The other week I wrote that I wanted a pair of roof bars to cart my 16tft We-no-nah Aurora canoe on our paddling adventures. I decided upon the Thule system for a number of reasons, the first being that I’ve had numerous roof bars from them in the past and they’ve been as tough and reliable as old nails. The second is that I already have the canoe fitments from Thule, so it made sense to stick with them.
I imagined that identifying the correct kit for Deux Smurf would be a bit of a pain due to her being an import, but navigating Thules website was a doddle and I consequently ordered the following kit: 754 Rapid System foot Pack, 1064 fitting kit and 961 Wingbars.
I am aware that 3rd Generation Surf / 4Runners have a track system at the rear of the roof, which is great if you have a roof box or a basket of some sort, but not for carrying something that's longer than the Surf itself. Using the 754 Foot Pack means that they're almost at the centre of the vehicle, and therefore better for transporting a large canoe. When the kit arrived the fist thing I did was to lay it out and check that everything was present, which it was.
Flicking through the instructions, the first thing you notice is that there aren’t any written instructions, Thule take you through the assembly process via a series of images, which on the whole is quite easy to understand. If you’re still struggling, Thule have a great video on their website.
1. To begin, my first step was to attach the feet rubbers from the 1064 kit to the 754 foot pack, they just press into place, so that was easy enough.
2. After lubricating the Wingbars with water, I fed the rubber strip through the gap. I reckon I should’ve use a bit of washing up liquid to help ease them through.
3. Turning the Wingbars upside down you then slide the plastic ruler into the gaps. This helps to make sure that the feet are an even distance from each other.
4. After lifting the catch on the 754 foot, slide them onto the bars and then be careful to fit the end caps the right way round!
5. Placing the bars on Deux Smurf I then slotted the other part of the 1064 fitting kit into the feet. This is the part that hooks over the door rubbers inside of the doors and secures the whole shebang to the vehicle.
6. Once slotted and secured on both sides, it’s time to make sure that they're both straight and a safe distance from one and other, and that the rubber feet are correctly positioned into the grooves of the roof. Thule recommend that the front feet are 270mm back from the windscreen and a minimum 700mm distance between both bars.
7. Using the tightening tool you then screw the feet onto the roof making sure that the rubber mounts stay in position. It’s important to remember to tighten each side alternately. Once done, you then push the tightening tool into foot out of harms way.
8. Once I was happy that everything is tight and secure, I popped out the 'plug things' to reveal a hole in which I slotted the locks, and job's a good ‘un.
Taking Deux Smurf out for a drive revealed that the Aero Bars, and indeed the whole kit was barely audible, and it's smart enough to look like it’s standard fitment. The kit has been on for a month and there’s no noticeable difference in fuel economy, it’s still dreadful.
So, so far so good, and all I need to do now before I go on any canoe adventures is to order myself the Thule Portage kit, 891, as I foolishly forgot it. Actually, that's a lie, in truth I thought the old portage kit (ref 579), that I had fitted to the old square bars from the Discovery would fit, but I was wrong, so wrong.
As you can see, Deux Smurf is looking good, and if you're wondering what the little things are on the far side of the bars, they're Thules Multipurpose carrier (Ref 855), that in my my case secures the paddles in place, but more on those at a later date.