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Yakima Racks : longterm test report for the Jetstream base rack and Highroad bike mounts

This is the long term test report for the Yakima’s Jetstream rack and Highroad mounts. 

The removal of the rack was simple and after eighteen months of use I was curious to see exactly what had gone on. Which bits had worn, which had adapted, and hopefully not find any damage to my car. 

As a refresher the car is an Audi A4 sedan using Yakima’s aerodynamic roof rack that clips on under the door jambs and bike holders which sit on top of the roof and grab the front wheel tight with a ratchet strap on the back wheel.


For maintenance I recently removed the entire rack after 18months of use. I inspected all the components and the car. Ill give you my opinion on how the rack functioned and also notes about what I found during removal.

Roof rack

Let’s start with the crossbars or “base rack” as they call it. Some manufacturers talk a strong marketing game but for Yakima the Jetstream aero bars were amazingly quiet in use, no howling, no crosswind noise, and stable at various speeds. One of the real test is on the motorway at between 60 and 80 mph. Verdict – super quiet, couldn’t have asked for a better performance.

After removing them I realised the aero bars were very dirty! Especially the undersides and as expected the front bar / leading edge was dirtiest.  In order to get them off, of course I had to remove the bike mounts first and I was pleased to see the bars were completely undamaged, no scuffs, wear or marks from the clamping forces of the bike mounts. The plastics held up great, no fading or deformity, even the glossy surface of the lock areas looks top notch – a testimony to good material choices.  

Interestingly where the rack sat on the roof showed some interesting signs. The sides of the roof rack make contact with rubber feet and I found that the underneath the feet collected dirt, which seemed pretty natural after 18months of use. The rear feet collected a lot more dirt than the front feet, maybe this was fit or maybe airflow? Anyway, dirt can be abrasive with vibration so it might be better to unmount and clean underneath the rubber more frequently than I did. But this was not a huge concern as the dirt came off easy and there was no damage done to the car at all

As you can see from the photos the roof of the Audi has a horizontal sunken area in the middle where the pad sat. This sunken area problem facilitated dirt to get in. On other vehicles this might not be there.

Underside of the foot with Pad specific to the Audi A4

Often on a rack setup that has clips, there can be concern of damage and wear to the car / cars paint. The roof clips / clips that attach the cross bars to underneath the door jambs were clean. The inside are coated with a soft plastic material to increase friction and protect the paint of your car. I found all clips looked great except for one rear clip that showed a little sign of wear (to the right of the picture below). Im not sure why or what this came from. All in all a really good sign. 

On the car the padded area touches the top of the door jamb, I took a photo below. The photo looks like damage but its not, this was an ever so slight touch of dirt that simply wiped off, and the surface underneath was fine – no damage or wear.

After eighteen months even the gloss plastic end covers were looking great and no functioning issues.

I would say this rack is very well engineered, it functions well and after a lot of use, dirt and time passing it doesn’t occur any damage to your vehicle. That’s a high standard. The Jetstream rack in this context is recommended.


Bike mounts

The Highroad bike mounts are the type that hold the whole bike by clamping the front wheel. In general they work great.

One of the things that always comes to mind with me is bikes flying out of racks because they were not tight. Yakima removed this concern.The self torquing front wheel clamp worked great and the automatic setting for camping force gave peace of mind that the bike was tight and secure. In motion and at highway speeds the bike mount is very secure and no problems were encountered.

Two things to consider with this bike mount. On a skinny tyre bike being a road, gravel or cyclocross you have to pay a little more attention to ensure the front wheel is lined up correctly to ensure this clamped at the right force. 

When removing the bike you unwind the front mechanism clamping knob. It takes a lot of unwinding to pull the front wheel out clean and also to lay the front mechanism flat on the roof. Prior models had a quick release. I’m being fairly picky here. 

The Highroad bike mount attaches to the aero bar via a universal strap system made from rubber and steel. After a year and a half the attachments looked in perfect condition and show very little signs of wear..

The only wear signs on the bike mounts is small and on the metal rail where the rear sliding plastic wheel tray slides. The siding wear comes from adjusting for bike size and depending on bike size you have to slide the tray back or forth to meet the position of the tyre. That sliding of plastic left a little wear mark on the glossy black metal rails. 

Summary

You could by 2 cheaper racks for the price of this setup. But guess what ? – you get what you pay for. The downside is a less expensive rack may even damage your vehicle or your bikes. This Yakima setup is second to none. Material quality, engineering, design and function are all top notch. It protects your bikes and your vehicle. If you can stretch to a system like this, it’s highly recommended.

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