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Can I put 4 bikes on the roof of my Gen 6 Outback?

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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to mount 4 bikes (they're mountain and cruiser bikes, and will never be mounting fat tire bikes) on the roof of my Gen 6 Outback XT.

1.) Is it possible? From the standpoint of weight where on Gen 6 Subaru from my limited research it's around 200 Lbs? We've got 4 bikes weighing approximately 150 Lbs together. From the standpoint of width, if I alternate orientation of all 4 bikes, it seems like it would work.

2.) Is it recommended? With the combined torque applying to the roof from all 4 bikes at once during driving, it contributes to my need to ask this question before moving forward.

Has anyone on here done it in practice? Any tips? Specific product you use?


EDIT: I have a hitch, and I have a hitch bike mount, but I'm trying to camp with a family of 4. When we go, the cargo fills up the full back, plus I have to have stuff on the roof. Family of 4 + stuff in back + bike carrier really sags the back of the car more than I would prefer. I'll do it if we have to, or I'll get a lighter carrier (mine is insanely heavy), but I'm just looking into 4 bikes on roof just in case.
 

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Officially the weight limit is 150 lbs, so you will be right at it. Hitch mount for at least 2 of them (if not all 4) is probably a better solution if you are going to be doing it frequently (assuming you have or are willing to get a hitch and it is open when you carry bikes).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Officially the weight limit is 150 lbs, so you will be right at it. Hitch mount for at least 2 of them (if not all 4) is probably a better solution if you are going to be doing it frequently (assuming you have or are willing to get a hitch and it is open when you carry bikes).
I have a hitch, and I have a hitch bike mount, but I'm trying to camp with a family of 4. When we go, the cargo fills up the full back, plus I have to have stuff on the roof. Family of 4 + stuff in back + bike carrier really sags the back of the car more than I would prefer. I'll do it if we have to, or I'll get a lighter carrier (mine is insanely heavy), but I'm just looking into 4 bikes on roof just in case.

Yeah, 2 roof + 2 rear might be better, honestly. I just had to post this to find out if the consensus would be people pouring in with their pictures of their cars with 4 on the room being like "Oh yeah man I do it every weekend! 4 bikes on the roof is the best way to distribute load!" versus "Dude. No way. You will break your roof bars!"
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Here's the sag. It's...kinda worrysome. Note that's without people.

The bike rack itself is 56.00 lbs!! The bikes together are probably 150 lbs.

513404
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It's this rack that swings open. (FullSwing). I'm definitely going to sell it and look for a more weight-efficient hitch mount if this 4-bikes-on-roof thing doesn't pan out.
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Hello BBunky2:

Many years ago I carried 3 bicycles (two road and one time trial) on a roof rack with my WRX. While it worked, I quickly changed to a small trailer Instead. In my case the small trailer was more convenient and seemed easier on the car. This is not the trailer I used, but something similar could suit your needs? Just an alternative for your consideration.

Howard
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello BBunky2:

Many years ago I carried 3 bicycles (two road and one time trial) on a roof rack with my WRX. While it worked, I quickly changed to a small trailer Instead. In my case the small trailer was more convenient and seemed easier on the car. This is not the trailer I used, but something similar could suit your needs? Just an alternative for your consideration.

Howard
That's a fantastic idea! I love the idea of less load on the car! I'll add that to the consideration pool. Thank you.
 

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Another option is to eliminate the sag. Rallitek overload springs will do it. I plan on putting them on my Outback eventually. I put them on my Crosstrek a year or two after getting it and they work great.

If you routinely load up for trips like this, this is the best option IMO. The other options are solid alternatives, but this directly addresses the issue (soft stock springs with a lot of weight).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Another option is to eliminate the sag. Rallitek overload springs will do it. I plan on putting them on my Outback eventually. I put them on my Crosstrek a year or two after getting it and they work great.

If you routinely load up for trips like this, this is the best option IMO. The other options are solid alternatives, but this directly addresses the issue (soft stock springs with a lot of weight).
Another interesting option. Probably voids my warranty, on the downside, right?
 

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Another interesting option. Probably voids my warranty, on the downside, right?
No it does not. There is no single part that will fully void a warranty even though this is a common comment. The dealer I purchased from even warned me on doing my own oil changes at one point. Lucky for me they are not the dealer I go to for service. In general car dealers have gotten ridiculous about “voiding” warranties, which is not a power they have. They can deny a claim when an aftermarket part is proven to cause damage. A denied claim is not the same as a voided warranty.

Springs could prevent warranty coverage on anything the spring damaged. That pretty much means other suspension components. Since any suspension components that could fail are likely wear items anyway, it is a non-issue IMO.

For what it is worth, one dealer I took my Crosstrek to for service had positive things to say about the springs. A second dealer did not even notice them when warranting a transmission issue. This is how things should work, but depends on how well operated your local dealer is.

I will also argue that driving stock springs that loaded down is harder on the car than putting overload springs on it and driving loaded.
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
No it does not. There is no single part that will fully void a warranty even though this is a common comment. The dealer I purchased from even warned me on doing my own oil changes at one point. Lucky for me they are not the dealer I go to for service. In general car dealers have gotten ridiculous about “voiding” warranties, which is not a power they have. They can deny a claim when an aftermarket part is proven to cause damage. A denied claim is not the same as a voided warranty.

Springs could prevent warranty coverage on anything the spring damaged. That pretty much means other suspension components. Since any suspension components that could fail are likely wear items anyway, it is a non-issue IMO.

For what it is worth, one dealer I took my Crosstrek to for service had positive things to say about the springs. A second dealer did not even notice them when warranting a transmission issue. This is how things should work, but depends on how well operated your local dealer is.

I will also argue that driving stock springs that loaded down is harder on the car than putting overload springs on it and driving loaded.
Thanks. I went ahead and called the dealer and am waiting for a call back from finance/warranty guy we signed with when we bought the car. This seems like the smartest option for us for the long-term.
 

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My vote is for the trailer idea above. You already have a hitch, I say rent 1 from Uhaul first as "trial" to see if it's worth the investment. Based on the pic of your setup, I think a utility trailer should be fine, you can lock up all your bikes to the rails and throw a tarp/cover over it, they also have enclosed cargo trailers. You can probably even bring a bigger or extra cooler with the extra space..
 

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The only problem with the trailer idea is that it will likely have some if not all of the sag issue that OP already has. If tongue weight starts approaching weight of bikes plus rack it will be the same issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The only problem with the trailer idea is that it will likely have some if not all of the sag issue that OP already has. If tongue weight starts approaching weight of bikes plus rack it will be the same issue.
But you now have a while extra axle and pair of tires to take the load. I'd imagine that counts for a lot. We did rent a U-haul trailer last summer with it and it worked great.
 

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But you now have a while extra axle and pair of tires to take the load. I'd imagine that counts for a lot. We did rent a U-haul trailer last summer with it and it worked great.
Yes it depends on the tongue weight of the setup (which is what I said). If you get a basic rail trailer to mount bike racks on, it should not be as bad. If you do a full enclosed utility trailer, it will start getting closer to your current bike setup.
 

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Hello BBuncky2:

I've tried to find an old photo of our trailer with 3 bikes and the WRX, but no luck so far. Here is the same trailer with one bike and a Magolina tent behind our old 4runner. While others have suggested tongue weights could be prohibitive, that wasn't the case with this trailer - tongue weight as shown here was about 50 lbs. The trailer weighed less than 300 lbs and towed like a dream. No sag in the WRX (2002). While I love the trailer, and plan to tow it with our some-day-to-be-purchased Outback, it is expensive (less so if you can find a used one). Aluma AE46 (ours is modified to run with 14" wheels - dead level behind the WRX and stronger gas struts to hold the lid open with bikes or tent). When carrying only bikes they all fit between the rails on top of the trailer, but with the tent I used wider crossbars and the bike was beyond the rails but within the fenders. We developed the system when I was racing road bikes and my wife was shooting races. She'd drop me and the trailer with bikes, tools, etc at the start and then take the car out to various locations along the course. Lots of fun!

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Howard
 

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Another option is to eliminate the sag. Rallitek overload springs will do it. I plan on putting them on my Outback eventually. I put them on my Crosstrek a year or two after getting it and they work great.

If you routinely load up for trips like this, this is the best option IMO. The other options are solid alternatives, but this directly addresses the issue (soft stock springs with a lot of weight).
I camp like you - fully loaded, so put on set of the Rallitek overload springs on rear. Haven’t been fully loaded yet, but at half to 2/3 loaded it rides level and also rides really well with no load - highly recommended at this point. By testing deflection with known weights these springs come exactly as advertised, at 40% increase in spring rate.
At the same time, I really like the small trailer idea mentioned😎!
 

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Been through a similar thought process, all the camping gear plus family was deep into the sag. Would hit bump stops on big bumps. When it's just bikes (3) with friends it's almost the same. I got the Overload springs, but never installed, Covid hit, then I got a Gladiator so now I do everything in that lol. That said, I still use the Outback for biking, with 4 bikes you're over the limit just on the bikes with the roof rack (I think it's 150, was on Gen 5 at least). Even aftermarket racks have similar limits, and weigh just a little less than your hitch rack. Plus you're fuel eco will plummet significantly.

The Outback taught me about payload. No matter what, you're going to be limited by that quickly with a family of 4. It's part of the reason I moved into the Gladiator. Fully loaded, the Outback economy disappears. I actually get the same mileage in the Jeep carrying the same amount of gear, and it's not underpowered. Not saying Jeep is the answer, just was a comparison that I'd never considered and suddenly it made sense for my situation. In your case, maybe the Ascent is a better fit due to the payload capacity.

In your shoes, I'd add the springs and consider two on the roof (the nice ones lol) then other two in the back. At least you'd distribute the load a bit. Good luck!
 

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Hello BBuncky2:

My wife found an old image of the Aluma EN46 trailer I mentioned above with two bikes behind our WRX. Brings back some memories! The WRX was totaled when a kid travelling in excess of 100 mph slide off our rural road and hit us in the dirt opposite our driveway. Abo, the great dog in the back of the WRX passed away several years ago. But we still have the silver Fuji (sold the black one), the trailer and the racks!

A couple of points about the setup. We occasionally used the WRX as a support car carrying wheels and a spare bike or two following a ride or race - thus the racks on the car as well as the trailer. We always used square crossbars (Thules) for ease of adjustment and stability and the bike trays were ATOC Bike Toppers. Those were/are the only trays I know of that allow for moving the tray forward or backward on the crossbars while holding the front axle beyond the forward crossbar. That really helped us adjust the positions of bikes when the crossbars were restricted to a narrow placement. With 4 bikes on the trailer we'd sometimes alternate directions but sometimes just offset the handlebars on alternate bikes. One model of the ATOC trays can be fitted with an optional extension making it suitable for tandems. I wish I had an image of the trailer with a road tandem, mountain bike tandem and two singles mounted! Oh well.

Howard
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I have tried it. 4 bikes on highway. Heck it was so noisy and you can even feel the drag from air. It worked but I was worried if the bike fell off all the way. I will never do that again. Tbh I'll never even put a single bike on roof. NEVER. Using a rack is way better
 
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