Tow-bar mounted bike rack solution from Thule, the T2 Pro XT
Words: Mike Blewitt Photos: Tim Bardsley-Smith
Thule's range of storage and carrying solutions knows no bounds, and the Thule T2 Pro XT is a perfect example of a company responding to customer's needs. The stout hitch-mounted rack attaches to a 50mm hitch for a bombproof connection to your car and can carry two mountain bikes of just about any shape or size, including fat bikes with up to 5” tyres. You can even get an add on to take two extra bikes on the rack – perfect for mountain biking families or shuttle runs. Or for mountain bike families who do shuttle runs!
One of the best features of the Thule T2 Pro XT is that the rack doesn't contact your frame to hold your bike securely. Many of Thule's previous designs for both roof and rear of car carrying systems have involved clamping the frame. Almost always with torque-limited rubber edged clamps, but there is still the chance to damage paint or the frame with improper use.
Thule have opted to have a moveable arm that compresses the front tyre to hold the bike securely, while also using fast-action tie downs for each wheel. It's not a new concept, but it works well for almost any kind of bike regardless of wheel size, tyre width, hub standards or frame shapes or materials.
As a two bike rack, two bikes were easy to fit on going top to tail as there is 32cm between each bike. Both the trays can be adjusted left to right, so you can get the spacing setup for the types of bikes you will be carrying, and use the width of your vehicle. We found it easy to mount up a 29er eMTB and a 29er trail bike. We also used the rack with two long-travel eMTBs fitted and it was still rock solid. The maximum bike capacity is 27kg per bike and a total of 55.5kg. The rack itself weighs close to 30kg so it's a big bit of metal to move around. Fitting it to your hitch is tool-free though, so getting setup to hit the trails is pretty easy as long as you can lift the rack easily enough.
There are plenty of security options as the rack locks to your car, and the racks lock closed. If you planned on parking with your bikes unattended for a length of time I would still suggest using an additional high-strength lock. It just beats the alternative.
It was really quick and easy to load bikes onto the rack, and we used this rack during Cape to Cape this year. So bikes were getting loaded and unloaded each day, and it was certainly faster than with the Thule EasyFold model XT rack we had used the week before and tested for our last issue.
I really liked how the rack can be folded up when not in use – which means it stays close to your car and isn't going to take out anyone's shins. There's a big handle to grab and it moves upards very easilt. However it cannot be folded down, so it means things in the boot of your car, or tray of your ute, won't be as easy to get too while there are bikes on the rack. There are other racks in Thule's range to look at if that's a feature you need.
My other dislike for the rack is the lack of light board and plate holder. Yes you can get an additional item to do so, but to be frank if it's the legal requirement in most states to have one, I think it's about time products are made ready to be used once sold. Again, there are racks in the Thule range that do that like the Thule EasyFold XT 3 model we have already tested. Thule do a lightboard for $149 that will get you covered, and with the 2 bike add on for $699 you can end up with a pretty serious investment to carry 4 bikes. At that point you may be better looking at a vertical bike rack that can take 5 or 6 bikes, with a light board.
As it is, the 2-bike option was rock solid in use, and superfast to load and unload. And while it can get pricey to make it street legal to carry 4-bikes, it is a modular system and if 2 is all you need and your state doesn't mandate a light and number plate board, then this is an awesome rack that is built to last.
- Fast to load and unload
- Can fit most bikes
- No frame contact
- No light board or plate holder