We spoke to Tom Henwood of Main Line Overland to see what the pros are using and what’s popular on today’s market. “The best roof rack is the best design for a given application, rather than a particular brand. We help customers select racks and storage systems based on what they intend to carry on their travels, where they intend to go, etc. We look for componentry that maintains a low profile and low center of gravity for off-road driving, so we often choose aluminum roof racks to keep weight down up top.”
It can be nice to just get out and ride from your front door but there’s no doubt that at some point you’re going to want to take your bike further afield. There are a few options for transporting your bike but if you don’t want the faff of taking the train and you want to keep the inside of your car clean then a bike rack has to be the obvious choice.
Fitting the ProRide was pleasingly simple. I’d prepared myself for a long and frustrating afternoon of shouting at the instructions booklet but instead had it all in place in less than 15 minutes. Once the T-screw is in place (in the roof bars) you simply slide the two base plates in to position, feed the T-screw through the holes in the base plate and clamp them down with the cam levers. One of which is locked in place so the whole system can’t be taken off without the provided key.
These bars are very aesthetically pleasing, having a lower profile and sleek ends which integrate into your car's design well. You do need to buy a specific fitting kit for your vehicle as can be expected. Installation itself took a matter of minutes, however the pictorial instructions do require a bit of patience and imagination to interpret on occasion. They're easy enough to install as one person, but this may be more difficult if you have a van or 4x4. Don't do what I began to do and assume that the thinner edge of the bar faces forward, it's actually the other way around. These bars are very quiet on their own, understandably louder with accessories/roof boxes etc attached - but then the main benefit is that you don't need to remove the whole system to enjoy a quiet journey. If you don't need the accessory then take it off, the bars can stay on and not irritate you like some of the square bars do.
At ReRack we only sell racks and parts from top-quality manufacturers like Yakima, Thule and Rhino-Rack. These roof racks are typically able to support more weight and gear than standard factory racks. The price of a base roof rack will depend on if you want new items or not, aerodynamic profile or not, and your vehicle year/make/model. There are complete roof rack setups starting under $150 for a used rack on older vehicles, all the way through $500+ for a new, aerodynamic top-of-the-line setup.
I must confess that I've used the 815s without bow or stern tie-downs, but my two kayaks have not budged at all. I peek at them through the moonroof on my car from time to time, and they've never shifted. It's important that you read the directions on how to secure the two strap assemblies. If you do it correctly, they will not loosen. Thule's buckle bumpers are pure genius for protecting your car and your boat. When I get home one night with only one kayak on the roof, I entered my garage before the door had fully opened. The bow of the kayak hit the bottom lightweight insulated aluminum panel of my garage door and crumpled it, but the kayak didn't budge (nor did it get damaged, phew!). However, in the interest of safety, I have resolved to use bow and stern tie-downs in the future. To this end, I have purchased and installed bow hood loops from Riverside Cartop Carriers on my car.
Hitch Mounted – These types of the rack are connected up to the receiver hitch at the back of the vehicle. They tend to be very strong and stable, and often pack in more features than you may find on the other styles. The main benefit of these types is that they are lower and easier to load then the roof-mounted versions. They also largely keep the bike out of the vehicle airflow, helping minimize the impact on your fuel consumption. The negative is they can affect your rearview when driving, they can make trunk access difficult or even impossible and you must remember you have the rack mounted when you are reversing!
Kayaks are a little tougher to secure to the roof of a truck than mountain bikes. The Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier uses cassette-like side loading system to turn what might be a two person job into a quick and easy activity. “Our Four Wheel Pop-up Campers customers love the Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak Carrier for mounting kayaks, and they make life so much easier with vehicles with a tall roof. The system allows you to load from the side with less lifting and straining, which is key after a long day on the water.”
I bought my hull-a-ports along with the Aero-Bars from the Rack Warehouse in the spring (2002). Five weeks after I put them on my car, I had the lower plastic brackets snap on one of them on the freeway which was very disconcerting at 70 mph. Thule sent me new plastic brackets but after reading postings on this and other sites about kayaks flying off cars all over the country - I decided not to risk it. I commonly have to drive 500 x-way miles to paddle. I sent the hull-a-port back to the Rack Warehouse asking for a refund. They said Thule looked at it and because it was "used" (mangled is a better word after the product failure) they couldn't give me a refund. They admit that the plastic brackets are prone to failure and because of that - they are re-engineering them in steel and will send me my hull-a-port and new brackets when they are available. It is now almost November and I have not had the use of it all summer. Apparently it's sitting in moth balls at the Rack Warehouse until God knows when??? If only I would of bought them at REI or some other retailer that stands behind what they sell and will wrestle with the manufacturer for the consumer. Live and learn...
I compared the parts list for the 815 with the parts list for the 835XTR Hull-a-Port that appears on Thule's website and they're almost identical. The only differences are that the carriage bolts and end caps, while the same size, have different part numbers, and the 815 does not include the two 1/4 inch Rope Ratchets that are included with the 835XTR. While the Rope Ratchets are nice for tightening and securing the bow and stern tie-downs, they're not really necessary if you can tie a decent knot.
Last year I bought a Suburban (now I have two racked vehicles) and bought a set of Thule #450 Crossroads to mount to the factory rails. I was little concerned about the rack coming loose. Not that the rack would have a problem, but rather the factory rails would rip out of the Suburban’s roof. Happy to say, after several 1500 mile trips to Maine and Hilton Head my concerns have been but aside. This thing is as rock solid as I was used to.
One year ago, I purchased my Thule rack with four H2GO saddles to support my two sit-on-top kayaks. So far 3 out of the four rubber saddles have torn where the pin that passes through the rubber and attaches to the plastic. Even though Thule has graciously replaced them, I feel the H2GO saddles are poorly designed. Thule has replaced my saddles with their new SET2GO saddles.
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The lid has dual-layer construction, which adds stiffness for durability and ease-of-use while reducing drag for better MPG, as well as to lessen the noise. Spring-loaded hinges make accessing the box from either side of the vehicle a breeze, with lockable Smartlatch handles help make sure everything is shut up tight. Clamp mounts make the box compatible with most roof rack bar systems, though you’ll probably want to upgrade to one of Whispbar’s mounts to complete the look.
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.
The Thule WingBar Edge is the most safe and silent roof rack, and now available in a low fit. It is a universal fit (use selector tool above to see if available for your vehicle) by using telescopic feet. It's low profile and close fit to the roof creates a stunning look and is available in the following models 9581-9586, 9591-9596 in Black and Silver.