Despite the convenience of a pickup and the growing popularity of car hitch mounts, I would guess the roof rack remains the most popular bike-hauling solution. Roof racks offer a convenience of their own and a lower cost of entry. While they’re relatively simple, there are many ways to go about designing a roof-mounted rack, with some reaching a point of diminishing return. I’ve been testing the TomaHawk from RockyMounts and think the Boulder, CO-based company has zeroed in on one of the most effective designs out there.
In 1993, Bobby Noyes followed a passion for mountain biking from New Jersey to Colorado. While most of us would hardly call that a leap of faith (no offense, Jersey), few can dispute that building a company from the ground up requires passion and faith few possess. Noyes started selling handmade bike racks from the back of his truck, and the rest is history. Today, RockyMounts offers a full line of bike, ski, and cargo racks, with a noticeable emphasis on quality, style, and simplicity.
Bottom Line: the TomaHawk is RockyMount’s do-it-all, workhorse roof rack. It mounts to all styles of crossbars, holds wheel diameters 20-29″, widths up to 5″, and delivers quality and simplicity in a cost-conscious package.
- Rooftop rack
- No bike frame contact
- Fits tire widths up to 5″ (including 29+) and wheel diameters 20-29″
- Adjustable swing arm for passenger or driver side mounting
- Compatible with round, square, aero, or factory bars
- Easy-Load wheel strap – two extensions for fat tires included
- Two-pack locks: lock rack to car and bike to rack (sold separately)
- Lifetime warranty
- Color: Black
- MSRP: $149.95
- Available at RockyMounts.com
Inside the box comes a partially-assembled TomaHawk, mounting hardware, and a box of small parts. Using the visual learner-friendly instruction sheet, installing one rack takes no more than 20 minutes and two Allen keys. All TomaHawk racks are shipped for driver’s side configuration, with instructions for reversing the swing arm also provided.
The TomaHawk is adaptable to a wide range of crossbar styles. The mounting brackets make full contact with my factory aero bars, but also feature recesses and bolt spacers for bars of varying shapes and sizes. I’m not crazy about the metal on metal contact between the rear mounting plate and crossbar, and would like to see some rubberized protection in future iterations.
While the TomaHawk’s overall design is similar to others, RockyMounts honed in on simple, effective features. The rack is designed to haul bikes with the front wheel attached, meaning less fuss at the trailhead. The swing arm’s hand assembly is beefy, grooved for gripping, and has a large release trigger. In concert, this made for easy manipulation when leverage from below is anything but. RockyMounts simplified the ratcheting wheel straps by avoiding micro-adjusting clickers, which cause over-tightening and sticking upon release. Lastly, loading up the Tomahawk is simply a matter of getting the bike in the vicinity. For example, Yakima’s Frontloader is a nice rack, but requires more precision when threading the front tire through the swing arm.
I can’t stress the importance of a simple set up such as the TomaHawk, as loading/unloading bikes from above can be near-disastrous. Okay, disastrous might be a stretch, but those who’ve caught an elbow on an open door, strained a shoulder, or slipped a foot while lowering their 30-pound steed know what I mean.
While the wheel straps are more predictable than a micro ratchet, the buckle and strap are two separate pieces. Sliding to adjust for wheel alignment requires moving both sides independently. While not that difficult, I see no reason not to make them one unit. Unloaded, the wheel chock pivots forward and the swing arm back for a nice, low profile.
Compared to a fork mount rack, bikes may sway more in side winds with this style, but the benefits of leaving the front wheel on exceed the stability of a fork mount. With the front wheel abutting the chock, the swing arm pressed firmly against the tire, and with the wheel straps snug, the TomaHawk feels solid during commute.
Upgrades, Accessories, and Support
For another $70 you can slide your bike and hands into TomaHawk’s bigger brother, BrassKnuckles (not condoned as a weapon). While the BrassKnuckles has some higher quality parts and color options, there’s no difference between the two in terms of function and security. Interestingly, the cheaper TomaHawk is fat bike-ready while the BrassKnuckles requires an adapter kit to load wheels wider than 3″.
The TomaHawk can be locked to the crossbar at the head and/or hand assembly, thus securing the rack to car and bike to rack. Lock cores are not included, but can be purchased direct from RockyMounts.
RockyMounts products are covered by a lifetime warranty when used in accordance with their guidelines. Should a mishap occur, a slew of individual parts are available from the RockyMounts website. Speaking of direct purchasing, if you don’t live in or near Boulder, CO or a dealer, RockyMounts offers free shipping on orders over $69.
I love the convenience of my hitch mount setup, however, it’s not immune to issues. While loading/unloading a bike from below, off of a roof rack, isn’t fun (especially at 5’8″), RockyMounts makes it easier than ever while providing high quality at a budget price.
Thank you, RockyMounts, for the providing the TomaHawk roof rack for review!