Yakima StreamLine roof-rack system: Tested

By Mark Watson 3 July 2023
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Yakima’s new StreamLine roof-rack system promises the most versatile gear-carrying setup on the market. We rack ’em up and test it out.

Only a month ago we provided readers a glimpse of Yakima’s all new StreamLine roof-rack system. On paper it looked the goods and we shared what we knew in our exclusive first look news story in June. Since that time, we’ve managed to get some hands-on time with the new system to assess whether the slightly narrower bars and more comprehensive range of legs really are vastly better than the old system. 

You see, Yakima’s existing roof bar offering was already pretty darned decent, and to be honest here at AGA we are often Yakima’s number one fans when it comes to attaching our ‘toys’ to our chariots. We’ve tried and tested kayak carriers, roof bike mounts, roof platforms, towbar MTB mounts, rooftop tents, awnings and more, and the reality is, we usually have to dig pretty deep to find any nuances for our ‘cons list’. But we have also been known to be shallow, and occasionally ‘easily sold’, I mean a stubbie-opener on a mountain bike carrier… brilliant! 

The StreamLine bars are available in two finishes – black powder-coat or anodised silver

So, “What’s the big deal with StreamLine?” I hear you ask. The honest answer is, “Well, nothing.” There’s no “big deal”, because what Yakima has done – without all the fanfare – is to just grab a bloody good product, like its popular aero bars, and simply make them even better. 


Let’s simplify matters by looking at roof-racks as a two-part system: the legs (towers) and the crossbars (bars). The legs have a rather simple job, i.e., to fit a crossbar to a vehicle. However, to fit a variety of vehicle types, roof-rack manufacturers must develop multiple legs/feet or mounts. This is exactly what Yakima has done with its StreamLine system. 

There are four new StreamLine leg designs – BaseLine (naked roof), SkyLine (fixed point) TimberLine (Raised Rail) and SightLine (flush rail) – with each offered in two variants: one for top-mounted through-bars, and the second variant for flush-fit FX bars. The legs look clean with a finished weather- and UV-resistant plastic outer, but hidden within are long-lasting, rust-resistant, steel components.

Non-FX legs affix the ‘through-bar’ on top of the leg, allowing for a longer bar and more usable space, but in turn, create a higher profile. FX legs, on the other hand, offer a lower profile and super clean, sleek look with hidden SKS locks, although the result is slightly less carrying capacity due to a shortened bar profile. 

All legs can adjust toe (5 degrees either way) and pitch (6 degrees either way) angles to suit the curvature of differing vehicle roofs/rails and create a better aerodynamic fit (In layman’s terms this means the legs offer a tweak-able rotation both sideways and up and down to suit your car). The fixed-point SkyLine leg also offers a bonus hidden feature of a quick-release mechanism allowing for tool-free installation and removal of the legs in only seconds. And so, in summary, you’ll be hard pressed to find a vehicle the new StreamLine legs do not accommodate, and the good news is users can choose either a through-bar style or FX bar to suit their vehicle’s roof profile.  

Once a user has selected a leg and profile type to suit their vehicle, its time to turn attention to crossbars. Yakima offers three all-new aluminum crossbars in its StreamLine range: the JetStream FX, JetStream and Trim HD bar. The JetStream FX is a sleek, dedicated, 75kg capacity bar suited to FX legs and the pairing is designed to be vehicle specific. Users who want the cleanest, lowest profile system will no doubt choose the FX system in either a black powder-coat or anodised silver finish, with 21mm accessory T-slots and SmartFill push-down infills for reduced noise, reduced water ingress and ease of adding and removing accessories. 

The older aero bars (left) compared to the new JetStream bar (right). Note that the JetStream bar is lighter in weight without sacrificing any strength.

For users who want a little more space up top, and aren’t as concerned with a flush finish, then non-FX legs deliver a choice of two crossbars. Either the more aerodynamic 75kg rated JetStream bar, or the slightly burlier 100kg rated Trim HD Bars. The JetStream bar delivers again on 21mm accessory T-slots, and rubber SmartFill push-down infills with two colour options, while the Trim HD only comes in a black powder-coat but does have the bonus of tie-down points on the endcap of each bar.

For the sake of you Kombi-van lovers, Yakima is not completely doing away with the old and you can choose to retrofit either aero bars, or even the original round bar, with the appropriate adaptor if you so wish.

In the field

Okay, we’re going to keep this one brief as we’ve not had enough time to use and abuse every iteration of every leg and bar combo yet, and we are unlikely to do so in the near future. What we can tell you though is, so far, the StreamLine system just works. We’re massive fans of the quick release on the SkyLine leg, especially if you have a few bike mounts on top, because with a buddy you can remove the entire system in seconds to avoid having any unnecessary wind drag on your roof.

The simple things, like the new profile of the JetStream bars dropping some weight (and lowering wind-noise) means we have a few more grams for that spare kayak paddle atop or set of skis in the roof box. And who would have guessed that push-down rubber inserts would be such a joy, avoiding a need to cut little pieces of rubber inserts to inevitably lose them the following week. And finally, any company that puts a torque-key into their installation kit is a win in our eyes because the “that’s about tight enough” can very quickly turn into “did I just strip that thread” with a half-turn of the wrist. It is simple, but clever, stuff that reflects Yakima’s decades of experience in designing roof-racks and carry systems.

The final word on the Yakima StreamLine roof-rack system

Yakima’s track record of offering quality products to handle even coastal Aussie conditions means we are confident the new StreamLine products won’t let us down. As usual, we’re big fans of the little things. We’d love to be able to throw a huge ‘cons’ list at you to list all the bad things about these new bars but the honest truth is we’ve not yet come across anything glaringly obvious. Yes, fitting them can be a bit of a pain but fitting all roof bars is a pain. We’d also prefer everything was the same sized Allen key or torque wrench, rather than a need for a flat head screwdriver on the TimberLine, but that’s not a deal breaker. 

That new, sleeker profile, is aimed at aiding aerodynamics and reducing wind-noise. The new shape is a subtle change to previous models, but an effective one.

In the end, the new Yakima StreamLine is really just a base for attaching our toys and it simply does what it says on the tin… but it does it very bloody well. The system looks good, does what we want it to do, and doesn’t deliver a load of faff we don’t need.

For more info on the StreamLine system, click here. See Yakima’s website for more information on all of its products and to find a dealer.