Lengthening roof rack bars

I’d like to fit two kayaks, each about 24" wide, on the roof rack of my subcompact. The current bars, which are the only ones that fit my car due to its weird roof structure, are too short. It’s not possible to simply replace them with longer bars, like with Thule. Is there a secure way to attach a longer square bar to the existing rack bars? Could I use wood rather than steel?

I use Thule saddles. In the photo you can see that one kayak takes up more than half of the width. I would need maybe 4 more inches on each side.

Roof rack

Check Thule and Yakima sites for vehicle specific choices of crossbars that provide required width. You might have to find alternate saddles if your Thule’s do not adapt.

Yakima and Thule do not make any bars or feet for my car due to the shape of the roof and door frame. I can’t and don’t want to change out the current rack or saddles. Just want to lengthen the bars for occasional use. The saddles you see in the photo fit fine after some slight modifications.

You could use two sets of J-racks.

Have you tried just leaning and lashing the second boat to the one in the saddles? That’s what I do; my rack holds one canoe very securely and when I need to carry a second boat it just gets strapped to the boat that’s totally secure.

I prefer that the boats not touch as both are new and I want them to ride securely. After reading some other forums, I think the easiest solution is to attach a 2x2 or 2x3 to the rack with U bolts.

Yes that should be a secure way to widen your span. I wasn’t sure how that would work with saddles.

V-bars allow wider boats to coexist on relatively short crossbars, since the spread between mounts is equal to half the width of each boat plus an inch or two spacing. They are an investment, granted, but in my opinion are more secure than saddles or the dreaded J-racks.

PS I know you don’t want to get rid of your saddles, but someone else may see this thread someday and they might like to know about V-bars.

1 Like

I wanted larger, flat tops on my Thule square bars to support some removeable cradles I made. So, I attached 1x4 wood pads with U-bolts. There’s no reason you couldn’t do the same thing to extend the bars. My Thule bars are flat on top so the wood pads sit firmly. Attaching something to bars with a rounded top might require a little more thinking.

Note that I angled the U-bolts so that the wood pads are trapped from sliding front to back, and I chiseled grooves in the tops of the pads so the U-bolts are recessed. I also backed up the metal plate on the bottom of the U-bolts with a wood stiffener.

(The white PVC pipes are another mod for a side loading system.)




1 Like

Nice photo, thanks. I see what you’re saying. Makes sense. I don’t want to make a big investment in order to transport two kayaks a couple of times a year. I have a lot invested in my current system and two sets of Thule saddles. It turns out that this is a question faced often by canoeists and I found a lot of good information on extending the bars in canoeing forums. I’ll have to see how the saddles work out with wood extensions.

Thanks for these ideas, Wolf.

I would suggest flat 2x3 or 2x4 wood extenders. I made mine wide enough for 2 canoes or 3 kayaks. U bolts will work but I would just drill thru your current bars and counter-sink the heads in the wood. That is what I did. I ride all my boats upside down with two cam straps around the hull and two cam straps each bow and stern.

Round off the ends of the extenders and paint them a bright color as to prevent bumping them with heads. When not being used plug the holes with a shorter bolt and nut to keep from making a wind sound.

You have t-tracks in those bars. Get t-bolts or square nuts and direct connect steel or aluminum square tube. Use 4 connections per bar.

1 Like