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Yakima Kills The Q Tower, Launches StreamLine System

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[leadin]Yakima is starting over. Say goodbye to the long-enduring rack design. Rolling out this month, the roof-rack juggernaut embarks on the largest product launch in company history.[/leadin]

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 10.34.44 PMGoodbye Q Tower. Outdoor enthusiasts have long adored Yakima racks. They have enabled us to get outside and explore on bikes, kayaks, skis, and more.

For years, a “Yak Rack” consisted of Q Towers and round bars. This year, Yakima rolls out the StreamLine system — new towers and components with an updated design and aero options.

Upgrades to both the hitch and trunks systems also abound this year, adding to the company’s massive re-launch. Under new ownership and with a new CEO, this year is a big test for the 36-year-old company.

Yakima’s JetStream bar on StreamLine towers

StreamLine Towers

The StreamLine towers have fewer clips. They fit more cars, and the bars to accompany them are aero and stylish. The upgrades are not just cosmetic, the system will carry more weight: The old towers were rated at 165 lbs — the new ones are good to 220 lbs (depending on vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation).

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Yakima’s StreamLine system tower shown here with JetStream bar attached.

The towers are also less complex. The clip library has been drastically reduced, so fewer clips fit more vehicles and fit them better. Plus, the towers are more adaptable — with built-in pitch adjustments to ensure the aero-shape bars remain flat even on curvy vehicles.

If you have the old round bars (and the accessories to go with them) but just need a new set of towers and clips, you’re fine. The new products are backward compatible. Also, support of the old stuff will continue through at least the remainder of 2016, and it will be referred to as “Yakima Classic.”


Yakima now has three bar options, the RoundBar, CoreBar, and JetStream bar (available in black and silver).

Yakima’s new aerodynamic bars borrow technology from the brand Whispbar, which Yakima owns. The new bars adapt design elements from Whispbar into a stronger version that meets the Yakima consumer’s needs. The ideas is for them to be almost as quiet as Whispbar, and built to be stronger.

The RoundBar ($89/pair) remains unchanged. It’s a strong, simple, affordable, and time-tested bar. Its drawback is the noise created by the non-aerodynamic shape.

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Steel CoreBar atop a Streamline System tower

The brand’s first steel aerodynamic crossbar, the CoreBar ($119/pair) combines the strength of steel with a teardrop shape that makes the bar quieter and may slightly increase gas mileage because of less drag. It is available in four sizes, the widest of which is 80 inches, downright giant.

The CoreBar is the strongest crossbar on the market, Yakima says.

The JetStream ($195/pair) is an alloy crossbar, made with a T-slot attachment and a wind tunnel-designed aerodynamic shape. The T-slot attachment is designed to make switching out accessories more convenient. It’s available in black and silver, and it has a premium look, much like Yakima’s sister company, Whispbar. The JetStream bar is the quietest of the three options, and are compatible with all Whispbar accessories.

Trunk, Hitch Racks

Most of its trunk racks are new too, with two strap racks – the FullBack 3/FullBack 2 and HalfBack 3/HalfBack 2. The SpareRide carrier is GearJunkie favorite.

We like the SpareRide’s quick and easy installation, and built in rubber tire paint damage protection

Upgrades and updates have been made across the entire hitch category. One notable upgrade is the addition of easy to use ZipStrips, which are used to hold bikes to the rack and simply ratchet into place for a strong hold.

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ZipStrips are both secure and convenient, but we don’t like their tendency to get misplaced. Yak sells replacements online if needed.

Yakima has new ShowCase premium cargo boxes, too. No new features stand out on the boxes, which have evolutionary refinements to the sturdy and aerodynamic, dual-side opening boxes.

These are expensive but make a huge function and fashion impact. Not many need an SUV if equipped with a cargo box, as they haul copious amounts of gear. Our favorite thing about them is that, like all of Yakima’s cargo boxes, they are made in the USA.

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All of Yakima’s cargo boxes are made in the USA

We’ve had Yakima Q towers on our cars for about 20 years, atop all the rusty adventure vehicles we’ve owned. They’ve been around since we discovered the outdoors. They get used in the best of times — when you get together with your friends to go play outside. We’d be nostalgic for the old stuff to be dying off if the new stuff was not looking so good.

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Smaller Car + More Racks = Less Gas and More Fun

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