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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just picked up my 2nd E - a 2004 EX and it has the OEM rack. My old E (I still have) has a yakima rack. I use the rack either to haul my canoe 2-3x a year or else I put up a Yakima space box to haul some camping gear. I like the look of the OWM rack and for aesthetics am inclined to keep it rather than switch it out for the Yakima rack, but am wondering if there are any cons to do this? My Yakima rack has canoe attachments - little clamp on pads that keep the canoe from moving left/right on bars and also provide some cushioning to keep bars from scuffing up wood rails on my boat. The OEM rack is differently shaped, so the Yakima attachments won't fit, so this does make me lean toward using the Yakima ...just wondering what others' experiences are with the OEM racks?

Also, I noticed on the installation instructions for the OEM kayak attachment that the images show some of the parts with the Thule logo on them (?). Just curious if the OEM racks are made by Thule or if the cross bars are similar enough shape to allow one to use Thule attachments on the OEM bars?


https://www.handa-accessories.com/element/kayak.pdf
 

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we have the removable Yakima racks on our '06. most of the time the mounting holes are covered, but when we need a rack, it's less than 5 minutes to remove the covers and add the towers and cross bars to carry our kayaks, windsurfers or whatever. once towers are attached, they key lock onto the mounting points.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes I've use the Yakima racks I have for years. One plus to them over the OEM racks is that they extend out beyond the towers, so more potential to put wider stuff or things side by side vs the OEM rack. On the plus side for the OEM racks, I've noticed this week driving the new E that the OEM racks are much more aerodynamic and make much less noise than the Yakima racks. I saw that Yakima makes canoe attachments that will fit the OEM racks, so I may just go this route, although I need to measure the width of the OEM bars vs my boat and make sure it will fit with those Yakima mounts first.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Only real con I know of for OEM is it's rated for half the weight of most Thule/Yaks ,~75lbs on OEM vs ~150+ on others.
Interesting - I always thought the weight limits were more a factor of the tower attaching points and/or an overall concern about adding too much weight up high to an already top heavy car...are there concerns about the strength of the OEM cross bars and/or the OEM tower connections? Just wondering why they would be rated less (?). I don't tend to put a ton of weight up there but 75lbs isn't much
 

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To be perfectly honest with you, I've wondered the same and have yet to find an answer, which is why my E remains rackless thusfar.

My guess is that it's either the general shape of the OEM kit or the materials (or both) vs a more squared off, higher strength 3rd party solution, but I have nothing to base that on. Given the fact that most 3rd party racks are at least twice the price of OEM and are rated for twice the weight, I've been operating on the assumption that the 75 lbs rating is accurate.
 

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I know this thread has been dormant for a while but I can't find a specific thread that addresses my concern: It seems to me that the OEM racks are WAY too close together to safely support a canoe at highway speeds. I suppose if you tied down the nose and tail end of the canoe (ours is a 17' Coleman, stupidly heavy) in addition to cross-strapping on the racks, that would help. Anyone with canoe experience or advice?
 

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Well, i had no problems running from northwest arkansas to florida with my cuda 14 on the factory rack.
Used good rope, pool noodle cut to pad the bars, and it rides better upside down.
Think it helped my mileage.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I know this thread has been dormant for a while but I can't find a specific thread that addresses my concern: It seems to me that the OEM racks are WAY too close together to safely support a canoe at highway speeds. I suppose if you tied down the nose and tail end of the canoe (ours is a 17' Coleman, stupidly heavy) in addition to cross-strapping on the racks, that would help. Anyone with canoe experience or advice?
I haul a canoe up there all the time. I was concerned about this same thing the first time I tossed the boat up there but with the right gear it works fine. Yes the bars are really close together but I have the Yakima canoe mounts - basically little L-shaped brackets that clamp to the bars (they make a version for Yakima bars and also a set that will clamp to the OEM bars) - they keep the canoe from having any side to side movement once the boat is strapped down to the bars with a couple of cam straps. Here's a link to the current version of the Yakima canoe mounts (mine is an older version but they look similar):
https://www.yakima.com/keelover

I then use a ratchet strap in both the front and the back to keep it from having any front/back movement. The front strap goes from the front of the canoe to the tow loop under the front bumper that is mounted to the frame, and the rear strap goes from the back of the boat to my toe hitch receiver. I center the boat on the bars so the front and rear strap geometry looks right and so too much of the boat isn't sticking out of front and obstructing my view.

Always works perfectly and I've driven it for hours on the highway this way. The only thing I have to be careful about is not torquing down too hard on the front and rear straps - I have a wood and fiberglass canoe and if I were to over tighten those straps, it would essentially bend the boat, especially in the front where a fair amount of the boat extends out from the front rack bar. I tighten them so they are definitely snug and there's no change of boat movement but no more than that. If I had a Coleman or similar plastic or aluminum canoe I'd probably be less concerned about this but you don't want to stress a wood and/or fiberglass boat excessively.
 
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