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jbird2131's picture
Joined: Aug 27 2007
Posts: 184
Yakima vs. Thule Roof Rack

Can you all give me some input on yakima vs. thule. I plan to purchase a roof rack for my car in the very near future and priced both of the brands out. They both come to a similar total and was wondering if any of you have had more success with one brand over the other. Also, fork mount or wheel mount? I have heard that fork mount keeps the bike more stable. I will be traveling a lot with my bike on my roof and wanted to make sure I made the best purchase. Thanks for your opinions and input.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
I ended up going with a

I ended up going with a Yakima base rack. From what I understand, most of the attachments from either company will fit on either rack. From my experience, I love how easy the whole basic Yakima one is to get on and off. I'm no help on which bike attachments since my bikes still go in the car ;)

jsk85's picture
Joined: Jan 17 2008
Posts: 1226
I use the Thule roof rack

I use the Thule roof rack (as of May) and love it. I have my bike up there very often. I go with the fork mount since it seems more stable to me. I think the Thule looks cleaner with the stainless look (all the Yakima I've seen are black). However, I went with Thule since it was offered by my LBS and they could install the feet and the base bar for me, which was convenient. So in other words, i haven't compared and am sure both are good products. I see more yakima's out there, but the Thule is certainly good.

I do like how the base bars allow for other attachments if down the road I'd like to carry other stuff. Plus, I was told that I'd have to get adjusted feet (like $80) to switch it to another car if this one runs out of gas...but that's a lot cheaper than a whole other setup, so I can take it with me when I move onto a new car. If I get an SUV, I think I need a different unit. But I'm a car person, so I'm not too worried about that.

theShiba's picture
Joined: Jun 14 2007
Posts: 724
I have the Yakima, and have

I have the Yakima, and have been very happy with it. I am not sure that all of the accessories are compatible, because the basic Yakima uses round bars, and the basic Thule uses square bars. This may not necessarily be the case though, as I have only bought Yakima stuff. Check both brands out though, because I know that they both have a higher-end base system, that has a more "aero" base bar, and different trays for bikes.

One thing I can say is that I am not super happy with Yakima's Wheel-mount fork. It's the thing that holds the front wheel of the bike. It's not as sturdy as I would have liked, and is kind of a pain in the ass to get the wheel to sit properly in the unit. Over all, I feel like the wheel is secure, but I don't use them unless I really need the trunk space, because most of the time they are more trouble than they are worth.

The installation on the Yakima was pretty easy, and there are a wide range of attachment products to fit most cars.

I recommend that you get a front fairing, if you are installing a base rack (don't have a built-in rack on your car) because the pipes just by themselves is pretty noisy, and I would imagine (by implication) not very fuel efficient. The first day I had the rack, I put it on and was like, this is not going to work, because it sounds like a wounded zombie on my roof. The fairing, however, reduces this effect considerably.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
One is round, one square,

One is round, one square, but almost all the attachments are made to fit either style (neither company wants to limit their purchasers would be my thought).

I also found the rack not super aero, and I take it off my car most of the time. It's SOOOOO easy to put on and off that it's not a big deal. Plus I only really need it if I'm carrying my kayak, and sadly that hasn't been often.

jbird2131's picture
Joined: Aug 27 2007
Posts: 184
thanks for the input

thanks for the input everyone. im gonna hit up my lbs tomorrow and scope things out again. im starting to question if i really need the rack right now. its so pricey after i added everything up. also, should i be afraid to put my race wheels on my bike and then put it on the roof? i just feel a bit squeamish about rocks cracking my zipps or something. maybe im just paranoid, but thats just what i was thinking. id almost rather just buy a new pair of sidis or some much needed new cycling apparel. we shall see, thanks again.

theShiba's picture
Joined: Jun 14 2007
Posts: 724
kylie wrote:One is round,

[quote=kylie]One is round, one square, but almost all the attachments are made to fit either style (neither company wants to limit their purchasers would be my thought).

I also found the rack not super aero, and I take it off my car most of the time. It's SOOOOO easy to put on and off that it's not a big deal. Plus I only really need it if I'm carrying my kayak, and sadly that hasn't been often.[/quote]

I'd have to disagree with Kylie on this... To be completely honest, the rack was a major pain to get on the car, and I would never want to take it off now that I have everything perfect. It could be a function of what kind of car you have, and what kind of adapters are needed for the Q towers. I think now that I have everything adjusted, if I needed to take off the rack I could, but I can't say that the installation process was painless. My Dad and I put our heads together on it (I should mention that we are pretty "handy") and took a few hours just to get the base bars on the car and locked properly.

gshuldes's picture
Joined: Jan 21 2008
Posts: 166
You won't go wrong with

You won't go wrong with either Yakima or Thule. I currently have a Yakima that I have refitted 7 or 8 times over the last 12 years (for different cars) and love it, but back in the day I worked at a LBS that sold Thule and they also make a great product. In my experience these racks can be removed or installed in 5-10 minutes.

As theShiba noted ... first time set up of either system takes a lot of extra time. Opening all the packages, getting the towers set on the bars correctly, getting the "fit kit" for your car installed, measuring to find the right spots on your car for the front and rear bars, then getting everything adjusted can easily take over an hour.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
Sorry I should have been

Sorry I should have been more clear -- I wasn't referring to the first set up (REI did that one for me), but those after that. It does probably depend on which base system you have, but taking mine on or off the car after the initial set up is maybe 5 minutes -- unlock and open each tower, lift off, or place on, close towers, and lock. But this is on a CRV that has the rails for it, so perhaps it is a bit different on different vehicles.

tri-ac's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2005
Posts: 3717
as others have said, can't

as others have said, can't go wrong with either

fairings seem like a waste of time unless you have a sun roof (the noise transfers through)

i have thule: two fork mounts and a coffin

definitely get locks, and get bars as wide as you can for your car (out to the mirrors). at some point, you'll borrow someone else's rack mounts and cram a ton of stuff up there.

kylie's picture
Joined: Jun 1 2004
Posts: 5521
But beware of weight limits

But beware of weight limits of your car if you are cramming tons of stuff up there. I figured it out, and I think my car is technically at limit if I put 2 bikes and my kayak on it (granted the kayak is a tank, but still... it was way less stuff that I imagined would be just fine). I know the amt is a conservative number, but I have no real desire to push it too far.

tri-ac's picture
Joined: Dec 7 2005
Posts: 3717
kylie wrote:But beware of

[quote=kylie]But beware of weight limits of your car if you are cramming tons of stuff up there. I figured it out, and I think my car is technically at limit if I put 2 bikes and my kayak on it (granted the kayak is a tank, but still... it was way less stuff that I imagined would be just fine). I know the amt is a conservative number, but I have no real desire to push it too far.[/quote]
agreed
we have two bike mounts, but we've borrowed others to carpool to bike rides

knight22's picture
Joined: Jan 1 2007
Posts: 26
I have a Thule roof rack and

I have a Thule roof rack and it is great. I am not sure about Yakima, but Thule has a great warranty program. I overtighted one of my fork mounted trays and broke it in Lake Placid. I went to one of the bike shops up there and they spoke to Thule who told them to just give us a brand new one at no charge. I also like that I can swap the rack between two cars because I have both fit kits. I drive a Honda Civic and can fit two bikes and two front wheels on top with no problems.

I use two fork mounted trays, but many of my friends use the wheel mounted ones. I know that Thule calls theirs the Sidearm and it is pretty nice. It is nice and stable from what I can tell and can be used for any type of bike.

theShiba's picture
Joined: Jun 14 2007
Posts: 724
tri-ac wrote:as others have

[quote=tri-ac]as others have said, can't go wrong with either

fairings seem like a waste of time unless you have a sun roof (the noise transfers through)

i have thule: two fork mounts and a coffin

definitely get locks, and get bars as wide as you can for your car (out to the mirrors). at some point, you'll borrow someone else's rack mounts and cram a ton of stuff up there.[/quote]

Like Kylie said, you should be careful about weight, but yeah... you should check what the mirror-mirror width of the car is, because you can usually go wider than the fit guidelines recommend. Right now I have the smallest bars on my car, but I am actually thinking of going up a size, because I'd like to be able to fit three bikes, and three wheels up there at a time, and right now it's pretty tight...

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