Even if you own a motor home or a simple SUV, stuffing in your bikes along with other cargo for a family trip is just impossible! Moreover, you cannot just go on towing the bikes at the back or top of your car as it’ll put you and others at great risk! Thus what better option do you have?
A universal roof rack for sure!
A roof rack is easy to install and is super sturdy, giving you the safest option to transport your bike. Moreover, it is durable and strong enough to move other, heavier items along with your studs. But how exactly will you know which bike rack to buy? Read on to find all the answers to your queries. Find the best universal roof rack and make your life easier!
|CargoLoc 2 Piece Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bars||CargoLocc’s lifetime warranty, Compatible with most crossbars, Strong carry arms and clamps, Aluminum body for corrosion-free usage over the years, Lightweight and easy to install, Value for money||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GA2HKAU/|
|Apex RLB 2301 Universal Roof Crossbar||Steel body covered with epoxy, In-built clamping system, Fit into crossbars of different sizes and shape, The square-shaped rail provides more space for accommodation, Easy to install, Can carry load up to 130 pounds, Adjustable and padded feet||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002M3KSK0/|
|Apex RCB 3745 Universal Strap Attached Roof Crossbars||Lightweight and versatile, Can hold load up to 150 pounds, Affordable, Adjustable, rubber feet, Compatible with most crossbars, Uses straps and ratchet to fix in place||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EF3SAJQ/|
|SportRack Complete Roof Rack System||Rubber covered clamps, Rails with rubber feet for scratch-free installation, Can manage load up to 130 pounds, used to transport stuff other than bicycle including kayaks and boats, Rails are fit for vehicles measuring between 2 inches to 75 inches, Adjustable clamps||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BCLKJD4|
|Auxmart Universal Roof Rack Cross Bars||Lightweight, Aluminum frame for rust-free performance over the years, Rubber padded body and clamps, Easy to install, Square bars with curved edges that reduce drag while driving, Can manage weight up to 132 pounds, Affordable
|Rhino-Rack Vortex SX Roof Rack System||Curved and wide bars, Aerodynamic design, Adjustable bars, The bars are covered with a soft strip that makes it anti-slippery, Ideal for transporting bigger and heavier items, Detachable feet allows you to fix the rack on different vehicles using feet of various sizes without a problem, Dual locking mechanism for promised safety||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014PVOFP0|
|Malone Handirack Inflatable Roof Rack||Easy to install, Comes will all necessary tools and accessories for installation, Lightweight, Can manage weight up to 180 pounds, It can be fixed on different vehicles without a problem, Consists of 3-ply nylon straps that promises strength and durability, Comes with Handirack’s one year warranty, Affordable
|Thule Aeroblades||Aerodynamic design, Different sized bars available, In-built measurement slide, Built-in T-slot for adding accessories, Aluminum frame for long-lasting performance, Can manage load up to 800 pounds, Ideal for hauling heavy cargo, Easy to install||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CJPRDF9/|
|Rola 59899 Universal Cross Bars||Aerodynamic design, Aluminum bars with stainless steel clamps, Bars available in different sizes makes it compatible with most vehicles, Built-in locking system, Can accommodate weight up to 165 pounds, Molded nylon and rubber pads for scratch-free installation, Affordable||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006JILCN6/|
|Icebeamer 50″ Roof Rack Railing||Aluminum body Can manage weight up to 150 pounds, Comes with 3 keys for the locks, In-built locking system makes installation easy, Slides easily into raised roof rails, One year manufacturer’s warranty included, Comes with 30 days exchange policy, Compatible with bars of different sizes and types
Characteristics to look for when buying a rack
Here are a few things that you should pay attention to when buying a universal roof rack:
- The Right Type of Rack
Once you have decided that you need a bike rack, the next phase is to look for the right one. A universal roof rack is designed to fit all bike types, especially ones with differently styled roof rails that hold the bike.
Moreover, what makes the rack a great choice is that it can be used for multiple purposes. First and foremost is that a universal roof bike rack allows you to carry your bike safely. Furthermore, using the extra straps that come along, you can easily haul other bigger items including boats, skis, and even chairs, transporting things without a scratch.
- Material Used
What makes a universal roof rack durable? A strong material of course! But most are made out of heavy-duty steel which being strong is also heavy and puts much strain on the car while you drive. This way you end burning more gas than you would have liked!
Thus, always look for a rack that is manufactured using aluminum. Why? Because aluminum tends to last longer, can easily manage heavy-weight objects and does not rust away quickly and most importantly, it is light in weight!
- The Rack Design
The design of the roof rack will decide whether it is a good fit for your car or not. Some universal roof racks come with clamps for attachment. These easily stick to the roof of your cars, with the padded clamps resting on the doors. All you need to do is tighten the clamps to fix it in place! And yes, these pretty much slide over roof rails of different sizes and shapes without a problem.
On the contrary, racks with curved bars are vehicle specific. These are specifically made for cars like SUVs that come with pre-mounted rails only. most of these are commonly referred to as “raised roof rails” and thus run along the edge of the car, being specific to a certain sized rack that might not be compatible with other vehicles and rails.
Moreover, you can also get racks with bars that easily clip into a specific position on your vehicle. But of course, these too are than vehicle-specific, not giving you enough space to use on another type of car in the future.
The top 10 Universal roof racks
If you now know what to look for in a bike rack, it’s time to move on to the best universal roof racks available around you.
CargoLoc 2 Piece Aluminum Roof Top Cross Bars
This aerodynamically designed stunning roof rack is made from aluminum and can easily manage weight up to 150 pounds. The use of this particular metal increases the durability of the rack and thus, keeps it safe from rust and corrosion.
Moreover, this universal roof rack is designed to fix in roofs bars that are slightly raised. It comes with black colored clamps made from aluminum with rubber ends which ensure when you attach it to the car, there is no scratching or tearing.
The CargoLoc 2 weighs around 8.2 pounds and is easy to install. Furthermore, the rack comes with a lifetime warranty and because it is “universal”, it can easily slide into crossbars of various sizes and types. The built-in locking mechanism allows the rack to firmly fix in place while tying down the bikes tightly using strong carry arms. Moreover, the addition of CargoLoc’s lifetime warranty makes the usage easy and hassle-free. Even if you decide not to lock the rack on the crossbars at the roof, the clamps that come along are pretty strong to keep the equipment well hooked to the car.
In short, the CargoLoc rack is stylish with a high-end design that gives you the best solution for carrying your studs safely and soundly.
- CargoLocc’s lifetime warranty
- Compatible with most crossbars
- Strong carry arms and clamps
- Aluminum body for corrosion-free usage over the years
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Value for money
- The groove cut at the top of the bars makes an annoying sound while driving
Apex RLB 2301 Universal Roof Crossbar
The Apex RLB 2301 universal roof rack is made from steel for strong and powerful performance. Although, unlike the CargoLoc 2, it might not be very beautifully sketched out surely reaches the newest levels of amazement when it comes down to performance!
Moreover, the entire frame comes with an epoxy finish that adds shine and keeps the rack safe from scratches while being hooked up to the car. The Apex RLB 2301 can carry a load up to 130 pounds in total, giving you a safe way to transport your studs.
Want to hear something more interesting? This rack too fits crossbars raised high but the rail size should lie between 1.75 inches in width and 1.75 inches in height or else, you’ll be unable to secure it in place. Furthermore, the lightweight rack comes shaped with square rails that give more space to accommodate larger stuff, including bikes of different sizes and shapes. And yes, the roof bars come padded with rubber, not only giving you extra grip but scratch-free installation too.
Next, the Apex universal rack consists of an in-built simple clamping system. There are two clamps, both of which go on either side of the rack and tightened using a knob. But remember, do not over-tighten the clamps or they might break loose when you place the bikes on it.
This rack model by Apex is easy to install, affordable, and lightweight. It happily carries your load, hence keeping them safe during the transit.
- Steel body covered with epoxy
- In-built clamping system
- Fit into crossbars of different sizes and shape
- The square-shaped rail provides more space for accommodation
- Easy to install
- Can carry load up to 130 pounds
- Adjustable and padded feet
- May wobble even after you have fully tightened the straps
- Can only fit rails size in between 1.75 inches in width and 1.75 inches in height
Apex RCB 3745 Universal Strap Attached Roof Crossbars
Are you looking for a universal roof rack within the budget yet with uncompromised performance and quality? Well then, grab the Apex RCB 3745 right away!
Another one of Apex’s wonderful creation is the RCB 3745 universal roof rack. This rack can be used for transporting anything from a sports bike to furniture conveniently on the roof of your car. You heard it right! The rack is versatile when it comes to performance, but is only great for people who have occasional haulage to manage.
The 5 pounds lightweight Alex universal roof rack can manage a load up to a shocking 150 pounds. Moreover, the steel body and tubular frame simply add to its strength and powerful performance, hence you get to enjoy hassle-free usage over many years down the calendar.
Additionally, it comes with triangular feet at the base which can be adjusted to fit perfectly on the roof of your car. See the holes at the sides? You can use these to pin down the rack more effectively.
Furthermore, the feet come padded with rubber, which keeps your vehicle and the bikes safe from getting damaged while in transit. You’ll need to get the strap through the door of your car to the roof to ensure the rack is fixed in place perfectly.
The only thing that may bother you about this Apex rack is the running of the straps through the door. Note that you cannot run each strap through a single door; hence you’ll have to be a little clever in tying it down through all the four doors of your vehicle. Read through the instruction manual to get yourself through the whole installation process easily.
- Lightweight and versatile
- Can hold load up to 150 pounds
- Adjustable, rubber feet
- Compatible with most crossbars
- Uses straps and ratchet to fix in place
- Not as easy to install as other racks on the list
- The straps need to run through all the doors, making installation difficult
SportRack Complete Roof Rack System
Next up on the list is the SportRack Complete roof rack system, a universal bike rack that is absolutely a topper when it comes to performance!
This steel rack comes coated with black epoxy that adds shine and promises durability of the equipment. Although, the rack may not be the most pleasant-looking in the lot, but is surely one that fulfills its work as a true master! Moreover, the rack can shockingly manage up to a rocking 130 pounds of weight and can easily support other stuff including kayaks and boats as well as handle bikes for you.
Moreover, each steel bar has rubber feet that protect your car against scratches. Know that the rails are highly adaptable and can fit any vehicle between 2 inches and 25 inches with a problem. But what about installation? For someone who isn’t into racks, this universal roof rack can cause a little inconvenience but reading through the manual will surely help. The SportRack is a door rack which means you’ll need to run the straps through doors to fix it in place. Remember, the placement you choose will allow you to attach the rack much tightly.
Furthermore, adjust the clamps according to your requirement. Pull them tight to ensure everything falls right in place. And yes, the bars can now be locked altogether, thus relieving you from the worries of the rack been stolen away along with the bikes. Have you noticed that the clamps come covered with rubber padding? This is so that both your bicycles and vehicle remain safe from damages while on the way to your favorite bicycling spot.
- Rubber covered clamps
- Rails with rubber feet for scratch-free installation
- Can manage load up to 130 pounds
- It can be used to transport stuff other than bicycle including kayaks and boats
- Rails are fit for vehicles measuring between 2 inches to 75 inches
- Adjustable clamps
- Installation may be an issue for people with no prior experience
- If not installed properly, it can ruin the paint job of your car pretty much in a jiffy
Auxmart Universal Roof Rack Cross Bars
This aluminum roof rack is durable, strong, and perfect for carrying heavier cycles. It comes with clamps that attach to the doors of your vehicle while the rack comfortably sits atop. Although the Auxmart universal roof rack is easy to install, you need to make sure of having a rain gutter along with the vehicle. Why? Because as the rack uses doors to hold in place, the straps might become wet causing the water to dribble inside the car. Thus, in a case like this, rain gutters on the car will be no less of a blessing.
However, before you buy this rack, know that your vehicle should have 40.75 inches distance between the rain gutters. This is so that the universal roof rack can easily slide into the rails and fix the place. If the measurement is off, it will certainly cause a problem.
And in case you do not have a rain gutter, the rack can easily manage to fix on the roof of your car where the distance of both the doors is between 45 to 48 inches. Moreover, the base of the rack especially the feet of the clamps come covered with a rubber coating so that your remains safe from scratches while the rack is being fixed in place.
The Auxmart universal roof rack weighs around 9.1 pounds but being this lightweight, it can still manage to accommodate weight up to 132 pounds without breaking a bar. Furthermore, it consists of square bars with curved edges that give you better hold on the vehicle, reducing the drag while you drive. And yes, the locking system promises to keep your bikes safe and secure!
Although this universal bike rack is durable, strong, and lightweight, people have certainly complained about not being able to haul bigger items like kayaks effortlessly. The clamps do not seem to hold them in place. But apart from the promised versatility that it does not deliver; the rack is a great choice to transport bicycles conveniently.
- Aluminum frame for rust-free performance over the years
- Rubber padded body and clamps
- Easy to install
- Square bars with curved edges that reduce drag while driving
- Can manage weight up to 132 pounds
- Not suitable for hauling bigger items like kayaks and boats
Rhino Rack Vortex SX Roof Rack System
Looking for a universal roof rack that is uniquely designed? The Rhino-Rack Vortex offers that only!
This roof rack comes with curved and wide bars sitting in a squatting position. Fix them in any way y and you’ll still be saving fuel because of the aerodynamic design of the rack. But before you get this one for your vehicle, know that it only slides into raised roof rails. If you don’t have these mounted on the top, the rack won’t work for you.
Furthermore, the rack comes with 60 inches long bars that are 7 inches wide and 5 inches tall. Although these are wide and long, they merely weigh around 7 pounds, making the rack lightweight and easy to install. Although the Rhino Vortex is expensive, if you’re looking for a universal roof rack to transport heavier objects, the rack makes an ideal investment that promises to last over time.
Want to something more interesting about the rack? It comes with detachable feet! But what use does it have? The feature of detachable feet allows you to use the bars with various foot sizes, helping them to fix different cars without a problem.
Moreover, the feet easily clamp to the raised rails and all you need is to tighten the screws to fix it in place. Another wonderful that has been added to the Rhino Vortex is the height adjustment. The bars of the rack is easily adjustable, so once fixed in the rails, you can move them to fix the overall height of the rack depending on your need.
The Rhino Vortex consists of two locking systems, each one installed at the end of each bar. The first mechanism plays its part in fixing the bar to the clamp while the other one secures the clamp to the vehicle. And most importantly, you’ll need a key to make it work! With this rack, secure transportation of your bikes is 100% guaranteed.
Additionally, the bar comes covered in soft strips which makes it anti-slippery. Hence, no matter if it a bicycle or heavy furniture that you’re planning to haul, these soft strips will keep them safe from slipping away while still protecting your vehicle against damages.
Lastly, the Rhino Vortex comes in two fabulous colors, black, and silver. The sleek shiny body with the addition of the finest accessories makes this universal roof rack nothing less of a star. And so this is why you’ll have to spend more than a few dollars to get your hands on this piece of beauty!
- Curved and wide bars
- Aerodynamic design
- Adjustable bars
- The bars are covered with a soft strip that makes it anti-slippery
- Ideal for transporting bigger and heavier items
- Detachable feet allows you to fix the rack on different vehicles using feet of various sizes without a problem
- Dual locking mechanism for promised safety
Malone Handirack Inflatable Roof Rack
An ingenious universal roof rack that had to make its way to the list is the Malone Handirack Inflatable Rack!
But what makes this one different from all the others? As the name suggests, unlike all others, this rack is INFLATABLE!
This rack is super easy and quick to install. Does it sound too good to be true? But this is what makes Handirack’s roof rack special. The box comes with everything you need to put it up. Moreover, you’ll get a storage bag along with the inflatable rack so that when not in use, you can put it down, deflate it and pack away.
But how would you inflate the rack? Don’t worry, you do not have to either a pump or another tool separately because the rack comes with everything you need to make it work.
Next comes the question of installing it which is super easy. All you need to do is to place the two inflatable bars across the roof of your car at a fair distance. Connect them to the pump and blow away! Once the bars are filled with air, put the stopper in place and move on to tying them together.
Note that the soft bars should go between the roof and door of your vehicle. Do you see the D-rings at both ends of the rack? The straps that come along need to run through these rings and joined together. Moreover, the built-in ratchet system helps you tighten the straps and keep the rack well fixed in place.
Repeat the process with the other bars and you’ll be done. At this time you might be thinking of buying an electric pump to inflate the rack but that would rather be a luxury than a necessity because the manual one works equally well in this case.
But wait; is an inflatable universal roof rack strong enough to accommodate heavier gear like bicycles? The Handirack’s roof rack is made from 420D 3-ply nylon which makes it strong enough to handle your load. Furthermore, the rack can easily manage weight up to 180 pounds although the rack itself weighs around 6 pounds, making it both lightweight and powerful at the same time.
Furthermore, the Handirack’s roof rack comes with a 1-year warranty, is cheap, and most importantly, serve the purpose of transporting bikes perfectly. The only downside of this amazing piece of equipment is the risk of deflation due to exposure to heat. If left longer under the sun, the rack may end up damaged and inflated, thus when not in use, it is advisable to detach it and store it away until next time.
- Easy to install
- Comes will all necessary tools and accessories for installation
- Can manage weight up to 180 pounds
- It can be fixed on different vehicles without a problem
- Consists of 3-ply nylon straps that promises strength and durability
- Comes with Handirack’s one year warranty
- If left longer under the sun, the rack can deflate pretty quickly
Ever heard of Thule? When talking about sports gear, missing out on Thule’s name in the discussion is no less of a sin!
Here is one of the most amazing universal roof bike racks by Thule, the Aeroblades, a rack that is powerful, durable, and fabulously designed to help you transport your studs without a problem.
The aerodynamic design with stylish bars makes this rack a great choice. Moreover, the entire body is proudly constructed from aluminum, which guarantees long-lasting performance by fighting rust and corrosion like a pro! Additionally, the bars are covered with a rubber wind diffuser which reduces air pressure, reducing the noise while you’re driving towards your destination.
Furthermore, the Aeroblades come with an in-built T-slot that helps you add Thule accessories pretty conveniently. Thus, all you need to do is remove the end cap, slide in the accessory, and tighten it in place.
Let’s not forget to add here that the Aeroblade comes in four different versions. It gives you a choice to choose from different bar lengths, ranging from 43 inches to 60 inches suiting your needs. Moreover, this amazing piece of equipment from Thule can shockingly manage a load of up to 800 pounds. That is right! This universal roof rack will carry the heaviest of your load without a problem.
To make fitting with various vehicles easy and effortless, Thule has introduced four different bar sizes in the rack. But remember, which oversize you choose, make sure the width of the bars does not exceed the size of your wing mirrors or you’ll have a problem mounting it.
Moreover, the Aeroblade consists of a built-in measurement slide. Hence, you won’t need an extra set of measuring tape to calculate the distance which the rack is made to do itself! Another important thing to mention here that unlike all the other racks mentioned in the list, the bars of this one do not come with feet. Hence, Thule needs you to buy the accessories separately, which can be disliked by many.
But before you buy feet for the bars, always see the vehicle compatibility with it or else installation of the rack will become a headache for you!
- Aerodynamic design
- Different sized bars available
- In-built measurement slide
- Built-in T-slot for adding accessories
- Aluminum frame for long-lasting performance
- Can manage load up to 800 pounds
- Ideal for hauling heavy cargo
- Easy to install
- The feet of the bars need to be purchased separately
Rola 59899 Universal Cross Bars
Have you ever heard of Rola? If not, you have certainly missed out on a great name in the world of sports gear.
The Rola’s 59899 universal crossbars take the next place on the list of the best universal roof racks. This Australia based sports company has been manufacturing roof racks for more than 30 years and certainly the best ones ever!
This rack is perfect for cars mounted with raised roof rails. Moreover, it comes in two different sizes, 47 1/4 inches and 51 1/8 inches long, thus giving you a better choice to go for one that makes the perfect fit for your car.
Furthermore, the bars are made from anodized aluminum where you can see a black rubber strip moving down the middle of the bar. Upon laying eyes on the rack, you might think why are the bars curved? This is to support the aerodynamic design so that when you’re driving with the rack on top, you do not end up with an empty fuel tank.
Moreover, aluminum is lightweight and highly tensile material, assuring you of safe transportation of your studs. And promising performance for a lifetime, Rola has added stainless steel clamps at the end of the bar so they do not rust away easily. Furthermore, the addition of molded nylon and rubber pads keeps your vehicle safe from scratches while you struggle with putting it up.
But what makes this universal roof rack special is the in-built locking mechanism. The locking mechanism not only allows you to lock the bars and raised rails tightly in place but also helps in removing one section of the rack without touching the other one. Moreover, it also makes installation super easy, quick, and convenient for someone new to the concept of rack mounting.
If you’re thinking how much load can this lightweight rack handle then let us tell you, handling cargo that weighs less than 165 pounds is not a problem for this amazing equipment. But before you put on extra weight, do check the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can accommodate, or else the roof might sink in.
Although, you’ll notice opening at the end of the bars but the design won’t cause a problem, rather minimize the noise when you’re enjoying driving to your favorite place for a short bicycling vacation.
The only thing that makes the rack the last choice is the difficulty of installation. You need to follow the instructions in the manual to the “T” to ensure everything is rightly fit in place. And even then, it might take you up to 30 minutes or more to mount it on the roof of your vehicle.
Another thing that you need to remember about Rola 59899 is that the bars tend to loosen up after a long journey. Hence, if you do not want your bicycles or cargo to fall off, stop and tighten the bars after 600 miles without a delay. Moreover, you’ll get a bunch of 8 keys along with the rack because each lock is opened with a different key, sounds a little annoying, right? But the addition of this feature promises secure transportation of your bikes every time!
- Aerodynamic design
- Aluminum bars with stainless steel clamps
- Bars available in different sizes makes it compatible with most vehicles
- Built-in locking system
- Can accommodate weight up to 165 pounds
- Molded nylon and rubber pads for scratch-free installation
- Difficult to install
- Need to tighten the bars after every 600 miles
- Not ideal for long journeys
Icebeamer 50″ Roof Rack Railing
Another wonderful universal roof rack designed to fit over raised rails is the Icebeamer 50. This rack is made to fix on roofs of vehicles with rails that lay apart, usually measuring up to 36 and 43 inches.
Don’t these rails look superb with the shiny top and strong looking frame? This is because the rails are made out of aircraft aluminum which adds to its strength and beauty. Moreover, the Icebeamer 50 consists of in-built locks that are tucked inside the bars and promises to keep the rack well fixed in place. Also, because the locks are tucked behind the bars, this helps them keep away from rust while you get to enjoy the performance for much longer!
Furthermore, the rack is designed in a way that easily fits bars of different types and sizes. From square bars to curved factory bars, the Icebeamer 50 will fit all without a problem. Thus, if you’re looking for a set of rails that is versatile, this one will work just great. The bars measure up to a whopping 60 inches x 6 inches x 4 inches and weigh around 13 pounds, making it one of the heaviest on the list. But wait! Here the heavier the bars are, the more durable they will be!
The product does look interesting, right? Additionally, the Icebeamer 50 itself consists of square bars that are designed to manage weight up to a whopping 150 pounds. But because it is designed to fit most vehicles, the square bars tend to create noise and drag at high speed, thus making the drive uncomfortable. Rather than using it for longer trips, it can ideally be used for shorter distances without any hesitation.
Apart from all the “good” things about the rack being said, how do you install it? Mounting the Icebeamer 50 is super easy! All you need to do is position the bars on the roof of your vehicle and use the clamps to tighten it in place. Tighten the clamps from both ends while keeping the top nut loose. Why? This is so, once you’re sure that the rack has been position right, you can screw it away!
Although this universal roof rack comes with a fabulous one year warranty before you run out to get it, always check your car’s compatibility with it. If the measurements are out big time, you end up wasting your money. But wait, Icebeamer 50 comes with a 30 days exchange policy that surely makes shopping from the label fun and convenient.
- Aluminum body
- The clamps are tucked beneath the bars to save them from rusting and wasting away
- Can manage weight up to 150 pounds
- Comes with 3 keys for the locks
- In-built locking system makes installation easy
- Slides easily into raised roof rails
- One year manufacturer’s warranty included
- Comes with 30 days exchange policy
- Compatible with bars of different sizes and types
- The square bars increase drag at high speed and creates noise
- Not ideal for longer trips
- May not fit every car
How to choose the best Universal Roof Rack- A complete guide
You cannot simply go to the market and pick out a universal roof rack that you like. We wish it was that easy, but it isn’t! It takes more than an eye to purchase the right track but do you know what things should you be looking for? No? Here are a few points that will get you through the decision-making process:
Ask yourself why do you need a universal roof rack? Do you want it for carrying bikes only? Or do you wish to transport other cargo stuff too? Your intention to use will certainly influence the decision. If you need a rack for haulage of heavier stuff, you’ll need a bigger rack with a stronger frame. Moreover, whether you want it for occasional use or a regular one, it will help you decide which one will serve the purpose better.
Compatibility with the Vehicle
As the name suggests, universal roof racks are meant to fit most cars. But still, before you head out to buy one, always make sure what type of roof rails you have mounted on your vehicle, plain one or the raised ones.
But why is it important?
This is because most universal roof racks are made to slide comfortably into an averagely designed rail while some are rail specific. For example, if you own an SUV, it comes pre-mounted with rails that are raised. Thus, a roof rack that fits that rail only won’t work for any other vehicle.
Hence, opt for a roof rack with door clamps, which can easily be fixed atop your car irrespective of the size or type of roof rails.
In-built locking system
Stop and think for a moment. Why do you need a roof rack when you can tow the bicycle at the back or on top of your car? This is because you need a safe way to make transportation of bikes possible.
When on vacation, at times people end up forgetting to lock in their bikes, which results in unthinkable consequences. This is where an in-built locking system of a rack comes in handy. Not only do the clamps promise to keep the rack well fixed in place, but the straps that hold the bikes down promise full security of your expensive gear.
A rack with a locking system gives you a complete sense of security thus, making haulage and transportation hassle-free and efficient!
Complete or modular system
The racks with a complete system are quick to fix to the roof of your vehicles as they come pre-assembled and take no time to install.
The complete system fastens to your roof and is ready to be used. You can load almost anything onto it up to the designated weight limit. However, you’ll need to devise your method of securing the various items to ensure they are fastened properly and will not move during transit. This is a perfectly acceptable system; especially if you’re simply planning on fitting a roof box or something similar.
On the contrary, a modular system gives you more flexibility. Being versatile, it gives you more options to explore, hence making it easier to mount bigger stuff including skies, kayaks, and boats with just a few clamps and straps.
Is the rack reachable?
Imagine having an SUV with a high roof and placing a roof rack over it. Won’t it become too high to place your studs on it? And even if you somehow succeed to do so, you’ll end up with air space problems!
Climbing up on the sill of the car to reach the top isn’t always safe. Thus, for people with high-roofed cars, you should explore other options in the “rack” category. But if you have a bike with an average-sized roof, the universal roof rack will just work great for you.
This is most definitely important when it comes to buying a rack or any other sports gear. The market is filled with expensive racks, thus if you’re willing to spend a decent amount on your purchase, you might end up buying something fabulous.
On the other, people with a tight budget may not have “greater and wider” options available for them. Thus, if you search in the right direction, you might be able to grab the best rack for your needs.
If you’re looking for a decent roof rack then you’ll probably come across the term “load limit”. But what is it? It means the amount of load a rack can carry! Most racks can accommodate weight up to 130 to 150 pounds without a problem, which is pretty good for hauling a bike.
However, if you’re looking for transporting, other heavier items, you can surely go for racks that can handle more. But before you happily buy one with more weight capacity, always check how much weight your car’s roof can handle.
This is so because if you put a heavier rack on the roof of your vehicle, more than it could manage, the roof will curve and you’ll end up ruining it for the worst.
It is human nature that you get attracted to a more popular name. imagine having two items in front of you, one made by a label you know of while the other one is unknown. Which one will you go for?
The item made by a company that you know of!
Hence, when it comes to choosing a universal roof rack for hauling your bicycles, brand name matters! But remember, a big name does not mean great quality. Thus, before you opt for a brand of rack that you know of, it is always better to do some before-hand research. Lookup for reviews on social media to know which rack ranks amongst the best.
How can the rack’s design influence your decision? Simple it is! The closer the bars of the rack will be, the less drag it will cause which ultimately means you’ll save on your gas bill. This is especially important if you’re a true bicyclist at heart and need to use the rack regularly.
Thus, the less the drag is, the less the noise the rack will make while you still enjoy the long drive through your favorite terrains.
Want to get your hands on a universal roof rack that is durable? Well then, another important thing to consider while buying a rack is the material used in its manufacturing. That is right! Most racks are made from steel, a material that promises durability but is heavy.
On the other, if you’re looking for a lightweight rack, go for one made from aluminum. It is also highly durable, fights with rust like a warrior, and most importantly is lightweight.
Ease of installation
Well let’s admit it; no one wants to spend hours setting up a universal roof rack only! No matter how important a thing might be for you, you still wouldn’t want to waste hours on putting the pieces together.
However, if you’re a master at installing racks, one with complicated features surely won’t bother you. But for someone with no prior knowledge of how it works, finding a rack that is easy to install is super important.
Hence, when buying a universal roof rack, make sure you read through the instructions to gain an idea of how easy/difficult it is to install. Where some use locking systems to fix in place, many other racks simply use clamps to clip in. thus, check for the installation manual to choose which suits you best.
Fitting the Rack
Fitting a universal roof rack seems as easy as a piece of cake, right? But hold on, it might not always be true. If you miss one step, you might end up damaging your car
That is right!
Always read the instructions before you start very carefully. Also, clean the area thoroughly where you plan to place the rack. Moreover, be careful when handling the rack. You can ask for an extra pair of helping hands to get over the task.
Furthermore, to ensure your car’s paint job remain clean, you can also grease the bolts before you move further to tighten them. The reason has been greasing will make the process smooth and effortless.
To ensure your car remains safe from scratches and damages during the fitting process, be careful while handling the universal roof rack!
Do you have straps to tie the bicycles down? Are the clamps steady and fixed? Are the bolts tightened right? Before you head out to take your bike for a trip down the road, locked in the rack, always check for loose ends.
This is a majorly important aspect when buying a rack. Always look for accessories that come along, and if something that you require is missing in the whole package, buy it then and there. Why? Because it is always better to be safe than sorry!
A few locks, extra straps, some additional clamps, and safety nets for carrying other items, buying these beforehand may come in handy at some point. What is more important is the safe transportation of your bicycles. For this, you need to check the rack box for complete accessories and ready through the guide that will help you set it up perfectly.
How to install a Universal Roof Rack?
Does installing a roof rack seem as difficult as climbing up Mount Everest? But let us tell you, it surely isn’t that bad! For someone new to the idea of universal roof racks, mounting them can seem a bit difficult but if you follow the instruction properly, we are sure you won’t have a problem.
Hence, here is a quick look at the general steps that you need to follow to ensure the rack is well fixed in place:
- Unpack the rack and hold it in position.
- See the clamps at the end of each bar? Use them to lock the rack in place.
- Run the straps along with the hooks through each door of the car and pull. Do not over-pull the straps or they’ll break.
- If the rack comes with any nuts or bolts, use a driver to tighten them and make sure you leave no ends lose.
- Now, you’re all set to place your bike on it and go for a quick ride!
Wasn’t that easy? Although, mounting a roof rack isn’t hard but there are certain things that you need to consider before installing it. Always check the rack compatibility with your vehicle. Sometimes the rack seems a perfect fit but the measurements are out, thus making it impossible to mount it.
Moreover, get a rain gutter fixed on the roof of your vehicle if you wish to install a universal roof rack. Why? This is because the straps that go through the doors of your car may drip inside during rain. Thus, a rain gutter will help you to keep the car clean and dry from the inside.
Apart from the few pointers above, mounting a universal roof rack isn’t much of a deal! All you need is to read through the instructions properly and within minutes, you’ll be able to set it up, all ready for use!
Safety Tips to Remember when using a Universal Roof Rack
Although, using a universal roof rack to haul and move things has become a much more common practice today than it was in the past. Drive on the highway and you’ll come across mounted with roof racks and conveniently carrying cargo from one point to another.
Roof racks have made transportation of bicycles and other important stuff pretty easy and effortless. Although using it comes with no major setbacks but still, with equipment fitted at the top of your car, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Hence here are a few safety tips regarding the use of universal roof rack that you need to remember:
Always and yes we emphasize, always make sure the rack is the perfect fit for your car. Before you buy one, measure the roof of your vehicle and compare it with the rack you wish to own. If it makes the perfect pair, go ahead buy and mount it. if the fitting is out of place, the rack along with your stuff can fall off during the drive, hence, risking the life of everyone on the road.
Have you installed the rack already? Before you go for a drive, make sure you check the rack thoroughly for no loose ends. Grip it from both ends and move it from side to side with all you might. If it stays fixed in place, it means your good to go.
And in case the rack sways, re-check for lose nuts and bolts only to tighten them before going out.
For people with SUVs, we do not recommend a roof rack. Why? Because cars like these already have a high roof. Moreover, adding a roof rack means you’re increasing the height plus adding more to it by placing your cargo. This limits the air space, hence making it difficult for you to move through places with lower roofs.
Correct loading position
If you have loaded your cargo on the rack already, make sure it is positioned in the center. If the load is not focused at the center of the vehicle, it can easily topple off while driving and cause a serious accident.
Thus, with a universal roof rack, the correct loading position matters the most for you and everyone else’s safety!
Although, the rack you choose may be able to bear a whopping 180 pounds of weight before you move on to load it with heavy stuff, check your car’s details for load management. Check for the amount of load the vehicle’s roof can bear because if you place more than it could handle, the roof will sink causing some serious damage to the car and your expensive stuff.
Just remember these few safety tips when using a roof rack and your all good to go!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you still have questions regarding the universal roof rack? It’s time to answer a few so that you can quickly reach a decision.
What is the difference between “roof rails” and “roof racks/bars”?
If you’re confused between the two, here is an easy explanation. Roof rails come pre-mounted on the roofs of most vehicles and run from the front to the end of the car. With a rack fitted on it, the rails cannot be used for haulage.
On the other hand, roof racks/bars are designed to slide into the roof rails and use clamps to fix them in place. The rack is then used for transportation of load from one point to another without interference.
Will any type of roof rack fit my car?
Although universal roof racks are designed to be compatible with most cars, but to ensure things go in your favor, always measure the size of your roof rails and compare it with the rack for the perfect fit.
I don’t have roof rails then how can I mount a roof rack on my car?
You can either go for installation of rails first followed by the rack or simply use clamps and straps to mount the roof rack in place.
Do I need to drill holes in the car to fit my roof rack?
No, unless you’re planning to fit factory styled roof bars. Most roof racks use clamps and straps to fix in place, hence which means you do not need any tools or holes to get it fixed.
How do I know which roof rack do I need?
Read through the buying guide above to be sure of what kind of a roof rack do you require. Always list down your requirements and needs, the reason why you need a roof rack because only then will you be able to buy the right product.
Can roof racks be uninstalled?
Universal roof racks are neither welded nor glued to the roof of your vehicles. Thus, when you do not need to use it anymore, you can remove it, disassemble and pack it away.
Is a roof rack dangerous to use?
If installed correctly and you follow the protocol of hauling load on it, then no, it is not at all dangerous. Rather, a roof rack provides the safest means of transporting your heavy stuff with great convenience and ease.
How can I tie-down kayaks or heavier cargo on the rack?
To ensure the load is secured in place, use either nylon straps or bungee cords to tie them down. These are super strong and won’t break loose, promising to transport the cargo safely to its destination.
A universal roof rack is safe, durable, and strong. It provides the safest means of moving your important stuff from one place to another, without you having to make round trips or worry about towing them at the back of your vehicle dangerously.
Thus, if you still haven’t bought a rack for your bicycles, go ahead and get one now because we are sure, you’ll end up in a happy place with it!