The new Thule hitch-mount bike racks offer lighter weight designs, swing-away solutions for easier tailgate access, better straps and attachments, and more. Plus, their Evo roof bars get better attachment systems for both accessories and the base plates, making it quicker and easier than ever to add a roof rack to your car, truck or van.
Starting at the back, the new Helium Platform rack slots into either 1.25″ or 2″ hitches and uses folding arms to secure the wheels at both ends of your bike. There’s no frame or rim contact, and no straps to fiddle with, with room for 26″ to 29er wheels wearing up to 3″ tires and bikes with up to a 50″ wheelbase. Max bike weight (per bike) is 37.5lb (17kg).
The wheel loops open using a levered release, then ratchet down to secure your bike into place. Integrated cable locks are included and provide light security.
The aluminum frame saves weight, coming in around 44lbs, about 8lb lighter than their T2 XT rack. The whole thing can tilt down to provide access to the rear of your car, even with bikes on it. It won’t be here until May 2019, retail will be $429.95 (1 bike) and $649.95 (2 bike).
New Thule Access swingaway adapter for 2” hitches lets you swing virtually any loaded rack (up to 250lb) completely away from your vehicle for rear access. It opens by pulling a single pin, so it’s very quick and easy to use. Coming in February for $299.95.
Thule has also upgraded their hanging bike racks, increasing the clearance between bikes to 7”, up from 5.5” on the prior models. The Camber is a new rack (black one, center) replaces the Parkway and Vertex and comes with no locks to keep it more affordable. It’s available in 2- and 4-bike versions with a max weight load of 150lbs.
They’ve replaced the individual rubber straps with integrated ratcheting straps, so there’s no chance of losing them, and they’re quicker to secure your bike.
The Apex Swing (black one, foreground in first group photo) and regular Apex XT take the basic frame of the Camber and add an integrated cable lock, more robust hitch attachment mechanism, and a 150lb max weight load with up to 5 bike carriers.
Lastly, there’s the Range, a new RV-specific rear hitch rack with no tilt. All are available mid March 2019.
The Thule Wingbar Evo Roof bar line will get a refresh, swapping out all the old shapes with this new version that gets a 165lb weight limit. One of the biggest improvements to the bars is a split rubber seal on the attachment track, so the mounting bolts can slide along and sit anywhere you need them to without the need to cut the rubber strips and reinstall them around the mounts.
For the feet, they’re easier to install now and have a much more streamlined appearance. Gone are the rubber straps that wrap around your factory bars, replaced with clamping hooks. They come with a torque wrench that clicks once it’s tight enough, and that reduces potential user error. A more universal fit means fewer SKUs for shops, too, since the same foot works for various roof types, and their SquareBar and ProBar will also attach to these same feet.
Not shown, the Force XT rooftop cargo box gets a more ergonomic key lock that’s easier to turn, and the interior shape is refined to make it easier to pack stuff inside. Basically, there are fewer weird humps on its floor that make cargo placement awkward. There’ll also be a Sport model that’s narrower.
If you need to haul more cargo on your back rather than your car, they have new Landmark travel backpacks coming later this year that will have 40, 60 and 70 liter sizes, the larger two using detachable day packs to achieve that total volume. The base back can hide the shoulder straps to act more like a duffel and protect them if you have to check them for a flight. Passive security features, lockable zippers, and a stealth cash pocket help keep your stuff safer, too.
These split the difference between their more aggressive, full featured lightweight hiking backpacks and their casual commuter packs. If you haven’t seen Thule’s backpack line (or even knew they made such a thing), it’s worth a look if you’re a bag geek like me. And check out the new, larger mountain bike hydration packs they launched at Eurobike, too!