This fall we were on the market for a new roof rack and we settled on the Thule AeroBlade Edge 7503 and 7502. In the fall we had traded our 2001 Rav4 in for a 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. The Crosstrek came with elevated factory roof rails so we were looking for a rack solution that would carry our Thule Boxter Ski Box in the winter and a canoe or kayak in the summer.
Thule offers a range of solutions for hauling the full gamut of cargo types. When you think about the range in size and shapes of vehicles out there it would be no easy feat to design a multi-vehicle load carrying system. In deciding on a rack that was the best fit for our vehicle and needs our primary considerations were carrying capacity, aerodynamics, installation and security.
Thule's AeroBlade Edge offers a carrying capacity of 75kg (165lb). You may need to check with your vehicle manufacturer to find out what the load capacity is for your roof rails and vehicle as it may be less than this. It's worth noting that the AeroBlade load bar, the BoxBeam™aluminium extrusion, is in fact designed to sustain over 800lb of force in vertical load tests, making it one of the strongest load bars on the market and because it's constructed of aluminum it's lightweight.
There are two major motives for optimising aerodynamics – efficiency and noise. In order to increase efficiency (by reducing drag) and also to reduce wind noise Thule have engineered an articulated profile for the load bar which is fixed to the roof rails via a low clearance design. Integrated into the t-slot cover is Thule's WindDiffuser™ technology which is essentially an inset strip with a textured surface designed to distribute the airflow, greatly reduce wing noise and improving gas mileage. On top of this, Thule's new SmartSlide™ (more on this below) covers the underbar slot further improving aerodynamics and noise diffusion.
The AeroBlade Edge integrated bar and t-slot design is sold individually to accommodate the front to rear taper of modern vehicles, so you will need two to make a complete AeroBlade Edge raised railing roof rack. Three sizes are available, 7501, 7502 and 7503, this allows the Edge to be custom fit to most vehicles on the market with factory installed raised rails. You will need to consult the Thule Fit Guide or speak to a dealer to determine which sizes are required for your vehicle.
The t-slot in the AeroBlade Edge is designed for easy accessory installations (some carriers may require Thule Xadapt Kits for t-slot mounting). Detailed illustrations on how to install come with the Edge, here's an overview:
Position the load bar on the vehicle roof rails.
Open the SwingBlade™ end cap pivots to allow full access to the t-slot.
Take the flexible rubber/plastic strap part of Thule's new SmartSlide™system, hook it inside the load bar at one of the four holes; wrap the rubber/plastic strap around the roof rail and attach the two round holes at the end to the two round pegs on the t-slot.
Tighten the spring mechanism of SmartSlide™using the included hex tool.
Here are two views of how the AeroBlade Edge 7503 and 7502 unitls sit on the factory Subaru rails.
The Thule AeroBlade Edge doesn't come with rack locks out-of-the-box. Thule lock cores are sold separately in packs of two, four, six or eight with two (identical) keys in each pack. The locks integrate cleanly into each t-slot cap ensuring the load bars can't be easily disassembled and carried away, simply remove the plugs, insert the lock cylinder and lock 'er up.
The supplied lock plug ready to be placed.
The Thule lock being placed into position.
The locks installed, pretty easy.
Installing and using the AeroBlade Edge has been a really positive experience not unlike other Thule products we have reviewed (see Thule Boxter Ski Box review). For a rack solution it is far superior to vehicle manufacturers factory stock cross bars as the it exceeds the carrying capacity in most cases and also it's load bars are not fixed so you have the flexibility to re-position to suit your needs. This is a huge step up for us after years with a Rav4 stock roof rack which had a carrying capacity of 40lb (our ski box alone weighs 60lb and we had to forget about carrying a canoe). Thanks to the aerodynamic design of the Aeroblade there has been no wind noise or whistling to date (speeds up to 100km). The Aeroblade is constructed so that the load bars sit on top of the roof rails keeping weight is on top of the rails thereby stablising large loads really successfully. Thule have managed to design a fairly low profile despite the load bar sitting on top of the roof rails, this increases clearance and also efficiently keeps our box closer to the vehicle roof. The AeroBlade Edge can be easily customized to most vehicles thanks to the flexible and adaptable design of the t-slot attachment. The mechanism is not simple but I am not sure how else it could be done without compromising it's diverse application. The rubber/plastic strap that wraps the roof rails provides a solid grip and I am confident it will never slide.
Before you decide on which size you need for your car make sure you do your homework. Whilst the bars are adjustable one bar wouldn't accommodate the front and rear dimensions required for our vehicle (Subaru XV Crosstrek). Due to the tapering of the Crosstrek body we needed two different load bar widths (models 7502 and 7503). We found it it was not easy to find the exact AeroBlade model we needed despite consulting the online 'Thule Fit Guide' in fact we probably never would have worked it out purely via the website. In the end we contacted customer support to be sure we were ordering the correct bar for our car size.
It seems crazy these days to supply a rack without including locks to secure it to the vehicle. Factor in an extra $60USD for locks. Without the locks there is no way to secure your load. With the locks it could be possible to pry the plastic cap up and dismantle the rack fixture but they would have to work seriously hard at it.
And one final final point about Thule and the Environment. Thule's Seymour, CT facility where most bike, ski, kayak and SUP racks are made is run with solar that offsets 29% of the power they use. There are over 1800 solar panels on the roof of that facility to help Thule do there part in manufacturing with the environment in mind. Bravo Thule!
Price: $169.95 USD
Weight: 7502 - 2.6kg, 7503 - 2.7kg
Carrying Capacity: 75kg / 165lb
Relatively easy to install. Versatile, can fit most vehicles with roof rails. Solid construction. High carrying capacity. Aerodynamic design reduces noise and gas mileage.
Not easy to figure out which size(s) will fit your vehicle. Locks not included. The plastic end cap that covers the t-slot fixture could be easy to pry off.
Quality / Price 1.5/2
This is only our opinion. Do you disagree? Did we miss something? Are we totally out to lunch? Join the discussion in the forums here, and let us know what you think. People like/dislike gear for different reasons so chime in and we'll get a well-rounded evaluation.