REVIEW; Front Runner 3 Bar Roof Rack (Load Bar Kit)

Discussion in 'LR4' started by toddjb122, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. toddjb122

    toddjb122 Full Access Member

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    I've been meaning to post this for a while because this rack solution was very hard to find and other owners may be looking for something similar.
    • I was looking for an LR3/LR4 rack with the front bar as far forward as possible and the rear bar as far back as possible.
    • I wanted something that could accommodate long boats (canoes), kayaks, paddle boards in addition to the Yakima Skybox I use for trips.

    There was nothing out there. I found one person on the forum who made custom mounts for the factory bars to position them wherever he wanted. That was the best I found. The LR extended rail system, as installed, still only had fixed bar locations and the bars were not forward and back enough.

    I had succumbed to the belief that my only solution was to get the lowest profile Expedition Rack or Platform that I could find, even though I had no use for the full platform. Those were more weight than I needed and I wasn't looking forward to the wind noise reported.

    Somewhere along the line I stumbled across pictures of this Front Runner rack. The Front Runner website made it hard to find and it wasn't even listed on the U.S. site. However, you can see the rack HERE on the Australia site and the U.S. reps are very friendly and can ship this out as well. The rack is just a subset of their expedition racks so it is easy for them to pull the mounts and bars from stock and get it out to you. They also sell a two bar version of this rack if you only want it on the rear. The rack I have is called;
    Land Rover Discovery LR3/LR4 Load Bar Kit / Foot Rails - by Front Runner (Product Code: KRLD016T)

    I have to say, I wasn't crazy about the look of it from the pictures on their website, and I could find no other installed pics. However, once I got it, I really like it!

    Below are some pictures and then more detail follows...

    Here is the rack installed. I keep surf pads on the two front bars and I have two roller bars on the rear bar. All easily removed as needed;
    [​IMG]

    Here is an almost 17' long canoe on the roof. Note, with the standard OEM two bar rack, it is very difficult to get a long load on the roof without scraping the front edge of the roof. This Old Town doesn't curve as much as my aluminum Grumman, which is all but impossible to load on a standard rack.
    [​IMG]

    Check out this great load angle! I have a piece of carpet there as insurance, but there is NO WAY you can do this with the factory rack or most others I found. The front of the canoe is resting on the ground and the canoe is not hitting the rear edge of the roof. If you looked up on our roof, this is a tall order as the top of the door extends in pretty far from the back of the truck;
    [​IMG]

    Here is an 11' paddle board on the roof, fully utilizing the spread of the three bars. Very well supported.
    [​IMG]

    Here is an 11' foot kayak on it this weekend. I can actually get 3 kayaks up there... kind of layered on top of each other and tied carefully.
    [​IMG]

    And finally, here is a shot with my Sky Box on the roof. Now, due to the mount locations on the Skybox it has to go on the two front rails and sits a little farther forward than I'd like, but, the forward location ended up being a bonus. With the factory rack the box would obstruct the lift gate. You can see here, the lift gate opens clean.
    [​IMG]
    (here is another shot of the box loaded up for travel, with hitch tray behind)

    So, hopefully it's clear now why the factory rack wouldn't fit the bill, and the challenges I had finding something else.

    I also got dual rollers in the back (shown HERE) which make it possible to easily roll on loads from the back. They work great. I still usually put on kayaks from the side, but these are really useful. I usually take my heavier rigid SUP off the car from the rear using the rollers.

    I like the rack. The Front Runner support was great when I had install questions and they shipped out some new parts to me without question when needed. They have a lot of accessories you can purchase that go easily into the cross bars. I have several of these screw in rings which are easy to position or remove as needed.

    In fairness, there are some install challenges, though. You can and will install this at home using hand tools. If you buy it, read THIS thread I posted about how to get off the factory roof rails without breaking your roof glass. That wasn't fun.

    It's also a lot of pieces. It is kind of cool to see this large rack arrive in small boxes, but then you look at the number of nuts and bolts that you have and realize it isn't going to be a 1 hour install. Not including the glass break and repair, it took a while to install. Additionally, there are so many bolts...I mean, I hope they all stay tight but these will not be easy to keep tabs on over the years. Some of them are not easily accessible once you put on the roof bars. I used every socket extension I could find to get in the various nooks and crannies and I still was not comfortable that I was able to torque a few of them to my satisfaction. Still, the key ones are definitely solid. And, I was told that if anything loosens up...I'll hear it rattling long before anything falls off! That doesn't mean it'll be easy to get to the rattle, but it'll be possible.

    Also, as I use this on the beach I'm concerned how all the hardware will wear over time with sand and salt spray. I rinse it all pretty well with fresh water after a trip, but on my first beach outing I did notice the start of rust on bare metal. Those were just scrapes on the powder coat or hidden stainless nuts (the side of my truck that had been exposed to a driving salty mist, for what it's worth). I took some hardware off after the first trip and was surprised to see rust. I realize salt is unforgiving.

    All said, I've had the rack on the truck for about 3 months now and have been very happy with it. I'll touch back here in a year and let you know how it's holding up!

    If you need a 3 bar rack, I'd recommend this Front Runner. It's also good if you think you may want to upgrade to an expedition rack down the road, but don't need it now. FR will sell you just the parts you need so you can get to a tent platform or other purpose pretty easily from here.

    Hope this is useful to someone. Let me know if you have any questions. :hello:
     
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  2. mbw

    mbw Full Access Member

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    Nice work on the project. Love to see the research and hustle to make stuff like this happen.

    It is all aluminum? What do you think it weighs in total?
     
  3. toddjb122

    toddjb122 Full Access Member

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    @mbw , did you notice that I finally got those sliders installed? The factory boards were nicer to stand on, but I like the look of these much better and they still allow easy roof access and protection. When I had this in the shop for the gas tank issue, the mechanics were impressed with the amount of coverage of these underneath, but they still didn't hinder working on the car (dropping the tank). So as a tangent, THANK YOU, for the tips on these while I was looking.

    Thanks for the feedback. Yes, it was nice to find a solution so the truck is most functional for my activities.

    I think the frame pieces are all powder coated steel. I couple places it got knocked off did show a little rust. And the metal is heavy and doesn't bend readily, has to be steel. (note, I touched up the powder coat with matte black nail polish and it is holding up and matches the finish)

    I believe that the cross bars are powder coated aluminum.

    Not sure of the weight. Much less than an expedition rack, but strong enough to support a tent platform or expedition tray if needed down the road.
     
  4. mbw

    mbw Full Access Member

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    Great to hear those sliders worked out. I just got the Tactical sliders on mine, it took awhile. I miss the Voyager steps a little, they are nicer to get in and out of the vehicle with. The T44 steps don't stick out as much. They should protect more, but day to day I think the Voyagers are the best option. But... too late.. oops.
     
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  5. toddjb122

    toddjb122 Full Access Member

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    One last rack pic from this past weekend. Found I could easily put two kayaks flat on the bars! (Also allows me to then pile more boats on top if needed).

    With the factory cross bars, I was only able to get one flat, then I'd have to lean the 2nd boat against it, securing it while stopping it from sliding off onto my head. Was always a little tricky...

    [​IMG]

    I know this can be done with other cross bar systems, but the fact that I could do this without long bars that overhang the side of the vehicle was nice.
     

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