Any Yakima Whispbar users?

I’m thinking about getting a Yakima Whispbar to carry kayaks on my 2012 VW Golf 2.5L. Wind noise and gas mileage are important issues for me, and the Whispbar supposedly has the least wind resistance/noise and little effect on gas mileage. It’s worth paying extra for me, if the claims are true. Anyone here have first-hand experience with Whispbars?

Specifically, I’m wondering:

  • Are they truly as quiet as claimed?
  • Have you noticed any effect on gas mileage?
  • Do you have flush or through mount version? Do you recommend one over the other?
  • It is possible to carry two kayaks with both flush and through versions. Does the extra width of the through version make a big difference if carrying two kayaks?
  • What type of mount do you attach to the Whispbar to rest your kayak on? Any recommendations? I currently have Yakima Mako and Hully Rollers, but may change to something less conspicuous and/or easier to remove.



– Last Updated: May-05-13 8:32 PM EST –

I have the flush Whispbar mounted on my Lexus CT200h--Lexus' version of the Prius. I have used both Thule and Yakima standard bars and a variety of saddles, j cradles, stackers, and roller attachment systems over the years. I use both the Yakima J cradles and combo Mako/rollers on the Whispar rack.

My experience is that the Whispbar is by far the quietest best looking bar available today. It is bombproof in its car-specific attachment system somewhat better than the standard Yakima system. Swapping in and out cradles/rollers etc is easy though the standard Yakima instructions don't do justice to the Whispar as compared to the standard Yakima setup.

Have no idea whether gas mileage is better, but I suspect so. I estimate that I lose one mpg with the rack on as compared to off, but the reduction in wind noise is well worth it especially since I already get 44 mpg combined city/hwy mileage.

I'd recommend the Whispbar rack highly without any reservations.

Hope this helps...

Thanks, that helps a lot. Are you able to carry two kayaks on your Whispbar? If so, do they have to be turned on their sides? I prefer the look and size of the flush mount version, but thinking I might need the additional bar length of the through mount to carry two kayaks.

I have through bars
after a few brands and different types of cars I now have Whispbar. Previous “aero” type bars (brand not available in USA) were noisy and a real pain on long distance drives. With the Whispbar there is no noise but I can’t tell about gas mileage as I drive to aggressively to make a make that really count.

I prefer the solid attachment of riveted-on car roof style (no clips) eliminating the risk of accidental loss of rack and kayaks. I have the “through style” where I can have the kayaks laying hull side down as I found having them on the side deform in the summer heat.

For detailed images of install and review:

Nice review, Gnarly. What kind of vehicle do you have your rack attached to? Mine is a VW Golf, so space is probably more limited.

I have been using Yakima attachments to hold the kayaks on my truck rack, but would like something that is easier to attach and remove. I don’t kayak that often, so I would prefer to remove that attachments when I’m not using them. The Yakima attachments take so long to put on that it’s simply not practical to take them off when not needed.

Supposed wind tunnel test video

The stud
I can’t quite figure out if the stud is part of the base, the rack tower, or removable and just connects the two… How does the stud work? Do you need to tighten it up with a tool every time you install/remove the rack?

On my similar through the roof permanently installed Yakima landing pad setup I don’t have a vertical stud but the towers expand into the base, so no tools required. Yours looks even lower and more flush to the roof though.


the "stud"
the stud is a stainless steel “grub screw” (6mm bolt with no head) that is fastened to the base (riveted) with an Allen key. The stud is removable but an Allen key is needed, or just left in place when the tower is removed. The tower is attached by a thumb wheel and no tools are needed. One can remove/attach the rack with no tools but the stud stays in place.

The towers are low profile (sit lower than other racks) and are aerodynamically shaped. The bars have an integrated rubber strip that is always in place and unlike other bars I had totally eliminated wind noise. In other bars I had to remove the rubber strip to attach cradles and that’s when the wind noise started.

it’s a Rukus
the white car in the review is a Rukus : a left hand drive (steering on the right) Australian version of the Scion XB (USA), also known in Japan as Corolla Rumion


two kayaks
I carry one with j cradles and one with saddles/rollers w/o a problem. I think that two 21" kayaks would be fine, but not the tandem + 1, on their hulls.

paddle together
say, i notice that your a neighbor–we live in durham and i do some paddling with CKC. if you’d like we could meet up at beaver dam in a couple of weeks and paddle a bit plus you could see the system?

That “removable” stud looks like the only fly in an otherwise very good soup…

[say, i notice that your a neighbor–we live in durham and i do some paddling with CKC. if you’d like we could meet up at beaver dam in a couple of weeks and paddle a bit plus you could see the system?]

I’d love to except I currently can’t paddle until I get a new rack to carry my kayak on. I previously carried it on my pickup truck with Yakima rack, but sold the truck last week – hence the need for a new rack.

Gas milage

– Last Updated: May-12-13 3:39 AM EST –

Quite a long time ago, when I used to windsurf, I read that just having the racks on the car cut the MPG by 15%.

Here's a link to an informal experiment that seems to bear that out:

It's been my experience that having a boat on the car seems to put a noticeable dent in the gas milage. I'm considering taking my old Folbot Super folding kayak instead of the hardshell on a camping trip next week just because money is tight and gas is expensive.

So, although I have no experience with the Whispbar, I'd guess that buying an expensive but aerodynamically designed rack makes sense if you expect to put lots of highway miles on it.

Depends on the car
Big non-aerodynamic vehicles with powerful engines barely see a dip in their already abysmal gas mileage if you add a kayak. Small cars, on the other hand, see a significant dip. For my Prius and Insight, the dip is about what you mention, gets worse if I try to go faster than 70mph, and no impact in the city, obviously.

That said, if I travel say a 1000 miles at 50mpg (40 gallons for the trip) vs 40mpg (50 gallons) at $4 per gallon, what’s my saving? 10gallons=$40? It seems the rack will pay for itself over a few such trips…

But that math is flawed, because it includes the boats. I never drive far and fast with the rack on and nothing on it. At the same time, adding a boat or two on top I think negates the aerodynamic properties of the bars, so I would probably get the same mileage with loaded round bars or with foil-shaped bars…

So, the reaistic savings come if one can remove the rack when not in use - not paying for overly expensive rack and still getting your best mileage -:wink:

The real benefit is quietness, I think. Yakima sells aerodynamic plastic pieces that achieve similar effect that comes naturally to the Whispbar…

which ones?
“Yakima sells aerodynamic plastic pieces that achieve similar effect that comes naturally to the Whispbar…”

which ones are those?

Do you mean the little/short section of ovalized plastic that slips over the round tube?

Hmmm, my understanding is that it is purely to make a badly whistling rack more quiet but I don’t think it will really make it more aerodynamic considering the chunky towers and all having also a great effect.

I would love to be persuaded differently as the Whyspbar ain’t cheap…

Without a fairing, the round Yakima bars on my Impreza literally roar, making it difficult to talk over 45mph.

With the stock fairing, that covers both the bar and part of the front towers, noise is minimal and I can hear and talk normally, even up to highway speeds (as fast as I dare to drive).

While I’m sure the aero bars are a major improvement, anything that breaks the flow over the bars often helps with noise. I prefer a fairing but I have friends who have had good luck with the small Yakima “wing” (that snaps on the bar) or just wrapping shock cord around the bars.

While I will probably purchase a new rack with aero bars when my rack system finally dies, it’s probably more environmentally friendly to keep my current rack out of the city dump for as long as possible versus buying a new rack.

One feature that I demand is a rapid disconnect. Unlike the clip system, the control towers on my Yakima rack allow me to remove the rack painlessly in seconds. Of course, a bare roof is quieter than any rack, aero or otherwise.

Greg Stamer

Yup, those
You are right - they will not slim-down the bars’ thickness, but they will make the bars more aerodynamic. The control towers that I have on my Yakima with Landing Pads mounted on my roof I think are not any bigger than the ones on the Whispbar (I’ve seen old ones that are rather chunky, mine are pretty slim when seen from the front).

I guess, my point was that I don’t have the rack on the car when there are no boats. And then I have boats or skis, the rack itself adds only a negligible amount of resistance compared to the load I have on the rack. YMMV, of course, depending on what you carry and how wide the bars are - mine only have about 1" protruding from the sides and when I carry skis the entire bar is taken with the ski attachments, which are hideously non-aerodynamic. If I have 2 fat sea kayaks on Mako saddles - same thing: the bars are a minor pice in the resistance. If I only carry one slender surf ski, then 2/3 of the bars are unused and I can see where having a slimmer aero bar will have some impact on mileage (and most definitely on noise levels)…

The real advantage of the Whispbar, for me, will be when I am NOT using it to carry kayaks. I don’t want to install and remove the rack each time I use it, so plan to leave it on my car. That is why I want a quiet, fuel-efficient rack – because most of the time I will be riding around with an empty rack. When a kayak is loaded on any car or truck, it will greatly reduce gas mileage and increase noise – no what what brand of rack you use.