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

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1999 Outback Limited Manual EJ25
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For the amount you're carrying I'd add a vote for a trailer. The ball weight concern is moot, because only 5-10% of the trailer's weight should be leaning on the tow ball, and the trailer allows you to transfer weight from the car's cargo area to the trailer, where the weight will have a lower overall leverage effect on the rear wheels. Overall it's a more flexible and durable solution than replacing the springs on your current vehicle.

A small trailer has minimal impact on fuel consumption (maybe 10%), and at higher speeds would have less impact than placing multiple bikes on the roof.

Things to think about before buying a trailer:
  • Do you have somewhere to store it, preferably protected from the weather and thieves?
  • Are you going to places where you ever need to perform a three point turn, or park or manoeuvre in tight spaces?
  • Will the trailer and/or its contents be at risk of theft while in use?

If carrying bikes on a roof beware of any accessories that can act as an air brake or wing. I was in a car once with a few bikes on the roof; one of the bikes had a rear rack on it with a narrow plate along the top. That bike was facing rearwards with its front wheel removed, so the plate on the rack was angled like a wing. The first time the car exceeded 45mph the lift from the "wing" pulled the rear of the bike free of its mount and the bike vaulted into the rear window of the car (fortunately the front fork clamp didn't let go, it merely acted as a pivot). It was fortunate too that the rear window didn't break.
 
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Hi everyone! Sorry for disappearing on you there! We had a shock this week as my wife lost her job. We are now in budget mode as she is in full time job search mode. For now, we'll travel lighter with two bikes instead of 4 in the back on existing rack. Later I'll look into mini trailer or 2 on roof, 2 on rear rack with gear between bikes.
 
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