Thule J-hooks

I bought a thule rack for my focus with 2 sets of J-hooks. On a very windy day, one of the j-hooks broke. So i need to get a new bracket. It just seems like they are chincy and don’t fit the Thule rack very well. They look like it would fit on a round rack better. It just seems like the thule hooks would fit SOLID on a Thule rack, but no. Anyway I feel like when my 17’ Heritage is on them, it wants to move around too much. anybody else feel like that?

That’s scary . . .

– Last Updated: Jun-09-08 1:31 AM EST –

We put Thule racks and Port Side "J" racks on our Focus wagon and have been carrying our poly Old Town 138T Loon down to Florida and back (from NC) 2-3 times per year . . . no problems, even at 65 (+) mph, and in bad weather.

I even ordered another set of the same design to carry our two soon-to-be-finished AT 14s. I have wondered about the peculiar use-a-nut-to-squeeze-the-plates attachments of the bars, though. (I squeeze them so tight that the plates warp slightly.) After about 500 miles, the J-racks can seem a little bit wobbly on their mounts, so I check them regularly on trips. I think they're designed to also fit Yakima racks, but it does compromise the fit to their own racks somewhat.

On a positive note, the Thule company did produce a free beer keg the first evening of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival.

I’m curious- where did it break?
You have me wondering about mine.

I have two sets of Thule J cradles on Yakama round bars, and I agree that they are made crappy. Especially their hardware.

I have had them for about four years, but took matters into my own hand shortly after I got them and made them secure.

I changed thir hardware out to stainless steel bolts.(their stuff rusted up very quickly)

No matter how tight I tightened them there clamps just bent around the bars, (they stated that they were good for both square and round bars, but they are NG for round ones) so then I drilled through my round bars and have a single bolt in each one going down through their center hole and through my bar.

I can take them on and off real quick and they have been perfect since I “reinvented the wheel” !

I change them back and forth between my car and my truck.



Thule J-bars
I have a set of Thules on a Yakima rack with round bars. All went well for the first 4 or 5 trips. On the way home yesterday, one of the bars slid inboard on the bar putting the yak at a 20 degree angle. We use bow and stern tiedowns and had not exceeded 50mph to that point. We stopped and repositioned and the Jhook was tight. About 20 miles later it happened again. I like the idea of drilling through the hook and bar.

I use a friend’s J-hooks on …
…home-made round bars installed just for that purpose. They’ve never slipped though, and on my set-up, they could only slip a couple inches if they did since the round bars are only long enough to accept the Thule J-hook. I do agree that they look to be really cheaply made, and I have worried about that crappy plastic molding in which the anchor nuts are embedded just cracking apart. I’ll take a closer look at that and see if there’s another home-made fix that can be done. I wouldn’t change the fact that they rotate on round bars though. That has no effect on how securely the boat is held, and allows a better match to the contours of the boat. The rear hook tilts forward and the front hook tilts back so that each is flush with the hull of the boat, instead of only contacting the boat via one corner of the base pad as would be true if they were “stuck” in the vertical position. Once both hooks are tilted to match the boat and the boat is tied to them, no rotation can occur.

Mine work great.
I came back from the South Bass Rendezvous yesterday at 70 mph in a 50 mph cross wind. They wiggle, but have never moved or broken. They are over two years old and I have no rust, bending, or shifting. You could not bend the bar bracket if you had to, they look like they are very heavy gage steel. I use mine throughout the winter as well in heavy winds and storms and have not had any issues. I prefer to use my hullavator, but this weekend we had eight boats on my car and trailer. The j hooks I use are carrying 18’ fiberglass sea kayaks and they are prety heavy and long. The racks are spaced closer together because the hullavator won’t work if they are spread out more. The closer spacing torques the racks even more in a cross wind. I do not use front or rear tie downs. Now that I have posted this, my next post will undoubtedly be about how my j racks failed and I should have been using tie downs. I go knock on some wood.

the part that broke…
the part that broke is the plastic U-shaped part that holes the nuts in place on the bottom. I too am thinking about drilling through the J-hook and rack and bolting directing to it. I just didn’t think that this should be necessary to do to a 600+ dollar rack setup, you know? Granted I bought this used, but still.

I am thinking a little harder about the yakima saddles that have you set the boat on them flat, seems like this would be a little better. just wouldn’t be able to have two setups like this because of the width. so, one j-hook and one saddle. anybody have a set of those saddles they don’t need anymore? maybe trade for a set of thule j-hooks? :slight_smile:

Hull A Ports
I’ve got two sets on my Forester (with factory crossbars). One pair was the earliest version and used plastic clamp pieces which secured the saddle to the bottom of the crossbar and looked like a potential weak spot from the start. The second set I purchased used a more substantial pair of metal pieces. I contacted Thule, expressed my concerns and fortunately they sent me a set of the updated parts at no charge. The racks have worked well and continue to be quite secure although the older set is showing some signs of rust so I’ll have to repaint them at some point. If I had to do it over again (and wanted J-type racks), I would seriously consider the Malone Autoloaders.

so you…
contacted Thule and expressed your concern and they sent you a new metal bracket? i’ll have to try that.

anybody else have issues with the

I don’t like them
The plastic parts do not impress me, not for the price.

I have not had the problems with rotation, but that’s because I mounted the J’s on homemade wooden mounting platforms that I strapped to my (previous) crossbars. Even so, the rear J-cradle always, always, always pivoted to a funny angle (laterally) even after repeated tightenings. The cradles are clamped to a rectangular piece of wood, which Thule claims is compatible (along with square or round metal bars). The clamping parts don’t clamp well, IMO.

If you want good hardware and aren’t dead set on J-cradles, check out Spring Creek’s cradles.