Yakima Low-riders and load capacity

I have an Honda Odyssey minivan with an existing rack and am thinking about mounting Yakima’s Low-rider brackets and crossbars on the existing rails. I contacted Yakima and was surprised when they said this system would only be warranteed for the same load as the original factory rack (100 lbs.), which included the weight of the rack itself.

The existing rails are very solid. The weak link on the existing rack appears to be the plastic brackets that fasten the crossbars onto the rails. They flex quite a bit when placed under a heavy load. But since these brackets and the crossbars would be replaced by sturdier Yakima products, why would the load capacity not be significantly increased?

I would like to mount a stacker or J-cradles on the Yakima bars. I’m thinking the heaviest load I might carry someday would be two tandem kayaks, which together would weigh a total of about 150 lbs. Is this asking too much of a rack like this? Why wouldn’t the new rack’s capacity be a lot greater than the existing one?

Any advice appreciated!

Have had no problem with Low Riders and yakima cross bars using the Honda rails holding 2 60 pound yaks going 75mph for 500 mile trips.

I have the low riders…
I have a Toyota Sienna mini-van, which should be close enough to your Honda Odyssey to help you. I have the factory roof rack, which has a weight limit of 110 pounds. I have Yakima Low Riders, Yakima cross bars and Yakima kayak stackers. I usually carry one canoe and one kayak, but I have carried one canoe and two kayaks, which exceeded the weight limit by about 30-40 pounds. I drove from Florida to Texas with those three boats on there without any problems. Normally, I just have two boats up there that weigh a total of less than 80 pounds. I fold the stackers down when not in use, but I leave them and the rack on the car all the time. I am very comfortable with this setup, and when running shuttles I’m comfortable putting other folks’ boats up there. I could put four kayaks up there if I took the canoe off, and I would do that for short shuttles, but wouldn’t be comfortable for long distances with too much weight or freeway speeds. Yakima is probably using your own vehicle’s weight limit to avoid liability. My personal opinion is that the rack will carry much more than the specified weight, but for liability purposes, it is understated. Some mini-vans and SUV’s have purely ornamental racks, and I’m not talking about those. The rack on the Toyota is sturdy and capable of handling the loads I have on there. Hope this information helps you.

Here is a picture…


Roof capacity
It’s not that the low rider’s aren’t built sturdy enough to carry more. If your vehicle roof was rated for 150 lbs, the same low rider’s would then be given that rating for your car. But your vehicle (along with many others) has been given a 100 lb maximum load on the roof to keep the vehicle within a safety margin. Too much weight up high shifts the center of gravity too high. Should you ever have to do quick avoidance steering in this condition, your vehicle may flip or roll.

DuluthMoose is right
Yakima told me the limit on my Jeep Grand Cherokee was 100 lbs with the low riders, even though my factory rack is rated at 150 lbs in the manual. I did some research and found out that many compact cars/station wagons with factory racks have higher load ratings like 200lbs and more due to the cars lower center of gravity. It is not that your rack can’t handle more than 110 lbs it it just that Honda and Yakima lawyers don’t want more than 110 lbs up there.


I thought I’d test your theory, so I went back to the “Rack Configurator” on Yakima’s website and pretended I had no existing rack on the Odyssey. I selected the Yakima’s track and towers rather than the Low-riders for a factory rack. Curiously, this bumped up the “acceptable” load capacity from 100 to 165 lbs.

If what you are saying was true, the “acceptable” load would have remain unchanged at 100 lbs. Right?

Just go ahead and use the lowriders.
The Honda weight limit is just their lawyers talking. That van has a pretty low center of gravity, much better than a lot of SUVs with comparable weight. It’s sad that companies can’t provide real information rather than just saying whatever their lawyers think will keep them from getting sued.

However, the more boats you put up there, the more you have to be aware of their effect on emergency maneuvers. The trick is to drive like a GOOD truck driver, leaving plenty of room in front of you, planning moves well ahead, and driving very defensively.

yes to all
A couple friends and I drove up to Maine with his Honda Odyssey with three kayaks on top of two yakima bars put on the factory roof rack even though it was rated at 100lbs. He’s a lawyer and said they’re just being careful. everything was fine but I’m the kind of guy who would have put on another bar off the front doors to take some of the load off the roof rack.

It could be…
…that Yakima just can’t justify spending the resources to do an engineering analysis on every factory rack out there for every vehicle make and model. So when it comes to mounting Lowriders on factory rails, they take the safe (and cheaper) way out and stick with the factory load rating. Can’t say I blame them in this litigation-prone world.

I guess this stuff interests me a bit more than most folks because I am an engineer, but I do appreciate the responses from everyone. Your testimonials have made me confident that the Lowriders will work for me (althought I haven’t even looked at Thule yet!).


all this is assuming someone is attaching the boats well. Collect stories about folks who’ve had their boats fly off.

That could be a fun topic!
I’ll bet there are some crazy stories out there.