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  1. #1
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Anybody have a roof rack for their car?

    I'm thinking about getting one, and looking for some advice.

    I have a 2006 Subaru Legacy; I bought it with 13,000 miles, and it's the closest I've had to a new car. It still looks and drives like one, which has been very, very difficult for me over the past 2.5 years ... so I'm a bit nervous about a roof rack damaging the car somehow. It just seems like either it will dent the roof, scratch the paint, or cause some other problem. Also, I have a sunroof, and actually enjoy it quite a bit, between the breeze and the scenery when I'm in the mountains.

    I'd like to be able to move my bike and my kayak around, though. As it stands, the only way to get my bike into the mountains would be to ride it there, exhausting me before I'd reach the trail. And there just isn't another way to get my 17 foot sea kayak up into some of the mountain lakes I want to explore. I don't think there's a situation where I'd want to transport them both at the same time, though.

    Does anybody have any advice? Are my worries just paranoia, or is this idea not for me? What else should I know?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Bring it over to Rack 'n' Road on Aurora Ave. and they can hook you up.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  3. #3
    I Ride, Therefore I Am BigUgly's Avatar
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    I have new Buick Lacrosse (I know only old people buy Buicks but it was a deal I could not refuse) and I just put a Thule roof rack on it. Some used parts some new parts. I am thinking your Suburu already has some company installed cargo rack and most likely you can hook the bike rack to that. My rack mounts right on the roof and there is no damage. I love the roof rack vs the old trunk rack I had. You can go to the Thule website and they will tell you what parts you need for your make and model car. It can get pricey. But if you know your part numbers you can usually find them cheaper on e-bay or craigslist. I have a friend who has an Audi with sun roof and roof rack and have been in the car when he had bikes on the rack and the sun roof open.

  4. #4
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    Gentle loading and unloading of the bike, being careful pays off. You should not have any problems using those carriers if you are careful. And on the other hand, cars are as much consumer items as anything else, it will inevitably collect some scratches and dents with use, that's expected. So I would say that you don't fret over it too much, but buy a rack, load a bike on it and enjoy your ride once you get to the mountains. Just be careful to strap it down nice and tight into the carrier so that it can't be blown off by the wind.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigUgly View Post
    I am thinking your Suburu already has some company installed cargo rack and most likely you can hook the bike rack to that.
    Sorry - I should have been more clear on that. Mine has just a naked roof - it looks like this:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-...llpaper_02.jpg

    So I'll have to do the whole thing, if I decide to.

  6. #6
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    Thule and Yakima are considered the best. Look on the website for how they both connect to your specific car and see if one looks better. I have a Yakima which is very nice, but I often just remove the front wheel and lay the bike in the back of my Ford Escape. I'm always a little nervous with the bike on the roof.

  7. #7
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    Just remember to not have anything on the rack when you go into a garage or other low height space. I park my car in a covered space, and i know i would end up driving my bike into the roof of the parking space because i was tired and forgot, which is why i opted not to get a roof rack
    if you park in a covered space or in a garage, it is something to consider...

  8. #8
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    I have an Impreza with a similar flat roof. I purchased a Yakima system @ Gi Joes because there was a hefty going out of business discount. The system has feet (towers) with a 1/4" or so dense rubber pad. Wide hooks then grab the metal edge of your door frame. I have zero damage on my roof due to the racks. Having said that, I have heard that some of the newer cars have plastic surrounding the door frames. This may not be an ideal clamping surface. Call Yakima or Thule customer support and discuss your particular vehicle. I also have a sunroof and it is able to open & close with the rack installed (check on your vehicle though!).

    I have the Yakima High Roller bike rack and it is very nice (no need to remove tires, etc.).

    Oh yes: When you order your system, the company will specify a certain length crossbar. Longer crossbars can be used for more roof-top storage but you run the risk of hitting your head each time you enter/exit the vehicle.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks a lot for the info, Greg_R! Sounds like you have a very similar setup to what I've been wanting. Here's a question for you ... the front bar more or less has to be over the sunroof, right? It looks like it wouldn't prevent it from opening, but how much of the view does it block? From the passenger seat, it can be great to be able to look upward as you go through the mountains...

  10. #10
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I have used Yakima's for years.....and really like them. (i have used the clip on gutter types, the Q tower type.....flat pad and then a thin metal clip that fits between the dors and hangs on the edge, the type you just put on the lenght wise cross bars and even one that fit a special hook (97 bmw) ) all good all secure.

    I like the round bar vs the square of thule....but that is more P&R you really can't go wrong with either yakima or thule.

    For carrying my bike I have an over 20 year old yakmima set up that lets me put the whole bike on top...no taking the front wheel off.....I has worked well for me.

    good luck
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  11. #11
    billyymc
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    Been using yakima racks for about 20 years for carrying boats, bikes, skis, lumber, etc, etc.

    The racks with the feet that sit right on your roof (like you will need) will eventually leave sort of dull outlines of themselves. You can minimize this by waxing the car -- no, it won't cause the rack to slip off if it's attached well. Besides that, they won't harm your car UNLESS you overload substantially AND hit bumps in the road while overloaded. Ask me how I know : )

    I haven't had a rack that sits on the bare roof in about 7 years or so, so maybe the rubber feet are better now and don't leave a residue/mark over time.

    The racks are worth the risk of damage. There is no better way to carry your stuff if you are a multi-sport kind of person. Oh...if you're going to carry kayaks, get the appropriate carriers (j-bars if you have short recreational or whitewater boats, cradles for longer boats)...and use straps. And if you're not sure of yourself, put bowline and sternline on.

    The bike carriers with the jaws hat grip the downtube -- some of the models don't fit all the way around bikes with large tubing. My solution is to use a 2 foot cam strap to ensure it stays in place...and sometimes a bungee cord.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    35+ years of bicycling; have never used a roof rack.
    Have hauled singles and tandems inside Honda Accords (hatchbacks and station wagon), VW Squareback, Ford station wagon, Jeep Wagoneer.
    Pop off the wheels and load in the trunk . . .

  13. #13
    Rouleur gattm99's Avatar
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    I used a trunk rack and it scratched the crap out of my car, I now use a roof rack and it was fine until turning around I went a little to close to a overhanging garage, got lucky and just put a mild dent and a few scratches since it popped off the rack. Hitchrack seems pretty good, can't see that messing up your car. Fortunatily I could care less if my car gets scratched.

    Taking the wheels off and loading the trunk is fine if you're alone, but I've taken 5 bikes on my car, 3 on the roof, 2 on the trunk.

  14. #14
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    I pieced together a Yakima rack off ebay. Q-towers, cross bars, viper bike rack, wind fairing, etc. The towers have soft silicone feet that don't scratch the car's paint job unless you don't clean the spots where you mount them. Then dust can get caught in between and scratch up the paint. System works great, haven't had to make any adjustments 5 years later and the viper fork mount rack holds the bike securely. My first trip was through a driving rainstorm w/ gusting winds and rain that flew sideways at you.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    I have a thule rack on my bmw and use Yakima bike carriers on it. No problems except when I dropped the fork end on the roof and put a dent on it, also make sure that you don't drive into the garage without taking the bike off.

    But the rack does not leave any marks on the roof. Mine connects to the rain gutters. It looks like Thule has foot pads that rest on the roof of your car and the base of these pads can leave marks on the roof from getting moisture between the pad and roof. The Yakima rack also has foot pads. I think this is because you car does not have rain gutters.

    I would check with a store that sells these products, since I am just speculating.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  16. #16
    fishologist cohophysh's Avatar
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    how about a hitch rack? and keep an eye on those head gaskets in your subi...they had some problems with them for a number of years.
    We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them. A.E.

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  17. #17
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    I use my roof rack mostly for my kayaks, I have a Yakima q-tower set up on a 2002 Neon, and its rock solid. I take the rack off when I am not using it, because it takes all of 2 minutes to put back on. I like the round bars, unless your roof is perfectly flat, Thule bars could cause mounting problems.

    For a bike carrier, I use a RockyMounts noose, for roof mounting, and a Yakima 3 bike trunk mount, an older version of the King Joe, thats not stainless... Bought it at a yardsale for $10 and it was hardly used, still had the $120 price tag on the box even I personally prefer the trunk mounted bike carrier. Not sure why, I just do. I think I used the noose 3 times...

    For my kayaks, I use plain foam blocks that slip on the bars for the 13.5' tandem, and Thule j-cradles from dick's sporting goods for my 11' fishing rec kayak. The j-cradles and my Neon's low roof make getting the kayak up there a breeze. When hauling kayaks, bow and stern lines are a MUST! in case of rack failure, they will keep your kayak from venturing too far off your car.

    I would really stick with a trunk mount bike rack though. You get more capability for the same money, and the Yakima Joe racks are very stable and strong, my brother took 3 heavy cheap bikes camping and drove probably 300 miles round trip without problems, borrowing my yakima trunk mount bike rack.

  18. #18
    Senior Member dogontour's Avatar
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    I have a Thule rack for my car when I moved cross country. I had three bikes to transport. Everything was fine with it until this past spring when my SIL was driving my car with her bike on top across Wyoming and Nebraska. The whole unit slid backward and the rubber pads under the tower feet got destroyed. It scratched the paint as it slid further back. Then, to make matters worse, she and my BIL decided to bully it back into place without loosening anything so it got scratched both directions. GGGGRRRRRRRRRR They also spilled half a container of oil on the floor in the back and didn't even attempt to clean it out.

    So I would say periodically (once a year?) check to make sure the towers are tight.

    Tiff

  19. #19
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    I had a 03 Subaru WRX (bugeyes for life!) for a number of years. Had a Thule rack on it and I loved it. The rack is now on my Accord. It's never moved or come loose or anything. The only warning I would give is not to use the front wheel carrier. We had one and twice lost the wheel out of it. Luckily both times it was a mountain bike wheel, so it didn't really damage it. But, I took the wheel carriers off and now just put the front wheel in the trunk.

  20. #20
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    I've had not problems with roof racks on my various Volvos. My current '03 V70 (wagon) purposely was ordered from the factory without the roof rails and I don't need them on all year round. I found a slightly used factory rack for my car on e-bay for around $140 and that included a bike rack as well. The factory rack clips into slots that are in the roof so there is no chance of damaging the roof with the rack. My wife's '98 S70 (sedan) also has a factory rack and its supports sit on a bumper that is buit into the roof and hooks into the door frame. In my case I definitely wanted the OEM racks because the tie into the cars perfectly. I've used universal racks on other cars before and they can indeed cause some scatching if they don't mate to the car the same way as the factory intended. I have two bike racks that leave the biek upright. That is nice and easy to use as you don't need to take a wheel off. With nice road bike (where the wheel comes of easily) that is no big deal, but it makes for less work getting the bike onto the car and ready for riding at the other end. The newest versions of these rack lock onto the tire rather than clamping on the down tube.

    Good luck and happy riding,
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  21. #21
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    the front bar more or less has to be over the sunroof, right?
    Yes, if you follow Yakima guidelines. The view is blocked by the bar and of course your bike. With two kayaks forget it... the view will be blocked. If looking through the sunroof is critical then consider a trunk-mounted rack system. You can also get a tow hitch installed & go with a tow hitch rack. The trunk racks are strapped on and will need to be removed every time if you are concerned about theft (kind of a pain). The tow hitch racks can be locked (similar to the roof racks). The downside with the trunk or tow hitch systems is that it limits what you can carry (not sure if a kayak rack exists for tow hitch systems, etc.).

  22. #22
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billyymc View Post
    The racks with the feet that sit right on your roof (like you will need) will eventually leave sort of dull outlines of themselves. You can minimize this by waxing the car -- no, it won't cause the rack to slip off if it's attached well. Besides that, they won't harm your car UNLESS you overload substantially AND hit bumps in the road while overloaded. Ask me how I know : )

    I haven't had a rack that sits on the bare roof in about 7 years or so, so maybe the rubber feet are better now and don't leave a residue/mark over time.
    Is it just some gooey stuff? Can it be cleaned off? I was worried that the towers would push down into the car, causing slight dents from the weight, or would crack the paint around the edges of the feet, or something like that.

    I can't think of a better way to get my kayak ( which is 17.5 feet long, and about 65 lbs ) from Seattle to Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park, or many of the other areas I'd like to go. That one, in particular, has more than a dozen backcountry campgrounds that are only available to small boats ( you have to portage a bit overland to reach most of them ). The last time I camped on the lake, I really missed having my 'yak.

    Personally, I don't have the best mechanical knack, so I'd much rather go with a setup that lets me leave the wheels on the bike.

  23. #23
    billyymc
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Is it just some gooey stuff? Can it be cleaned off? I was worried that the towers would push down into the car, causing slight dents from the weight, or would crack the paint around the edges of the feet, or something like that.

    I can't think of a better way to get my kayak ( which is 17.5 feet long, and about 65 lbs ) from Seattle to Diablo Lake in the North Cascades National Park, or many of the other areas I'd like to go. That one, in particular, has more than a dozen backcountry campgrounds that are only available to small boats ( you have to portage a bit overland to reach most of them ). The last time I camped on the lake, I really missed having my 'yak.

    Personally, I don't have the best mechanical knack, so I'd much rather go with a setup that lets me leave the wheels on the bike.
    No, it's not gooey stuff...it's barely noticeable. It's just a little dulling of the shine. And this was on one particular car -- a 1990 Accord in white. I would go for months without taking the rack off...and basically you get a little accumulation of dirt under there. Looks like a slight haze -- you can buff it mostly away with a bit of wax.


    You won't crack the paint. If you OVERLOAD the rack, you can dent the roof but you have to try hard. For example, if you had five kayaks on your car and were going 55 mph down a freeway access road and didn't see the construction sign that said "BUMP IN ROAD" and you hit that bump, the boats might in theory rock back and forth a bit and cause some slight denting. This is especially bad if it's your wife's car. hahaha She got over it.

    Get the rack, get the bike carrier and some kayak saddles. Gear up and get out there. Subaru's are meant to be dirty anyway.

    Oh...and call Subaru support to find out the weight limit for your roof. It's one of the first questions I ask when buying a new car.

  24. #24
    Senior Member SambaMixte's Avatar
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    I have the Yak rack with an Atoc Tandem Topper + 2 singles, or the Yakima box on my wife's minivan. Love the convenience and she likes how the dirty bikes never get inside her newish ride. It has proven stable to highway speeds and equal to city driving. I have a cheapo rear strap on rack for short distance on my saturn Station Wagon and it works ok, but would not want to travel long distance with it.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Remember with roof racks to check clearance of parking garages etc...... My next door neighor just totalled his trek madrone and damaged his car roof due to a low second story ceiling height
    '82 Nishiski commuter/utility
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