Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad: Head-to-Head Comparison Between the Two Giants

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What are the first names that come into your mind when I say bike racks? You may have a different answer but let me tell you mine— Thule and Yakima. Why do you ask? Well, it’s because these brands are undeniably the best when it comes to bicycle racks.

I’ve been a bicycle enthusiast longer than I can even remember. So, it’s natural that I came across and used a ton of different carriers throughout the years. However, two racks were always my favorite—the Thule UpRide and Yakima HighRoad.

For a long time, even I was confused about which one I liked more, the UpRide or HighRoad. However, I’m going to settle this once and for all today.

So, if you are as confused as I was back in the days, then worry not, because it’s time you know which one is better between the Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad.

Comparing Features of Both UpRide & HighRoad Racks

Thule UpRide RackYakima HighRoad
TypeRoof Bike RackRoof Bike Rack
Mounting TypeWheel MountWheel Mount
Bike Capacity11
Load Capacity44 lbs44 lbs
Dimension64″ x 13″ x 4.3″56″ x 9.50″x 4.50″
MaterialAluminumAlloy Steel
Item Weight18.5 lbs18 lbs
Max Tire Width3″ (up to 5″ with Adapter)23mm to 4”
Max Wheel Base1300 mm1219.2 mm
Max Wheel Size20 in -29 in26 in to 29 in
Locking CompatibilityYesYes
PriceBuy From AmazonBuy From Amazon

My Experience with the Two Roof-Mounted Racks

I can directly start yapping about the similarities and differences between the carriers, but it wouldn’t be wise, not according to me, at least. Looking at the differences and similarities without knowing about the racks will be like trying to connect the dots without even knowing where the dots are. So, it’s best if you take a look at the detailed reviews of the carriers first.

Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack

thule upride

Let’s skip the part about how I got to know about the carrier and jump into the good stuff. So, the Thule UpRide is one of my favorite roof racks, but it’s not because of its design or its features. It’s on my racks-I-love list because the carrier comes with almost everything you need at an affordable price.

Yea, you heard it right. The rack doesn’t cost much, but that is one of the many things I like about the carrier. It weighs only 18.5lbs, so lifting it up on my SUV or carrying it from one place to another was child’s play.

I own and use Subaru XV Crosstrek; it’s a medium-sized SUV. Naturally, it’s tough to mount a roof rack on an SUV because you need to lift the entire thing and put it on your vehicle. However, the UpRide didn’t weigh a lot, so placing it on the top was not much of a challenge.

You need a crossbar to install the carrier, but the good thing is the UpRide is suitable for all Thule and almost all factory crossbars. I had already installed a factory crossbar on my SUV a few months before getting the rack. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t fit, but it did perfectly.

The maximum weight capacity of the carrier is 44lbs. Anything below 44lbs will sit easily on the top without any issues, provided the bikes you’re using don’t have a tire size of more than 3-inches.

Yes, the rack can’t accommodate bicycles with a 4 or 5-inch tire out of the box. It can carry bikes with a wheel size of 20 to 29-inches, so you do have the option to mount a wide range of bicycles on the carrier.

However, if you want it to hold a bike with 4 or 5-inch tires, then you’ll need to use the Thule UpRide Fat Bike Adapter.

The problem is, it is not included with the rack; thus, you’ll need to buy it separately, which means you have to spend some extra cash.

Apart from that, the carrier comes with an arm and a hook for the front wheel and a ratcheting strap for the rear. The hook and arm connect to the front wheel, so you don’t have to worry about any frame-to-rack connection. I did notice a little wobbling when I took the carrier out for a spin, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Just for the sake of convenience, the rack can be switched from one side of the car to the other very easily. There is a locking cable at the rear of the carrier, but if you want to use it, then you’ll have to purchase the locking cores separately.

What I Like About the UpRide

  • It is reasonably priced, and you can afford it even if you’re on a tight budget
  • The rack can accommodate 20 to 29-inch bikes
  • I was able to use the adapter to carry fat-tire bikes
  • It doesn’t weigh much, so lifting or moving it around is easy
  • The carrier is suitable for almost all the crossbars out there

What I Think Could be Better

  • I had to buy an adapter separately to mount fat-tire bicycles on the carrier

Yakima HighRoad Roof-Mounted Rack

yakima highroad

I always had a soft spot in my heart for Yakima, especially because of my time with the HoldUp and HoldUp EVO. Their racks are simply one of a kind, and the same goes for the Yakima HighRoad roof-mounted carrier.

I used the HighRoad a few years ago, and it had lived up to my expectations. Let’s clear out the basic information first. As the name suggests, the Yakima HighRoad is a roof-mounted rack, and similar to the UpRide, it can carry only one bike.

It weighs around 18lbs, so you can lift or carry it anywhere without much effort. I used the same vehicle, the Subaru XV Crosstrek, with the carrier. Mounting or installing the rack was a piece of cake, and it took me only a few minutes. I probably could’ve done it faster if I had read the instructions.

One thing you should remember is that the crossbar you’re using on your vehicle should be spread between 18 to 35-inches, or else you won’t be able to mount it on top. My one had the right size, so I didn’t have any trouble there.

You don’t need any tools for the job, and if you ever feel like transforming the carrier to work with T-Slots, you can easily do it with the help of the SmarT-Slot conversion kit. However, it is not included with the rack, so you will need to buy it separately.

The best thing about the HighRoad is that it can accommodate bicycles with 23mm or 0.9-inches to 4-inches wide tires. Thus, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a thin tire bike or a fat tire one.

The downside to the rack is that it is only suitable for bicycles with 26 to 29-inches wheels. So, if you’re thinking about kid’s bicycles, then I would suggest you look somewhere else.

I tested out two different bikes with the rack. The first one is the Cannondale Treadwell Neo 2 Remixte, and the second one is the Yeti SB130. Both bicycles weigh less than 44lbs, and I made surebecause the maximum capacity of the rack is 44lbs.

The former is a fat tire bike, but the second one isn’t. You may think it will be a problem, yet the carrier held them like it was nothing.

Afterward, the rack comes with two arms at the front and a strap at the back to keep your bike secured. The arms, similar to the ones on UpRide, connect to the front wheel and not the frame. Hence, scratching the frames was the least bit of my worry.

Mounting my bikes on the carrier was safe and easy because of something called the TorqueRight tightening knob. It is a special knob that you can rotate to find the perfect fit for your bike’s front wheel. It helps you from overtightening the arms or keeping them too loose.

The HighRoad also doesn’t come with a locking core, but you do get the cable. So, if you want to keep your bicycles safely locked to the carrier, then you’ll need to purchase the cores separately.

If you want more information about the Yakima HighRoad, then you should or can check out my blog about Yakima HighRoad and FrontLoader.

Things I Liked About the HighRoad

  • It can accommodate a wide range of bicycles
  • TorqueRight tightening knob ensured I didn’t overtighten or keep the arms loose
  • The rack can become T-Slot compatible with the SmarT-Slot conversion kit
  • The installation process was not even a challenge
  • It has a maximum weight capacity of 44lbs, yet weighs only 18lbs

What I Think Could be Better

  • The carrier can only hold bicycles with 26 to 29-inches wheels

Similarities Between the Roof Bike Racks

Now that you have a clear idea about how the carriers work, you’re ready to move into the next. Again, sorry if it took me a while to come to this point, but trust me, it’s worth the wait.

Unlike the Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted racks, these carriers (The UpRide and HighRoad) don’t need a hitch; instead, they sit on a crossbar on top of your vehicle. Both of these racks are mounted on the roof; thus, they don’t block your vision when you’re going on the reverse or hide the number plate.

Both carriers almost have the same weight, just a little here and there. So, it takes almost the same amount of effort to lift or move them.

The UpRide and HighRoad have the same kind of wheel straps for the rear wheel, but the front arms are a little different. The arms don’t connect to the frame, which is the same for both racks. You can drive without worrying about your precious bike getting scratched.

One more thing I found to be similar between the UpRide and HighRoad is that they cost almost the same. Both of these carriers are affordable, and you don’t need to break your bank to purchase them.

locking cable

Both of these carriers feature a locking cable but don’t come with a core. The core needs to be purchased separately.

The maximum wheel size they can accommodate is 29-inches, so that is one more aspect they have in common. So far, these are the only few similarities I’ve found between the two carriers.

Thule UpRide Vs. Yakima HighRoad: The Differences

Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad

While comparing the Thule UpRide and ProRide, I figured out that they have a ton of similarities but not many differences. However, my experience was the complete opposite when I tried to compare the UpRide and HighRoad. These racks only have a few things in common, but a lot of aspects that made them different from each other.

The Arm Design

As you already know, both the UpRide and HighRoad come with two separate arms to secure the front wheel. However, one of the arms on the former is more like a hook than an arm.

The arm desing

The arm and the hook on the UpRide are adjustable. The hook can be adjusted using a gray tab, and there are numbers on it that indicate what wheel size it can accommodate at the moment. The arm uses a gray-colored quick-release button for adjustment. It also ratchets down if you need to tighten the arm to the front wheel.

On the other hand, the latter comes with two arms and a tightening knob. You can only adjust the arms using the knob. There are no gray tabs, buttons, or ratcheting switches.

The Way You Mount Bikes on These Racks

Now, this is quite interesting. Although both of them are roof-mounted carriers, the way you have to mount a bicycle on the racks differs from each other.

Let’s start with the Thule UpRide. As I have mentioned, it has a hook and an arm at the front portion. If you want to mount a bike on it, then first, you’ll need to use the release button on the arm to fold it down.

Afterward, you’ll have to adjust the hook to the right size. There is a gray tab on the hook, which you need to pull to adjust the hook. Next, you have to adjust the rear wheel strap. Once these are done, you can place the bike in the tray. Bring up the arm and use the button to attach it to the wheel. Connect the wheel straps, and you’re done.

The process is pretty different for the Yakima HighRoad. You will first need to loosen the TorqueRight tightening knob, which will let you move the arms. Now, fold the rear arm down, adjust the rear wheel tray and place your bicycle on top of the rack.

You’ll need to use one hand to keep the bike steady and the other to connect the front arm to the wheel. Afterward, you can pull up the rear arm and use the knob to tighten the arms. Now, all you need to do is attach the straps at the back, and you’re done.

Wheel Size and Tire Width Capacity

If you’ve been following everything carefully, then you should know by now that the UpRide can accommodate wheels of 20 to 29-inches in diameter and tires up to 3-inches wide.

Wheel Size and Tire Width Capacity

On the other hand, HighRoad allows you to carry bicycles with tires from 0.9 to 4-inches wide but wheels ranging from 26 to 29-inches in diameter.

So, with the details given above, you can tell that both racks can accommodate a wide range of bicycles, but with limitations. You can carry kids, women’s, road, mountain, and many other types of bikes with the UpRide as long as they have tires less than 3-inch wide.

With the HighRoad, you can carry all sorts of fat tire bikes, but you won’t be able to use bicycles that have a wheel diameter of less than 26-inches.

Although the UpRide can’t hold fat tire bikes on its own, there is a thing you can do to change it. The carrier will be able to accommodate bicycles with a 5-inch-wide tire if you purchase and use the Thule UpRide Fat Bike Adapter (not included with the rack).

So, if you are willing to spend more, you do have the option to carry a lot more types of bikes with the Thule UpRide.

Crossbar Setting

As for crossbar compatibility, the UpRide can work with all Thule and almost all factory crossbars out there. There are only a handful of crossbars that don’t support the rack.

On the other hand, the Yakima HighRoad is only suitable for crossbars that are spread between 18 and 35-inches. So, if you’re planning to get the latter but already have a crossbar set up on your vehicle, make sure it meets the requirement.

However, even if it doesn’t, you can use the SmarT-Slot conversion kit to make the carrier compatible with T-Slots. That way, you can directly connect the rack to the T-Slot of your crossbar— pretty neat if you ask me.

Which One Should You Get?

This is the part where I have to choose between the Thule UpRide vs. Yakima HighRoad, and honestly, I’m not excited about it at all. I had a wonderful time with both of these racks, so you can understand why I’m not eager to choose one over the other.

The Thule UpRide is a great bicycle rack, but if you want my sincerest opinion, then I would admit that I will lean a little towards the Yakima HighRoad.

The reason for choosing the HighRoad is that it’s easier to install, and I can carry fat-tire bikes with it out of the box. The UpRide can also accommodate fat-tire bicycles, but you need to spend more, which I don’t prefer doing.

If you have the budget, then obviously, the UpRide is a better choice, but if you don’t, then I would suggest you stick to the HighRoad.

In the end, it all comes down to your preferences and what type of bike rack you need for your journey.

Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

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