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Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on
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Author:  T.ISey12 [ Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:05 am ]
Post subject:  Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

Hi all I'm currently looking to invest in a hobie TI but I own a small car and don't want to get into the whole trailer thing. Does anyone have any experience with car topping TI/AI on small vehicles? My car is 11'10" long and 5'6" wide.

Author:  TI_Tom [ Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

Width wouldn't necessarily be an issue. It comes down to how long your hood is (for proper support) and what the weight capacity would be for the roof bars that you would install. For a TI you're talking 130ish lbs. and the AI you're looking at 100ish lbs.

Author:  T.ISey12 [ Sat Apr 15, 2017 5:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

TI_Tom wrote:
Width wouldn't necessarily be an issue. It comes down to how long your hood is (for proper support) and what the weight capacity would be for the roof bars that you would install. For a TI you're talking 130ish lbs. and the AI you're looking at 100ish lbs.

Thanks TI_Tom I'm thinking of going for Thule roof bars since I've seen numerous positive reviews on them.Btw do you have an idea what would be the longest distance your kayak bow can safely protrude beyond the hood for car topping?

Author:  fusioneng [ Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

You should be able to get an aftermarket hitch reciever for pretty much any car from either Kurt, or Reese. I installed one on my Pontiac Solstice roadster it took about an hour (simple tools and very good instructions).
Then buy one of those T-bar racks that plug into the reciever. I bought my T-bar for like $79 bucks on Amazon, it doesn't swing down, the ones that swing down are are nicer but way more expensive. Mine is rated at 500 lbs and supports the bulk of the weight of the boat and provides the bulk of the safety factor with the boat and AMA's firmly strapped to the top of the T-bar.
No matter what roof bars you get on any vehicle, they are not sufficient to hold a TI and AMA. You will cave the roof of the car in, or worse yet rip the rack or the entire roof off the vehicle without the T-bar. We have had 3 Yukon Denali's, the rating on the factory rack is 250 lbs. I have caved in two roofs, and had to have another roof completely cut off and replaced. If you run in salt water I don't recommend putting the boat on the roof, you will trash your vehicle.
We have around 250k road miles with Hobies on the roof and a camper in tow,(can't use our TI trailer when we have our camper in tow), we are on our 4th Denali now.
If it was me I would get whatever cross bars you need to mount on the roof, I like the Thule aerobars, but there are many other good ones. I highly recommend not to buy anything else like pads or support wings, they are all very expensive and all of them dent the heck out of your boat,(we have tried them all, spending thousands of dollars in racks, and pads, ended up removing all of them, none of which are rated for this much weight, and every one of them dent the heck out of your hull, (especially in the key west sun a month at a time).
Keep in mind most of those pads and wings are a PIA to get on and off the vehicle, so when not hauling the kayak, they stay on the roof, they create a lot of wind noise on the highway, we couldn't park our Yukons in our garage with them mounted, and worse yet we damaged a couple sets in parking garages, (oops). You likely won't have that issue with a smaller vehicle unles you get a J rack (way not recommended with a TI).
Keep in mind with any smaller vehicle you cannot go on the highway in any kind of windy conditions, the boat on the roof will flip the car. Where we live there is a high bridge called the sunshine skyway, when the yellow light are flashing (high wind warnings) we get pulled over and are not allowed to cross the bridge with the TI on our roof, I'm sure most bridges have similar rules.
Also without the T-bar, it's really tough to get the TI up on the roof, with the T'bar it's actually pretty easy.
What we do is plug the T-bar in, slide the bare dry hull on the roof (everything removed from the boat, especially the seats). Once on the roof, I then slide two loose 1.5" dia 8ft long wooden closet poles under the boat so the slip into the long slots that go the entire length of the boat on 11" centers. If you have a newer model with the scupper drains you may need to notch out the pole to clear the scupper drains. Make sure the backs of the poles are on the T-bar, as they support 80% of your load.
You will need a set of 6 1"wide ratcheting straps (I bought mine at Home depot for about $15bucks). You will lose the boat without the ratchet straps.
What we do before putting the AMA's back on usually is stuff pool noodles along the side of the hull in between the racks wherever we can fit them, the pool noodles prevent caving your roof in when you go over railroad tracks, (go ahead,,, ask me how I know this...go ahead.....).
After centering the hull on the roof we usually put the AKA bars and AMA's on the boat (easiest way to haul the clumsy AKA bars). With the AMA folded tightly against the hull, you now strap the whole works down, one ratchet strap at each of the 6 connection points (at the ends of each rack and the ends of the T-bar), these are really important and keep the boat centered in the wind. Do not short cut this step, (or you'll lose Your boat). Make sure you have strong ropes in a V on both the bow and the stern, make sure they are tight.
Obviously if you just goin thru town, to a local launch, you don't need all the extra crap, we haul on the highway a lot. Our's will likely be on our roof for the next 3 months as we try to visit as many national parks as we can on our next great adventure, starting next month, (well if I can get my weight restrictions worked out (we might be overweight, still working out the details))
Good luck

Our current rig, note the Y ropes on the bow (pretty important).

These are the 8 ft 1.5" dia closet poles I mentioned (Home depot)

This our T-bar (supports most of the weight)

This is our aftermarket hitch reciever (ordered from Reese, I think it was around a hundred bucks, took about an hour to install in the garage, no special tools needed), That's our $140 dollar Harbor Freight trailer (plus another hundred or so in mods to get it to fith my TI), we use that trailer locally, and when we don't have our camper in tow. Actually the boat lives on that trailer in the garage, takes all of 5 minutes to hook up to the car and get on the road to the water. Definitely trailers are the easiest with these big boats, (just FYI). We only car top because we have to.

Hope this gives you some ideas.....

Author:  T.ISey12 [ Sat Apr 15, 2017 2:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

Thanks so much fusioneng for your in-depth and very descriptive explanation it has certainly clarified many of the concerns I have about car topping - particularly in terms of max load on a roof. I live up a hill about 0.7 miles from the ocean so I'm quite close to my launch site so I was even considering pulling the TI down to the water myself maybe using a dolly or heavy duty plug in cart. However I realise this may not be doable so I'll probably have to go with the Thule aero bars and also the T bar you mentioned.

Here's my prospective route to the beach Image

Author:  fusioneng [ Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

You have other choices since you live so close to the water. Our house in Key West is right near the water, and we sometimes take the boat to the water pulled behind a bike, or our scooter (depending what available at the time, we don't always take our scooter along). The house is on the corner of US1 and Duval, so it's maybe a half mile to Higgs beach, it's even closer to the beach at southernmost point.


A lot of times we pull the sucker thru the winding roads around campgrounds to get to the water, it's a little harder with a scupper cart (no bearings on the axles), and you don't want to go much over walking speed with a scupper cart, also walking a fully loaded boat with the AMA's and motors, sails, and all the extras we have is not advised with just a scupper cart, (we typically only haul just the hull with the scupper cart, then carry everything else down to the water on a second trip (highly advised).

When I designed my cheapo $140 dollar Harbor Freight trailer, I put a joint in so the trailer can be broke in half and used as a launch cart. With the real tires with axle bearings it rolls really easily, if we are at a busy launch and have to walk the boat to the water, I just pull two pins and the trailer becomes a launch cart, and I walk the boat thru the parking lot. That's what we always do at Crystal River, we just park in the parking lot of the best western (where we always stay), then walk the boat from the parking lot to the launch ramp.

This is our Harbor Freight trailer, the PVC bunks have wood broom sticks shoved in them, total cost for the PVC and broom sticks was under $15 bucks. The boat has been living on the trailer for 3-4 years now with no hull distortion or issues.

Actually the trailer breaks down and fits in the back of our pickup, but we seldom take it along with (always forget about it lol). When not using the trailer we just hang it on the garage wall. Most of the steel frame has all be replaced by aluminum now (one piece at a times as they rust away (lol), we are 85% of the time in salt water.

You have lots of options


Author:  T.ISey12 [ Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

Your trailer looks very cool and I love the idea of using a scooter to pull it. I'm also going to opt for the aftermarket hitch receiver that you mentioned in order to install the T Bar on my car to give me two transport options. I'm attempting to post my route again:


Thanks again FE

Author:  fusioneng [ Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Smallest Vehicle you can car top a T.I on

Of course in Key West there aren't too many rules of the road with tons of golf carts, ricshaws pulled by bikes, a gizzilian scooters and bikes everywhere. Oh and we cant forget the nekked wagons, (bunches of nekked people throwing beads and candy on pretty much every made up holiday down there). Oh and we can't forget the guy who rides his bike thru town pulling his giant boom box on a cart, wearing a cowboy hat. Yea KW is a little odd.
So they don't typically bother me pulling my TI down to the beach either with a bike, scooter, or golf cart, or our Solstice roadster. Actually that crazy bowsprit makes it easy to lift the boat and just clip to anything handy. We pull the darn thing thru lots of campgrounds, never been stopped. What I do when walking with the boat is I slide the boat back on the trailer so the wheels are on the balance point of the boat, the hard tires with 50psi pressure and the axle bearings makes it very easy to walk around.
I have a couple sets of tires for the trailer, the smaller 8" tires are great for local, but if I'm pulling long distances on the Highway, I typically pack the bearings with fresh grease, and put on my 12" American made tires, (I don't trust those 8" chinese tires very much).
Keep in mind a lot of the time we leave all the big sail sets, motors, and AMA's back at the campground, and just take the kayak part out (of course with the kayak sail strapped to the side just in case we find wind). Lol really no point putting twin outboards and 260sq ft of sail up on a small half acre lake or creek, you would look kinda silly tryin to get a 12 ft wide boat down a 15 ft wide river, though I've done it with the AMA's all folded in and jacked up out of the water. Thats the trick with the AMA's when you fold them in, tie a rope on them and lift them completely out of the water. This way you can kayak easily thru little rivers and inlets, and under all the low bridges to get out to the big water and have the real fun. You will be pleasantly suprised how good a kayak the TI is in kayak mode.
Good luck

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