I'm completely clueless as to the positive reviews of this product. Even when my J-cradles were new I hated the design for many reasons. First, the "J" part of the cradle is many inches above the roof rack bar. So you have to lift your boat an extra "many inches". Second, the way the straps loop into the top and bottom of the J are very inconvenient. The build quality never seemed to inspire confidence in me. They were quite flexible from the beginning.
They lasted ~1.5 years, then they started breaking, 3 of the 4 within a week, one broke clean in half. I posted on another board and several other people have also had theirs break.
I give them 2 stars (out of 10) because they actually did allow me to fit 2 wide kayaks on my car at once. But they did it terribly. I've never rated a product so low.Iíve traveled over 500 miles using the J cradle and can say it is as solid as advertised. I switched from hully rollers and saddles because I need a place to put my camping gear. The J gives you a ton more room on the top.
Pros: solid performance, sideways position is better for yaks left on overnight, easy to install and will fit on factory racks.
Cons: It can be very difficult to load your yak on a high SUV (I have a Tahoe) after a long day of paddling, black streaks happened to me (I have a fishing SOT and really donít care about cosmetics), road noise.
Overall I give the J cradle an 9 they work as advertised. Because of the loading difficulty (which is no fault of the company) I will switch back to the hully roller and saddles for day trips.I use these to carry a very narrow carbon surfski and a QCC700. Previously had (and threw out!) a set of Thule Hullaports.
The Malone Autoloaders are fantastic cradles. Built like a rock- beefy plastic, nice rubber to cushion the boat, a massive steel bracket that looks like it could never, ever break, and large diameter stainless bolts that are tightened with a crescent wrench, allowing a rock-solid connection to the car. I use Yakima round bars and these don't rotate one bit. The plastic cradles flex just a little bit when you tighten the straps, very nicely conforming to the boat.
This is a fantastic product.Add on to my original Malone review,
Soon after posting my original review of our J-cradle discussing the issue we had, I was contacted by the owner of the company. You can't complain about that! Mr. Malone let me know that they use a non-marking UV resistant rubber so something very unusual had happened in our case. In just a couple days they worked diligently to resolve our issue. It is certainly important to add to my original review that the advantage of a small company is often the support you get from them when you have a problem. Decent customer support is worth its weight in gold today, so I think they deserve a better rating than I gave me originally. Thank you.I have purchased the versions of the Malone J cradles available in 2003. I'm afraid they have taken a step back. They have tried to make the cradles much more versatile by adding more strap holes throughout the body of the cradle. Instead of having the entire cradle covered with padding they now have two strips of neopreme or rubber(depending on which version your dealer has on hand). This leaves a lot of surface that can rub against your gel coat. I have had to glue on additional padding especially at the top and bottom where the neopreme ends. The neopreme strip tappers down at the ends to end up flush with the plastic. The hard plastic then can be in contact with the kayak and rub against the gel coat. Also the neopreme strips came unglued in spots after a few uses.
The model with the rubber strips instead of neoprene may be a little better at the top because it doesn't taper down to be flush with the plastic cradle. On mine the rubber strip is raised at the point where the bolts go into the bottom of the cradle. I haven't been using this set so I don't know if that will rub noticably on the gel coat.
Malone if you read this, give us back the older style or give us more padding that stays on. The J cradles display my kayak nicely.