Gadgets and Gear: Roof Carriers

When I get out to ride, I’m lucky enough to just go down the block to catch the bike trail. While the convenience factor is great, I definitely crave a change of scenery. I enjoy loading my bike up and driving to new destinations to get my rides in. If you don’t like having to cram your bike inside your car, I would highly suggest getting a bike carrier. Installing a carrier can be very simple, or it can be a horrible form of torture. I hope that I can pass along a few tips that will make your install a bit easier.


Step 1: Get Organized. Whether you believe it or not, taking the time to layout all your parts and pieces will save you time and frustration in the long run.

First, be sure to open your boxes and make sure that you have all the parts, tools, and instructions for the installation. I know that this is a step that is #1 in every instruction manual. I’m pretty intuitive, and I admit that this step is one that I’ve thought I could skip. I’ve thought wrong. When installing your carrier, don’t take the risk of damaging the rack, your vehicle, or most importantly, your bike. Familiarize yourself with the parts and your vehicle specifics.

Once you have all your parts and pieces accounted for, make sure your vehicle is clean. I mean squeaky-clean! During the excitement of installing your new carrier you might not be thinking about it, but one day, you’ll want to take your carrier off your vehicle. What a horrible day it will be when that little bit of dirt that was trapped under your carrier became coarse grit sandpaper, and made its mark in your paint. Talk about tanking your trade-in value. To prep your vehicle, I suggest hand washing and wiping down with a lint free cloth. When you can see yourself in the paint, you’re ready to install.

Drying your car with a lint free towel will produce optimal results. When you can see yourself, you’re ready to install.

Just like you were taught in swimming, it’s best to have a buddy. A friend can stand on the opposite side of the vehicle to help lift and hold the parts and pieces into place. This will reduce installation time, and help prevent damage that might occur before you’ve had a chance to secure the carrier into place. If you’re a little “particular” like me, be sure that you’re buddy is patient, and is able to hang around until you’re all finished. I would suggest ordering a pizza half way through the installation. This is a great incentive to stick around and finish the job.

Whether you ride a hand-me-down bicycle, or a one-of-a-kind custom ride, our bikes are important to every one of us. We take great pride in caring for them, and we never want them to suffer damage. What I’m going to tell you now is truly a gift from me to you. I call it the Bike Up Tag. This is an item that I came up with one day, and it’s saved my bike on more than one occasion. When I have a bike in my carrier, I hang my Bike Up Tag on my rear view mirror. This is a visual reminder to me so I don’t pull into a covered area and damage my bike, car, and the building. You can make your own tag, or purchase one. The non-profit organization, FosterSports, now sells the Bike Up Tag as a fundraiser for their youth sports programs.

My original Bike Up Tag. You can get new and improved versions from FosterSports.

If you’re interested in purchasing, email for details. Another recommendation for bike safety is to open the interior upholstered cover for your sunroof. This gives you a view of your bike and can also be a visual reminder.

I hope these tips are helpful. Each manufacturer has their own specific instructions for installation of their product. Be sure to always follow their instructions, and add these few steps to your installation to make it a bit smoother. Once you’re all finished with your installation, load up your bike and get out on the road to enjoy a ride.

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By Brian Dougherty

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