Kayak roller roof bars

When I first purchased my kayak I modified my existing roof bars into ‘roller bars’ which makes loading much easier. The difference in the required physical loading effort between roller bars and fixed bars can be quite dramatic.

What I do is simple and cheap, clearly something that will appeal to most folk out there. Parts are straight forward, your local DIY store will supply all parts required.

Parts required are as follows:

  • Rigid plumbing/drainage pipe (size to suit)
  • Pipe lagging
  • Ty-wraps
  • Masking/Gaffer tape

The size of your roof bars will dictate the diameter of the drainage pipe that you will require, for me it was 40mm pipe. This will just fit over the roof bars whilst still rotating easily. The pipe is cut to length, slightly shorter that the gap between your side roof bar mounts to ensure that it will rotate and not get jammed. Cut a piece of lagging to the same length of the pipe.


Now the chances are that the lagging will not go around the pipe. This will require a further section cutting from a complete section of lagging. The initial result can be seen below.



Once the filler section has been cut to suit the two pieces can be ty-wrapped together as shown below.



The ty-wrap end are then trimmed off flush and the end result should look something like those shown below.



Now they can be left and used like this, though the lagging will soon get torn to shreds. A lot depends of how you load your yak as well as what bits you have bolted to it. I found that by wrapping the lagging in gaffer tape, preferably in a double layer, that the bars become very durable. My first set are going into there third season with only minimum damage to the masking tape. The cut edges of the gaffer tape were sealed with edge sealer to prevent them peeling loose in time.




So that it, the finished product. The job takes an hour or two depending on what tools you have to hand. Cost is around £10 for the two roof bars which represents excellent value for money.

These work great on my Land Rover Discovery, however it’s a totally different story on my Mondeo estate. I load my kayak by leaning it up against the rear bar. I then pick up the end of the kayak and the slide it onto the bars towards the front of the vehicle. This works great on the Land Rover as the rear loading bar is right at the rear of the vehicle.

However, on the Mondeo the bar bar is about 18” forward of the rear of the roof which cause me major problems loading the kayak. For starter I cannot prop the kayak up against the rear loading bar. Second time I used that vehicle I scratched the roof very badly resulting in a partial re-spray. I’ve since overcome this problem by manufacturing a detachable rear loading bar. I’ll cover the manufacture of this in my next article.


Anonymous said...

Clever idea. But once you have the kayak loaded.....don't the two roller bars make for a rather unsteady carrying platform for transport ? I would think you might have a hard time lashing it down once loaded given that the bars can continue to roll and rotate, no ?

Rob Appleby-Goudberg said...

No, not at all. With the load straps tightened up the kayak is locked down hard. This in itself prevents the kayak moving forward or after. I've used this setup for a few years now and it's been well tested over long journeys at high speed.