Wasatch Powder Monkeys is based in Park City, Utah, and has announced a new aero-style roof rack alternative to those from Thule and Yakima.
According to WPM, the new SmartCrossbar system is far more aerodynamic than traditional round or rectangular bars – and, thus, quieter and more fuel efficient. And its unique quick-release accessory attachment system promises an impressive level of convenience, too.
Traditional roof rack accessories typically bolt onto, or clamp around, crossbars. However, the SmartCrossbar features a novel quick-release setup whereby the accessories click into special ports on the US-made, aero-profile, extruded aluminum crossbars. As such, there are no tools required and SmartCrossbar users can easily remove or install accessories as needed instead of leaving them in place full-time. When the ports aren't in use, SmartCrossbar also has plans to offer aerodynamic plugs to fill the voids although even without them, they supposedly don't generate much noise.
Quite cleverly, WPM has avoided the headaches associated with designing racks to fit the enormous varieties of vehicles on the road, or of developing their own mounts. Instead, it's built the SmartCrossbar system onto existing towers and mounts from Thule, Yakima, and Inno, and offers adaptor kits that convert those major-brand accessories to quick-release.
The system works with most Yakima, Thule, and Inno towers
WPM has even created a wall-mounted system to store accessories when they're not in use. Locks are built into the ends of the crossbars to secure the mounts onto the crossbars, too, and attached accessories are claimed to be "at least as secure as the associated attachment; in some cases, it is more secure."
BikeRadar hasn't had a chance to use the SmartCrossbar system yet but one of the only potential drawbacks we see is limited accessory positioning flexibility, because the quick-release ports are located at fixed locations on the crossbars.
"We wanted to make the spacing close enough to maximize usage but not so close that it compromised usage," said SmartCrossbar designer Tom Vollbrecht. "Essentially, components can only be so close together, and 10 inches was the magic number. And because it's so easy to switch out components, a user doesn't typically have to plan for nearly as many attachments on the roof at the same time."
"With that being said, when using fork mounted bike attachments on a longer trip, it's super easy to loosen a couple of bolts and turn the bars 90 degrees to the side. In that configuration, you can put five bikes on any roof."
WPM offers the complete roof rack system as well as comprehensive upgrade packages depending on your needs. Prices for a complete base rack start at about US$400 (including locks and keys).
Adaptor kits for existing roof racks (including crossbars, fork mount adapters, and storage racks) start at about US$350, while individual add-on adaptors for fork mount trays cost less than US$40.
For more information visit www.smartcrossbars.com.