Price as Tested: $1,057
Through Bars: $449
Fit Kit: $70
WB200 Fork Mount: $269 each
Not all mountain bikers drive pickup trucks. Some of us have cars. Some of us like the way our cars look and perform, and want them to stay that way. This is why Whispbar exists. While most roof rack systems are big, ugly and, on the highway, whistle more than the Seven Dwarfs, Whispbar systems look sleek, minimalistic and are extraordinarily quiet.
Whispbar load bars and accessories pack in some pretty nice features. There are a few types of load bars offered, depending on your vehicle setup and preference. I opted for the Through Bars, which extend past the foot, providing significantly more real estate for accessories than the Flush Bar. The Whispbar crossbars integrate with their accessories using what they call QuickDock. The crossbars have a rubber-sealed channel that accepts the t-shaped fixing bolt on the accessories. Once the load bars are installed, adding and removing accessories is astonishingly fast and tool-free. It took me less than a minute to install two of the company's WB200 Fork Mounts. Removal takes half the time.
The WB200 Fork Mount is a beautiful piece of equipment, with an elegant arching aluminum tray that seems to float above the crossbars. The versatile head swaps easily between open dropout forks and ones with 15-millimeter through axles, without tools or adapters. To go from QR to 15, simply remove the axle, open the head and flip a switch. Closing the head pushes two 15-millimeter nubbins into your fork dropouts. It's quick, easy to operate and secure. It's actually much easier to operate than the open dropout mechanism, which is slightly more cumbersome.
From an industrial design and innovation standpoint, the Whispbar product is excellent, however I did experience a few drawbacks. The tray seems like it's floating because it literally is. The rear part of the tray is attached to the QuickDock foot via a spring-loaded mechanism, so that it's suspended a few millimeters above it. I suspect that this allows for flexibility with differing roof curvatures, but it wound up developing quite the rattle when driving with a bike installed. Not only did the system tested develop this rattle, the bikes, due to the floating design, wobbled back and forth more than I'd like. I never worried that it would break, however, for a system that is designed for luxury automobiles, I'd expect less chatter. My early production WB200 was replaced with one featuring a stronger spring, but it developed the same problem after a few months of use. This isn't the biggest deal in the world, considering the fact that for most people, driving time with bikes installed is far less than without, and without, it's the best looking, quietest system on the market. Whispbar systems are very expensive, but it's the only thing out there that can actually complement your car's aesthetics.