QUESTION: I’m traveling to Arizona for a month and plan to take my road bike on a roof rack mounted on my Subaru Forester. What effect will this have on fuel mileage? Are roof-mounted bikes really secure? Should I get a good lock and bug shield? – Ted S.
RBR REPLIES: I’m not too current on roof racks because I quit carrying my bikes on them after a few, uh, unfortunate incidents. However, I’ll try to answer your questions based on what I experienced before switching to inside-vehicle transport.
- One bike on top will likely diminish mileage by 2-3 miles per gallon. That was my experience with a Subaru Legacy, which has similar power as your Forester.
- The bike will be secure as long as you follow directions for latching it down. Get a rack that locks to the car, and use a cable lock for locking the bike to the rack. Take the bike into your motel room at night (preferred), or park out front under a streetlight if that’s not feasible.
- A bug/rain deflector is a good idea. It attaches to the front of the bike on the rack and will keep it lots cleaner during a long drive.
Here’s an alternative worth considering: Put the bike inside and get a rooftop cargo carrier for most of your other stuff. Luggage will be much better protected in the carrier than your bike exposed to the elements.
Another idea: I carried my bike inside a Subaru Outback for several years simply by removing both wheels and the seatpost / saddle. The bike frame stood up along one side of the rear (with the seats folded down.) The wheels nestled alongside, leaving plenty of room for luggage.