Canoe atop Honda Accord

I’m new at cartopping and need some instruction. The husband is going to put a 17’ Royalex canoe on top of our Honda Accord, and we’ve been given a set of used Thule roof racks and clamps (which were used on a Pontiac Bonneville. To clarify, the clamps are used to attach the racks to the car). Question is: while I assume the racks are universal, are the clamps also? And if not, can someone recommend clamps or the most appropriate system in general for cartopping on an Accord? Thanks!

Clamp Adapters

– Last Updated: Feb-11-08 4:39 PM EST –

A friend of mine just switched cars, from a Toyota Echo to a Honda Civic. All her Thule rack componants remained the same EXCEPT the adapters that allow the clamps to fit a particular car. Others here will know more than I about this situation, but it appears that the adapters are the key componant. They aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than all new clamps. The Thule website ought to provide the information you need, as far as what parts to buy to make your rack fit your particular car.

Never owned Thule racks, but have
carried canoes on three Accords ('90, 2000, 2008) with Yakima racks.

I’m sure Thule has the hardware to adapt their racks to your particular Accord, and it shouldn’t cost much. You might need to call the USA Thule home office, because in addition to the hardware, you will probably need to know how far apart the towers should be on the bars, and also exactly where to mount the towers and bars relative to the corner of the front windshield and each other.

Thule is good stuff. You will be pleased with the result. Oh, and consider getting a “fairing” because the racks may be noisy otherwise when you are driving around without the canoe on top.

Also pay attention to
the weight limits from either the Thule/Yakima site and your car’s owner manual.

In addition to the 2 belly straps it is suggested that you also use a bow and stern line when transporting on top of the car. Both Thule and Yakima both have bow and stern lines that have a ratchet in it so you do not need to learn how to and deal with tying knots.

Local dealer
It might be easier to contact your closest Thule dealer, who may be a bike rather than a boat shop.

Most dealers are quite experienced and willing to help. Try Thule’s website for a dealer locater.

Roof rack and knots
It is imparative that you consult a rack dealer and get the proper clips for the rack and your model car. Without the proper clips the rack will not stay on the car! Secondly, on a Honda the spacing between the bars will be so short that bow and stern lines are required - maybe even two lines in the front. Use parachute chord and learn to tie the knots. The wide ratchet straps are too distracting flapping in front of your face while driving the interstate. Parachute chord is thin yet very strong and works very well. To learn the knots go to It’s a great site with more knots than you’ll ever need.

Good luck

Jim C.

Fit Kit
What you need is called a “fit kit”. It is just 4 rubber pads that fit the contour of your roof and go between the car and the clamps.

Go to Thules website and use their online configurator, it will tell you what fit kit # you need. Then you can either buy them new from Thule or a dealer, or you can start searching for them on ebay. The website will tell you all the part #'s you need, not just the fit kit. Make sure the clamps and cross bars the site recommends match what your friend has given you.

These are great responses, and we will definitely use bow and stern lines. And the roof racks are a used set from my dad, so thanks, Dad!

Actually you might NOT pay attention to
Honda’s and Thule’s statements about weight limits. Weight limits are strongly affected by company lawyers not wanting to get sued. From experience and observation, I would say you can carry two Royalex canoes (if you have really wide bars) or five typical polyethelene whitewater kayaks (on edge with stackers). I would not go for THREE canoes, or five sea kayaks.

Yakima states 165 pounds max for our 2008 Accord. I know I could push that to 200 if I had to. I think Thules would go to 200. Do use the bow and stern ropes…

BUT try not to over-tighten the ropes. That excessively preloads the rack and ropes. If you notice your ropes are denting the Royalex on your canoe, you’re going too far.

Because Accords have only one tie point in the rear (a single toe eye in the center), it may help for you to get Thule’s version of gunwale pads. They clip onto the rack bars, and very much increas boat stability in wind. They also keep the boat from shifting fore and aft. I once had to panic stop with a canoe on top, roped down against Yakima’s version of the gunwale clamps, and to my surprise, the canoe did not shift forward at all, even though the front and back ropes were not vectored to prevent such a shift.

Another trick is to use 2 separate front ties from the canoe’s front carrying handle or tow loop to each of the car’s tow eyes back under the front bumper. If you use only one rope in front, the bow of the boat may tend to shift from side to side with crosswind gusts.

The problem is car makers or rack makers who say “no more than 100 pounds” without qualifying. That’s what they said for my '97 Outback, and it might have been true for the original crossbars. With Yakima clamps and crossbars I have carried over 250 pounds of cedar boards on those racks. I once carried 350 pounds of sheetrock and plywood on Quick 'n Easy racks on a VW Dasher station wagon.