Roof rack recs
November 29, 2017 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I need roof rack bars to mount on my roof rails. What do you have/love? Doing research on this yields a buncha options and very little info. Mostly concerned about noise and aero - is there anything else I should be concerned about?

I have a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek with roof rails. I'll be using the bars to mount a ski/bike rack (recommendations for these also welcome!).
Also, locks - do you lock yours? Can I just stick on one lock per bar and call it a day, or do I need to buy four?

posted by blueberrypuffin to Shopping (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't have my rails locked. My truck might spend a week or more at a trailhead and the hardware has never been stolen. It might pay to get the accessory locks (for bike rack.etc). If they dismantle the entire rack to get your gear, the gear was gone anyway - but the lock will keep the honest people honest.

Adding the fairing was a huge improvement in wind noise.

I'm a big fan of Thule stuff, because its super easy to get replacement parts. My friends like Yakima. I think they are about equal quality, but I don't have any experience with Yakima beyond that. You can, to a certain extent, mix and match, but it's so much easier to just pick one and stick with it.

If you can get the factory cross rails, I think they perform and look better than aftermarket stuff. That said, it can be tricky to get accessories to fit the factory rails. But, I'd put the effort into finding out how much trouble that will be - IMO, the OEM rails are just that much better.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2017

I have a 2015 Subaru Forester and have Thule AeroBlade Edge rails that I bought from REI. I'm pretty happy with the rails. Now that I'm looking, I notice that the negative reviews are primarily concerned with sunroof interference and whistling; at least on my car, I don't have issues with either. I don't remember why I went with these rails rather than the Subaru OEM rails (something about carrying capacity, maybe?), but one added benefit of the aftermarket rails is that I can identify/find my car from a distance despite the popularity of the Forester in the area where I live.

As for locks, the lock cylinders lock the "feet" to the roof rails, so if you're going to get them, you should get a pair for each bar and then a cylinder for whatever other thing takes a lock in your final configuration. In my case, I bought a matching 6-pack of lock cylinders because I needed 4 for the feet and another pair for my roof box (one for each side).
posted by strangecargo at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2017

I have the Malone AirFlow 2 crossbars on my Forester, purchased from I love them. Great value very strong and quiet. Come standard with locks all around. I have had Thule bars in the past and I can’t tell any difference between those and these, except for the major price difference. Etrailer also has great info and customer service.
posted by TurkishGolds at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2017

Yakima fan here. Have now owned two sets, on four cars, over a 33 year period. I still have some of the original bike accessories from the first set I bought in 1984. I've had the roof rail version on a VW Jetta for last five years. This is going to be Yakima-centric advice, but I think there are some generalizations here that apply to Thule or other systems.

#1 The round bars are loud, but versatile and not as expensive as the tear drop shaped bars. Also, my sense is that the accessories for the tear drop bars are more limited. My recommendation is, get round bars and a fairing, which helps greatly. The fairings are very expensive for a piece of plastic, but if you take road trips of any length, they are worth it.

#2 The bulk of the cost is going to be in the attachments for bikes and skis, not in the tower system itself. I don't know about skis, but the bar bones bike attachments currently start at about $60 and jump to $150ish for a full tray.
When I got the Jetta, I ended up dropping about $900 on Yakima stuff by the time I was done. This was bars, locks, three full tray bicycle racks, and a fairing. So as you are figuring out which system to go with, I encourage you to add in whatever ski racks and bike carriers go with the bars you are looking at to get a true cost of ownership.

#3 Because of #2, I'd suggest that the locks are going to be in the round-off error for you. A set of four lock cores is about $60.

#4 Also because of #2, I'd recommend buying through REI in order to get a member dividend at the end of the year.
posted by kovacs at 7:15 PM on November 29, 2017

Thanks so much for all the super helpful and thorough answers. Fairings were completely off my radar and thanks for all the other assorted beta!
posted by blueberrypuffin at 8:20 AM on November 30, 2017

I went down the cross bar rabbit hole a few months ago. I really wanted low-profile crossbars that didn't protrude off the side, and didn't sit much higher than the rails (on "towers").

I narrowed it down to two that mount directly to the rails:

1. AeroBlade Edge
2. Yakima Whispbar (formerly just Whispbar)

These cross bars both have the same shape, and accessories for them are generally interchangeable. Note that Yakima Whispbar has been discontinued in the United States. But there's still plenty of them for sale, and the Thule accessories for Aeroblade Edge will fit them.
posted by reeddavid at 12:27 AM on December 1, 2017

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