Review: Yakima Frontloader and Whispbar

Yakima has been a rack and accessory manufacturer since 1979 and have been refining their offerings ever since. They recently upped their presence in South Africa. We've been making use of the Yakima Frontloader and Whispbar.

Yakima Frontloader Whisp.jpg

 

The FrontLoader is Yakima's rooftop bike mount that clamps onto the Yakima Whispbar roof rack. The FrontLoader grips the bike without any part touching the frame, avoiding any scratch or wear marks from prolonged use. It works by wedging the front wheel upright using a turn-knob, keeping the bike in place, with the rear wheel secured with a ratchet type strap. The rear strap is on a sliding tray which makes it easy to quickly adjust the position to accommodate a bike of any size or wheelbase. Thanks to the front wheel being held in place it is fairly easy to load the bike.

 

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-8.jpg

 


 

On the roof


The rack mounts to the crossbar using a clamp on the front and back which is adjustable depending on the size and shape of the bar. It may not fit all crossbars so best to check, but it's great to know that there is some adjustability for cars already fitted with a roof rack. This should also make it possible to use the FrontLoader with some 4x4 roof racks. It is worth a try and certainly better than having your bike lie flat on any other roof-mounted luggage.

 

The rack is designed to carry bikes with wheels from 20 inches right up to 29ers with widths of up to 2.5 / 2.6" accommodated (tyre manufacturer dependent) which rules out your beloved fat bike and some plus bikes.

 

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-9.jpg

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-4.jpg
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There is an optional twin-lock system for securing the rack to the cross bars and a reinforced cable to lock your bike to the rack. You will have to buy the lock-cores separately from the racks. Fortunately, they are available from Yakima and it is something that you should include in your purchase right off the bat. I feel that the locking system should come as standard, as we don't live in a world where you can afford not have you gear locked down.

 

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-5.jpg

 

The rear wheel tray is kept in place with a retaining clip and cannot be locked down. For that reason, it would be best to remove it when not in use. On the plus side, it does mean that it is easy to flip around for use on the passenger side of your vehicle.

 

Those who have used a rooftop mounted bike rack know that fitting and removing a bike does take some getting used to. A system. As mentioned before, it helps that the front wheel is held securely in place once it is in position, as one can then slide the rear wheel tray into place and ratchet the wheel down before fully tightening the front wheel. The trick is knowing where and how to lift your bike and to lift it above your head unless you are fortunate enough to be on the taller side of life or drive a platkar. Once you have done this a handful of times, you develop a rhythm and it becomes easier to do. The same goes for removing the bike.

 

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-9.jpg

 

The Whispbar crossbars are aerodynamically shaped to minimize frontal impact which in turn reduces noise and impact on fuel consumption. As with the bike rack, the fit and finish of the Whispbar is top notch and of premium quality.

 

On the road, the bike rack holds the bike in place with no discernible movement. There is no doubt that the rack and bars create wind noise, though. I am sure the fact that my vehicle has a sunroof plays a part in letting the noise through, as a standard roof will dampen the sound better. Checking all the clamps and ratchets at stops on a road trip confirmed that there is no letting go. On arriving at a destination, the rack is as secure and tightly strapped down as when I left home.

 

Yakima Frontloader Whisp-7.jpg

 

Verdict


The Yakima has impressed me. It is easy to use while addressing my three main issues with my towbar rack. First, there is nothing clamping or holding onto my frame. I've never had an issue with damage but scuff marks usually start showing unless one uses additional frame protection. Secondly, trying to find parking in Stellenbosch or Cape Town is tough as it is. With a bike rack on the towbar, it is an even bigger challenge to find a spot that my Landy will squeeze into. With a rooftop mounted rack, I can have my bike rack with me always, without the hassle of having to drive around looking for a parking spot that my vehicle will fit into. The last concern is when I choose the road less travelled - which happens often. With my bike on the roof, it is not in the line of the dust and gravel fire. I have to keep it in mind when passing under low-hanging trees or pulling over for a break in the middle of nowhere though.

 

With the Yakima rack, I've never once had an issue with my bike moving around or becoming undone. The rack is very secure. If you are in the market for a roof mounted rack, then the Yakima FrontLoader is definitely worthy of consideration. The fact that it comes in a good hundred bucks cheaper than its main rival makes it even more attractive.

 

 




10 Comments

Pointer, Feb 28 2019 12:57

There is not contact between the rack and frame which is awesome, but then you have to use a cable to lock the bike to the rack. So there will be contact to the frame anyway.

andrew5336, Feb 28 2019 01:53

Or just run the cable through a pedal or chainring?

Simon123, Feb 28 2019 06:25

Honest Q:  Why wouldn't one just use a tow-bar mount rack and solve:

1)  low entry / exit point issues / trees / etc.

2)  no horrific wind noise

3)  improved fuel consumption

4)  less bug splat on long journeys

5)  no back throwing out lifting your MTB off the roof

 

And.... go!

Dubber, Feb 28 2019 08:25

Honest Q:  Why wouldn't one just use a tow-bar mount rack and solve:

1)  low entry / exit point issues / trees / etc.

2)  no horrific wind noise

3)  improved fuel consumption

4)  less bug splat on long journeys

5)  no back throwing out lifting your MTB off the roof

 

And.... go!

 

Possibly the additional expense of adding a tow bar?

Also, maybe if using a company car, adding a fixture such as tow bar may not be allowed?

 

Just guessing...

 

I've used both - both have their pros and cons.  I've seen guys with roof mounts drive into garages and I've seen tow bar mounts get rear ended in traffic.  

From an ease of use, if your tow bar mount doesn't pivot you can't get in your boot once the bike is loaded.  Pivot tow mounts cost a bit extra.

Roof mounts are a hassle for short people :-)

Duane_Bosch, Mar 01 2019 08:28

There's a roofrack in these pics? That bike OMG!!!!!!

Iwan Kemp, Mar 01 2019 09:22

There is not contact between the rack and frame which is awesome, but then you have to use a cable to lock the bike to the rack. So there will be contact to the frame anyway.

 

Not an issue for me as I only use when I'm parked somewhere. As Andrew said there are other places to run the cable through.

Iwan Kemp, Mar 01 2019 09:27

Honest Q:  Why wouldn't one just use a tow-bar mount rack and solve:

1)  low entry / exit point issues / trees / etc.

2)  no horrific wind noise

3)  improved fuel consumption

4)  less bug splat on long journeys

5)  no back throwing out lifting your MTB off the roof

 

And.... go!

 

The cost of a towbar could be a factor, depending on your vehicle.

 

Main thing for me: (if you haven't read all the wau through)

  • Finding a parking spot and fitting into it in town is easier with a rooftop rack
  • Bike stays clear of tire debris
  • MUCH better option if you're riding gravel / off road
  • Not all vehicles can take a towbar (hot hatches with center mounted exhausts, small city cars.)
  • If you're driving a modern day bakkie there's NO way you will be able to parallel park with a towbar rack on as well. 

Depends on your needs. There are MANY vehicles around town with rooftop racks. MANY. 

 

Yakima also offers a towbar mounted rack: LINK HERE

Pipsqueak, Mar 01 2019 11:57

I'm waiting for someone to make a local version of this...

full 6biker1.jpg

Iwan Kemp, Mar 01 2019 01:11

I'm waiting for someone to make a local version of this...

full 6biker1.jpg

 

 

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Tiny K, Mar 01 2019 03:28

I've been looking at a roof mountable rack for a while, but purely from a bicycle point of view, first prize is in my car. Second prize is rear mounted rack (I have a sedan so the boot lid can open with the rack and bike on it) but then I take the wheels off, put them into wheel bags and into the car. I have an old rear hub with a gear on which I then put in to keep the chain taught. 

 

The roof top mount has many pro's but I just see more stress from owner fault than by having a rear mount which becomes the fault of the other driver.