For the past few weeks I have been trialling a set of Yakima FatCat 6 Roof Racks mounted on Whispbar Flushbar rails.
I’m a bit different to many skiers. I like driving, and driving smaller cars that like going around corners. This procludes driving an SUV, which suits us fine and we have a routine adapted to driving to Buller each weekend where we have an old POS Suzuki stashed in Mirimbah with a village permit. Overall this routine works out well for us, but up to this point I have been storing skis inside the car. This isn’t an ideal situation as the edges can mark the car interiors, they occupy the centre armrest and also can be dangerous in a crash situation. Last year I transported skis for testing almost every weekend and it definitely damaged my car, so I began looking for an alternative.
The obvious solution is on the roof, so it was timely when Yakima put a call-out for bloggers to test their products.
I was supplied with a set of FatCat 6 racks and Whispbar Flushbar rails. I’ve been driving with them on my roof for about a month, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of certain aspects of their performance, but naturally at this time of year I’m not driving 500km a week with multiple pairs of skis, so this review is going to be a ‘first look’ and I will revisit it during the season when I’ve done some heavy duty testing.
Here’s a few shots of the racks and rails mounted on my Golf:
Given the multitude of car models available and mounting systems possible, it is certainly not a ‘plug & play’ affair. The assembly process is not overly complicated, but still rather involved, it took me a shade under two hours from unboxing to having everything attached to the car.
First step was to mount the FatCat racks to the Whispbar rails, which was a somewhat fiddly process, however once I had figured out how the first one attached, the second one progressed much more quickly.
Then mounting the assembled rails to the car, again it was a somewhat fiddly process adjusting the bars to the correct length to match the width of the car roof. Once this adjustment was made the bars are tightened with an allen key until snug on the roof.
With this kind of attachment system, due to the fact that my car does not have any form of built in rails or attachment points, there is the risk that the mounting hardware will rub and mark the car. This will be unavoidable but all the contact points are appropriately coated with soft surfaces to minimise this.
However I’m not convinced that the rubber door trims will remain unscathed.
I don’t want to sound too negative about the mounting process, the hardware is well designed, the documentation is clear and does not require massive amounts of mechanical competence, but the fact remains that it took me almost two hours, and needed a second pair of hands to mount to my car. If you’re not a technical person I would recommend having your dealer assist you with the process.
FatCat 6 racks are designed to fit up to 6 pairs of skis, so to test this out we decided to chuck in a couple of pairs of seriously fat skis – and as you will see from the photos below the racks fit 5 pairs of skis even with the K2 obSethed and Hellbents. The capacity is comfortably 6 pairs of carving or midfat skis, and probably 4 pairs of super-fat skis.
The double hinge arrangment expands to accommodate skis pushed right up flish with the hinge, and the closing mechanism is a simple three position ratchet, which locks for security with the supplied key. It’s worth mentioning that if the racks are unlocked, a thief could simply unscrew them from their mounts, so for theft prevention you should keep them locked closed when not in use.
When unlocked the arms spring up slightly so you can easily insert or remove your skis. The elliptical profile of the racks is designed to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamics.
The Whispbar Flushbar rails are designed with an aerofoil profile, with the primary design feature, as with the FatCat, to reduce wind noise and fuel consumption. They have a load rating of 75kg, which is far in excess of what one would likely manage to fit in the FatCat racks but would come into consideration if a roof box is mounted.
As I’ve not fitted any other brands of racks to my car it’s hard to have a basis for comparison with regards to road noise, but I can report that there is no noise under approximately 60km/h and only moderate noise at 100km/h – but this is barely noticeable if you are running the aircon and have your car radio on – for testing I turned all these off and could hear the extra noise but in real world situations the impact would be little to none. I have no real means of doing a meaningful fuel consumption test, but any drag will increase your car’s consumption so I would recommend to remove the racks when not in use if this is a concern.
FatCat 6 racks retail for $299, and Whispbar FlushBar rails retail for $359. More information and dealers can be found on the Yakima Australia website http://yakima.com.au
I will revisit this review once I have made a few trips to Buller with skis mounted in the racks so I can report with real-world experience.
Disclosure: The racks/rails were supplied at no cost by Yakima Australia for review purposes.