Thule Wing Bar Edge Roof Bars
4th Jul 2014
I recently reviewed a Thule bike rack so am familiar with the brand and build quality of their products. Our car (Skoda Octavia estate) has fitted roof rails (running the length of the car) so we needed some bars to fit to these rails in order to mount a roof box for a recent trip.
Out of the box they come in various pieces: two main bars with fitted foot plates at each end, a rubber strip that needs cutting to length with a pair of scissors to suit your car (the rubber strip sits inside a groove in the top of the bars to give a non-slip surface for whatever is on the roof), 4 rubberised caps to fit over the top of the footplates, 4 lock cylinders, and 4 very heavy duty rubber straps to secure the bars to the rails, oh, and a neat tool for tightening them up. There's a small black and white booklet with multilingual instructions, most of which are pictorial and take a few minutes to decipher, but are adequate. Fitting is essentially a matter of securing one end of the heavy duty rubber strap to two lugs, wrapping it around the rail, and then fitting the other end to two more lugs. The strap is such heavy duty rubber that it's actually quite tricky to bend it around the rail and to fit over the second set of lugs, but a little perseverance meant it took about 30s per foot plate. Once over the lugs you simply fit the tightening tool - a straight Allen key with a plastic handle on the end, into the bolt and turn until it clicks - a very clever feature meaning that you never over-tighten them. Pop around to the other side and do the same. Then fit the rubber covers over the top of the foot plates and drop in the lock cylinders and lock into place. All pretty simple and very secure.
Positioning / Fuel Consumption
The bars are designed such that they lie almost flush with the rails, and not high above like other models and makes. As a result they clearly pick up less wind drag. They are also designed similarly to an aircraft wing, about 4cm high and 12cm wide, tapered front and back to help the wind to pass around the bars. There is zero noise from them whilst driving along. A basic test on our local roads showed that having them on decreased the fuel consumption on our car by around 3mpg (from 56mpg down to 53mpg) so definitely worth taking them off if you are not using them, but not a disaster to your wllet if you have to leave them on for a few days after a trip. Research suggests that roof bars can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 15% (http://www.roofbox.co.uk/roof-bars/roof-bars-racks-faq.php#question11). Based on that figure and my basic test these bars could save you around 4mpg over others. Over 1,000 miles at £1.40 per litre that's a saving of £15
The groove that the rubber strip fits inside is compatible with T-track fittings meaning that such things as canoe mount can be fitted directly to the bars without the need for further foot plates. See https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&es_th=1&ie=UTF-8#q=thule%20t%20track for more details.
It is also possible to replace the lock cylinders with a single type if you have multiple Thule products and manage with a single key rather than a selection.
They have a maximum load of 75kg which seems to be standard for roof bars.
An incredibly well made set of roof bars. Easy to fit and remove. Feel very solid. Low wind resistance and minimal additional fuel consumption. They retail at £215.95 which is a reasonable amount to pay, but based on my calculations they could be saving yo £15 per 1,000 miles over conventional roof bars, and they are totally silent to boot.