As I drove down I-84 towards Hood River, OR, I heard nothing. Nothing at all. Sure, the hum of my tires on the asphalt, but that was pretty much it. Which surprised me, considering I had a rack on the roof of my car and some accessories. Why is this a surprise? Let me turn on the way back machine to 28 years ago…
I got my first Yakima rack back in 1988. Those round crossbars across the roof were my portal to adventure. First came skiing. Then snowboarding. Then biking. All with these classic round Yakima bars and Yakima’s nifty accessories for carrying my various toys. Since that first rack, I’ve had a number of other cars and made use of a number of Yakima’s other racks and mounts to carrying my gear around: everything from roof racks and all the attachments to hatchback/trunk racks to trailer hitch mounted racks. You name the activity, and Yakima had something for getting my gear from the front door to the start of my next adventure. The matching lock cores, while not unique to Yakima, were sweet, too; one key to rule them all.
But the heart and soul of the system (less the trunk and trailer hitch racks) was always this simple round bar rack system with a variety of towers that would somehow attach to the roof of damn near any car – even an old Volkswagon bug with its rounded roof. And recently, as pictured above, I saw a Porsche 911 with a Yakima roof rack in Death Valley, CA. But here’s the catch: ease of attachment and versatility were great things, but lash that sucker to a roof and hit highway speed and the racks nearly always made a surprisingly loud amount of noise. But it was the type of noise one easily and automatically tunes out – like when you live next to a railway yard or near a highway: after a week or so, you sleep through that midnight express or the din of rush hour traffic. So after 28 years of rack noise, I never knew what I was missing until I experienced Yakima’s new JetStream bars, one of the new aero shaped roof rack cross bars Yakima is rolling out with their new StreamLine System. Golden, blessed silence reigns supreme as you get from A to B with them on the roof. It may not be complete and total silence, but it’s a noticeable improvement over the old round bars. And really only noticeable by its absence.
The new JetStream bar is an extruded alloy bar; the cut-away shows the internal reinforcing of the bar. It may not be as svelte as the new Whispbar, but it’s nearly as quiet when it comes to rocketing around the countryside with one on the roof.
The new CoreBar; as the cutaway shows, is a simple roll form steel aero bar with a coating to allow rack accessories a bit more bite ala the old round bars. It, too, is almost as quiet as the Whispbar, as well as being a lot easier on the wallet than the Whispbar system. It’s also the first steel aero type cross bar on the market.
Jet Stream bars in both black and silver with the new Tee Slot mounting system visible. Certain rack accessories attach via the Tee Slot gutter in the middle of the bar. Any Tee Slot rack accessory will mount in the rubber center line and lock in with a simple twist of the Tee nut that gives the Tee Slot its name.
Not all rack accessories are getting the new T-mount system; in some cases Yakima has called it good with a simple clamp that will work with not only the new aero shaped bars but also with the old round bars, too.
But if the bars are the face of the new StreamLine system, the manner in which one attaches those bars is the heart and soul of the new system. To accommodate them, Yakima had to completely re-design all their towers, making them stronger, more streamlined to fit in with the design philosophy of the new bars, more adaptable by building in pitch adjustments, and by creating a variety of foot pads and clips for various roof and rail attachments – the clip library for the new towers can now accommodate an astounding 95% of existing vehicles on the road today without any modifications. And if you’ve got the old round bars and all the accessories to go with them but just need a new set of towers and clips for your new rig, no problem: the new towers and clips will also work just fine with the old round bars, too; as Yakima’s Product manager put it at the roll out for the new racks, “We can party with everyone.”
The new kids on the block: the new Yakima towers (from top left, clockwise). The Timberline tower with the old round bar; the Skyline tower with the new Core bar; the new Ridgeline tower with the JetStream bar; and finally, the new Baseline tower, also with the JetStream Bar. These new towers up the ante by adding not only the more aero design but also more load carrying capacity. The old towers were rated for only 165 lbs; these new ones allow for 220 lbs of load (75 vs 100kg of load).