Cars / e34 / Body & Interior / Touring Yakima Rack

Touring Yakima Rack

Article by: straight6pwr

Applies to: all e34 Touring models.


I’ve written a handful how-tos for custom work on my e30s, but this is my first contribution to the e34 world.

I found that info for roof rack options for the e34 touring was slim, and most of the options are NLA or hard to find (OEM, Osiris rack, Yakima Railrider 1)

I already have a full setup of Yakima stuff from my e30 so I didn’t want to have to buy all new crap, so I knew I needed to get some Yakima towers to work.

First of all, the Yakima A1 rain gutter style mounts DO work. For an e34 sedan, they’d be just peachy, but they don’t let you utilize the entire roof of the touring, nor the extra load capacity of the roof rails, and they risk scratching your paint.

It is reported that Yakima Railrider 1 towers do work, but I couldn’t find any for sale at the time of my build.

There were, however, many Railrider 2 sets available for great prices (I payed $45).

After studying the pictures and diagrams I decided that with a little work, they could be used, so I bought a set.

Here’s what I did to make them work:

1) Purchase Yakima Railrider 2 part #0209

2) Modify landing pads. The stock roof rails have a small raised portion next to the slots that interferes with the pads.

If you place the pads on the rails flat, you’ll see that the holes wont line up with the slots. All you have to do is sand the outside edge of the pads to reduce the size.

I did this on a belt sander, but a file or dremel would work too if you don’t have access to big shop tools. The rear pads will need a little more plastic taken off than the fronts.

I also took some material off the bottom of the pads to make threading the screw easier.

Here is the modified pad on the left, and the original one on the right:


This picture shows how the modified pad lines up with the slot correctly:


3) Modify the clips that slide into the slot. I don’t know if all Railrider 2 part #0209 come with the same clips, but mine came with ones that didn’t work for the e34.

The manual shows that there is a clip from Yakima that will work for the e34 touring ‘type b’, but since I had these clips already, I just decided to make them work instead of tracking down and ordering more parts that might be NLA anyways.

It’s a simple change, as the clip just has to be a rectangle small enough to fit into the opening at the end of the roof rail slot.

All i did was put the clips in a vise and used a Milwaukee Sawzall to cut them to size. 6″ 18 tooth bi-metal blades did a clean job.

This picture shows the original clips on the right, and the modified clips on the left.


4) Slide your clips in, align the holes in the pads and use the long screws to connect them.

Here are the back pads connected:


Here are the front pads connected:


5) Now just slide on the towers and assemble the rest of your rack system:


Enjoy, and always wear eye protection when using a sawzall, those bastards are crazy.

— Follow up by: Layne —

Finally finished my rack. My towers are ‘Railrider 3’ although I can’t see any difference from yours. I cut the bottom pads the same way and cut the big weird shaped nuts into squares the same as you did (thanks for the tip!).

I had to sand/file the inside of the towers just a little to fit the EMT tubing (it’s about 1.165 instead of 1.125). Basically just remove the paint and burrs and it will fit, but it won’t slide easily.

I can’t see any need to remove the bars from the towers on a regular basis. Of course you could paint it so it looks better, but it’s galvanized so it should last well outdoors.

The caps are from Lowe’s for a chair leg or something. They’re also 1.125, so they fit tightly. The only noise comes from the open ends of the tube so the caps should take care of that, and I haven’t been able to measure a reduction in gas mileage with just the empty rack.

Overall I’m very satisfied.



The reason I finally finished it, so I could buy a canoe.


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