racks on small car ?

The gas prices made me sell my 18 mpg truck, for a toyota matrix.was wondering if a 48" crossbar could handle a 30" canoe and use some J cradles for a kayak at the same time.I was also going to get a set of longer bars for hauling two canoes ,but wasn’t going to leave them on all the time. seems to me that you would hit your head getting in and out.But I will leave the 48" ones on all the time and get a fairing for it to reduce noise and drag.



Tennis balls
On the end of the rails - make cuts in the end of a couple of real bright ones and cover the front rails with them. Those are the ones I most often run into.

I put my 60" bars on a Corolla.
Now they are chest high. I regularly hit them with my head on the truck. Tennis balls work.

I have a friend that was looking at Yaris. They did not have a roof rack availiable for that so it was a chi ching No Sale on a new car.

Matrix is a nice car. Congratulations.

Nissan Versa
I carry 3 16+ foot kayaks on my nissan versa. I use 2 J racks and one cradle. We slow down a little on the uphills - but generally get to where we want to go. There is also room for my bike rack on top! And no - the racks don’t extend so far off the sides so that they are head knockers. Things are tight up top and we have to take care loading - but can be done!

Sholuld have tried that with the 74"
bars I used on my Corolla…ouch.

Might be tight
You’ll have to work out the dimensions, but it sounds a little narrow to me. Remember that you lose the outermost 5" or so on each end of the bars, as that’s where the towers clamp on, so you really only have an effective working length of 38" or so.

With the 48" bars on my Matrix, and our two kayaks (20 and 22") in upright saddles, I can barely get them both up there side by side.

If, on the other hand, you get the 58" bars, you’ll have enough bar extending outboard of the towers to clamp on another cradle, etc… As others mention, use tennis balls or similar to prevent cranial conks. If you really want to, you can always trim a few inches off later to customize it. It’s not especially difficult to swap bars in and out, but I sure wouldn’t want to do it every week or so …

Skip the air dam. My buddy put one on his Pontiac Vibe (the American sister to the Matrix) and although it reduced noise, it also knocked 10% off his mileage. Just turn the stereo up :slight_smile:

Enjoy the Matrix! It’s an awesome paddling and camping car, getting 32mpg when fully loaded, and 37 the rest of the week.



With longer bars…
We have been able to use the space outside of the towers to overlap bike racks, etc beyond the towers. Granted that takes rather long rails, but by the time you get to 2 kayaks and two bikes you generally have to use almost of a 68" rail regardless of the details.

Interesting trivia - while a 68" rail seems to stick out further than the body of the traditional Taurus or Sable wagons, it actually is no wider than the car’s wheelbase.

Wider bars

– Last Updated: Jun-13-08 11:33 AM EST –

When I need to put two tandem canoes on my Volvo, I have a longer second set of bars which I have cut down to just the right width I need.

What I do is attatch them to the existing bars using eight Yakima 'SnapArounds' on each ( http://www.rei.com/product/673999 ). I snap one onto each bar and put a long bolt through them to connect them together.

That way I don't have to completely re-do everything on the rack. I just move the outer gunwale brackets to the longer bars and keep the inner brackets on the existing bars. (I have two sets of gunwale brackets on my regular rack for two solo canoes).

Saves a lot of work and headaches.

Roof weight limit?
I have seen so many people loading up the roofs of smaller cars with yaks. I was in that predicament when my wife and her gf wanted to load up her 2007 Toyota RAV4 with 2 kayaks. Well a look to the owners manual said the roof could not hold the weight which was something like 120 pounds. I was rather astonished but that’s what it says. I wonder how many people actually have done damage to the roof without knowing it. Just because the bars and the saddles that fit on your car can hold the weight doesn’t mean the roof can. The manufacturers don’t tell you that little tidbit.

Just be advised there is a limit to how much weight you can safely put on a roof.

Depends on the car
and where the doors are relative to the long bars. On my Subaru Outback, the natural bar placement is such that you would have to make a real effort to bean your head on them. But on some cars, the bars end up in exactly the wrong place, and will ensure that you continue to bean your head until the pain conditioning trains you how to move.

i prefer the vibe
I prefer the Vibe - it comes with a factory roof rack - raised rails - (the matrix does not), and it has a higher clearance from the road.

FYI, other than chassis & transmission & body details, the Vibe & Matrix are exactly the same, both manufactured by Toyota. They both have the Corolla engine in it.

weight limit
I think the weight limit on my Honda Fit is about 120lb or so. I think Honda may be a bit over-conservative about it as a CYA procedure. The towers sit on the seam where the roof panel and the trim panels attach to the body of the car. It’s probably one of the most solid points on the entire car. Still, I haven’t pushed it. I have 50" bars on it, so I only have room for a tandem canoe OR a couple bike racks (Thule Sidearms). Still, I have zero risk of knocking my head on anything, and if I’m carrying a canoe, the bikes can go inside the car.

Squeezing three boats up there would be an awful stretch, and the fairing brackets on the front bar might get in the way of the exact spots I’d need available for boat attachments. The fairing would have to go in such a situation. I’m sure whether it would fit would depend on the exact boat models and boat attachments I chose. I’d have to be very choosy and compare measurements to be sure they’d fit.

I’d also really need to be aware of the mfr-recommended weight limit on the roof, and whether that’s a conservative estimate or not. With boats, you need to be concerned about how tight you secure bow/stern lines because that can increase pressure on the roof/rack system. My dad completely trashed the factory bars on his trailblazer just by carrying one very heavy boat and overtightening the bow/stern lines.

Hey Jeremy. I didn’t realize it was you.
Things are getting tough when the SC and Alabama rednecks trade their trucks for teenager cars.I’m still getting used to the fact that I am in something I would have bought my kid 10 years ago.

And the roof weight limit
is not even factoringf in the wind resistance, particularly twisting force, when running 65mph down the highway. Adds considerably to the roof wt limit.

We are running 48" bars on an Accord,
and I am sure that I could get a ww kayak up on edge next to my 30" open boat. However, if I had to do that often, I think I would get 58" bars and cut them down to a non-lethal but useful length.

thanks for the advice
I believe what people are reading in their owners manual about weight is for factory racks. They are mounted inside the door and roof support. Where a aftermarket is mounted on the support. I believe I will get the longer bars and cut theme down to fit my needs.Hey string as far as driving a car its so different and it will take a while to get use to.I thought I would never own a car. I still have my 93 toyota pickup with 250,000 miles on it for hauling a few larger things. I hope with better gas mileage I can go on a few out of town paddling trips.

Thanks again


That is exactly what I’m hoping.
I’m going from a 15mpg Tacoma to a 30 mpg(road) Camry.

I just got an 09 Matrix.

– Last Updated: Jun-14-08 1:08 AM EST –

and have Yakima rack with 66" bars for hauling 2_- 27" wide solo canoes. The way the the bars mount I have no head banging issues getting in or out of the car.The bars do not extend passed the actual width of the car The only issue is at the rear of the car ,the boats are low enough to hit you in the upper chest. Maybe smacking your face,or head unless you are 4' 11" tall. BTW, DO NOT get the factory rack. It is to far towards the rear,and in the way for a Yakima/Thule mount.

Hi Jeremy, we paddled at Jocassee in 2004 I think. I had QCC 700 then. If you get a Matrix ,you'll love it. Kids car? It's basically a Corolla wagon. Pretty decent paddling ride. Hey this old man loves the 18's,low profiles,and a sporty economical ride.


I have the 50" Thule bars
on a Pontiac Grand Am. I can easily fit my canoe and my daughter’s kayak. I put the kayak on its side leaning against the canoe, or flat on foam blocks. (I’d skip the cradles.) My record on this car is 1 canoe and 4 kayaks.


I’ve also had 2 16’ tandem canoes on this car - one flat, one leaning on top of the other.

I don’t think its the width of the bars that is the issue on a small car. It’s that the bars are so close together. Mine are only 29" apart. I’m pretty good about tying down the bow and stern of longer boats. Having a trunk makes tying down the stern easier. The stern is going to stick out pretty far on a Matrix.