Thule T2 Bicycle Rack—Major Up-grade for My Bike Needs.
As a child I never transported my bike (as far as I can remember). If I wanted to ride at the beach, I rode there to do it. It was just that simple. When I got back into bikes in 1991, same story. I rode my bike where I wanted and back home at the end of the day. Times sure have changed in that respect. 10 years ago I found that loading them in the back of the station wagon could lead to a great riding day anywhere we liked.
As we got into the heavier E-bikes that wasn’t an option. We would still take our bikes places, but only the ones light enough to lift and fit the pair in the back of the wagon. So our beach cruisers and E-bikes couldn’t go out of town because they didn’t fit in the car. We have since gotten a bike rack and folding bikes to open up our riding location thrills. The cheapo bike rack we were using was solid enough, but had some serious drawbacks (I did a post on that rack quite a while back).
This year we went all out and picked-up a brand new heavy duty hitch mounted rack from Thule. The T2 from Thule has made a big difference for us and I fully recommend it. Although getting the model with a 2” receiver would have been better, it wasn’t an option as both our cars only fit the 1 ¼” receiver. Thule also offers a E-bike specific model, yet it only fits the 2″ set-up.
Since I got my bike rack several years ago I have been noticing so many different types I have been convinced that one that holds the bikes by supporting them under the tires was the only type I am interested in. With the heavy E-bikes and ones with low frames, I couldn’t imagine carrying them any other way. That, and those types seem to let the bikes bang against each other (scratches and ?). I’ve seen many T2 racks over the years and decided it was the one for us.
The T2 is one heavy duty unit. It folds up straight when not in use (I found with my old one that I would remove it and put it in the back of the wagon when were out riding). It came with a nifty lock for the mounting bolt so I am always pretty confident it will be on the back of the car every time we return from a ride. It also has two locking cables to secure the bikes to the rack, a big plus. The rack and the bikes seem to be protected well at all times.
The way the rack holds the bikes is a big improvement over my old rack. The uprights fold down for bike loading and when not in use. My old rack didn’t, so this required a dead lift of the bike over a maybe 2 1/2 foot barrier, something I don’t miss on those 60 and 70 lbs. E-bikes. Plus the way the bikes load in general has taken off a big load, I just set the front wheel in the holder and then swing the back wheel up next. No full lifting of the bike is needed.
The rear wheel holding block slides on the rail for different sizes of bikes and has a nice hold-down mechanism and strap. It is designed to fit the skinny road bike tires and the beefy beach cruiser ones too. The front wheel tray is big enough for every bike I’ve tried (sand bike–maybe not). The fold-down upright is foam covered where it touches the bike and has a strong ratcheting mechanism. It is designed to clamp on the tire, so bikes with fenders can be different. Even the 20” wheel bikes are within its range. It seems I can use this on the frame instead of the wheel if desired.
On the bigger and heavier bikes I use some two-sided Velcro straps to secure the up-right to the wheel for some additional piece-of-mind (and on the longer trips too). I came about doing this on bikes with fenders where I’d rather set the brace on the tire, not the fender. The bikes stay secure on the rack and never bang into each other. When I use it with our Tweed Ride bikes I find the need to remove the seat of one to keep it from interfering with the baskets. Occasionally I will need to lower or raise a saddle to do the same on some bikes.
If there is one thing that I don’t like it is the increased overall weight of this rack. Getting it on and off the car is a touch harder. My old one used to hang in the garage on some bike hooks out of the way when not in use, but I don’t see that happening with the Thule T2. It has been taking up some valuable floor space there, but leaving it on the car more often keeps it ready for use in a flash.
The Thule people did warn against overloading this rack with E-bikes. Although I am occasionally going past its recommended maximum carrying capacity, I figure those numbers are set way under the testing limits and obtained in the roughest of use (a Baja 500 course?) This does concern me (and might you), but everything seems solid enough even with the lighter-weight capacity of the smaller receiver on the cars. I drive pretty mellow and keep a close eye on the bikes and the rack, so I am not sensing any issue in this direction with all the use the rack has been getting.
There are many things to keep in mind with bike racks. Correct mounting and use are right up there. Making sure the hot exhaust of the car isn’t blowing on your bikes and rack is another biggy. Not obscuring the sight of your tail and brake lights is a issue that could come up, make sure to check that. On many bikes their profile is small, but on some bikes they could block the lights. Make sure the people behind you can see those lights, it is important.
Assembly was pretty easy, although I went on-line once or twice to check clearer photos of the completed rack. Like always the instructions were not as well laid-out in some respects. The only hiccup was at the suggested spacing of the two main rails, one of the foam pieces on the up-right bar got torn from being too close to the other up-right bar. I re-spaced the front rail about a quarter inch forward to prevent this clearance problem. I considered asking Thule for a new foam protector, but it isn’t at a place where it contacts the bikes. If it gets worse I will see what they have to say about it.
I am very happy with this new rack and how it has made carrying the bikes easier. Getting them on-board is now a breeze, and always a one-person job. A great bike rack is a good thing.
Let’s ride, Turbo Bob.
“Every time you miss your childhood, ride a bicycle”.—Mehmet Murat ildan
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