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Submitted: 07-10-2000 by Michael Heikka
Thule v. Yakima - few topics bring about more angry debate. I've had my Thule system for about 5 years. I've hauled mountain bikes, skis, and three kayaks on my roof. It has worked flawlessly, albeit noisily. Yes, Yakima fans, the support bars will probably bend if you put three kayaks on them regularly. But if you are hauling that much weight with any frequency, you need a trailer, not a roof top rack system. Normal mortals won't have problems with bicycles, surf/whitewater kayaks, or one touring boat with an occasional second.
Thule simply makes the best-engineered accessories (with the possible exception of the wheels that Yakima makes for kayaks). If you use square Thule bars, your kayak will not push the saddles forward (unlike Yakima, with its round bars). Thule bike trays have improved (the old ones had junky, tricky mounting hardware), and their new kayak saddles are elegant and attach with only one screw and can be removed quickly (unlike Yak's ugly, plastic saddles that are high, noisy, and have two difficult to turn thumbscrews on the bottom). Compare them and you'll see what I mean.
In Yaks' defense, I believe their systems are easier to remove (in total) than Thule's are, so if you plan on removing your racks frequently, go Yakima.
TIPS: 1. Be sure to buy the ugly wind deflector so that you can hear your radio (or be willing to experiment with placement to eliminate whistling).
2. Car owners: Cut the bar ends short on the passenger side, or teach your passengers to enter the car "butt first" so that they don't bump their head on the bar ends! I've had passengers nearly lobotomize themselves on the bar ends.