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However--and this is a big however--the rubber apparently hardens as it ages. Then the soft forgiving ribs become little sharp edges. I had noticed a yellowish powder from gel coat being abraded. On my last road trip, my kayak ended up having gel coat wear spots that were a mirror image of the rubber ribs. They were not just scuffed but I can actually see and feel the rib-spaced wear on both deck and hull. I will need to touch up all such areas with new gel coat.
To prevent further damage, I taped in some foam padding. But I think Malone should provide auxiliary pads with the cradles, and warn people about the rubber holding dust/grit and therefore grinding away the gel coat. I wash my kayak AND cradles after using, but this time driving on 16 miles of dirt road must've done too much damage between washes. Or maybe it was the vibration from a nonsmooth road surface. Either way, users should be warned to put clean padding around their kayaks before transporting with these cradles.
The Malone Autoloaders kept the boat fixed in its place--NO slippage, even though I didn't crank the straps really hard. In addition, they obviously flex with bumps, and the strapped cradles fit ("cradle") my Explorer LV well. It's a good fit, and I assume it will also fit the shape of my Tempest 165 well.
One of the cradles I had previously used was the Thule Hull-a-ports, and those did NOT fit any of my kayaks. The straight, rigid cradle tops actually caused slight flat spots on my hulls, and because the foam pads were too small, the bare metal tubes always ended up rubbing the boats. In the case of the plastic Tempest, it left dark marks. In the case of the glass Explorer, it was starting to abrade the gel coat. Good thing I only used those cradles one time with the glass boat!
The Malones kept my boat secured without causing damage. They are easy to install and fit on round, square, or factory oval crossbars. They also stay put on my round crossbars far better than the Thules did. The loading ramp feature is a nice touch, though I don't need it because I use a trailer.
I hope my initial impression will be borne out after further use. At least for now, though, I would recommend these to anybody needing to carry sea kayaks with J-cradles.
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