Whilst the idea of a brightly covered surfbus, stacked high with kayaks is a romantic one, the demands of my day job prescribe a more conservative set of wheels. (In fact, I drive a Volvo estate – possible THE most conservative set of wheels).  That means that, like most recreational kayakers, I rely on a roof rack to get kayaks from A to B(each).

A recent car upgrade meant the need for a new roof rack.  Although I’d always used Thule bars in the past, I had heard good things about Whispbar so decided to check them out.

Whispbar as not well known here in the UK, but that could be set to change.  They manufacture quality roof transport systems that keep style in mind.  Prices are on par with the big-brand too, so they are definitely worth checking out.

My criteria were fairly simple: Solid, quiet, not too ugly on my car and able to take a kayak carrier.  The obvious choice was the Thule WingBar, but some good reviews and favourable pricing let be towards the Whispbar Aero-X as an alternative.

FITTING

As always seems to be the case with roof bars, the foot pack is supplied in more parts that seems strictly necessary.  However clear instructions and supplied tools soon has the bars and feet assembled without too much bother.

My car has roof fails, although variants are available for those without, and fitting the bars to the car was simply done. Overall no more difficult than past Thule fits.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The Aero-x is a good looking system and one that many won’t mind having atop their beloved motor. The bars feel solid and are chunkier than some other systems, but retain their elegance.  The first was good with less of the noisy air gaps that I had experienced with other systems.

The T slot on top of the bar is interesting. Rather than having a removable rubber strip, the strip is fixed beneath the lip. This allows you to fit accessories without removing the strip just by pushing it down.

IN USE

The bars slope inwards onto the roof. This helps with the look, but does mean that you end up with a narrower bar than if they were straight or “pass-through” style.  Not an issue if you are just moving a single kayak, but more challenging if you want to shift a kayak and a narrow roof box or two narrow hulls.

Because that innovative strip presses down with a kayak on it, you also are resting your kayak on metal rather than the higher traction of rubber, which can be a little disconcerting.

ON THE ROAD

Noise levels are good.  There isn’t much wind noise off of the bars at all, but you can pick up a whistle if the rubber strip doesn’t return flush with the metal bar.

IN SUMMARY

I’m impressed and I think that I made a good choice with the Whispbars.  I’m already planning to invest in the J-cradle to increase my roof capacity further.