Can You Put An eMTB On A Roof Rack?

Transporting your electric mountain bike on the roof of your car, is a great way to get your bike to new trails. But we all know that an eMTB is heavier, wider and longer than a regular mountain bike. Can you put an eMTB on a roof rack?

Yes, you can put an eMTB on a roof rack. Some great examples are the Yakima HighRoad, Pendle Ergorack and Inno Tyre Hold 2. To make sure that the carrier is suitable for your bike, compare your bike’s weight (without battery), wheelbase and tire width with the specifications of the roof rack.

You’ve most probably found out that most famous roof rack manufacturers don’t offer eMTB-specific roof racks. In this article, we’ll go through the process of finding a roof rack that will support your bike. I’ll provide you with a list of some great options!

Pros And Cons Of Using A Roof Rack

There are various ways to transport a bicycle with your car. You can put it on a hitch-mount rack, boot rack, roof rack or inside your car. A big disadvantage of putting your bike inside or on the back of your car, is that it will either limit interior space, or block access to your boot. A roof rack does neither of these things and has some great advantages:

  • Interior space remains the same
  • Interior doesn’t get dirty
  • Boot opens normally
  • Length of the car remains the same
  • Visibility from inside remains the same
  • Bike stays relatively clean
  • Bike is less accessible for thieves
  • Roof racks are compatible for a wide range of cars
  • No need to fit an expensive tow bar
Electric mountain bike on a roof rack
Electric mountain bike on a roof rack

Of course there are also a few disadvantages of roof bike racks:

  • Lifting your bike above your shoulder is challenging or requires two people
  • Chance of damaging your car whilst mounting the bike
  • Chance of height clearance issues
  • Wind noise
  • Roofs racks have the biggest negative impact on fuel economy according to this article.
  • Rain can damage electrical components

Can You Put An eMTB On A Roof Rack?

We’ve established that out of all options, a roof rack is a very convenient method of transporting a mountain bike by car. But can you put an eMTB on a roof rack? Famous brands like Thule or Saris do not offer eMTB-compatible roof racks; they either don’t support the longer wheelbase or are not able to carry the higher weight.

But yes, there are other roof racks that are compatible with eMTBs. To determine whether your bike will fit on the carrier, you should look up your bike’s weight, wheelbase, tire width and wheel size. Compare these details with the limitations of the roof rack. Manufacturers of bike racks usually provide the following specifications:

  • Max load capacity
  • Max wheelbase
  • Max tire width
  • Max wheel size

It’s worth mentioning that an e-bike’s battery weighs around 2-5 kg. You should remove the battery from the bike when you are transporting it on a bike rack. Not only will this make your bike easier to lift, you also reduce the chance of damaging your battery because of water ingress.

Other than checking if the carrier is suitable for your electric mountain bike, you should also check if the roof rack is compatible with the roof of your car. Most manufacturers demand a certain roof bar spacing. If the roof bars are too close or too far apart, the roof rack is not stable. More about this later in the article.

Which Roof Racks Are Suitable For An eMTB?

To get a feel for how to select the best roof rack for your eMTB, let’s set an example. For this, we use an average full suspension like the Trek Rail 5. This bike has the following specifications:

  • Weight: 20 kg or 44 lbs (without battery)
  • Wheelbase: 120 cm or 47”
  • Tire width: 2,6”
  • Wheel size: 29”
Trek Rail 5 2021 Matte Olive Grey

The following roof racks are suitable for most eMTBs:

Roof rackLoad capacityWheelbase [mm]Tire widthWheel sizeRemarks
Yakima HighRoad20 kg / 44 lbsUp to 1219 mm / 48”4”26-29”
Pendle Ergorack23 kg / 50 lbsUp to 1350 mm / 53”Not specifiedUp to 29”Remove front wheel
Menabo Chrono SX25 kg / 55 lbsUp to 1260 mm / 50”4,3”Up to 29”
Inno Tyre Hold 223 kg / 50 lbs850-1200 mm / 34-47”2,7”20-29”
Rhino-Rack Hybrid Bike21 kg / 46 lbsNot specifiedWith adapter up to 5”20-29”
RockyMounts BrassKnuckles20 kg / 44 lbs850-1220 mm / 34-48”With adapter up to 5”20-29”
An overview of roof racks that are capable of supporting an eMTB

The average price of a roof rack for an eMTB is €250 or €270.

Things To Consider

A roof rack offers a lot of freedom, especially when you are travelling far. But there are a few things to keep in mind when you are looking into getting a roof rack.

First of all, think of the value of the bike. The average price of a decent electric mountain bike lies between €3500-7500. There is the chance of the bike getting damaged whilst being high up there. You have the risk of it falling off because you haven’t secured it properly. Or the bike can get damaged as a result of the increased overall height and the clearance issues that come with that. More about the value of an eMTB in my article: Why are electric mountain bikes so expensive?

Which brings me to the second argument: insurance. If you put a bike on top or on the back of your car, it is not automatically insured in case of an accident, as it is not part of the car. In some countries it might be covered by your home insurance, as long as you have added it on your home insurance contents policy. But with a very expensive bike, it might be worth getting a bike insurance.

And lastly, don’t underestimate the weight of your electric mountain bike. At the start of your journey, you might be able to put it on your roof no problem. But after a day of riding on the trails, your energy level may not be high enough to do it once more. When there’s no one around to help you, you could easily damage your car or hurt yourself.

How To Fit A Roof Rack To Your Car

Next to the roof rack itself, you’ll also need roof bars to be able to mount the rack to your car. To determine which will fit your car, you first need to establish whether your car has roof rails (flush or raised), fixed points or a smooth roof. Once you have fitted the roof bars, the bike rack then bolts to it.

Roof With Rails

A roof with rails (flush or raised) provides a sturdy mounting point for roof bars to clamp to your car. In the picture below you can see an example of roof bars that are mounted to roof rails.

Roof bars mounted to raised roof rails
Roof bars mounted to raised roof rails

Roof With Fixed Points

Your roof has fixed points when there are 4 mounting points on your roof. These are usually hidden beneath some plastic covers.

Roof bars on a car with fixed points
Roof bars on a car with fixed points

Smooth Roof

If your roof is completely smooth, you can still fit roof bars. These bars clamp around the edge of the roof towards the inside of your car. If you have a 2-door car, you should check whether you can space the bars far enough apart. If not, the roof rack will not be stable and the bike can move around.

Roof bars mounted to a smooth roof
Roof bars mounted to a smooth roof

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my e-bike be stolen from my bicycle carrier?

Bicycle carriers, whether they are hitch mounted or roof mounted, usually come with locks. With an expensive bike it is advised to add another lock yourself.

Do I need an e-bike specific bike carrier?

For a safe and secure hold, an e-bike specific bike carrier is definitely advised. A standard carrier is often not capable of supporting the higher weight, longer wheelbase and thicker frame of an e-bike.

What does a roof rack for en e-bike cost?

The average price of a roof rack that is able to support an e-bike, is €250 or $270. You’ll also need roof bars to mount the roof rack to your car. The average price of roof bars is also €250 or $270.