Roof Rack Noise Reduction: Stop Distractions And Whistling

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So, how do you tone down roof rack wind noise? Firstly, you’ll want to check that your rack is properly installed. Another way to prevent noise is by introducing a wind fairing to your rack. Alternatively, you can consider different types of bars and bar pads that may break up airflow and aid in noise reduction.

We all know the insufferable roof rack noise; that constant pitch of turbulence that’s enough to make anyone want to crawl under a rock. No one wants to spend their drives to the bike trail distracted by perpetual wind whistling. Luckily, there are ways in which you can reduce the noise – and avoid distracted driving in the process.

All three solutions have their own set of simple instructions to ensure that you get the most out of the methods. In the next few sections, we’ll look at each possible resolution to wind interruptions in greater detail.

Proper Roof Rack Installation

Before you spend your time and money searching for variously shaped roof rack bars that will still firmly secure your mountain bike, check to see if your roof rack is installed correctly. There are a few ways you can go about this:

1. A flimsily placed bike roof rack can meet your car and rub against it as your drive, creating noise. Before you begin traveling, pull the crossbars of your roof rack left to right to see if it’s loose. You can also add weather stripping where the car and rack touch to reduce the friction and sound.

2. Like the rack itself, unsecured bikes and accessories can create noise as they bounce around. Alongside rack straps, utilize other cords or ties to tightly secure any objects.

3. For bikes, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using a mount made specifically for them. Attaching the bike mount to your roof rack will further ensure that your bike is properly secured, thus leading to noise reduction. Be sure that you tighten the screws enough when attaching a bike mount.

Wind Fairings

Roof Rack Installation

If you still notice roof rack wind noise after checking your rack and mount attachments and want to further pursue roof rack wind reduction, consider installing a wind fairing. A wind fairing is a windshield that is placed on the front crossbar of a roof rack.

The design of wind fairings allows wind to divert over the top and to the sides of the rack bars to minimize the sound of the airflow. These pieces of equipment are extremely helpful in noise reduction and maybe a worthwhile investment for those who are fed up with loud drafts.

Generally, wind fairings are made from ABS plastics and acrylic materials to make them affordable, yet able to withstand the force of high winds as you drive down the highway. They’re usually slightly curved and sleek in appearance, making it not only a useful addition to your rack but a stylish one, as well.

Options to Consider

As with anything, there are a plethora of options available on the market and new wind fairings being manufactured every day. So, the hunt for the best wind fairing can seem like a daunting task. In general, there are a few things you want out of a wind fairing:

·  High-quality materials. If the material is flimsy, you might want to pass on that option. Wind fairings should be durable, sturdy, and made of hard plastic or acrylics.

·  Tint is practically a must-have, as it reduces the glare that other cars receive from your vehicle as you pass them.

·   Easy installation is also an important factor. If it takes more than a few bolts and screws to attach, you’re probably wasting your time. And we’re sure you’d rather spend less time on installing your mount and rack and more time on the bike trail.

·   Universal use. If you have more than one vehicle that you use for exploration, you’ll want to find a wind fairing that can work for variously sized SUVs or Sedans.

·   Stylish appearance. Though not a requirement for every buyer, the look of the wind fairing can enhance or work against the appearance of your vehicle. If a fairing is a piece of equipment that you’ll be using often, it may be better to choose a more visually appealing option.

·   Highest noise reduction. Since your goal is to reduce as much noise as possible, it’s vital to choose a fairing that will achieve this. Fairings that are the most angled, curved, and rounded will give you the best results in terms of wind noise reduction.

Though somewhat expensive, wind fairings are often a worthwhile investment as they generally come with lifetime warranties and, when made with the right materials, can withstand constant use over the years.

Finding the right wind fairing for you will largely depend on your preferences. Some fairings are more aerodynamic than others, which drastically change the effect they have on wind noise. As a basic guide, and for the best possible outcome, try to select a fairing that has most or all the above features.

Bar Types and Bar Padding

Bar types and bar padding

In general, there are two types of bar load surfaces for roof racks: Load Bars and Edge Bars. Both have their uses, but only the Edge Bar is beneficial for reducing wind noise. Let’s take a closer look at each of the types:

Load Bars are used to mount heavy, wide, and long loads such as kayaks or luggage. Their larger surfaces provide additional area for objects to be placed on and strapped to. On the downside, this large area can add to the noisiness of your roof rack since the surface extends over the edge of the bars themselves.

On the other hand, Edge Bars are more rounded, allowing them to better reroute airflow, and the surface (on which a bike mount or other cargo would be attached) does not extend past the bar. Along with the curvature of the bars, this feature prevents too much resistance to wind.

Along with swapping out the type of bars you use, you can add some padding to wrap around the crossbars on your roof rack. This will disturb airflow and reduce the humming significantly. Padding also serves as protection between heavy equipment and the rack, along with sideways movements.

The Benefits of Roof Rack Noise Reduction

Now that we’ve gone over the ways in which you can reduce roof rack wind noise, let’s peruse some of the benefits of fixing the wind issue:

 Reduction of Noise, of Course 

The most obvious benefit to implementing the above changes in your roof rack is that the noise coming from wind drag will be dramatically reduced. Which means that you’ll be less distracted while driving.

 Better Mileage

 Believe it or not, improving your roof rack setup can give you better gas mileage. The contour of wind fairings helps vehicles cut through wind as they travel down the highway, resulting in less drag. 

Studies concerning the effects of aerodynamic roof rack products on gas mileage have concluded that approximately 20% of gas consumption is due to a car going against high winds. By using fairings, you’re putting money back in your pocket.


The next time you plan a big biking excursion, be sure that your roof rack is equipped to reduce wind noise and drag. This will not only save you a headache but time and money. If you take our noise-reducing tips into consideration, we’re confident that you’ll be riding the highways as smoothly and quietly as possible in no time.

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Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

The Biking Apex

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