rack question: extra long cross bars?

One of my paddling buddy advice getting extra long cross bars. Both to accomondate more boat and for easier loading by using the over-hanging bars as ‘poor man’s boat loader’.

But I got worried that I might hit my nugging on the end of the bar every time!<br />

Anyone who does that (have bars that stick out the side)? How’s the real world experience? Good, bad, both?

removable extended bars
My permanent, fixed rack is not too wide, but when I need to carry two canoes side by side, I have bar extenders I put on temporarily. These stick out, and are a hazard. I have tennis balls that I stuck on all the ends both to increase visibility and to (somewhat) help cushion the blow when the inevitable happens. I find I get used to it pretty fast, but my passengers who don’t ride in my car all the time have had some mishaps getting out of the car - even when I try to remind them to be careful! I have a small car (Subaru Outback Sport) so the bars are definitely within head striking range as you enter/exit the car.

My understanding is that you are legally allowed to have bars as wide as to the outside edges of your side mirrors, so that’s how wide my custom long bars are.

This system works for me because 90% of the time I do not need the extra width, and it only takes me about 5 minutes to add the wide bars when I need them. This way I don’t have to worry about head injuries or the extra noise/drag of the wider bars the rest of the time. If you’d need that width more often, of course, go with permanent wide bars, and hopefully you’ll adapt, and your passengers won’t sue you if they end up knocked unconscious next to your vehicle!


Put tennis balls
on the ends so you won’t “put your eye out”.

No problem on my high pick-up, but
on the little Ford Escape I have 78" bars, and after the initial ten or twenty bumps you brain build in some radar where you automatically duck.

Talk about wide; on several occassions I put a length of 1/2 inch rigid galvanized pipe through my yakama bars (it fits perfect) and added another ten inches on either side in order to carry four boats. - Needless to say I don’t go through drive throughs when I have that on.



Poor wo/man’s boat loader…
My car is a Subaru GL wagon, and I use 58" Yakima bars that do hang over the edges of the car’s roof (beyond the rack towers). While I will sometimes carry two or three boats (sea kayaks), and the long bars have been very useful for this, most of the time I just carry one boat and/or a bike.

If I’m carrying one or two boats (both in cradles, side by side), the overhanging “extended bars” do indeed help me load the boats more easily. I’ve put pipe insulation around the extended bits (wrapped with duct tape), and when I first lift the boat up to the rack level, I’ll rest the side of the hull on this padded/extended section of the bars. Since my boats are hard chined, they will sit quite nicely like that without my having to hold onto the boat (unless there’s a strong wind blowing). The angle of the hull sides will make the boat lean slightly inward, so that one side of the hull bottom will lean against the outside of the cradles.

Then, I’ll just “flip” the boat over and into the TLC cradles (oh right, I also have pipe insulation on the bars between the cradles, so that when I flip the boat in between the cradles, when the other chine drops in between, it’s not too jarring for the boat). Then I can do the final adjustments of settling the boat into the cradles. Removing the boat from the cradles is just the opposite, with the boat ending up resting on one hull side on the extended bars. When the boat is in this position, I can put some gear into the cockpit, and slide the spare paddle(s) under the bungies before lowering the boat onto my shoulder for the carry.

Though I can get the boat onto the extended bars without any “step” assistance (using my arm/elbow to lift one edge up to the bar level), I do most often use a little “one step” plastic platform (I think it’s a “Rubbermaid” unit) to make this even easier. I only use this when putting the boat on the car, but it’s not necessary when taking it off, as it’s easy enough to just lower the boat onto my shoulder.

Regarding head bumps…

Once was enough to teach me the necessary lesson! :slight_smile: Now it’s just second nature to “duck or bump”, so I haven’t hit my head in years. Whenever a friend is to ride with me, I always warn them to “duck or bump”. For those who don’t heed this warning the first time, it only takes one bump to inspire more care the next time! :slight_smile:


You learn.
One or two bumps and no problem. I haven’t hit my bars in a long time.

Extension Bars -
If one doesn’t want to make an extention bar Yakima sells one that will pull out from the side of a Yakima rack, either in the front or back and when not in use slides back into the rack itself. It can be locked in place so it is not necessary to worry about theft. I often paddle alone and have never had trouble loading and unloading my kayak with this bar.

Co-Workers Laughing
as I take the broad step out of the car to avoid smacking my noggin! Yeah, I’ve stepped out, stood up and hit hard enough to drop me to my knees, on more than one occasion which shows you that I’m not a quick learner! Have yet to draw blood but I can see that in my future. BTW, I have 2x4 racks so they are extra wide compared to those skinny little round things.


Yes tennis balls
and you will get used to the long bars. Take extra care of guests though; just ask them to grab the bar!

More than four inches wider than the widest part of the car and you are illegal in many states. Check your laws.

not sure how long but…
I keep a short length of threaded rod in the Jeep that I insert into the bars for loading and unloading purposes.

Outback & 58" bars
Well, I have a 05 Subaru Outback with 58" bars and haven’t hit my noggin yet!

I think a taller SUV will be even better but then again, I am also a short 5’5"


Concur with dougd & Dr_Disco
All it takes is 2 or 3 whacks between the eyes or to the forehead or temple (you see stars, tears come to your eyes, you bend over at the waist & say something like S O B!!!), and you learn to duck when you come out of the vehicle.

I used to leave the front bar (a Yakima), on the cab of my Toyota Tacoma full time. The older guys in the service department at the Toyota place had all “learned” the hard way. The “experienced” guys used to laugh about it when someone who had never serviced my truck before got whacked. It was like a service department “newbie” initiation rite.


Depends on the car/truck
and where the the bars hang over in relation to the doors. My 58 inch bars on my Subaru Outback are placed so that you’d have to try to hit your head when getting in and out of the car. On the other hand I’ve seen cars where even 48 inch bars were hazards to drivers and passengers alike.

walk like a monkey
Took a 5-week road trip a few years back with a double rack on my Honda.

It only took a few few good hits to train my body not to stand up when getting out of the car.

A month after getting home I realized I was still walking like a monkey when I got out of my car without the racks!

Summary: your body is a creature of habit and it can be trained, especially if pain is involved.

Action movie
I am a slow learner, as I hit my head on the bars many times. It’s still worth it, though.

If you want to make it more fun for your passengers, explain that entering and exiting your vehicle must be performed as though they were riding in a helicopter (you can make the chopper noise to add realism). Do this a few times, and you find out who your real friends are, and don’t have to give people rides as often.

Modify a car alarm
You should be able to modify a car’s proximity alarm to emit the requisite helicopter noises… Whoop Whoop Whoop… :slight_smile:

Maybe even get some simulated AK-47 fire and you can down right have your own Apocalpyse Now every time you enter/exit your car.


Yes, but then will you still…
…love the smell of blood-smeared gelcoat in the morning? Or will you, like an aghast Major Willard, stare down at the head of your friend that Colonel Thule Kurtz-n-Hurtz has just dropped indecoriously upon the ground before you?

Yup. Staring at the terminus of those extended Thules or Yakimas, one is not likely to hear intermingling with the “CHOP-CHOP-CHOP” of the rotatin’ rotors some sitar-like guitar strings, and Jim Morrison crooning, “This is the end. My one and only friend.”

Now, on those extended to side-mirror width rack cross-members coming to cross-purposes with the various terrain in your journeyed crossings, why just last week driving down a city-block-length 12-foot into 9-foot, oops, it’s now under 8-foot wide alley, my E-150 and myself experienced the horror, the horror, of my own personal, “A Pox On This Trip Now”!

But then, I suppose that’s an entirely different Francis (this Talking Mule) and Ford I Can’t Cope A With un-scripted movie story to review at some other time,


Don’t see what all the fuss is. My 8 ft

– Last Updated: Mar-30-06 11:25 AM EST –

wide Yakama racks are never a bump problem. They are 88 inches off the ground. ;^)



Hang neon flags off the ends
Small, bright, fluttering things will get your attention. Some people hang 'em off the stern ends of rooftopped kayaks.