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Product Review Whispbar WB201 Frame Mount Bicycle Carrier and rail bar roof racks

Discussion in 'General MTB Discussion' started by johnny, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. johnny

    johnny I'll tells ya! Staff Member

    Item: Whispbar WB201 Frame Mount Bicycle Carrier and rail bar roof racks
    Purchased From:TJM Canberra [save yourself the stress and go somewhere else]
    Purchase Price (approx):Cant recall exactly, I'm sorry but it was the better part of $300
    Usage: Had it for about 8 months now and would have used it on average twice per week

    Pros - It holds the bike in a way that makes me feel confident that it won't fall off. It doesn't sway as the vehicle turns or goes over bumps. It's light and has a good concept to make it easy to take on and off the roof.
    Cons -Great concept, fucking horrible execution. The materials used and precision in manufacturing negate the benefits of a great concept. Unfortunately you don't get value for money as great concepts are only as good as their delivery.

    I didn't have the budget to put a tow hitch on the new car so I went the roof mount. Previously the old car would take two bikes without taking off any wheels, this one won't and it's (was) also a nice new car that doesn't deserve pedal scratches and tyre marks all over it. So I get the roof mount.

    I chose the rail bars due to their lower profile and that they were compatible with Subaru's stock roof rails. They fit well, hold tight and don't make any extra noise that I can hear when the car is in motion. I chose the WB201 as I like the concept and I don't like too much else that I see on the market. I've watched some of the Thule ProRide style carriers as I've been driving around and have been pretty surprised at how badly the bike can sway and shake in those systems, not to mention what they charge for these rigs. The Yakima Highroller looked okay to me but I like the idea of something grasping the frame. The design of the WB201 makes it (theoretically) very easy to latch on and remove from the car. This means I only have it on the car when I'm transporting the bike and when I'm on the trail I take it off and stash in the boot as not to offer the opportunity to thieving hands.

    I've seen folk voice concerns about damaging the frame with these kinds of clamping mechanisms and I am 100% convinced that this concern is invalid with the WB201 I've placed my hand in the clamping mech and tested the force that it exerts and there is no way it could do anything to harm a (metal, at least, not sure about carbon) frame. Put it this way, if that little pressure is enough to damage a frame then maybe one should consider not purchasing bikes made out of shaving cream and custard.

    In short, the design allows for an arm to centrally clamp onto the down tube of the bike whilst the wheels are strapped down to the base of the carrier. The wheel wells slide back and forward to accommodate differing wheel lengths. I have 2.3 inch tyres and you wouldn't want to go too much wider than that for a good fit - although there are longer straps provided for fatter wheels and/or taller rims. The carrier itself attaches by a latch system so you don't have to alter the roof rack in anyway to slide the carrier on. The latch system is operated by two levers at either end that spin the T-shaped lugs that sit into the channels on the roof rack. The carrier can take up to 20kg and doesn't weight more than 5 kilos itself. It's aluminium and plastic and has a key lock for security.

    I think the design of the WB201 is sound but the delivery of that design is severely lacking. The three main areas where this carrier is let down are the wheel straps, the clamp locking mechanism and the system of latching onto the roof rack. The ratchet system for strapping the wheels down is simply too weak. The plastic rounds very easily See the close up pic below), the pins that hold the system in place are very flimsy and the unlocking mechanism (the small silver lever) is badly designed and you feel you're going to break it every time you unlock.

    The locking mechanism for the clamp is clunky and doesn't line up well. This is the arm on the main body that lifts up and down to open and close the clamping mechanism and which also has the locking device for the whole system. The interfacing parts that lock together do not line up well at all (or have burrs in there or something similarly dysfunctional) and can be difficult to lock down and even harder to pull apart once engaged. Lastly, the levers that open and close the latching system that secures the rack to the roof rack are an excellent idea but can be painful to operate. The space to get your fingers in to unlatch the system are quite small. One of my latched is really hard to open for some reason and when all you have is the very tip of your finger to get in and pull it open that shit can hurt.

    The design is excellent but is let down by shitty construction and materials.

    Would I recommend it to others? Not for that price, no way.


    This in a video display of how the WB201 works, of course, it is not produce by me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8th1H6MjZOs


    This is the locking lever, the lever as shown in the open position opens the clamping mechanism and allows the latching system that holds the carrier to the roof rack to open and close. It is also where the security locking key hole is located. The ridged section made out of black plastic is where the lever interfaces for securing and it is somewhere here that the action/interface becomes rough and difficult.

    Here you can see the latching system and how (theoretically) easy it is to connect to and remove from the roof rack. You may notice that I hadn't properly inserted the T-shaped lug into the channel in these pics and that one side of one end isn't properly secured. I had to pull over on the side of the road halfway to the trails as I could see through my sunroof that things were moving around too much up there!

    Here you can see the front and rear wheel wells and straps that can slide back and forth to hold the wheels in place.

    Here you can see the ratcheting device that holds the wheel straps. If you look closely at the second picture you can see where it has become badly rounded due to the substandard material used for such a mechanism.

    This is the clamping device that holds the downtube firmly but nowhere near enough to damage the frame.

    Carrier on the car, with a bike in place and in the boot.
  2. John U

    John U MTB Precision

    Been using proride for about 11 years. Even had 20 kg Sunday on it. Treated with a bit of caution, never had an issue with bikes falling of from the movement. Once they're on my roof they usually stay there. Haven't had one stolen yet. They do age a bit and maybe that's why they haven't been flogged. The whistling in the wind can get annoying, but only if someone points it out.
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  3. johnny

    johnny I'll tells ya! Staff Member

    Ah yes, that's one pro I should have pointed out for the WB201, they don't make much noise at all when on the vehicle. Even with the bike on, if I drive with the windows up I can't here a thing from the roof. Although, the new Subarus are very well sound proofed compared to other similar types of cars I've owned (4Runner, Xtrail, etc.).
  4. Beej1

    Beej1 Senior Member

    While the carrier left you disappointed (for the dosh), you'd recommend the Whispbar crossbars yeah?

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
  5. johnny

    johnny I'll tells ya! Staff Member

    Yes, that's correct.
  6. redbruce

    redbruce Eats Squid

    Having used Whispbar and Thule aerobars on my Commodore, found no difference in function or noise (and especially over bike noise), but could just be unsophisticated car.

    Haven't experienced Thule wingbar but given similar design to whispbar, predict same result.

    My Thule Tour 510 racks (same side grip design as WB201) have served me well for the last 20 years, but now plastic going.

    Thule 591 replacement is OK but I like the 510 design better (had a few mates bikes slip out of top bottom design and swing down on car).
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017

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