I have a mid-size SUV with a factory roof rack that came with the vehicle – similar to many SUV’s you might see on the road today.
I use my roof rack to transport things like bikes, a roofbox, plywood, lumber, Christmas trees, and extension ladders. I am a recreational biker and enjoy mountain biking when I have time to do it, so I purchased a bike rack ($150 each X 2). My wife and I (+ 3 kids + 2 dogs) take our fair share of road trips, so we invested in roof box to carry all our gear when traveling (another $350). My wife is an architect and I am an engineer, so we are always working on our 1927 house – requiring numerous trips back and forth to Home Depot and Lowe’s. So having invested in the factory rack, the bike rack, and the roof box, it occurred to me that carrying anything on the roof that wasn’t a bike or that didn’t fit into the roof box, I end up using straps or bungee cords. This seemed crazy to me – and frustrating every time I needed to use the roof rack.
It was in late fall of 2013 when my frustration really peaked and I had an idea for a better rack. I sketched some thoughts initially and decided to draw the rack system using 3-D software. After downloading, installing, and watching a couple of YouTube videos, I got started with SketchUp – thanks, Google. I developed some of my concepts for a new roof rack system that would allow anyone to carry just about anything on the roof of their vehicle. The “system” had a variety of accessories that would make it easy to secure just about anything to the roof – from bikes and kayaks, to lumber and ladders. It was basically a large rectangular frame that mounted to the existing roof rack. The frame had one cross bar in the center, running across the width of the vehicle. This frame would accept the variety of accessories and allow them to slide along the frame giving the user more flexibility in use.
Next step was to develop a prototype – would this actually work? I researched a variety of materials, manufacturers, and components. It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 that I came across a company that makes extruded aluminum bars and components – the company is called 80/20. I met with the local sales rep, got a product catalog, and later that month ordered about $300 worth of parts. About a month later I had a working prototype!
“Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” – Thomas A. Edison