Gear Review: Yakima Roof Rack and Copperhead Bike Mount

*screeeech* *rrrrip* *crunch* "Okay, I think it's in." *slam* *crash* "The trunk won't close!" *click* *pop* "Okay, how 'bout now?" *slam* *crash* "Nope, not quite."

All of these words and sounds represent a typical morning in which I tried, with mybest effort, to disassemble two mountain bikes and get them into the back of my little 2004 Corolla. Fitting a full suspension and a hardtail mountain bike into the trunk, seats folded down, took a serious amount of finagling. My partner in crime and I were training for our first adventure race and I was just learning the in's and out's of mountain biking. The last thing I wanted to focus on was trying to fit my bike in the car and the process took away from our valuable time on the trails.

I finally broke down and went to REI to buy a bike rack. Choosing between a roof rack and a trunk rack was easy. I've heard stories about trunk racks damaging cars, being unstable, coming loose from the car, and damaging the bikes themselves. My little Corolla came with a super cool spoiler as well, which virtually eliminated all of the trunk racks anyway. Choosing Yakima over Thule was as simple as realizing the Yakima racks were slightly cheaper - the competing brands, to be honest, don't seem too different to me.

I was shocked at the prices in general and the different types of components I had to buy. Of course, Yakima has to create racks and components for every car known to man, and it made sense that the racks have to be assembled in pieces. Between the Q Towers ($299), crossbars ($70), front and rear clips ($70), and core locks (6 at $75), things got quite pricey. I was a peeved about having to buy the SKS locks separately, but can see why manufacturers would do that. You have the freedom to choose the number of locks you purchase, and if you purchase a few extras, you can get them in a larger package and they'll all use the same key.

Being the price-sensitive outdoorslady I am, I chose the cheapest, easiest mounting accessory for the bike itself, the Copperhead Bike Mount. So far, for the price, the quality has been precisely what I was hoping for.

Pros: The mount is a piece of cake to use - the skewer fits into the fork on your bike and tightens to hold it in place, and the rear wheel attaches to the rack with an adjustable strap. My older K2 Zed 1.0 bike fits perfectly on the mount, and I've driven down a highway for a number of hours without the bike moving a centimeter. I'm completely confident that the bike is secure, and can focus on driving rather than worrying. 

Cons/Problems: While on the highway, I definitely noticed the air blowing over the rack, it makes noise. But the noise is minimal, it doesn't bother me at all, and if you want to continue spending money on the rack, you can buy the faring, which I did later on, and it makes a huge difference. For cyclists with thinner wheels and mountain bikers with different forks, be careful. Thinner wheels can prevent a tight fit and this mount does not fit all forks. Luckily, I have a standard mountain bike, and it fits perfectly. Be sure to check beforehand and make sure your bike fits the rack you buy. 

It's definitely not the most secure locking system. The lock designed to go on the skewer only prevents potential thieves from opening the clamp on the fork. It is absolutely possible, if the thief was determined, to remove the skewer without opening the clamp. They can also take the clamp itself when there is no bike on the rack. 

Moral of the story: I'm happy with my purchase so far. Although the security of the system leaves a few doubts in my mind, I would never, ever just leave the bike sitting on the rack. If you want a more secure system, spend a bit more (the Steelhead, for example), buy a cable or chain lock, or don't leave your bike unattended sitting on the top of your car. If someone wants to steal it, they'll find a way, all racks and locks aside. I'd consider spending a little more on the bike mount if I were to replace the Copperhead with something secure, but you get what you pay for, and I'm satisfied.

Do you have a roof rack on your car? What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about it? Leave a comment!