A Letter From Your Bike RE: Your Roof-Top Bike Rack



So you got a fancy new car-top bicycle carrier. Cool, it’s gonna be great to not have to take off my front wheel and cram me into the back of your vehicle every time you want to go for a ride somewhere a little ways away from your home.

We need to talk, though. I’ll be honest: I’m a little worried about you forgetting about me up on top of the car and absentmindedly ramming me into your garage, a ramada at a parking lot, or one of those “Caution: Low Clearance” signs. Let me share some facts with you.

The top three reasons for the end of a bike-human relationship are:

  1. Human “just not that interested” in bike anymore
  2. Younger, flashier, hotter bike comes along and gets human’s attention
  3. Human forgets bike is on top of car, accidentally ends bike’s life with one bad decision.

I’m not saying you’re absent-minded. I don’t mean that. It’s just that it happens to a lot of smart people—people who have advanced degrees, people who win big cases in court, people who perform life-saving operations, people who negotiate million-dollar deals every day and don’t break a sweat. These people have had one moment of forgetfulness and pulled into their garage, a parking ramp, somewhere, and heard the sound of metal ripping out of the roof of their vehicle or a bicycle frame crumpling. And then their face goes:

just had a great bike ride, everything’s fine -> confusion at noise from above -> OH SHIT

Then: face twists into a mask of sadness, anger, and disappointment as they instantly calculate how much money they just lost.

I am not being paranoid. THIS IS IMPORTANT. You know how many degrees you are away from someone who has accidentally driven a roof-top bike into a garage somewhere? Two. Next time you’re in the parking lot at your favorite trailhead and you see a guy putting a mountain bike on top of his vehicle, ask him if he’s ever forgotten he had a bike up there. If he says no, he either

  1. knows someone who has, or
  2. is full of shit and has actually done it himself

You and I, we have had some good times together, haven’t we? Thousands of miles, good climbs, speedy descents, lots of Saturdays, lots of stress relief, lots of good memories. I would venture to say we’re even friends, wouldn’t you? Yes, I know you have other friends, and the significant other, and of course they are a little higher on the priority list. Totally understandable. But I’m Your Bike. I’m at least above the dog, right? Before you answer that, let me remind you that you don’t have to follow me around with a plastic bag at 6 a.m. and pick up my poop. My point is, you would not strap the dog to the roof of the car and ram him into a wall.

I was designed to do a lot of things, pal. Corner like I’m on rails. Shift effortlessly. Climb as if I am weightless. I was not designed to smash into a concrete parking garage and take it the blow. Those big-brain engineers and designers, dreaming up next year’s new bike? They aren’t sitting in the wind tunnel collecting data all day and then going, “Hey Frank, whaddya think’s gonna happen when some dipshit attaches this $3500 bike to the top of his car and then drives through a Starbucks with a low awning? We should plan for that.”

Look, I’m not trying to sound like your mom. I know she tells you to be careful. That’s because she cares about you. I do too, but moreso, I care about ME. So be careful. Don’t be an asshole.


Your Bike


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16 replies on “A Letter From Your Bike RE: Your Roof-Top Bike Rack”
  1. Degrees of separation between me and someone who’s driven a bike into the garage: ZERO. Pretty horrible feeling, espesh since it wasn’t my bike.:( Causing us a to hang a sign that dangles from the opening garage-door, “Hey IDIOT: your bike!!”

    1. says: aaronf

      Romney; that asshole was the first thought that went through my mind when I read that. He straps his dog to roof & scares it to the point of it shitting itself till runs down the sides of the car. Nice guy.

      Yep, hitch racks are the ONLY way to go. Leave to roof for cargo containers.

  2. says: Jess D

    Easier when there isn’t enough room in the garage to pull a car in because of all the bikes… But the hitch rack is the only way to go.

  3. says: Tim M.

    ha! i have fortunately avoided direct experience with this so far (anti-jinx), but an old friend once pulled into the vail parking structure only to be rousted by two sets of forks being riven down through his roof!

  4. says: Ryan

    Did someone recently drive their bike into the roof of something?

    PS: No judgement. I’ve done it. Twice.

  5. Whoa, this happened me long ago. Now I can laugh, but it’s been about 20 years…

    > just had a great bike ride, everything’s fine -> confusion at noise from above -> OH SHIT

    In my case, bike ride was great until on our way back to the car, girlfriend took a spill on some sand or something going down the pretty curvy and steep Felton Empire Rd. in the Santa Cruz Mts.

    She was knocked around enough that paramedics were called and they gave her a ride down the road to her car. I rode down and was pretty cagey all the way. That kind of accident shakes you up. Drove her car home with our bikes on the top (hers was not damaged miraculously).

    Got back to Mountain View, feeling good it wasn’t worse. She had some scrapes but that was it and her bike was fine. I’m feeling grateful for all this as I pull into her carport and…. BOOM!!! WTF??? Only then I remembered she had a lattice-like carport (which I’d remembered countless times before!). Bikes crashed off. All those feelings you describe go through my head.

    But again, luck is with us that day. Bikes are fine, don’t know how. A minor scratch on the car, but it’s older anyway. Carport could care less. Only damage was the rack itself got bent a bit on one of the towers. But I was still able to use it on my own car for years with a bit of tweaking!

  6. says: MM

    People with regular vehicles forget the bikes. On the roof off the Yukon, my bike is about 9 feet tall. Can’t go ANYWHERE, much less under a low overhang…

  7. says: Kevin

    I’m one degree away, but since I am too cheap to ever buy a rack, maybe I’m being generous to me!

    One thing about semi-rad. I love the name, and your articles are hilarious. However, there is something WRONG about your logo. I won’t beat around the bush: in its current font, “semi-rad” looks a lot like “semi-hard”. Maybe you could experiment with mixing up the typeset? Otherwise, the t-shirt is a no-go. I don’t love walking around telling people I have a chubby…sort of. Just a suggestion.

  8. says: Kelly

    My husband has done this twice as well, 6 years apart with the last one being 2 years ago. We don’t have a hitch on our new car… subsequently he felt he had no choice but to buy a roof rack. I feel a 3rd coming. I can hear the crunching metal now. Makes me nauseous.

  9. says: Scott

    Time to skip the roof-top racks! They kill gas mileage and, sadly, sometimes bikes. I’ve seen the dreaded bike shearing you speak of once. A nice SUV, a nice bike, driver cuts a corner in Ketchum just a wee bit close. Above hangs some sort of fancy pants planter thing dangling from a light post. Crash! I cringe in sympathy….

  10. says: Chris

    Ha! Lol… I actually did this 10 years ago fortunately with my burly downhill bike on the roof at the time. New VW racks, new to me bike, 6 months old car; I approached my bank after a ride where they have an offsite ATM machine (not under building) likely for trucks to use. The rain cover was plenty high enough (13ft) for clearance but some jackass put a 6″ steel crossbeam warning bar just ahead of the ATM that was about 4ft lower than said ATM. This ripped my bike from the safety straps of my rack, put a small dent in my roof and pinched a brake cable on the bike. Very minor damage luckily; I however was raging! Once you learn it or witness it, it never happens again.
    To be quite honest with you though I know more and have witnessed far more dipshits backing their oversized oberbloated hitch racks into everything from other cars and gas pumps to dumpsters and palm trees while driving away like nothing ever happened. Plus that platform hanging 3-4ft out behind your car in a crowded parking lot is a prime target for all the rest of the dipshits to smash into, I see it all the time. I would be willing to wager that the odds are far higher that an incident with a hitch rack will occur than with a roof rack.
    It all boils down to being aware of your environment and actually being conscious of what you are doing while driving. If you really want to be considerate of your bikes; get a pickup or an SUT (Ridgeline, Sport Trac, etc.) Nowadays my beloved quiver of expensive bikes ride safely nestled in the bed of a Sport Trac, clipped tightly into fork mounts. The sea kayaks however still ride on the roof racks of said Sport Trac 😉

  11. says: Sandra

    Been there… done that! I drove partway into my garage and was stopped by a loud slamming sound emanating from the roof. The neighbors rushed out of the surrounding condos to my embarrassment. The front left foot and clip of my Yakima rack was pushed along the side of the door frame for about 12″ and slightly bent the roof above the door of my Rav4. The bike tray got a little twisted as well I was stoked/ lucky that my bike was unscratched and completely fine!

  12. says: O'Reilly

    Haha, this happened to me a bout a week ago. Now it’s back to the old hitch rack, which served me well for many years until a “sexier, more convenient” roof-top rack came along.

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