Last year I tested a Thule product and branded it the "Volvo of the bike carriers". I am now in possession of another flagship piece, the Excellence roof box with its roof bars.
Maybe one of the most iconic products from this Swedish manufacturer, the roof bars seem to have made the reputation of the company. The original idea was great; you buy one set of bars that you can keep for "life" and you only need to purchase the specific feet to adapt them to the different vehicle you own all those years. If the original bars used to be black and square (they still exist), the newer generation of bars has a more stylish grey finish and aerodynamic design without losing its functionalities.
As usual the products are delivered in a sturdy box with all the instructions included. If you look at the different parts and read the manuals before you start the build and the fitting, everything will go smoothly. Obviously, if you are a man like me, you just need to.... well.... spend more time learning to read the instructions before you start the build.
The Aero bars are made of aluminium and have a more modern looking, which is supposed to generate less wind noise and also contain a rubber strip of top that (a) makes the items you load on the bars less likely to slip and (b) protects those items.
Fitting them on the roof does not require any specific tools (like an Allen key or else) and is very easy. The feet have a key locking mechanism for added security. The particular ones I fitted on my vehicle with original roof rails, just clamp on these rails. Just a matter of making sure the fixing is tight.
The roof box is the next thing after the bars. This is maybe one of the most useful accessories you could buy for your car and your family.
We asked Peter Barker (Thule UK General Manager) about his views on the roof box market:
"Historically, the roof box was consistently popular with the ski and snow market having being created for that purpose.
Today the roof box will appeal to a variety of markets surrounding key factors including transportation, holidays, sports equipment and leisure pursuits. The skiing market is now the smallest sector in the UK that purchase the roof box and a broader appeal now lies with families, sports persons and leisure pursuits.
The outlook of the roof box is very bright with it constantly evolving into more and more commercial markets. The future developments for Thule roof boxes, will allow for further functionality and design."
Thanks to the large capacity of those boxes, you can either load twice as many useless item of clothing when you go on holiday, or just empty the boot of your car so you can take the dog with you. Joke aside, with such a roof box you can buy a smaller car for your everyday use and fit the roof box for the occasional holidays.
The Excellence is the top of the range in the Thule catalogue, and I will agree with the same catalogue which says that the 2-tone (glossy black/Metallic titan) colouring and the stream line design make this box very elegant and stylish. In other words, you can fit it on top of your “beloved” vehicle and don’t feel ashamed by this new piece of kit!!!
In term of the features, the most important ones are:
- dual side opening with lifters to help the loading
- powergrip mounting system, to make the fitting on the roof bars effortless
- overall design with air diffuser and sliding back to maximise the storage capacity without preventing the opening of the rear door (perfect for estate and hatchback vehicles)
In addition, this product comes with a lid cover to protect the box when in storage and a central locking mechanism that prevents you from leaving the box unlocked.
The dimensions are:
- size (cm): 218x94x40
- Volume (l): 520
- Weight (kg): 26
I have owned and used other roof boxes in the past, from the low to high price range.
No question, in term of quality and technology, the Excellence is the best one I have ever owned. In term of functionality (opening, locking, fitting) this is one of the best ones. The only drawback is maybe the loading capacity. Not in term of volume but in term of arrangement. The four powergrip knobs inside the box could prevent you to load some items as they take a bit of room right in the middle of the loading area. However, it is possible to purchase a T-Track adapter from the dealer. You lose the ease-of-use but you gain storage space.
It features top quality material, a stylish and sporty image, a big and sturdy construction. It is a long lasting item, with a strong brand image, but, maybe not the very best in term of loading capacity and not the cheapest of all of boxes. The Excellence is really the Bentley of the boxes….
And if this model is a bit too much, you don’t need to go very far as the Thule range will certainly offer you the right box for you without compromising all the key aspects such as quality and design.
As far as the roof bars are concerned, this is what we call a no-brainer. You have long lasting quality for a “simple” product that will serve you well for years.
The RRP for the products are:
Thule Excellence - £695.00
Rapid Railing Footpack 757 - £75.00
T Track Bars 861 - £ 76.25
You can find more information at www.thule.com