Thule WingBar 960-963 Rapid System roof bars Review
The WingBar is the latest (and best looking!) in the range of Thule’s load carrying roof mounted bars. Like all of Thule’s roof bars, the WingBar is a modular system made up of a pair of bars, a foot pack (in this case only the Rapid System can be used) and roof fitting kit (when roof rails are not fitted to the host car). If your car has roof rails fitted as standard then you only need to buy 2 items – WingBars and clamping feet (usually the universal 757 feet).
This modular solution has obvious production advantages for Thule in that they don’t need to make a rack system for every car variant on the market, but it is also great for the consumer as, in most cases, you don’t need to buy a whole new roof bar system when you change your vehicle. In our case we were testing the WingBar on a 2010 5-door BMW 1-Series, so our load bar solution was provided by the excellent Thule FitGuide and comprised 961 WingBars, 753 Rapid System foot pack and 3028 Fixpoint fitting kit to secure the system to the BMW roof using the hidden captive nuts fitted to the car. Still with me? ¬†Note: Avoid the old FitGuide webpage at¬†http://www.thule.co.uk/appguide/¬†as it’s not as good as the one above.
Once you’ve opened out the contents of the 3 boxes your challenge begins – How to make the collection of parts into a roof mounted load system that can carry large items at high speeds for hours and days at a time. Here’s where the fun begins. Thule have decided that the easiest way to communicate the build process is by a series of pictures. Think back to your childhood (or in my case last week when assisting a 7 year old) and remember putting a Lego kit together. Building your Thule roof bars is like Lego for grown ups (or brainy kids). Oh, those Scandinavians, they are such a tease.
In the pictures we’ve tried to illustrate what each pack contains by laying out the contents in some sort of order. The most important part of the building process is to understand that each corner of the car roof has it’s own foot (clearly marked) and take it systematically, from there. Once you’re in the groove and Thule mindset, you will soon have 2 bars ready for fitting.
The older version of the Rapid System used Allen mounting bolts that were fitted to the feet and securing them was a time consuming affair as access wasn’t the best and anything but a perfect fit meant many turns with an Allen wrench. The current Rapid System is much quicker to mount as you fit the threaded studs onto the roof first then tighten down the securing nuts. Old or new, the feet and hence, mounting points, need to be in exactly the right position for a slick fitting process. If you’re using the 757 rail clamps or normal gutter type fitting, life will be easier.
Some users have struggled to get a good looking fit when using the 753 + model specific fitting kit. Whilst the rubber trims don’t have any structural function, they cover up all the fixings and bolts. Each trim, like every mounting block has it’s own corner of the car – handed side to side and front to back. It is possible that you could fit the wrong trim to the wrong corner but, of course, it will look all wrong, wrong, wrong.
Right, the WingBars are now on the car and we’re ready to go. At this point I can add that I’ve been using the wonderful Thule AeroBars for the last 5 years and have nothing but praise for them. Back to the WingBar and the first thing that you notice visually is that they look very, very handsome. They look like they are part of the car, rather than an aftermarket addition. The Wingbar is symmetrical in a longitudinal plane whereas the AeroBar is symmetrical vertically. The WingBar is all about cutting through the air as cleanly as possible. But it’s not technically a wing section due to it’s symmetry. Your car won’t take off!
At motorway speeds the first thing you do notice is how quiet the WingBar is. Drag has been reduced by 55% compared to the AeroBar and hence, you should experience better fuel consumption than when using less slippery systems. Sound energy (and hence noise) has been reduced by 90% – this is evident with a quick flick of the window switch and is reason alone to buy the WingBars. For those living life on the weight limit, the maximum load is 100kgs. Safety approval has been granted by both the ISO City Crash and¬†T√úV GS tests.
Of course, the WingBar system is compatible with virtually all of the Thule add-ons and accessories like bike carriers, roof boxes (we tested it with the Motion 800), canoe, ski and surfboard carriers. The fixation system is the enclosed T-track which is accessed by removing the rubber trim from the top the bars and flipping the end trim cap to reveal the track groove. The T-track system allows the full width of the car to be used for attaching a number of different accessories at the same time, which slide easily into place from the side of the vehicle. Roof contents and accessories are secured by barrel locks on each of the four feet.
So, in conclusion, the Thule WingBar + Rapid System combination is a high quality aftermarket roof bar system that is a significant improvement on it’s AeroBar predecessor, particularly from a visual and noise reduction perspective. Just be patient and good humoured when you are putting them together. As reviewed, the list price is ¬£183.50 for the 961/753/3028 combo.
Bikesoup.cc verdict – 9/10<
The Thule WingBar system is available through Madison dealers nationwide¬†