Ironically, after posting my review of the Thule J-racks, I just about lost a kayak this past weekend coming back from Maine, due to the cheap mounting hardware included with the Thule J-rack. One of the plastic mounting bars split- where the bolt is held in place by the recessed nut- and the front rack was only held on by the one remaining mounting bar. It was not pleasant to see my kayak sliding towards the outside of the roof rack, going down I95 in Maine. Unless Thule changes the mounting hardware from plastic to metal, this rack is a dangerous. Cheap mounting seems to be a theme with Thule.
On your car roof, one these 3 alternatives will most likely be possible: a bracket specific to your roof shape that clips into the door frame: attachments for a dealer installed roof rail; OR a T-track. This review assumes that you have already figured out how to get two roof bars on your car roof – and that can be somewhat convoluted if you have an unusual car, good luck!
Thule have done the hard work of figuring out how to best fit it to your car, though. You just dial in the angle between the arms, hang it on your car and tighten the straps. You can lock the ratchets, and there's a cable lock to secure the last bike in place so it's harder to steal rack and bike than is typical of boot racks. It folds tidily, but it's not light.
These car roof bars come with wordless (diagrams-only) fitting instructions that are difficult to comprehend and, in the case of a Peugeot 306 hatchback, specify the wrong assembly settings. The result is roof bars that cannot be fitted to the car or, at best, can be fitted only with extreme difficulty and at risk of damaging both the racks and the car body.
As expected. Installation was a little tricky. First I got the wrong 'foot kit' for my vehicle on accident. Once that was corrected, the measurements in the included instructions were wrong for my vehicle. I looked up my kit online, found that there was a new version of the manual with new measurements for my vehicle. This turned out to be a closer fit but still not quite right. I had to 'widen' the measurements slightly... in order to allow the "doors" on the "feet" to close (these are the doors where you use the tool to crank down the brackets to your vehicle body to ensure a snug fit). Once completed, I'm happy with the product, just wish the installation instructions were a little easier to follow. There is an online video available through the 'thule fit guide' which was helpful but also not entirely accurate. I like this product because it is "modular" in the sense that when ski season is over, I can remove the attached ski racks and replace with bike/kayak racks.
I initially purchased 4 #875 Hydra Glides to carry my kayaks on. However, the area of the pads seem too small and were putting dents in the hull when the boats were loaded. I decided to eat the $220.00 and install 2 Hull-A-Ports. They seem to carry more of the kayaks weight on the side as well as supply more area of contact. While installing, I noticed that the flange in the base where the base pad fits into, was broken on one of the Hull-A-Ports. I emailed Thule's support and asked them to replace the broken one and asked if I could buy a spare as it's obviously the weak point if it was broken out of the box! Thule's response was that I should take the Hull-A-Port to my dealer and ask them to call Thule while I am there! It's 100 miles round trip. My response to Thule was that this was CRAP and I asked if Thule was going to pay my time and mileage! I would rate them zero, but one is as low as this site goes!
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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.
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
By selecting your vehicle details from our Thule roof bar guide you will be given a selection of alternative Thule roof rack systems that will be perfect for your car. If required, in most cases, you will be able to match locks to existing Thule equipment. Our guide also gives you the opportunity to download and view pdf fitting instructions and view demonstration videos.