Monday, May 6, 2013

The 'Teal Terror' Gets a Roof Rack

Roof rack on a Suzuki Sidekick soft top.
This roof rack consists of the Calmini Heavy Duty Cargo Roof Rack rails, a Thule 450 Crossroads foot pack, Inno
58" load bars, and a BajaRack Mule roof basket.
One of the shortcomings of having a small vehicle can be space. And one of the most obvious times this becomes apparent is when camping. With good ground clearance, four-wheel drive, and mud tires, our Sidekick is a great vehicle for camping except for its lack of cargo capacity. However, I added a roof rack to the "Teal Terror" to give it some added cargo-hauling ability.

I already owned a BajaRack Mule roof basket, which is a very fine piece. I always wanted to utilize it on top of the Sidekick, but short of a custom fabricated rack, I wasn't sure how to attach it, since the Sidekick has a soft top. Then I was reminded that Calmini, one of the industry's most well known manufacturers of aftermarket Suzuki products, made a roof rack system that would work with my softop Sidekick.

The plan went like this: Talk to Calmini, see if they'd sell me just the roof rack's railings, sans the basket that is usually included. Attache the Thule 450 Crossroads foot pack I already had to to the Calmini rails. Use the Thule 50" crossbars I already had and bolt the BajaRack Mule roof basket to the top.

Calmini Roof Rack attaches to factory holes above the taillights.
The Calmini rack uses factory holes located above
the Sidekick's taillights for the rail supports.
As you may have guessed from the picture above, Calmini sold me the roof rails sans basket. The Calmini Heavy Duty Cargo Roof Rack is composed of black powdercoated tubes, a few brackets, and all the hardware you'll need to install the system. I'm sure their basket is nice, too, but I simply didn't need it. 

Calmini's rack is a pretty straightforward installation. Pop off a couple of small panels above the taillights to expose two holes. The rear supports bolt in here. Drilling is required to mount the top brackets to the roof. After measuring and carefully drilling into the body, the roof rails were installed. Everything lined up as it should. On to phase two. 

The Thule 450 Crossroads feet attached flawlessly to Calmini's circular tubes. Unfortunately, the Thule 50" bars, which fit ideally on our Subaru WRX, were too short for this application. We priced out some Thule crossbars, but ended up going with 58" load bars from Inno as they were about $20 less expensive than the Thule bars. Once the load bars were fit up, we attached the BajaRack Mule roof basket.

I know what you're thinking: What about the soft top's functionality? I likely have lost use of the "sunroof" feature, where the front part of the soft top flips open. However, I should still be able to fully remove the top if I choose to. I don't frequently go fully topless because it scares children it's a pain in the ass to remove the top, and when Mercedes is with me, she burns easily, so the top stays on anyway. Removing the side and rear windows still gives you plenty of wind in your hair, or if you're like me, what's left of it.

Thule 450 Crossroads feet with 58" Inno load bars.
Thule's 450 Crossroads feet work well on the Calmini's round roof rails.
I'm pleased to say the system feels very sturdy, and as a bonus, with the roof basket on, it's remarkably quiet at highway speeds. And in addition to being able to carry cargo in the basket, it also gives me a place to mount an awning for camping, and a shovel or Hi-Lift. I can't wait to put it to good use. Who's up for a camping trip?

The complete roof rack setup on the Suzuki Sidekick.
The complete setup feels solid and will be very functional.

1 comment:

rubicon4wheeler said...

Dang! The Teal Terrorist keeps getting better and better!

I'm surprised the rack & basket are relatively quiet though. I had a lower-profile roof basket on my 4-door hardtop Sidekick and I could definitely hear it at highway speeds. It also knocked the fuel economy down pretty significantly, so I didn't install the basket until I actually needed to use it, and then after my trip I'd pull it back off.