As cities grow denser, and the need for compact vehicles becomes more prevalent, the need for clever storage rapidly becomes essential. Over the years, many YouTube fail videos have shown us what can go wrong when your gear isn't properly strapped down. Thankfully, mainstay brands like Yakima and Thule continue to offer us smart and easy to use roof storage systems to prevent your next outdoor excursion from accidentally going viral. With that in mind, here are a few of our favorite roof racks and storage systems. We've compared more than 25 different storage solutions to help you find the most affordable, reliable, and easiest ones to install.
Always check the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maximum load rating for roof rails. The maximum load rating below is for the cross bars. The load rating for roof rails can vary depending on the vehicles manufacturer. As with all racks, you're going to need to be very aware of your sunroof. On some vehicles there will not be the clearance needed to open the sunroof ie. when the racks are on the roof stays closed.
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 ProRide 598 and find the bags of various components. Once you’ve installed the ProRide all of the steps you took will be ‘obvious…in hindsight‘. In the future, mounting and unmounting the BIKE RACK will then only take about 5 minutes per bike rack.
They seem solid and well made. I'm just surprised at the way that the coating ends on the bars and the bare steel is open to the elements. I guess I assumed these would come with the end caps, as it doesn't specify that they don't and the photo includes the end caps, while graying out the feet - which I knew weren't included. Seems kinda skimpy to leave that little piece out.
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.
You really don't want these on your car at eye/head level without end caps. First, I suspect they'll rust quickly (my old ones rusted even with end caps). Secondly, it's steel that's been cut with a saw- the ends are not jagged but neither are they gently rounded and the covering is shy of the ends by 1/8 inch or so. You hit your head/face on these things and there's a good chance you're coming away bleeding. Third, the ends are ugly without end caps.
If your road trips always include skis, snowboards, surfboards, deep sea fishing poles, or other items that often stretch the length of most sedans, the Inno Shadow 16 has you covered. Though it only boasts 11 cubic feet of storage, it can accommodate up to six snowboards, eight skis, or two surfboards. The proprietary Memory Mount System makes it easy to toss the box on and off as needed without fiddling with over-engineered mounting hassles. Its svelte profile and “Diffuser Design” lets it slice through wind to reduce drag and noise, with a three-layer sheet base construction that makes it lighter and stronger than most conventional carbo boxes. As with most models, it opens from both sides and has universal cross bar compatibility.
I don’t get this comment. With the square bars you just clamp anything straight on. With the slots you have to faff about with the plastic strip in the slot don’t you (ie. cutting it to the right size, slotting bits of it in and out in the right combination for whatever you’re putting on). Or do people not use the strip. I’m not trying to be augmentative BTW, genuinely interested I currently have square bars but am considering aero/wing bars for an imminent car change.
Lots of negative reviews here I don't understand. Some folks even saying it took 2 hours to put thier bake rack on thier vehicle. That could be the actual problem. They are all pretty simple in design four towers put them on tighten then put your bike on them. Never seen a bike rack that didn't allow the bike to sway some while driving on rough roads. They do make tie down straps for rugged terrain.
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...
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Car Attachment Points – Just as the rack must have a method of attaching to your bike, it has to attach to the car. How it does this will depend on the style of rack that has been used (more on that in a moment). Generally speaking though, you want all the points the rack touches your car to be ideally padded, or at the very least tipped or coated in plastic. This is going to protect your car paintwork from damage.
Our roof bike racks are tested extensively in the Thule Test Center™ – a state-of-the-art facility for testing bike roof racks to the limit and beyond. They are also designed for maximum ease of use with many smart features added during development. You can be confident that your roof bike rack will carry your bike safely and securely wherever you want to go. And you’ll be in the saddle as quickly and easily as possible.
I recently put my Thule J-racks on for their second season of use, only to fine that the mounting hardware is not for its second summer of use. The mounting bars (plastic) are cheap and split easily. There is a bolt inside the mounting bar that is supposed to stay stationary so that the bolt may tighten the rack to the rack. When plastic mounting bar splits, which doesn't take much, the bolt moves around making the hardware useless. Also, the bolts included with the racks rust at the mere mention of water. (Probably not the best thing for a kayak rack). The upside is that the J-rack itself is great, its just the mounting hardware that stinks- which can be replaced. I've yet to do it so I can't speak to how easy that is. Its not a bad rack for $85, just be prepared to replace and be careful witht the mounting hardware aspect of it.
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
Every car model has its own roof shape. There are different racks to fit all roof types so you can find the transportation solution that meets your needs. Most vehicles will have either a normal roof, roof rails, fixing points or integrated roof rails. Some roofs are equipped with a T-nut profile or a rain gutter. If you have a car with roof rails, you only need roof bars (also called crossbars), which run across the car and connect the roof rails on either side. For vehicles with a normal roof, fixing points or integrated roof rails, you will need a vehicle-specific kit.
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.
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.
Less physically strong riders may find its heft a bit much. There are wheels to roll it on flat surfaces, but you wouldn't want to carry it very far. It locks securely to your tow hitch and carries up to three bikes. The bikes are held in place with ratchet straps round the bottom of the wheels and a clamp for the top tube or, for carbon bikes, one of Thule's 982 frame adapters.
Aluminium bars include T-track slots which allow you to use the full length of the bars for load carrying. The WingBar not only looks good but more importantly includes a device which reduces wind noise to the minimum, as well as reducing drag. Many customers leave their Thule WingBars in place from week to week, especially if they are taller vehicles and fitting is awkward.