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Adventures with Whispbars and Paddle Boards

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by omarsultan, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    #1 omarsultan, Jul 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014
    I have taken my MS on any number of long road trips, but this last weekend, I used my MS when I normally wold have taken our Jeep--road trip to Shasta Lake. The reason being, I normally take a 12' paddle board along for the trip and I wanted to see how the MS would do. I thought I would share the experience for others contemplating something similar.

    Whispbars
    I started by ordering the Whispbars from the Tesla store. The bars are great--well constructed and solid and fit in nicely with the aesthetic of the Model S. They took about 20 min to install. One installation tip, the written instructions that come in the box are pretty obtuse, the video that is linked off the Shop Tesla page of the Whispbars is much more useful.

    IMG_0018-M.jpg

    There are not many accessories available on the Whisperbar site, but the company is owned by Yakima and I found more compatible products on that site (look for things that work with aero bars).

    The Whispbars don't seem to impact overall efficiency too much, so it seems to be reasonable to keep them on "for the season" with one caveat (below). Driving down I-5 today with the flow of traffic, I was averaging ~300-320Wh/mi. So, the caveat: the bars have a rubber skirt/boot around them so them make a tight connection to the body of the car to reduce noise, smooth airflow, etc.

    IMG_0020-M.jpg

    If I were keeping these on long-term, I would worry about getting dirt and grit between the rubber skirt and the car body and abrading the paint. I would see if I can find some Xpel or similar film to add a layer of protection between the skirt and the car body. The bars come with little bits of protective film, but I think you will need something larger.

    The only downside I see to the Whispbars is that they follow the roofline of the Model S which means the rear bar is slightly lower than the front bar. For things like bike carriers, I do not see this as an issue, but for flat horizontal things like a carrier box or my standup paddle board, you end up with this wing effect that creates lift which probably does not help efficiency and in the case of my SUP (which is a glorified wing) can put some serious upward stress on the rack at highway speeds--more on that below.

    Note: Thule also has an set-up for the Model S with the pano roof (Thule Rapid Podium Foot Pack 460R + Thule Aeroblade Load Bar Pair ARB53 + Thule Fit Kit KIT3130) but I have no experience with it and cannot comment. If you don't have a pano roof, it seems like your options are with go with a trailer or a soft rack, but I am not sure how comfortable I would be going the soft rack route with the Tesla's aluminum roof.

    My SUP

    Attaching my 12' standup paddle board was fairly straightforward--I got pads (from Yakima) that fit the aero Whispbar crossbars, placed the SUP on them, then used wide straps with d-rings to secure the board to the crossbars. The problem is that this leaves the board in a nose-up (or tail-up) orientation. Outside of the hit to efficiency, I was worried about the stress on my board driving at highway speeds for 3+ hours.

    On things like kayaks and SUPs, you are supposed to use nose and tail lines to counteract the wing effect, but this is where I ran into a problem--the MS is so smooth, there are no attachment points (Dear Tesla: please make sure you address this on the Model X). So, Plan B, I picked up these:

    CA_07141409055962-M.jpg

    You are supposed to put them under the hood and trunk, close the hood/trunk and it leaves you with a loop you can use as an attachment point. This worked fine with the frunk, but the sill on the trunk is too wide so not enough of the "tail" stuck out for an attachment point--which was OK in this case I was more concerned with the nose (actually the tail as you carry the SUP backwards). The second caveat is if you go this route, you end up with a friction point on the hood's leading edge--in my case, some gaffers tape provided some moleskin-like protection for the hood:

    CA_07141408223126-M.jpg

    That was about it. Here is a pic of my Model S, loaded up and charging at the Corning SC:

    CA_07141408213463-M.jpg

    How did it Go
    Overall, it went really well. The set up was solid, drivability was fine and efficiency was reasonable. Here is the energy graph before I hit the SC. I kept it between 60 and 65 mph the whole time:

    CA_07141408221979-M.jpg

    The SuperChargers were the icing on the cake. First time my wife and son got to experience the grab-a-bite-and-fuel-up thing and were suitably impressed.


    For Next Time
    A couple of things:
    1) I am getting the Yakima SUP Brah - while my board has the attachment point, I think this will do a better job of distributing forces across the board. I am pondering the Yakima SUPpup or the Thule SUP Taxi, but they sit higher up which I think might be worse for efficiency
    2) I am going to pop off the nosecone and see if there is something I can use as an attachment point behind there somewhere

    Other than that, we are heading up to Lake Tahoe in a couple of week and we will be taking the Tesla and my SUP again. A quick plug (pun intended): the Grand Residence in Lake Tahoe where we will be staying has an HPWC.

    Anyway, hope this was helpful, and if nothing else, I hope it encourages you to be more adventurous with your Model S.
     
  2. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    Nice write up, thanks.

    I agree with you about the written instructions; when I first installed mine there wasn't a video so I did my own install write-up with photos over here - Roof-Rack-Install-and-Disassembly
     
  3. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    Very helpful. I actually use my ICE SUV for my paddle board. I switched to a locking type strap though as the earlier simpler one was simply too loose.

    Not sure if I want to do this with the Tesla...
     
  4. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    What types of straps? I was looking at Kanulocks down the road--to this point, I have never needed to store my board on either the Jeep or the Tesla.
     
  5. Owner

    Owner Active Member

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    I have one of these Thule SUP Taxi Paddleboard Carrier 810 - Thule

    I had a cheaper version with pads and straps but found it quite tricky to secure it tight enough on longish drives. I really really like this one. because it locks but also it is much more stable.
     
  6. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    Love the name of this product.
     
  7. omarsultan

    omarsultan Active Member

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    #7 omarsultan, Jul 29, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2014
    Quick update on a couple of things:

    1) Did the Lake Tahoe trip - no drama, however, the drive back (all downhill) is a trip. I one-footed it the entire time, never seen my energy chart spend so much time in the green
    2) The SUP Brah is definitely a better way to go with the SUP, good use of $30
    3) I ended up getting the Kanulocks--very nice product--not only will they secure the SUP, but they are padded so they add an additional layer of protection.
    4) As I suspected, when I took the Whispbars off, I could see faint abrasion on the clear coat. It buffed out, but long-term, I see it as a problem. I found this 60" x 2.75" roll of XPEL on Amazon ($15), which I am going to pick up and cut off sections to put under the four rubber boots.
    5) For the rear attachment point, I ended up using a flat stap attached to the car seat latch point on the back of the rear seat.
     

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