Yakima King Cobra Long-term Bike Rack Review


When it comes to carrying your bikes on your car, you’ve got three options: 1) on your roof and 2) on your trunk lid or 3) on a hitch rack.  While my preferred carrying method is on a hitch rack (because everyone has a roof rack horror story), that’s not always a feasible option.

So, if you’re going to go for a new roof rack, consider your options and I’d suggest looking long and hard at the Yakima King Cobra upright bike rack.  There are other great options, but this rack is one of the easiest to use and should be tops on your list if you must carry your bikes on top.

Yakima King Cobra Bike Rack Review

About the Yakima King Cobra Bike Rack

Built to carry any type of bike size from 29-ers to 20-inch BMX bikes without removing the front wheel. This is key for those with thru-axle or bolt-on front forks or for those with funky style frames.  The rack is compatible with either square (Yakima) or round (Thule) load bars out of the box and includes a built-in locking cable.

Feature Highlights:

  • Fast-loading design with hands-free adjustment
  • Ability to carry bikes with 20 to 29-inch wheels
  • Fits round or square crossbars
  • Grabs your front tire… no paint rub
  • No wheel removal required
  • MSRP: $140

Yakima King Cobra Bike Rack Review

I’ve used this rack for the better part of the past three years. From the get-go, I have appreciated the easy-to-use function of the King Cobra. No other rack I’ve tested is quite so easy to operate. Let me walk you through it.

  1. Raise the leading wheel arm (make sure it’s adjusted to your wheel size) and open the rear wheel strap.
  2. Grab your bike and put the front wheel in the track just behind the trailing wheel arm (the rear wheel may be hanging off the back of the tray.
  3. Then roll the entire bike forward until it is secured in place.
  4. Take your hands off the bike and relax… the King Cobra has your bike secured while you lock it down (this is one of the best attributes of the King Cobra)
  5. Clamp down the rear wheel with the ratcheting strap
  6. Pull the front knob out and tighten into place
  7. Pull out the built-in security cable and lock up your rig

Honestly, this is the easiest bike rack to use because you lift up your bike, roll it forward and the rack holds itself in place while you clamp it down.  No other rack I’ve tested (including the top-of-the-line Yakima HighRoller) can do this.

Typically, you’re trying to hold your bike upright with one hand while clamping things down with another hand. Or, it ends up being a two-person operation.  Thankfully, the Yakima King Cobra is the model of bike rack design and is truly the best solution for rooftop bike carrying.  Mine has held up well while carrying everything from my Kona Zing roadie to a burly 40-lb. Norco Six freeride mountain bike.

Just a note about carrying your bike on your roof. Inevitably, you will or your wife will forget that the bikes are on top and you will have a story to tell.  I’ve done it and nearly everyone I now also has.  My suggestion is that you remove your garage door opener remote from your visor and stash it in the glove box every time you load your bike on top.  It’s not foolproof, but it does make you think before opening the garage door.

The Bottom Line on the Yakima King Cobra

If you don’t have the ability to carry your bikes on a hitch rack and must carry them on your roof, the Yakima King Cobra should be your rack of choice. The ease-of-use and built-in locking cable are two great reasons to make it your next rack.  Long-term durability and the ability to work with both square and round bars rounds out the stellar package.

Buy Now: Search for Yakima Bike Racks at CompetitiveCyclist.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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