Not happy with 'em...

-- Last Updated: Apr-15-11 1:28 PM EST --

Just went to REI to have some new Yakima racks put on my new Mazda 5. The guys doing the install said they were required to put them on according to Yakima's specifications. What bothers me is the fore/aft spread of the crossbars is less than what I had on my now totalled Ford Sportrac, and the front bar is almost 2" lower than the rear bar. Any Mazda 5 owners out there with Yakima racks have similar issues? (they installed Q towers)

One thing to think through…

– Last Updated: Apr-15-11 3:03 PM EST –

Particularly with shorter distances between bars, the LAST scenario you want is air getting under/inside the hull = pulling the boat up/backwards when traveling(and To begin with, see if you can't spread the bars some more, but you want to aim for the optimum in aero-dynamics. The sharp end down a bit isn't that bad, imho. Think racecar physics and try to make the oncoming wind work FOR you.
Just make sure of solid footings' grip....always check before beginning a transport.

I don’t see how the front can be lower
The 5 seems to have a fairly level roof line… Unless they put the front towers way too forward that is…

I’ve seen the 5s with racks installed in the roof channels - not sure if the spread is wider that way compared to installting at the doors (which is the standard way for Yakima on most cars).

I want to hear about the totalled Ford.

Yakima must choose their tower locations
based on knowledge of where there are support zones inside the roof that we can’t see from outside. The tower locations on our '08 Accord are closer together than can be justified by exterior geometry, and the rear bars end up lower than the front.

Because I carry relatively light loads, I am considering stretching the tower locations to get more spacing. The Accord roof is made of high strength steel, and I don’t belief I will be risking anything. The limit on such experiments is the clips, which must reach the door openings. I’d be happy if I gain a couple of inches of bar spread.

FIT Guide…
There is a fit for each car - based on the Q-clip design. M1:42 3/4" M2: 11" M3:35 5/8" M4: 32"

The first bar will be 11" from the windshield - bar spread - 32"

This is how the q-clips work…don’t change this - if you do so - your rack could/will some how come off your car - if rack comes off and hits someone on the highway… you are liable for this!!!

moving towers
Shouldn’t be a problem to spread the towers a few inches fore/aft if you have room. You probably won’t be able to gain a foot more but every inch helps.

After you move the towers and re-clamp, grab the bar ends and give them a good heave ho to check for slippage or movement. If it feels and looks solid with vigorous heavage then you should be alright. Like mentioned above, its a good idea to periodically check the rack for tightness.

I have heard elsewhere that both Thule and Yakima specify very closely-spaced mount locations on a lot of small cars “to match the locations of internal support structures.” Nonsense. For the most part, those internal support structures only strengthen the roof panel, which would be floppy and weak without support from below. They do very little to reinforce the edges of the roof above the doors where the tower clamps go, at least in terms of the kinds of forces exerted by roof-rack clamps. They might do a lot to maintain the rigidity of the whole car body in extreme cases like a roll-over or major crumple-inducing impact, but nothing we paddlers put on our roofs will over-stress that well-reinforced edge where the towers clamp on even if the clamps “miss” those internal supports. Put 'em where you want 'em and don’t worry, as long as the clamps still fit and grab well.

Big Risk!!
I’ll say it again… If you do this - you are taking a very big risk!! I hope I am not behind your car when it falls off.

If you don’t and it comes off, you’ll be
just as liable. If you bolt the hull of the boat to the roof of your car and it comes off, you’ll still be liable.

I would recommend only very cautious stretching of Yakima’s specified locations, mainly because their clips may not hold well if one goes too far.

It would help if Yakima (and Thule) openly stated their reasons for putting clips, towers, and crossbars where they do, because from our point of view, it is very sub-optimal.

If you don’t know the basis for your
risk statement, then what worth is your warning? Do you really know why Yakima and Thule specify the placement and settings so closely, or are you just marching in step?

Test them and see
If you can yank really hard on your roof rack and there’s no trace of bending sheet metal at the clamp locations, I’d trust it.

Lots of people clamp their cross bars to factory roof racks, and in that case, when you yank on the rack the roof panel flexes terribly at each attachment point. You don’t even have to pull very hard to see it happen. Such strain isn’t likely long the roof edge, which is really solid in comparison.

Aluminum pickup toppers are very flimsy too, but have you ever seen one fail from carrying boats? One reason such a weak structure as that can carry boats with no worries is that the cross bars are placed six feet apart or so, greatly reducing the mechanical advantage (leverage) of wind forces on the boat. Putting your crossbars really close together multiplies the stress on the attachment points (and the boat, since it is the lever by which the forces are applied), and that’s something you should be worrying about too.

I would closely check the parts to be sure you have everything Yakima lists as a fit for your car. Yakima’s fitment is usually very good. The height difference you mention sounds very suspect. Check it all out good, the guys at REI are hardly Yakima experts.

I don’t agree. We’ve had Yakima racks
on three Accords, '90, 2000, and '08. In all three cases, the tower placements did not result in crossbars level with one another, and the '08 is the worst. Considering that Accords are one of the most popular sedans on the market, is Yakima achieving a good result, or just getting some sort of arrangement on the market as soon as possible? I say the latter.

It doesn’t sound like you were putting it on right.

Followed instructions to the letter and
double-checked all measurements. I don’t know what Yakima considers for tower placement, but getting the front and rear bars level with one another was clearly not a strong concern.

For the '08 and many similar sedans, I have to cut them a little slack, because the roof line is far from level. To get level bars and good spacing, they would have to use towers of different height, and we know they aren’t going to do that.

I’m been installing Yakima for six years and would not advise doing anything other than Yakima’s measurements. They do a lot of testing to find the best and safest fit for each vehicle. I’ve installed a rack on a vehicle for a person and one of the warnings was not to carry surfboards but kayaks were ok. The guy still insisted on carrying surfboards and the rack came off at 70mph on the highway.

One bar sitting lower than the other is nothing to be concerned about.

Well, I’m concerned about it because
I don’t like the front end of my canoe up in the air. I want the canoe level or a bit nose down.

If you can’t tell me exactly how Yakima determines the tower placements, then your assurances aren’t at all helpful. I’d get more out of talking to an experienced Honda body repair specialist, because he would know what support structures are under those towers.

Try building up rear bar with some rock

– Last Updated: Apr-18-11 12:18 PM EST –

solid(once wound) material...either wooden block(s)(somehow...bolt-together?) or some material to wind/tie simply level out the gunwales.