This year at Sea Otter, the Swedish rack manufacturer Thule, was showcasing some new products and upgrades.
The Apex Swing 4, their premium hitch “swing away” model, was revamped. The rack now has a taller mast for increased ground clearance, and the arms are visibly arced to create a larger gap between bikes.
The design also incorporates an integrated braided steel cable. The lock is just long enough to wrap around four top tubes. Perfect for running into your favorite taqueria for a post-ride burrito.
The cradles have also been upgraded with a “dual stage suspension.” Thule calls this Road Dampening Technology (RDT) and it should help reduce road noise and dampen vibration.
The RDT is also found on the top of the cradles.
The Apex has a new tool free adjustment feature. You’ll no longer need to carry additional tools in order to transfer the rack onto another car.
The most convenient feature of this rack is its ability to swing away from the back of a vehicle. If you’ve ever tried dropping and raising a normal fully loaded rack, you’ll appreciate the convenience of this system. The Apex swing 4 is only available in a 4 bike version. The rack is only compatible with 2″ receivers and retails for $500 MSRP.
New for this year is a tailgate pad, called the Gate Mate, for compact and full sized trucks. The pad has a “handle hood” for easy access to the tailgate handle.
Each corner features a “Knock-Block” to prevent bikes from sliding into the edge of the tailgate during a sharp corner and denting. The pad will retail for $99 MSRP.
Also on display at Sea Otter was Thule’s line up of luggage, day packs, and laptop sleeves. I had no idea they made luggage but everything felt top notch and looked ready to take a beating.
The bags had a myriad of compartments including a “safe zone” for anything from sunglasses to electronics. More importantly, they rolled along on some sweet looking rims. Of course, if you’re too cool for rolling backpacks, the bag also had integrated backpack straps.
Side note: Thule is a Swedish brand, but they manufacture 80% of their products for the US market in their Connecticut factory. The plant employs about 1,000 individuals and uses solar power for around 25% of their total annual energy consumption.
For more check out Thule.com