The Lab

Wind Tunnel for Noise Testing

The Wind Tunnel

The fundamental discoveries in the development of Whispbar were made during hours of meticulous research and testing in the wind tunnel at the Canterbury University. Without this critical phase in the development of Whispbar it would not have been possible to break new ground in creating a quiet roof rack.

The purpose-built wind tunnel above was first displayed at Automechanika, Frankfurt, in September 2008 where visitors to the stand could prove the quietness of Whispbar at it's world launch. It is powered by an 11kw electric motor and is capable of speeds up to 160 km/h. Wind tunnel testing has been a hallmark of the development of Whispbar and is reminiscent of tests carried out in the Wright Brothers' Wind Tunnel by Wilbur and Orville Wright in the winter of 1901. They proved the value of using their wind tunnel in discovering the secrets of flight, and Whispbar has come through the same scientific process. The Wright Brothers went on to become the world's first powered flight aviators, and Whispbar became an aerodynamic and quiet roof rack.

Testing to perfection

The testing did not stop with the wind tunnel. Wind direction, humidity, turbulence and the proximity of the bar to the vehicle roof all play a part in producing noise and not all of these conditions can be replicated in the wind tunnel. So Whispbar had to be put to the test on the road as well. Testing was carried out on many different vehicles to prove what the wind tunnel testing was saying.

The idea for a silent roof rack emerged within the company in the late 80's after having had nearly 10 years of experience in manufacturing roof racks for both aftermarket outlets and motor companies and being made painfully aware of what seemed like the single biggest issue with roof racks - too much noise! The first attempt at solving this problem was an aerodynamic sleeve attached over the standard rectangluar section crossbar. This achieved limited success and was deployed on the S-bar product launched in 1990. Further developments in cooperation with the Canterbury University saw the emergence of the "Owl Wing" a series of triangles on the leading edge of the bar. This feature appeared on roof racks developed for a new Ford vehicle in 2002. Then in 2006 after further testing and development with the Canterbury University the beautiful wing shape was conceived and coupled with the flush fitting push-down infill was the breakthrough needed to develop an aerodynamically optimized and quiet roof rack. The development of Whispbar has required many hours of wind tunnel testing and validation as there are so many factors are involved with producing wind noise on roof racks meaning extensive testing was essential to validate the final unique wing shape of the bar. Full motor company endorsement of the new shape was quickly received with it going into production for the latest GM sedan in Australasia in the same year.

What started as an idea in the late 1980's had finally come to pass after years of scientific testing and development; a quiet roof rack.