Dangerous crossbar spread?

What do you think of this crossbar spread while hauling an 18-foot-long fiberglass boat?


I’ve been using the Yakima-recommended 32" of spread for a Toyota Matrix, and hauling poly boats for years without problems. But now that I’ve added an Impex Force 4 to the little fleet, that 32" seems mighty short.

I fear the extra leverage of all that unsupported boat hanging out over the front and rear ends will stress or crack the hull at the cockpit area. I’ve added red indicators to the photo to represent the approximate position of the bulkheads, where the hull is arguably the strongest.

As far as I know, Yakima’s Q Stretch kit for short-roofline cars does not fit my installation and is apparently unnecessary. I suppose I could switch to J-cradles, but I’m already invested in several sets of saddles, and I’ve just never liked the Js.

Please gimme your thoughts, so I can stop tiptoeing over speedbumps and railroad crossings …!



you should be fine
i haul C1 marathon canoes on my Toyota corolla for hours at a time. and it’s way more fragile than your boat. i used to carry a 21’6" carbon outrigger on it. now that was scary.

if your bow and stern are being pulled around, check out placid boatworks website. they have a great section for storage and travel with paddling craft.

If you are really worried
you might want to consider getting J cradles. I carry my Force Cat 3 on my Matrix on Malone Autoloader cradles. I think they are easier on the kayak than the Hully-Roller/Mako saddle set-up I originally used on the Matrix.


I have 28" spread
on my Toyota Prius '02 and that is fine for the 17" glass boat I’m paddling now. With Maco saddles. For short distances, I usually put an extra strap or two (doubling the existing straps). And for longer distances or fast highway speeds - I add bow/stern ties as well.

I whish I had a 60" spread or so like I had on my minivan before we sold it, but the 30" or so spread seems perfectly fine as long as you secure the boat with good saddles/ties and your rack is installed well.

Should be fine
Just always use bow and stern lines, but be careful not to over-tighten them.

60" spread on Celica
Here’s the rack setup I use. Works fine at freeway speeds.

http://yostwerks.com/GTSKayak1.html - Click “Next Page” to continue (12 pages)


Thule Slipstream adds spread

if i were you
i would get custom mounted crossbars, on your roof. very strong, permanent, and allows you to actually use that nice long roofline on that Matrix. much better for the boat, only have to use very slight tension on the bow and stern lines. Rack Attack offers this service, or you can order the components and do it yourself.

Audi A3 - 27" spread - 18’ to 21’ kayaks
… and lumber

All have been 100mph+

Granted I have a crazy solid rack custom to the car - but I think you’re OK at 32". Before the A3 I had a Saris rack at about 36" on a Neon that I also had 21’ skis on at at least 80 mph and that was fine too.

J-cradles would be a BAD idea

– Last Updated: Jun-25-08 8:35 AM EST –

Their length and the increased sail area they create puts more stress on the cross bars than saddles do. Your spacing looks OK, as long as you use bow and stern tie-downs.

Is that the max
on the Prius - 28"?

Just wondering: might be my next vehicle (it’s an option I’m weighing).

Thanks, all!
Great, thanks for all the advice!

Guess I’ll leave it as-is for now and see how it handles. I always use bow and stern tiedowns at highway speeds, though I’m careful not to overtighten them and place undue strain on the boat.

If I decide to extend it, I really like yostwerks’ slick setup: cheap, DIY fabrication, and easily removeable:

http://yostwerks.com/GTSKayak1.html - Click “Next Page” to continue (12 pages)

One note of general caution when rooftopping: I washed and waxed my new Force 4 with a good fiberglass wax/polish the other night, and when I tossed it up into the rack, it just about slid right out again, it was so slippery!

In an emergency stop, I could easily see a slick, narrow boat sliding right through its belly straps and onto your hood or through the window of another vehicle. I’ll be careful to hook my straps under the rims of the cockpit front and rear, and use tiedowns when needed.

Thanks again!



Sliding boat

– Last Updated: Jun-25-08 10:40 AM EST –

Delphinus wrote:
>In an emergency stop, I could easily see a slick,
>narrow boat sliding right through its belly straps
>and onto your hood or through the window of another
>vehicle. I'll be careful to hook my straps under the
>rims of the cockpit front and rear, and use tiedowns
>when needed.

To stop any possible forward motion of my boats, I
wrap a rope twice around the coaming and secure it to
the aft crossbar / foot. It isn't going anywhere.
The link below is a 4 sponson Sonnet inflatable, but
it's the same for a standard kayak.


Where did you buy the tubbing?
Home depot and the like don’t seem to carry aluminum tubbing…

Great job on the rack by the way! Expecially the removable ends holding the J hooks.

Aluminum Tubing
>Where did you buy the tubbing?

Posted by: kocho

Try Texas Towers… 6063-T832



Thanks! (n/t)
no text

4 ft
My taurus has almost 4 ft of span because I pop riveted under the door frame with yakima. I carry 21 ft mohican or eft. Or you could drill small holes and use stainless screw almost too big too fit. What if racks blow off at 70mph on interstate. Not me because mine are solid

bar spacing…
Yakima recommends 25" bar spacing on my '02 Malibu. I tried it and didn’t like it.

Running the bars at about 38" bar spread.

What did I lose? My yaks are not perfectly horizontal.

They are ever so slightly bow up.

I doubt anyone would notice if they weren’t looking for it.

And as for riveting, welding or whatever, the Yakima Q towers work just fine. Learn how to adjust the things. Once set, you won’t need to readjust very often. I’ve owned the Qtowers about three years, and just tightend them a few months ago.

The low riders on the SUV get adjusted for tightness every time I put them on, just the way they are designed.

Cool product. Neat engineering.