things I Liked About the HighRoad
- It can accommodate a wide range of bicycles
- TorqueRight tightening knob ensured I didn’t overtighten or keep the arms loose
- The rack can become T-Slot compatible with the SmarT-Slot conversion kit
- The installation process was not even a challenge
- It has a maximum weight capacity of 44lbs, yet weighs only 18lbs
What I Think Could be Better
- The carrier can only hold bicycles with 26 to 29-inches wheels
Similarities Between the Roof Bike Racks
Once you have a good understanding of how the carriers work, you’re ready to move on to the next step. Again, I apologize if it took me some time to get to this point, but I guarantee it’s worth the wait.
Unlike the Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted racks, these carriers (the UpRide and HighRoad) do not require a hitch; rather, they sit on a crossbar on top of your vehicle, so no hitch is needed. Since both of these racks are mounted on the roof of your vehicle, you won’t be able to see the number plate when you’re driving in reverse or that they will not block your vision.
There is a slight difference in weight between the two carriers, but only a few milligrams, so lifting them or moving them requires almost the same amount of effort as moving them.
Both the UpRide and the HighRoad have the same kind of wheel straps for the rear wheel, but the arms on the front are different. The arms do not attach to the frame, which is the same for both racks. You won’t have to worry about scratching your precious bike while driving.
It is also worth noting that I found another thing that was similar between the UpRide and the HighRoad, which is that they both cost almost the same. Both of these carriers are affordable and you will not have to break the bank to purchase them.
Despite the fact that both of these carriers feature a locking cable, they do not come with a core. The core has to be purchased separately.
So far, these are the only few similarities I have found between the two carriers, so this is one more thing that they share in common. The maximum wheel size that they can accommodate is 29 inches, and this is one more aspect they share in common.
Thule UpRide Vs. Yakima HighRoad
I was surprised at how similar Thule UpRide and ProRide are, but how few differences they really have when compared to each other. However, when I compared the UpRide and HighRoad racks, my experience was quite the opposite. I found these racks to have a lot in common, but they had a lot of differences that set them apart from one another.
The Arm Design
It should be noted that the UpRide as well as the HighRoad are equipped with two separate arms in order to secure the front wheel. However, with regards to the former, one of the arms is designed more like a hook rather than an arm.
It is possible to adjust the arm as well as the hook on the UpRide. There is a gray tab on the hook that can be adjusted, and it has numbers on it that indicate the size of wheels that it can fit at the moment. The arm uses a gray-colored quick-release button to adjust, and if you want to tighten the arm to the front wheel even more, it ratchets down.
In contrast, the latter is fitted with two arms and a tightening knob. You can only adjust the arms through the tightening knob. There are no gray tabs, buttons, or ratcheting switches to adjust the arms.
The Way You Mount Bikes on These Racks
The way in which you have to mount a bicycle on the racks of both of these roof-mounted carriers differs from one another, even though they are both roof-mounted carriers.
The first one that I would like to point out is the Thule UpRide. As I have mentioned, it has a hook and an arm at the front. In order to mount a bicycle on it, you will need to first fold down the arm with the release button located on the arm.
In order to adjust the hook to the right size after you place the bike in the tray, you have to pull the gray tab on the hook, and then adjust the rear wheel strap. After you have adjusted the hook, you will have to place the bike in the tray. When you have done so, you can pull the gray tab to adjust the hook. Attach the arm to the wheel with the button, connect the wheel straps, and that is all you need to do.
For the Yakima HighRoad, the process is somewhat different. Initially, you will need to loosen the TorqueRight tightening knob, which will allow you to move the arms. Once the arms have been moved, you will fold the rear arm down, adjust the rear wheel tray, and place your bicycle on top of the rack.
The first thing you have to do is hold the bicycle steadily with one hand and with the other hand, connect the front arm to the wheel. After you have done that, you can pull up the rear arm and tighten the arms using the knob. Then, all that is left to do is attach the straps and you’re ready to go.
Wheel Size and Tire Width Capacity
I am sure that you have been following everything here carefully, so you should already be aware that the UpRide can accommodate wheels of 20 to 29 inches in diameter and tires that are up to 3 inches wide if you have been following everything carefully.
On the other hand, HighRoad is capable of carrying bicycles with tires that range from 0.9 to 4 inches wide, and wheels ranging from 26 to 29 inches in diameter.
It is clear from the above description that both racks can accommodate a wide range of bicycles, though with some limitations. For example, you can carry children’s, women’s, road, mountain, and many other types of bicycles with the UpRide as long as the tires are no wider than 3 inches.
You will be able to carry all kinds of fat tire bikes with the HighRoad, however you cannot use bicycles with a wheel diameter smaller than 26 inches in order to use the HighRoad.
The Thule UpRide Bicycle Carrier is not designed to support fat tire bikes on its own. However, there is something you can do to make it work. The carrier will be able to accommodate bicycles with a 5-inch-wide tire if you purchase and use the Thule UpRide Fat Bike Adapter (not included with the rack).
There are a lot more types of bikes that can be carried with the Thule UpRide if you are willing to spend a little more of your money.
Regarding crossbar compatibility, the UpRide will work with most Thule and most factory crossbars out there. In fact, there are only a few crossbars that cannot be used with the rack.
The Yakima HighRoad, on the other hand, is only compatible with crossbars that have a spread between 18 and 35 inches. So, if you are thinking of getting the later but already have a crossbar set up on your vehicle, make sure the crossbar meets the requirements.
Even if the carrier does not feature SmarT-Slots, you can still use the SmarT-Slot conversion kit to convert it to work with the T-Slots on your crossbar, so you can connect the rack directly to the T-Slot of your crossbar – pretty neat if you ask me.
What is the best one for you?
I am at the point of having to choose between the Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad racks, and honestly, I am not looking forward to this step at all because I had a wonderful time testing both of these racks. You can imagine why I am not eager to choose one over the other.
Despite the fact that the Thule UpRide is a fine bicycle rack, I am inclined to lean a little towards the Yakima HighRoad if you want my sincere opinion on the matter.
Choosing the HighRoad is due to the fact that it is easier to install and has the ability to carry fat-tired bicycles right out of the box. I can also fit fat-tired bicycles with the UpRide, but you need to spend more to buy it, which is not something I prefer to do.
It is obvious that the UpRide is a better choice if you have the budget, but if you do not, then I would suggest that you stick with the HighRoad if you do not have the budget.
As a matter of fact, it all comes down to your preferences and the type of bike rack you need based on your journey and your preferences.
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