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.
- Fits Yakima round, square, factory or aerodynamic crossbars
- Zero contact with frame; carbon fibre and custom paint jobs are protected
- Accommodates disc brakes, thru axles, and full suspension bikes
- Holds bike upright while you secure the bike to the mount
- Leave your front wheel on for easy loading
- No tools or assembly required
- Fits 20” to 29” wheels with tire widths up to 3”
- SKS Locks sold separately
- 1 bike, up to 40 lbs at min of 18” crossbar spread; or up to 30 lbs at min of 16” crossbar spread
- Minimum and maximum crossbar spreads: 16” – 48”
- PerformaRidge controls laminar airflow over the bar to optimize aerodynamics
- Includes Integrated SKS Locks
- Maximum load 220 lb / 100 kg per pair
- Patented SmartFill technology allows for fast and seamless install of Whispbar accessories
- Inlay Load strips protect loads and control airflow over the bar to decrease drag and wind noise
- Installs with vehicle-specific SmartFoot fitting kit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Quality construction
- Locked to roof rack and bicycle locked to the rack
- Easily Adjusted to fit any wheel size
- No need to remove a wheel
- No contact with frame
- Very secure
- Great value for money compared to its main rival
- Locks should come as standard with your purchase
- Wind-noise (not a Yakima specific con)
- Increased fuel consumption (looks like on average 1lt / 100km more than a towbar rack)
- Parking garages will be off-bounds
- Keeps your bike(s) away from debris and dust
- Easier to parallel park
- Being tailgated won't ruin your bike
- Extra Wind resistance impacts on fuel consumption
- Need to keep an eye on low hanging branches and overhead obstructions
- Not as easy to load as a towbar mounted rack
- No ways you'll get your ebike up there