The spring time brings a lot of great things. Greener trees, blossoming flowers, warm weather, topless Jeeps, and of course… the REI annual member dividend. Last year, I wrote about the Half Dome tent that I purchased with my yearly bonus from my favorite adventure equipment store – this year, the new Patriot got a complete roof rack system and a rack for the bike.
I drove up to the East Hanover REI location with my dividend, 20% off coupon, and a gift card I had been saving since Christmas. I knew I wanted a roof rack, but had no idea what exactly I needed. After aimlessly wandering the rack section of the store. One of the always helpful employees asked me if I needed any help. He gladly pulled out a Thule product sheet and circled the options I should consider. With the new information in hand – I picked out a set of crossbars, mounting feet, an air fairing, a set of 8 keyed locks, and a big mouth bike rack.
I began reading through the installation instructions and quickly had the feet and crossbars installed – I had decided on the basic load bars vs. the new Rapid Aero load bars for two reasons. First, I wanted a system that would be interchangeable later on should I decide I needed wider bars. And secondly, I liked the way the faring looked. One thing to note when handling the load bars is that the edges can be quite sharp without the provided end caps installed. After I bandaged up my finger, the instal went smoothly.
After installing the load bars and spacing them out properly – I added the locks to the feet and got to work on the fairing. Putting this together proved to be the most difficult of the whole process, and frankly, I don’t understand why it was not already assembled in the box. After about 30 minutes of handling it with care as to not break it – I finally had it together and installed on the rack. Luckily, and unlike the fairing, the Big Mouth Bike Rack required practically no assembly, and bolted on quite nicely.
When installing any kind of channel based bike rack on the roof of your vertically opening hatch type vehicle – be very aware of how far back the channel is compared to how far up your hatch opens. Luckily I caught the tailgate before the bike rack went through the rear window. The big mouth is very easy to use, and lifting the bike onto the roof wasn’t that difficult. Overall I’m very happy with how the rack came together. The lady and I have been talking about getting kayaks; and I can’t wait to load them (and the snowboards) onto the roof of the Patriot too!