I started my ‘Roof Bar career’ with some cheap ones I used for windsurfing, and they lasted about 6 months before the powder coating started to split and corrosion set in. I then did what my brother told me to do from the start and buy Thule. That first set lasted about 8yrs as a permanent feature on my Vauxhall Nova and looked almost brand new when I removed them. I’ve never considered anything else since. They may appear expensive up front, but it’s not like a handbag where you’re paying for a brand name and nothing more, you’re paying for a proper quality engineered product.
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.”
I put these on a 2012 VW Tiguan (using the Thule Rapid Crossroad Foot Pack) and probably should have gone with the 53" version for 2 kayaks. I only anticipated 1 kayak at time of purchase but the collection grew. Ended up getting a Takima J-Low to mount one on its side and one flat on the bars. Very tight squeeze (the J-Lows max weight for 2 kayaks isn't high enough if they are fishing kayaks - 110lbs). The J-Lows are VERY noisy and whistle when empty (gotta break out some duct tape and work on that...) but the bars - you won't notice they are there unless actively listening for them when unloaded.
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.
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Two areas of caution: These boats on their sides create a high profile and resistance. If your speed is 70 and you have a head wind of 20-30 (as we did) that's the same as 90-100...a bit much; I'd keep air resistance to 75 or so combined maximum. If the wind is to the side you'll feel strong buffeting at times, slow it down. Without wind we felt comfortable at 70. Kayaks were strapped according to instructions around J and under factory cross bars. Also had bow and stern tie downs to prevent sliding forward or aft.
Originally I bought them because our car didn't have the width for two boats to sit side-by-side. But they support our plastic touring boats (Necky, Looksha IV), very nicely. The fear of oil-canning the hulls by supporting them in traditional saddles is all but gone. The hull-a-ports hold the boats vertically and in even the strongest cross winds, the two straps (provided, with buckle bumpers) are enough to hold the boats in place with ease...and not so much pressure that you'll bend the hulls.
Anti-Sway Cages – There are a few different ways that racks can be designed to minimize sway, but an anti-sway cage is the most widely used. In particular, you’ll find these on rack designs that hold the top tube, but rear mounted designs that lock the wheels can also benefit from built-in anti-sway tech. In essence, it’s just going to help to keep the bike stable in the rack as you drive. This has the dual benefit of not allowing the bikes to affect vehicle handling (especially at highway speeds) and also stops the bikes knocking into each other.
Yakima's new premium rooftop cargo box has clean lines and modern style that today's travelers demand. It's also plenty capable of getting dirty, though, so it's the perfect way to add storage for off-road camping trips. Yakima simplified the installation of this unit, so you'll spend less time in setup and more time exploring the wilderness. The smaller option (15 cubic feet) is great for quick trips, while the larger one (20 cubic feet) is ideal for families or longer jaunts.
Strap Mounted – Designed primarily for vehicles without a hitch receiver. The plus points for this type is that they are typically easier to mount than the other styles, making them perfect for occasional use as you can get them on and off quickly. They are also typically cheaper than the other styles of the rack. On the negative side, as they lack a truly solid attaching point they are not as secure, and you must ensure that you attach them properly before loading up the bikes.
I already had a fairly sturdy factory rack on the roof of Subaru Outback Sport (the economy Outback) and was looking for cradles I could attach to that. I originally bought the Rollercoaster for the front and hydroglide for the back with the Fat Mouth Factory rack adapters. Regardless of what the salesman said, this didn't work (Fat Mouths only work with ski racks). So, I exchanged these for the Hull-a-ports (for about $120 less).
My latest car is an estate/touring with a set of roof rails so requires a roofbar that can clamp directly to the rail. After looking at the OEM version I decided to take a closer look at the Thule Wing bars. Mainly because the OEM version sat quite high off the roof and from BMW would have cost a small ransom. I have had a few different sets of Thule bars in the past and still own/use a set of Thule ProRide 591 bike carriers so it made sense to have a look at the newer offerings. In addition Thule have a pretty good reputation world wide and certainly have great customer service here in the UK.
Thule makes a beautiful and strong rack system. I was skeptical at first about putting my new bikes on my roof, but after buying and installing my Thule system, I easily carry 4 bikes with no worry. I did buy mine from different people on craigslist, but the build quality Thule puts in these rack gave me the confidence to buy someone's used equipment.
Bought for use on my van's roof to hold a 9'1 longboard - already had roof bars up there which turned out to be too thick for the supplied fixings but wasn't too difficult to make it work. Really quick and easy to use. Haven't tried it with two boards but, as some of the other reviews say, it could be a bit tight to fit another board in with the size of strap supplied.