Tested: Yakima HighSpeed bike carrier

By Justin Walker 20 July 2020
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For those looking for an easy to use roof-based bike carrier, the versatile Yakima HighSpeed is a worthy option.

Transporting a bike on – or in – a vehicle is one of the small annoyances of taking your two-wheeled freedom machine anywhere of distance from home. There are myriad ways in which to mount your rig to your, er, bigger rig, such as hitch-mounted bike carriers, towball-mount variants, fancy strap-based systems for hatchbacks and – one of the most popular – up on the roof. 

The Yakima HighSpeed is the US company’s premium fork-mount bike carrier. I have used and tested a number of Yakima’s bike carriers, from hitch-mount to towball- and roof-mounted, with each version differing depending on whether I am doing a solo MTB road trip, or a family-based cycle adventure (check out our review of the Yakima FoldClick 3 here).

My past Yakima roof-rack based bike carrier was the company’s top-tier HighRoad, which allows you to leave the front wheel of your bike attached. This was great for our family’s low-slung Subaru Forester, but when it came time to look for a roof-based carrier for our considerably taller ‘camping rig’, a Land Rover Discovery 2 (standard height: 1.98m), I was keen to try a different approach, so I opted for the HighSpeed, which secures your bike via its front forks. 

As well as most roof-rails on the market, the HighSpeed can also be mounted to Yakima’s LockNLoad roof racks and platform cargo storage systems.

This type of carrier serves two purposes: it keeps your bike lower on the roof, thus reducing its effects on wind-resistance (aiding fuel consumption), and it also makes it slightly easier to manhandle the bike off the carrier as, sans front wheel, the bike is lighter in weight and shorter in length, making it easier to manoeuvre as you get it down. The HighSpeed (maximum bike-weight 18kg) is the latest and greatest fork-mount carrier from Yakima and it shows in the way its ‘universal’ axle clamp connects your fork to the carrier. As any cyclist knows all too well, there are numerous axle configurations on bikes, ranging from 12mm to 15mm and 20mm, not to mention Boost and non-Boost spacing. Yakima has designed the universal clamp system to accept all of the relevant front-axle standards, barring the 9mm quick-release axle still found on some road bicycles, but has covered this via an included adaptor when you purchase the HighSpeed. 

Attaching the lightweight (4.5kg) HighSpeed to the roof rails of your vehicle is straightforward, owing to the rubber straps that hook around the cross bars and are then tightened via a ratchet-based thumbwheel (this means the HighSpeed will fit all cross bars; square, round or oval). You can also buy optional SmarT-Slot attachments, allowing you to utilise the slot in the roof-rails to attach the HighSpeed. 

Securing a bike to the HighSpeed is equally simple: after removing your front wheel (more on where that goes in a minute) you re-insert the front axle, then place the fork/axle into the HighSpeed fork mount, and then tighten the TorqueRight knob until you hear it ‘click’, which means it has reached correct torque (it cannot be over-torqued). Easy! Then you just secure your bike’s back wheel via the rear straps, lock it with the included TailWhip cable lock and away you go.

The TorqueRight knob ensures you cannot over-tighten your forks and damage them. This is most welcome for when attaching road bicycles with their lightweight carbon-fibre forks.

Now, to that pesky front wheel. Well, you can either do what I do occasionally – store it in the rear cargo area of the vehicle – or purchase Yakima’s nifty WheelHouse (RRP$99). This aptly-named apparatus features a universal SpinVice clamp for quick attachment to any crossbar and allows you to secure your front wheel (up to a size of 29-inch x 3-inch) up top as well if you wish (Yakima also offers a 15mm axle adaptor if needed). It has both the axle and Yakima ZipStrips for securing the wheel. The WheelHouse folds down when not in use. It may seem a bit of a ‘luxury’, but I found it pretty useful during testing; not having to worry about my front wheel getting banged around in the back of the Disco made it worthwhile.

Using the HighSpeed has been a case of set-and-forget when loading my MTB up on the roof. With the Disco’s sidesteps allowing me to get up high easily, having ‘less’ bike to manoeuvre off the roof has been welcome. Re-fitting the front wheel is a 30-second job at most, so there’s no inconvenience at all. 

The Yakima HighSpeed (with or without the cool WheelHouse, although this reviewer would recommend stumping up for one) is a more than viable alternative for those who prefer to transport their bikes on the roof.

RRP: $349 See Yakima Australia for its full range of bike carriers and stockists.