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Old 11th May 2013, 20:49   #1
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Default Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

I have never used a roof rack personally on any of my cars.
  • I consider them to be unsafe especially at highway speeds.
  • The thought of load shift on a roof rack under heavy braking scares me.
  • I hate to worry about losing luggage from a roof rack and not knowing about it.
  • I would be anxious about the extra load on the roof making the car unstable on high-speed turns, and ruining its aerodynamics to a large extent. Driving in the mountains, instability at turns could prove fatal. In reality, how dangerous are roof racks in this respect?
  • What would a roof rack do to my FE?
  • Installing, removing and storing roof racks looks to be a pain, not to speak of placing luggage on the roof rack of a tall SUV. And no, I certainly do not intend to install those weird ladders on the rear hatch!
  • Ambys had heavy-duty rain-gutters on the roof to clamp roof racks to. After 2 monsoons, those rain gutters rusted through. The last thing I would want my car roof to rust.
  • How strong are the clamps to mount roof racks on modern cars? Are roofs of modern cars really designed to take roof rack load? I have my doubts about this.
Yet, there comes a time when installing a roof rack seems like a good idea despite all the negatives I perceive - and I am talking about long-distance road trips, not your short drive to the airport or railway station. How valid are my negative perceptions?

Different cars have different designs of roof, where installing racks / carriers pose a variety of issues and difficulties. Again, different cars have different ratings about how much load can be carried safely on a roof rack. What are the weights that different cars can carry? I don't seem to be able to find any relevant data for Indian cars on the internet.

Then there are different designs of roof racks, carriers and boxes available in the market. What is a good option to install? How much weight can each type carry? What are the pros and cons? Costs?

I look forward to replies from people who have used roof racks / carriers / boxes, and even those who have not used them, with answers to at least some of the questions that have occurred to me.

And while we discuss roof racks, could we also have some feedback, recommendations and costs, regarding bicycle carriers that either attach to the roof or to the rear hatch / boot of cars & SUVs?

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 11th May 2013 at 20:55.
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Old 11th May 2013, 21:15   #2
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Roof racks are used extensively used by many motorist in most of Western Europe and none of them would ever and I mean ever consider any of your considerations/ apprehensions.

I've used roof racks when I took the whole family on a trip. I've used a roof rack extensively for carrying my bicycles. In Europe many people will now use a ski-box rather than a classic roof rack. Roof racks are a bit of a pain aerodynamically speaking. As long as you mount them properly and tie up properly whatever you put on it properly you'll be fine.

Sure, roof racks are a big aerodynamic challenge, but so you carry a roof rack for a few days of the whole year?? That's not going to break the bank on the total yearly fuel consumption.

Does it affect the car handling. Not if you drive normally, but if you're the kind that drifts through every corner you might want to rethink. I've never ever heard of anybody in Europe even considering car handling when they strap on a roof rack or a ski box.

Can you loose your luggage?? Oh yes, if not strapped on properly. When I was a little boy we once lost the whole roof rack because my dad forget to tighten the tensioners. All of our lugage on the German Autobahn. Quite an experience.

I'd say, if you drive normally, even somewhat heavy footed, don't worry at all about a roof rack as long as you've loaded it up properly. Not sure about India, but most car manufacturers will specify how much you can carry on a roof rack. It;s typically somewhere in the 40-50 kg range. So just a few big suitcases.

I've carried much heavier stuff on top, notably the various dinghy's I owned. You want to drive a bit carefull when you got a 95 kg sailing dinghy strapped to your roof rack, of course.

Jeroen
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Old 11th May 2013, 21:22   #3
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Thanks SS Traveller for starting the debate on roof racks, a much liked (by some) and much hated (by some) accessory.
To me roof racks are quite a boring accessory. At times, these become a necessity too. Recently, some acquaintance went for a long drive on their Alto. To carry the family luggage, they had to affix a roof rack as there was no other choice.
The SUV's with their three row seats have very little luggage space, if fully occupied by passengers. Here again, a roof rack becomes a necessity for long journeys.
If its avoidable, one must not fit one. It alters the dynamics with the luggage load and at speeds of above 100 kph, it is quite bothersome to have luggage loaded up there fighting with the wind.
Older cars would have roof racks fitted from day one, till they got scrapped in many cases. As there were no expressways and these seldom hit speeds above 100 kmph, the ugly looks (aesthetics) was the only sore point. These would also rust faster than the car's metal body.

Coming to taxis:
Kolkata taxis do not have roof racks in almost 100 % cases, while a few of the Mumbai and Delhi taxi drivers prefer them. The NewGen taxis (Merucabs and so on) in Bangalore or anywhere else do not have roof racks.

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Kolkata

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Bangalore

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New Delhi

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And Amchi Mumbai

Last edited by anjan_c2007 : 11th May 2013 at 21:27.
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Old 11th May 2013, 22:44   #4
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

At times it becomes essential to use a roof rack. One issue with a market roof rack is the potential invitation for pilferage while being in a public parking without an attendant in the car. The solution? A roof cargo box. But its expensive and does it make sense to buy and install one when you will probably use it just once in a year maybe? The way out. Go the DIY way. For my use I have designed a simple light weight aluminium bars to hold my custom designed and fabricated canvas roof bag. Initially i was using 5 bars to form the base of my bag but clamping 10 nuts to the roof rails was a major headache so now a days I use 2 bars and a light weight square sheet to form a base. Have been using it for quite a lot of long trips and recently when I shifted from Mohali to Jorhat it came in very handy and carried a lot of luggage on the roof to free up vital space inside the car for the long trip.
Effects on mileage: Almost nil. Normally my car gives a range of about 550 kms on a tankful. This time the range varied from 510 to 530 kms on a tankful, but it may be due to the full load being carried and the roads being traveled upon.
Effects on driving: Since due to the covered bag the aerodynamics are still better than an open roof rack and the CMG also stays low, hence no issues even with an occasional high speed side drift.
Even my brother is using a similar set up on his Scorpio albeit with a off market roof rack forming the base for his cross country trips with no issues.
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Old 12th May 2013, 10:09   #5
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Go the DIY way.
Hi,
It would be great if you could post details of your DIY roof rack as also the one used by your brother, with photos to make things clearer!

Also, an idea of costs involved would be welcome.

Thanks.

Edit: How much weight do you carry on the roof rack, and how does the weight affect the handling & braking of the car?

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 12th May 2013 at 10:11.
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Old 12th May 2013, 13:07   #6
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Default Roof Carrier/ Roof Rails for Innova?

Hi All,

For an upcoming 5k kms journey, I need to install a roof carrier on the Innova. All local car accessory shops in my city have carriers which have a plate type piece to attach to the car. I find this very rudimentary and don't want to use it on my car.

Are there any solutions provided by thule/ yakima for Innova? Or are there any other brand/ solution that you would recommend?
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Old 12th May 2013, 13:15   #7
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There are options available by Thule for innova have seen a few though I don't know the details. Will let you know.
EDIT: Just checked Thule website, in products check for cargo boxes. This should solve your problem many options available.

Last edited by Shanksta : 12th May 2013 at 13:22.
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Old 12th May 2013, 20:17   #8
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Default re: Roof Carrier/ Roof Rails for Innova?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanksta View Post
There are options available by Thule for innova have seen a few though I don't know the details. Will let you know.
EDIT: Just checked Thule website, in products check for cargo boxes. This should solve your problem many options available.
Thanks. I called up Methods, who are probably the only distributor for Thule in India. The person I spoke to quoted an obscene 60K for roof racks! (excluding cargo boxes) Quality doesn't come cheap. Thats true. But it shouldn't cost a bomb either.(or maybe the person at the other end quoted the wrong figure)

Any other brand which is good? Anyone with experience with Hiker brand?
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Old 12th May 2013, 21:01   #9
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

See this link for a picture of the roof rack.
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/long-t...000-kms-8.html

However will post detailed pictures of the bag and the mounting system. It costed me as follows:
1. Aluminium racks were sourced FOC. However, 2 of them would probably cost Rs 500 today.
2. Canvas for the bag Rs 800.
3. Stitching Charges Rs 300.
4. Eyelets Rs 25.
5. Zipper Rs 50.
6. Aluminium Base Plate was again FOC but would probably cost Rs 750 or so.
7. Bungee Chords and Cargo Net Rs 500.

So for me the entire thing costed about 1250 INR or so with about 2 hours of time sitting with the tailor.

Normally I tend to carry goods with more volume and less weight with heavier bags inside the car. But on an average about 50 kgs with the maximum weight carried on a trip from Mhau to Delhi being around 75 kgs including a bicycle. It is what you see in the picture in the link above, taken at Gwalior.

In the Scorpio the costs were as under:
1. After market roof carrier Rs 3000.
2. Canvas cloth Rs 800.
3. Stitching Rs 350.
4. Eyelets and zipper Rs 100.
5. Cargo net and bungee chords Rs 500.

Last edited by wanderernomad : 12th May 2013 at 21:06.
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Old 12th May 2013, 21:06   #10
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Ofcourse quality doesn't come cheap you own a innova, I own innova(technically my dad does I'm only 19) we should know that better than anyone else.
Regarding Hiker well they are also a good brand but I don't think their cargo boxes are as sturdy and durable as Thule. Thule has a brilliant track record for making good carriers. IMHO you should consider it since it would be a one time expense.
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Old 13th May 2013, 07:20   #11
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

I have never used a roof rack personally and will possibly never use one in future whatever be the circumstances. BUT, i have driven vehicles which have roof racks fitted, and some of these drives also had luggage on the roof.

In my experience, it does change the handling of the car, but it all depends on the speed that you do. On expressway i was able to easily figure the head-heavy nature and the change in driving dynamics.

In short on expressway i was more easily able to make out the change in handling of the car, than in the city. The other thing i have felt is the wind noise goes up significantly.

BTW, i believe it also depends on how the luggage has been fixed on the roof rack. In certain instances it was more easier for me to make out the difference, on some other instances it was slightly better (i.e. slightly more difficult for me to make out the handling difference with the roof rack).
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Old 13th May 2013, 09:59   #12
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

I frequently use a Steel Roof Rack on my Gurkha, when I am out on Highway drives with my family. I tend to carry my Second Spare Tyre (yes!), and at max, 3-4 soft luggage items (Bags) on top. I secure everything with Bungee Cords, and usually have multiple redundant cords, to stop any shifting of luggage, or to accommodate for any cord breakage. This frees up much needed space behind the second row seats, where I keep my Ice Box, Recovery Equipment etc.
Having said that, luggage on top, does impact the vehicle's handling. I am not a very fast driver, but tend to be more careful in such situations. I am also double careful when negotiating places, where my vehicle is tilting at an extreme angle sideways. I tend to keep a much larger margin for error when carrying luggage on top.
Additionally, sometimes I have seen Policemen raising objections. So, need to be careful there as well.
This apart, no other problems, with Roof Carriers, and carrying Luggage on the same.
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Old 13th May 2013, 10:24   #13
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Quote:
Originally Posted by roy_libran View Post
I frequently use a Steel Roof Rack on my Gurkha...
Including the spare tyre, what in your estimation would be the weight you place on the roof?

How is the roof rack mounted on a Gurkha? Rain gutters like in an Amby or Premier? or does the Gurkha have a flat roof and you need door-frame clamps?
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Old 13th May 2013, 10:42   #14
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Here is an Old Photo illustrating the setup. Recently, I have trimmed the height of the carrier, and made it shorter.
Regarding the weight on the Gurkha, that is the least of my concerns. This vehicle is a tank! We (2 guys) have frequently spent hours, sitting on top of the Gurkha, for Photography, in the jungles. I weigh in at a nice 90 odd kilos!
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Old 13th May 2013, 11:37   #15
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Default Re: Questions About Roof Racks / Carriers / Bicycle Carriers

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
I have never used a roof rack personally on any of my cars.
  • I consider them to be unsafe especially at highway speeds.
  • The thought of load shift on a roof rack under heavy braking scares me.
  • I hate to worry about losing luggage from a roof rack and not knowing about it.
  • I would be anxious about the extra load on the roof making the car unstable on high-speed turns, and ruining its aerodynamics to a large extent. Driving in the mountains, instability at turns could prove fatal. In reality, how dangerous are roof racks in this respect?
  • What would a roof rack do to my FE?
  • Installing, removing and storing roof racks looks to be a pain, not to speak of placing luggage on the roof rack of a tall SUV. And no, I certainly do not intend to install those weird ladders on the rear hatch!
  • Ambys had heavy-duty rain-gutters on the roof to clamp roof racks to. After 2 monsoons, those rain gutters rusted through. The last thing I would want my car roof to rust.
  • How strong are the clamps to mount roof racks on modern cars? Are roofs of modern cars really designed to take roof rack load? I have my doubts about this.
Yet, there comes a time when installing a roof rack seems like a good idea despite all the negatives I perceive - and I am talking about long-distance road trips, not your short drive to the airport or railway station. How valid are my negative perceptions?

Different cars have different designs of roof, where installing racks / carriers pose a variety of issues and difficulties. Again, different cars have different ratings about how much load can be carried safely on a roof rack. What are the weights that different cars can carry? I don't seem to be able to find any relevant data for Indian cars on the internet.

Then there are different designs of roof racks, carriers and boxes available in the market. What is a good option to install? How much weight can each type carry? What are the pros and cons? Costs?
Nice long list. I like.
I used a Thule roof Bike rack (2 bikes) on a Chevrolet Beat for a year in Bangalore.
And installed another one on a relatives Nissan X-Trail in Delhi for 4 bikes this time.

I'll address your queries point wise:

Safety at speed
Thule is known for its safety. We were doing outrageous speeds on highways in the Beat and the bike rack was dead stable. No rattle, no vibrations. No effects on highways.
The bikes were extremely well secured. Keep in mind that a single bike is worth more than the cost of the car and neither of them were insured. So the trust factor that we had was.
The only thing that one needs to be careful about are low hanging wires, branches, etc.

Load shift
In a box type roof rack, Harnesses will be present. More often than not, the roof rack will be packed in order to maximize space within the vehicle. In which case, the lack of available volume to move about and the harnesses should do a good job in preventing load shifts.

Theft and vandalism
This is a HUUGE point that I was worried about especially since the bikes are kept out in the open. However, the bikes are not easy to vandalize thanks to the height and there are locks provided which ensure that At least they won't be stolen. Secondly, the car you plan on installing it in is important. Its much harder to get on the roof and open up a roof rack on a tall car. If the thief has that much time, its easier for him to break the glass and steal things from within the car itself.
There were times when I went to restaurants with the bikes on the car and there is a certain amount of trust that you have to have. It helps that people in their wildest dreams won't imagine the actual cost of the cycles.

Stability
Very, very, very, very stable at whatever speed at whatever angles and G-Forces (I say this for a reason ). The number of times we descended Kalahatti (Ooty) with its notorious 36 hairpins with the bikes on top and the kind stability it offered us was tremendous.
Note: We only descended with the bikes on the rack because we were busy ascending on the bikes itself!

Fuel Efficiency impacts
Aerodynamic cycles. No I'm not joking.
Negligible effect on FE.
Even a box type rack designed by Thule is very aerodynamically designed and the leading edge is not a vertical, sharp edged lump!

Installation
Yes, takes the better part of a day to properly install and test out the rack.
In my case, it was a one time thing. Once the rack goes on, it never comes off.

Corrosion
Don't know the details but never faced any corrosion issues. And the racks were used a lot in the monsoons.

Strength of clamps
On the Beat, the rack was clamped on the top of the door panel, in between the panel gap of the door and the chassis.
On the X-Trail, the rails have clamps which are ludicrously strong. Built to last in both cases.

Designs of roofs
There are different parts of roof racks. I'm forgetting the technical terms right now.
But the base bars and some other smaller components are car specific. You must get on which is compatible with your car only and the box or bike rack itself is universal.
I'm not sure about the load ratings. The rack itself was not too heavy (can't recall weight). And the 2 bike on the Beat were under 6.5kg each and the four bikes on the X-Trail were under 10kg each. So it wasn't much of a concern. So around 60-70kg on the X-Trail was effortless (Factoring in the weight of the bike rack)
The X-Trail was also driven from Delhi to Leh and back with the bikes on the bike rack. I wasn't there for that trip, but it was pretty hassle free.

Costs and brands
I'd stick with Thule as long as I live, they are phenomenal in every aspect. There is a huge range that you can choose from.
It is very expensive however. On the Beat, for two bikes it cost about 30k and on the X-Trail for 4 bikes, it was just over 50k + shipping.
There is a Thule dealer in Bangalore. Got it from him in both cases. Fitted myself with the help of the manual.

And no, just because I swear by Thule doesn't mean I'm associated with them in any way.

Bottom line: Go for it with your eyes closed. Park all your fears. And check out other reviews available all over the web!
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