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4. The product information brags about the Smartslide system but installation instructions tell you nothing on how to use it. You can't even find good information on the Thule website. Just be warned that you have to move each foot independently but keeping the same Smartslide number the same on each side so that feet are evenly spaced from the outside of the bar.
One caveat is the measurements in the instructions to install the bars are wrong, not really sure where they came up with those (or maybe there were for a different length bar? I went with 60" which seem perfect for my van) but after a little finagling was able to get them evenly set up on my own. Not even worth taking a star off in my opinion, but I can understand if someone were confused or unhappy. I'm mechanically inclined so it was maybe a 10 minute bump in the road, just had to figure out what measurement would be equal from the end of the bar to the edge of the foot on each side of the car, and beware, the front and rear bar measurements will not be the same. I started by eye and refined it by measurement, and put a sharpie marker on the bottom in case I have to remove them, done and done.
I've had the J racks since getting our two Old Town Dirigo's a few years ago. They have performed perfectly. Just completed 4200 mile trip with them with no problems, but you should be aware of a few things and use common sense. I had concerns about stability and wind resistance for the long trip. The Dirigos are beamy and not super light (45# +). The Js held up to the task just fine and at hwy speeds.

Strong Securing Points – The bike has to be attached to the rack somehow, and this can be one of the most important parts of the design. The securing points have to combine the strength to hold your bike whilst also being gentle enough to not damage the frame, wheels or paintwork. Don’t underestimate the holding power required either. As your vehicle barrels down the freeway, there can be quite a bit of wind buffeting the bike. It needs to be held securely so you don’t glance into the mirror to see your beloved two-wheel steed flying off the back of the car!
I replaced my 89 Plymouth Voyager with a 98 Voyager and the roof rack stinks for my canoe and kayak. I replace it with the Thule rack. This rack is strong and sturdy worth every penny. The factory installed racks could slide back and forth and the Thule can't slide with loosening the bolts. I have no intention of ever moving them so I have no problem with this.
Whether you have a sedan, a truck or SUV, the interior cargo space can always fill up quicker than you think. And while the average person doesn’t need a roof rack 24/7, like winter tires, they are an incredibly useful asset to have on hand if you’re overlanding, going on a long road trip, moving to a new house or just going up to the lake for a day. If you’re going to be strapping things to the roof of your car, do the job right — don’t be that guy hauling a kayak that’s barely holding on with slowly loosening twine. Per Hendwood’s philosphy above, it’s best to use solid, lightweight hardwear that’s designed to carry loads — not barely roped-together guesswork.
As a THULE 5-star dealer and winner of the prestigious ‘THULE DEALER OF THE YEAR’ award, The Journey Centre offers the full range of Thule products, including roof bars for all types of vehicles, roof boxes for the holiday season, plus a range of carriers for cycles, skis or water sports, along with the range of THULE luggage, backpacks and strollers.
However I am going to comment on some of the installation steps and things to watch out for as it is a little daunting to open the FreeRide 532 and find the bags of various components. Once you’ve installed the FreeRide all of the steps you took will be ‘obvious…in hindsight‘. In the future, fitting and unmounting the BIKE RACK will then only take about 5 minutes per bike rack.
This review is of a Thule roof rack fit to my 2011 Mazda3 Sport. Its a basic rack and if installed with care, stays put. The load limit is 100 lbs, so pack with care if you also use a roof box - I've weighed each piece of my gear to and the box itself to make sure I stay within the limits. The rack itself is cheap and works as its supposed to. The only thing I would like is a torque specification so that I don't over tighten and get the dreaded "oil can" popping sound of my roof being compressed (I heard that happen to someone else once, not pleasant). Oh, and I put some 3M protective film down on a clean roof to prevent any paint damage from the foot pads. It looks crappy if I'm not careful wiping away wax, but will protect the paint.
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The most likely causes of excessive wobble at speed on a motorway are either that you have not placed the arm clamp sufficiently close to the chainring OR you have not tightened the clamp sufficiently. Having said that, there is a further cause where the clamp can slip UP the frame IF your frame gets thinner in that direction (eg My Cervelo S3 does precisely that). In that scenario you will need to put the arm clamp slightly further away from the chainrings at a thinner part of the frame.
To simplify your ordering process, The Rack Warehouse lists the most popular selling Thule 450 Crossroad Foot Complete Car Roof Rack fits alphabetically by Auto Manufacturer. You'll find perfect fitting roof racks for most of today's top selling vehicles on this list. Thule 450 Crossroad Foot Complete Car Roof Racks are designed for vehicles with raised railings. If you don't see your vehicle on this list, simply click on the Thule Fit Guide at the top of the page, enter your vehicle information and the Thule Fit Guide will do the rest.
There were a few types of bar I could have chosen. Firstly the bog standard square bars, which are pretty good but they don’t have the T channel for quick attachment of bike carriers and roof boxes. They still work really well but I have a few bits that use the T bolt system and I really like it for ease and security. The second is the Aero bars system which I have used a great deal in the past. They are again good, but I found them to be a little noisy on the cars I have had in the past. This may have been down to the bars or the foot system, or the way I had fitted them. The Aero bars do have the T channel which still makes them a contender. OEM bars tend to be very similar to the Thule Aero bars anyway. However for a little bit more cash the Thule Wing bars offer a lower profile, a reported 55% reduction in drag compared to the Aero bars and a possibility of an overall quieter system. After a hunt around (see below) I got the Wing bars for the price of a set of Aero bars
Whether you have a sedan, a truck or SUV, the interior cargo space can always fill up quicker than you think. And while the average person doesn’t need a roof rack 24/7, like winter tires, they are an incredibly useful asset to have on hand if you’re overlanding, going on a long road trip, moving to a new house or just going up to the lake for a day. If you’re going to be strapping things to the roof of your car, do the job right — don’t be that guy hauling a kayak that’s barely holding on with slowly loosening twine. Per Hendwood’s philosphy above, it’s best to use solid, lightweight hardwear that’s designed to carry loads — not barely roped-together guesswork.
I’ve spent years transporting bikes in the back of a car, usually whipping out the front wheel, throwing an old grease stained fleece blanket over it and slamming the boot shut before heading off. Bags would be placed carefully around it of course and it took a little more finessing if I was taking a friend and their bike. But I became fairly adept at balancing bikes on top of each other – separated by blankets – and avoiding any damaging movement.
Don't get me wrong. I use Thule racks and locks and cradles and locking cable and straps… the whole kit. That's because security and convenience and bicycles and protecting the roof of my car are also important, and because I started with a used Thule rack, gradually accumulating a closet full of proprietary extrapolations and substitutions as needs changed. And it does work. It all works. It's just that every single bit of it is clumsily engineered and imprecisely manufactured, requiring brute force as well as wiggling and finagling to get it just right. Some parts fit loosely, some tightly, some are robust and some flimsy. Every change, every adjustment to a Thule rack is a project and a series of compromises. Admittedly, I change things around a lot, but as familiar as I've become with my rack, I still spend an inordinate amount of time getting all the parts straight and tight and solid before I reach for my boats.
I was stubborn about getting to the bottom of the noise and tried moving the bar's locations around - test drive, whistle. Tried only the front bar - test drive, whistle. Only the rear - test drive, whistle. Covered the footings in microfiber cloths - test drive, whistle. Covered the Aerobars in microfiber cloth - the very thing/design that Thule markets as being the answer to quiet cross bars... surely the Aerobars were not the culprit... Test drive, silence.
One caveat is the measurements in the instructions to install the bars are wrong, not really sure where they came up with those (or maybe there were for a different length bar? I went with 60" which seem perfect for my van) but after a little finagling was able to get them evenly set up on my own. Not even worth taking a star off in my opinion, but I can understand if someone were confused or unhappy. I'm mechanically inclined so it was maybe a 10 minute bump in the road, just had to figure out what measurement would be equal from the end of the bar to the edge of the foot on each side of the car, and beware, the front and rear bar measurements will not be the same. I started by eye and refined it by measurement, and put a sharpie marker on the bottom in case I have to remove them, done and done.

This is a well-made bike rack with an unusual-looking design. The design works better than the FreeRide and ProRide models when it comes to loading on your bike. It also offers better inbuilt security for your bike and furthermore does not touch the frame and so cannot damage the frame. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the FreeRide model and a little bit heavier BUT it is selling at about the same price as the ProRide…it IS better than the ProRide; I guess people don’t buy it because of the looks and the weight.

I managed to install one UpRide and 3 of the older style Thule bike racks simultaneously on one car (ie 4 bike racks). A total of 3 is relatively easy but adding the fourth bike required the pedals to be removed from the bikes and was quite a squeeze. If you are going to install 3 or 4 bike racks then you will need to alternate the direction in which they face (forward-back-forward-back) and you will need to ensure that the various closing mechanisms on each of the bike racks are relatively easily accessible. Good luck 😉 !
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