Reed422

Thule

18 posts in this topic

I own a hullavator and the top cradle broke. I contacted thule and they were dicking me around because I didn't have the receipt even though I registered it as soon as it was bought 5 years ago, then they said forget the receipt we will honor your warranty. I sent them pix of the damage and they told me it was wear and tear. $50 bucks was the cost of the part I wasn't sweating it that bad. They delayed, and delayed shipping the part to the point a month had passed. I started to get really irritated, when out of the blue I get an email from them saying they are shipping me an entire new unit. So in the end it worked in my favor, I would buy from them again. Wish it would have been resolved sooner but I can't complain. 

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I have their 883 glide and set model.  I feel like its a matter of time before it breaks.  The brackets are metal but the base of the unit is plastic.  I have to set the thumb screws super tight (like with a wrench tight) to stop them from sliding  along cross bars.

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Cool! I love my Hullavator. Was it the part that stays mounted to the rack when you take the main carrier off?

It was the top cradle. You know when it is hung over the side of the car the two pieces on either side that cradle the yak, the top one broke at a piece of plastic. Not sure how a piece of plastic has wear and tear but ok. She didn't like the condition of my hullavator because it has rust but I umm use it a lot so of course it would be used.

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I own a hullavator and the top cradle broke. I contacted thule and they were dicking me around because I didn't have the receipt even though I registered it as soon as it was bought 5 years ago, then they said forget the receipt we will honor your warranty. I sent them pix of the damage and they told me it was wear and tear. $50 bucks was the cost of the part I wasn't sweating it that bad. They delayed, and delayed shipping the part to the point a month had passed. I started to get really irritated, when out of the blue I get an email from them saying they are shipping me an entire new unit. So in the end it worked in my favor, I would buy from them again. Wish it would have been resolved sooner but I can't complain. 

 

The whole thing is probably made in China from parts sourced in China and the customer service people had no clue how to get just that part.

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They are dumb-assess. I accidentally ran one of the open Hull-a-Port Pro ends into my garage. Yeah I'm a dumb-ass also. Anyway, I wanted to buy one of them because the rear one was in perfect condition. All other parts are available as spare except the cradle. I explained the situation to three different people and none of them were able to assist with anything other than I needed to purchase and entire new kit.

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The hullivator is an ok at best design but it really needs improvement in its design and fit. It's got a sloppy fit after its seated on the rack. A fart could blow it back after its locked in. It would be better if it had stronger gas shocks. When you drop the unit onto the mount there is three inches of wobble that you need to center in order to seat it correctly. Sadly it can not lift straight up 100lbs and it should. It has an out and up lift motion when it should have a more user friendly up only motion. The pivot pin you need to install takes effort to install. Those of you that have these racks know that you need to pull hard to slip the pin in its place. It's clear that the engineering staff at Thule rides bicycles and ski. For $600 for the cradles and $250 for bars and fitting kits, it really needs some improvement.

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That said this thing is a life saver, but yes it has a lot of flaws. Hypothetically speaking I may have found the part on a rack site and now own two hullavators. This is all speculation.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

That said this thing is a life saver, but yes it has a lot of flaws. Hypothetically speaking I may have found the part on a rack site and now own two hullavators. This is all speculation.

I think that you will not be able to sleep at night due to the hypothetical scenario of having 2 systems, and furthermore, speculate that by sending one to me, will return the universe to equilibrium! :D

P.S. I'll even pay the shipping!

Edited by Africaster

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The hullivator is an ok at best design but it really needs improvement in its design and fit. It's got a sloppy fit after its seated on the rack. A fart could blow it back after its locked in. It would be better if it had stronger gas shocks. When you drop the unit onto the mount there is three inches of wobble that you need to center in order to seat it correctly. Sadly it can not lift straight up 100lbs and it should. It has an out and up lift motion when it should have a more user friendly up only motion. The pivot pin you need to install takes effort to install. Those of you that have these racks know that you need to pull hard to slip the pin in its place. It's clear that the engineering staff at Thule rides bicycles and ski. For $600 for the cradles and $250 for bars and fitting kits, it really needs some improvement.

Clearly you are not an engineer.

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Clearly you are not an engineer.

I don't have to be an engineer to have an opinion about a product that I own and have used for the last four years. Understand that it is the opinion of the end user that is more important than a design engineer.

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I don't have to be an engineer to have an opinion about a product that I own and have used for the last four years. Understand that it is the opinion of the end user that is more important than a design engineer.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but your complaints have little basis in reality given things like full product costs, adaptability to a variety of vehicles and kayaks and let’s not forget basic physics.  Every time I use my Hullavator, I am amazed at how well it works. It’s really a small marvel of engineering, right there with the Hobie Mirage Drive.  Is it perfect? No but to fix most of what you are complaining about would dramatically limit the use of the devise with various vehicle/kayak applications and the drive price into orbit.  Also, some to your complaints are more likely due to suboptimal installation and/or your technique in using the device.

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You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but your complaints have little basis in reality given things like full product costs, adaptability to a variety of vehicles and kayaks and let’s not forget basic physics.  Every time I use my Hullavator, I am amazed at how well it works. It’s really a small marvel of engineering, right there with the Hobie Mirage Drive.  Is it perfect? No but to fix most of what you are complaining about would dramatically limit the use of the devise with various vehicle/kayak applications and the drive price into orbit.  Also, some to your complaints are more likely due to suboptimal installation and/or your technique in using the device.

-My complaints are not based on full product cost, they are based on the sloppy fit and functionality of the product

-The adaptability to a variety of vehicles is due to the fit kits not the hullivator itself

-You yourself admitted that the hullivator is not perfect but are amazed and marveled at its engineering. Sorry but I'm not impressed.

-Subtle changes to the hullivator to improve its performance would not limit its use, it would only enhance it. Why limit functionality.

-Your statement about "suboptimal installation" is based on nothing but assumsion and more like a cheap attempt at insult. You don't know me nor my vehicles and how they are equipped.

-Dont get your panties in a twist about someone's feelings about an overpriced product that you yourself admitted "is not perfect"

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I’ll go through this point by point so hopefully you’ll gain a better understanding of this and improve your use of the Hullavator

 

First to be clear, I don’t believe anything is “perfect”, and I believe anything can be improved.  So calling me out on that really doesn’t prove anything.

 

You can’t separate what you are calling sloppy fit and functionality from product cost.  Some of your complaints could be improved by moving away from stamped/bent sheet metal to machined and cast components, but the cost would go up astronomically.  I bet the Hullavator isn’t one of Thule’s highest margin products as it is.  I suspect the pricing is based on what they believe the market would bear for this as opposed to a cost up mark.  Basically, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

 

Adaptability goes way beyond what you are calling the fit kit.  If the front and back units were connected as a single unit, it would go a long way to stiffening the whole thing up.  However, with a nearly infinite combination of bar width settings and kayak combinations, that becomes impractical fast or drives cost up.  Likewise your wish to lift 100 lbs.  Easy solution is to just stick stronger gas struts in there.  So why not do that?  First, not everyone has a heavy kayak and the design needs to accommodate a wide range of kayaks.  If there were the stronger struts and you have a light weight kayak, the release mechanism in the down position wouldn’t work as it does now and when you squeezed the grips, the kayak would go dangerously flying up.  Further, in the unloaded state the force on the unit if someone released it and just let go would be personal injury attorney’s dream. Are there solutions to this, yes, but they would either add a lot of product cost or require Thule make units for light, medium and heavy kayaks, which would increase cost of inventory and distribution, which would end up in a high price to consumers.

 

The out and up motion you described is due to the use of a parallelogram design in the unit.  It’s a common and elegant way to have the range of motion neeeded to get the kayak up on the roof.  It’s simple and cost effective, but as you observed it has to move in an arc.  Whether that motion is good or bad I would argue is more of a personal preference, but let’s say most people would prefer a more linear path as you would.  They would have to employ some type of linear slides and or telescoping mechanism.  They end result, again, would be higher costs along with a great deal more of complexity.

 

My statement about "suboptimal installation" wasn’t an attempt to insult you, but maybe help you with your device. One area Thule could really improve on is the instructions on installation and use, but people don’t really read them anyway.  You are correct that I don’t know you or your equipment; however I do have a fair amount of experience with diagnosing issues with products.  What I can tell you is that at least from your description of your issues, I have either personally experienced them or worked with others who have and they are typically caused by installation or use issues.

 

The single biggest issue with Hullavators is parallelism and it comes into play in 3 different ways: during initial installation, over time (a maintenance concern) and during the loading of the kayak.

First, the load bars need to be installed on the vehicle precisely parallel.  If they aren’t you’ll constantly be fighting with it.  Many load bars are held in place by nothing but friction.  Overtime, due to a variety of reasons, the load bars may get out of parallel.  So it’s a good idea to occasionally check this if you are having issues.  Lastly, when you drop your kayak into the cradles, you have to do it in one single action and you can’t try to slide the kayak around once in the cradles.  There isn’t a lot of laterally stability in the arms when they are down and it’s really easy to flex them out of parallel. Any one or combination of these will cause that “3in of alignment” issue you described.

 

This is a good time to discuss the sloppiness you refer to.  I believe there are 2 things driving this.  One is the fact that it is made of stamped sheet metal with a lot of moving components.  Sheet metal fabrication just isn’t that precise.  With tolerance stack ups, there needs to be certain level of “sloppiness” for the thing to work consistently.  Again, the fix would be to make it out of different precision made components, but the cost would go up like crazy. The other driver has to do with the average user not getting the whole thing parallel. If it were all made super tight if you didn’t install it perfectly it wouldn’t work at all.  Basically, it’s this sloppiness that allows that 3” of alignment.  Long story short, the sloppiness you see is actually designed in to keep costs down and allow for suboptimal installation and use, it’s not shoddiness

 

Last issue to address in pin fitment.  I’m not sure which pin you are referring to but there are two and I’ll address both.  First pin fitment is completely related to hole alignment.  If the holes are aligned the pins fit easily, if not, you have your issue.  The hole alignment is again, caused by the sheet metal design and need to have “sloppiness” in the system.  Also, the system exists in a loaded and unload state which makes things align differently based on the state it’s in.  What I can tell you is that I can easily install and remove all the pins with 2 fingers, but there is a particular technique to doing it.  For the safety pins used to keep the unit from opening, simply lift up slightly on the unit near where the hand grips are.  This will align the holes and make pin installation and removal a breeze.  The main pivot pin is harder to explain in writing.  When installing the cradle assembly, hold it vertical and rest the assembly on the to the mount.  On the outer edge of the mount, there is a curved metal “hook” that a pin inside the cradle assembly rests and pivots on.  Make sure the cradle assembly pin is resting on this hook.  If it is, you should be able to balance the cradles assemble on it in the vertical position easily with one hand.  Then pull slightly out on the cradle assembly slightly extending the unit.  This will mostly align the holes and at most you’ll have to pivot it just a bit for good alignment.  In this position, the pin should slip right in.  I really need to do a video on this.

 

Hopefully the take away is:

The Hullavator is expensive, but not overpriced given what it does and has to accomplish

There are compromises in design, but they are to accommodate keeping costs down, making the unit usable in a wide range of applications and overcome some user issues, but crappy engineering.

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