8th June 2018
Our Guide To: Roof Bars
Most of us have been there: the optimistic conviction that everything WILL fit in the car, only to realise that you are leaving in an hour and you need a roof rack for the bikes, possibly a roof box too. Roof bars are incredibly versatile and offer a whole new world of storage options. As summer approaches and you start to fantasise about those bike rides through the countryside or long weekends camping, we check out the roof bar options, uses and fitting.
Types of Roof Bar
Broadly speaking, you can choose from: traditional square steel bars or aero bars, which are made of aluminium and more aerodynamic, therefore use less fuel. Prices vary, from as little as £50, up to £300. Cost is largely dependent on branding and materials; aluminium tends to cost more than steel, and premium brands such as Thule always come with a heftier price tag.
Choosing roof bars isn’t about setting your budget and buying any bar – you need to make sure they will fit your car. Your vehicle may have raised roof rails, which are fitted by the manufacturer and have a gap between the car and the rail. Solid roof rails are most common on estate cars and are fitted direct to the roof of the car (with no gap). Some cars don’t have roof rails; these will have four fix points, concealed under small plastic caps on the roof or inside the jamb.
Make sure that you choose roof bars that are compatible with your vehicle and which suit your requirements i.e. if you already have a roof box are bike rack in, make sure that they will fit to the new bars.
Fitting Roof Bars
It is entirely possible to fit roof bars yourself. This is easiest with two pairs of hands and reading the instructions and making sure that you have the necessary tools before you start are advisable. If you are in doubt, contact a local garage, who ought to be able to help or point you in the right direction.
Most roof bars will have a weight limit (usually around 60-70kg). However, your vehicle will have a weight limit too, so check that and always go with the lower of the two.
If you love an adventure, roof bars can give you the flexibility to get out and about, without having to invest in a bigger vehicle. However, make sure that you stay safe. Tempting as it may be to pile items on the roof of your car, poorly secured, overloaded or precarious roof loads can cost lives. A surfboard on the beach is great fun; a surfboard flying at 70 miles per hour down a busy motorway can be deadly. Always stay on the side of caution and use that extra bungee or secure tie. And if in doubt: leave it out.
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