Roof rack systems, despite their utility, represent a tradeoff. For all the boats, bikes and skis you can haul, you’ll have to kiss your sunroof goodbye; even bare, those crossbars whistle on a Sunday drive and howl like jet engines on the highway. Not to mention they’re often difficult to use; one too many frustrated afternoons spent struggling with a kayak can turn an expensive rack fairing into little more than a space for your sticker collection.
Yakima, who has dealt in car racks for 35 years, claims their Whispbar is different — that it’s the quietest rack system available, a seamless extension of the vehicle, and more functional than the competitors. Breaking the mold that’s been defined by square and round bars for years, Whispbar uses aerodynamic crossbars shaped much like an airplane wing, rounded at the front and tapering to a point at the back. During a month of hauling kayaks atop a Volvo XC90, the Whispbar proved truly innovative and escaped many of the pitfalls found in other carrying racks.
Every year, QBP (bicycle and components distributor, Quality Bicycle Products) invites retailers and industry types to its home-base of Minneapolis to get the skinny on the new products that QBP is (or will soon be) carrying. Not long ago, I posted my rundown of 10 cool things from FrostBike.
In honor of the spring thaw that’s melting things across this land of ours, I’m dripping out five more cool things from the show here and now. Here goes…
Whispbar roof racks are the only thing out there specifically designed around aerodynamics. Not only are they quiet, they won’t ruin your fuel economy or make your car look like a Land Cruiser on safari. The stylish fork mount can quickly adapt to accept open dropout or 15-mm, through-axle forks, and with their QuickDock system, you can literally add or remove gear mounts, in seconds. They also make ski and boat mounts that are equally as whispery.
While I was looking around the Yakima display, I happened into the Whispbar booth. Yakima offers this brand as a slimmer, sleeker premium line of roof racks. One look at these futuristic racks and I thought I had wandered into an episode of the Jetsons. The bars are oval shaped and low profile like a wing. For 2015, they are offering two new kayak carriers. The J-Cradle is exactly what it says. A stand-up-style kayak carrier that folds flat like a spaceship. Slide out loaders make it easy to get the boat on the roof.
The Saddle Roller kayak carrier is U-shaped to cradle the hull but also folds flat against the bars when not in use. The rear saddles have integrated rollers to make it easy to load boats. Match the racks to WhisBar’s T-bar with the Quick Dock technology to install and remove in seconds. Several of Rapid’s staff raved about how much they love the Whispbar. They weren’t the only ones impressed with this new generation of roof racks, Whispbar the has won a long list of awards from design competitions to outdoor gear accolades.
(…)Then, it was the mad rush to clean out all the clutter in the house because the movers will pack up the garbage just as easily as they will pack up your fine furnishings. I had no idea how much clutter we had until I had to clean out every nook and cranny. I also had to sort everything into what was to be packed and shipped versus what we were going to take with us. And this is where Yakima roof racks came in to save our day. They very generously provided us with a Whispbar roof rack system with a SkyBox 16 Carbonite so we could pack pretty much twice as much stuff as we otherwise would have. That’s also why I feel like our family is one big turtle. We’re driving a Jetta Sportwagen with a Skybox on top, all of it so completely loaded down that we are seriously low-riding and seriously hoping we don’t hit any major pot holes on the highway!
The roof rack was installed pretty easily although it was a bit daunting to be faced with all these pieces that needed to be put together. I have no idea how to explain all of it except that there were screws so the ensemble could be clamped onto our car’s side rails. As for the SkyBox installation? I wouldn’t know, since my husband went to the freight yard to pick it up and installed it in their parking lot while I was at home watching the movers pack up my life. The cargo box clamps onto the rails and opening/closing/loading is super convenient.
Whispbar’s WB200 fork-mount roof rack is simple, elegant, quiet, and highly versatile, allowing for easy swaps between road and mountain bikes (even with thru-axles), easy locking, and a secure hold. In other words, it is just about everything one could ask for in a fork-mount roof rack…
…The design is sleek, curved to match the roof line of modern cars, and colors are subdued. The racks are no eyesore. On the right car they can even improve the look, applying the hint of rugged outdoorsiness. Like a carefully groomed beard for your roof, if you will, or perhaps some tailored flannel.
Not all mountain bikers drive pickup trucks. Some of us have cars. Some of us like the way our cars look and perform, and want them to stay that way. This is why Whispbar exists. While most roof rack systems are big, ugly and, on the highway, whistle more than the Seven Dwarfs, Whispbar systems look sleek, minimalistic and are extraordinarily quiet.
Whispbar load bars and accessories pack in some pretty nice features. There are a few types of load bars offered, depending on your vehicle setup and preference. I opted for the Through Bars, which extend past the foot, providing significantly more real estate for accessories than the Flush Bar. The Whispbar crossbars integrate with their accessories using what they call QuickDock. The crossbars have a rubber-sealed channel that accepts the t-shaped fixing bolt on the accessories. Once the load bars are installed, adding and removing accessories is astonishingly fast and tool-free. It took me less than a minute to install two of the company’s WB200 Fork Mounts. Removal takes half the time.
Who says a ski/snowboard rack can’t be sleek and elegant? This anodized aluminum mount can handle the thickest skis and boards on the market with its SmartFlex hinge system. Good for up to six pairs of skis or four boards.
Roof racks usually look pretty chunky. That’s why we’re excited about Whispbar—the sleek profile and streamlined design looks better than just about any other rack on the market. Better still, Whispbar claims its aerodynamic design reduces the drag by as much as 70 percent when compared to other bar racks, which means a quieter ride and more gas in the tank. They’ve already launched a fork-mounted bike as well as racks for snow sports and kayaks, and later this year Whispbar will introduce the WB201, a frame-mount cycle carrier that doesn’t require any wheel removal. The bike mounting system uses a single lever that automatically adjusts to all downtube shapes and sizes, applying pressure to hold the bike but not enough to damage the frame. Watch out Yakima and Thule—you’ve got some competition.