Thule Bike Rack

The Best Thule Bike Rack 2019

There are bike racks and then there is the Thule Bike Rack. Thule has been creating bike racks and other types of racks since 1942; it is fair to say they are a world leader and have the experience and knowledge needed. But, while choosing Thule is a great step in the right direction you still need to check out a huge array of racks to establish the best Thule bike rack for your needs.

Quick Pick

Thule makes a huge range of products, which can make it difficult to know which one is right for you. If you’re looking for a hitch mounted rack that does everything then you need to choose the Thule Helium; it’s easily the best product available.

However, if affordability is more of a concern then the Thule 9001 Trunk Mounted is a fantastic choice.  Of course, if the rear of your vehicle isn’t an option and you already have roof bars, then the Thule Prologue Roof Rack is a pragmatic and surprisingly affordable option.

The range is surprising; you’ll need this guide to help narrow your choices, allowing you to get the best Thule bike rack possible.

It’s important to understand that a Thule bike rack is designed to last for years, it is stylish and considers aerodynamics in the process; ensuring you experience the minimal extra fuel consumption possible. Most importantly every rack has or can come with a high-quality lock; helping to ensure your bike remains where it should be.

Of course, choosing the right Thule bike rack starts with understanding the different options available to you. You’ll then be able to assess the best option for your need; the handy buying guide at the end of this article will help you to assess the most relevant criteria for your Thule bike rack

Don’t forget that it’s worth considering the best option; it will make the experience of loading and unloading your bike much easier. This will allow you to enjoy time riding your bike instead of trying to secure it to your vehicle and worrying about any damage being caused.

In short, you can look forward to the ride instead of worrying about damaging your pride and joy.

Types Of Thule Bike Racks

In order for you to decide the right Thule bike rack for your needs, you need to understand the different types of racks available. Some of them can be fitted to any vehicle; others are reserved for a specific type of vehicle:

  • Hitch Rack

As the name suggests this type of rack is designed to sit on your hitch. This generally increases the amount of weight the actual rack can hold and is considered the preferred option when you want to carry 3 or 4 bikes.

However, it is worth noting that not all hitch mounted bike racks are the same! You’ll need to check the specs in order to find out if the rack moves to allow you access to the trunk; the best ones will grant access even if the rack is loaded with bikes.

Hitch racks are generally considered to be the easiest to use, although they are heavy they simply slide into your hitch and are ready to use. The fact that they are low to the ground makes loading easier and the inclusion of anti-sway technology helps to keep your bike safe; no matter how far you’re traveling.

  • Roof

A common alternative, especially if your vehicle already has roof bars is to add a roof bike rack. You’ll need to get crossbars as these are not usually sold with the bike rack. The number of bikes you can carry will be limited by a number of factors, including the size of the bikes, the width of your roof and the amount of weight your roof can carry.

This style of rack is generally simple to fit but you will need to ensure your crossbars are positioned correctly. You’ll also need to lift your bikes onto the roof; making this a difficult option if you have heavy bikes.

However, it is worth noting that the roof bike rack system is the only one that will allow you to carry a tandem bike. If you’re thinking about a romantic getaway this may be the right Thule bike rack for you!

The roof bike rack does ensure you have complete visibility out of your rear window, not something that any other style of rack allows you to have.

There are two styles of roof bike racks, one will allow you to simply lift the bike into position; the other uses a clamp on your front axle and means you need to remove the wheel before you secure the bike onto the rack.

  • Trunk Racks

These are the most traditional style bike racks. They are good value for money although they have improved dramatically in recent years. Instead of tie-down straps to secure the rack in place many of the modern trunk bike racks use clamps that hook on the insides of your boot lid. This makes them much harder to remove when your trunk is shut and easier to fit. This improved design doesn’t just improve the safety of your bike rack it also helps to protect your car for scratches while using the rack.

In general, this is the cheapest option which makes it a worthwhile consideration for the occasional rider. You can’t open the trunk while this rack is being used although you can access the trunk if the bikes are off the rack.

It is worth noting that these are not using made to carry more than 3 bikes. However, they can be folded when not in use and stored in your garage with the minimal of effort. In addition, the bike frame clamps that come as standard with this style of rack are effective at keeping the bike in position again protecting your car and the other bikes.

  • Spare Tire Bike Racks

If you have an SUV then you may well have a spare tire on the back of your vehicle. This will make it difficult to use a standard trunk bike rack and may even get in the way of a hitch mounted one. That’s why the spare tire bike rack has been designed.

The rack is designed to bolt through the middle of your spare tire. However, you will need to remove any spare tire cover to allow the mount to secure properly in position.  It is usually simple to fit this type of rack and it will take 2 or 3 bikes. However, the majority of tire mounted bike racks will only have a single support arm. This means you’ll need to balance your bike in position and then secure it carefully to ensure it can’t move during transit. It is possible to get dual arm models; you’ll need to consider which style you prefer.

Your bike rack can remain on the vehicle while your rear door is opened and closed but your door is probably not designed to handle the weight of the bikes; they may need to be removed before you open the door.

There is also a strap on style tire mounted bike rack which slots over your tire and then straps into position with a single strap around the tire. This is very easy to fit but may not be as secure as the bolt on style.

It’s worth noting, that this style of rack leaves your hitch free; allowing you to tow a vehicle or trailer as well as your bikes.

  • Truck Bed Bike Racks

The final type of bike rack is the truck bed; obviously, this is only an option if you have a truck and the bed space is free. Most of these styles of racks have a bar that clamps into position inside your truck bed walls; without needing to be bolted into position.

Depending on the size of your truck bed you should then be able to secure up to 4 bikes to the bar. Of course, you’ll need to lift your bikes into the trunk and they’ll need to be short enough to fit in the length of your truck bed.

You will also need to be aware that the bikes will usually need an extra cable to ensure the back of the bikes don’t move around during transit; causing damage to each other and your truck. Bikes can be locked to the front bar which can be locked to the truck, ensuring your bikes remain safe even if you leave them in all night.

The 10 Best Thule Bike Racks:

Without further ado, it’s time to take a look at the Thule bike rack top 10 list. All of the following are good quality and would make a great addition to your current list of accessories. However, you’ll need to be practical when making your decision not simply choose the one that looks best.

1. Thule Helium Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

Thule Helium Hitch Mounted Bike Rack

You’ll need a tow hitch if you want to purchase and use this rack. This could be a viable option if you have other uses for a tow hitch, but if you don’t, it will add several hundred dollars to the cost of your rack. You’ll need to question whether this is a worthwhile investment.

The first thing to note that is that the Thule Helium comes in a 2 bike or 3 bike option. There is very little difference in the two products; except for the fact that one can carry an extra bike. As you can see, the Helium is a stylish looking rack built on a central pole with dual arms; one on each side of the pole. These have clamps attached for your bike frame to drop into. The clamps can be moved along the bars and angled; helping to accommodate all sizes and shapes of bikes. Of course, if you have a child’s bike or an angled bar you may need to purchase a frame adaptor. You can actually get Thule bike rack parts, such as the frame adaptor 982XT to ensure a perfect fit.

To ensure the rack remains light but strong the majority of it is made from ultra-light aluminum; this means it is possible to lift it into place with just one hand if you want to. Fitting is as simple as sliding the bar into the hitch receiver on your vehicle and then turning the knob to lock it into place. The Helium also has an integrated locking cable and locking knob; a simple lock on the knob prevents it from being undone and the rack removed. You’ll also appreciate the integrated locking cable which slides out of the frame and secures your bikes into position; preventing them from being removed without your permission.

The design of the Helium ensures there is plenty of road clearance for your bikes, even on the bumpiest of roads. It is also designed to ensure plenty of space between bikes, allowing you to secure them effectively without risking them being damaged.

Your bikes sit into the moveable cradles, these are actually designed to absorb the shock of the road and protect your bike, the road damping technology is actually patented by Thule. The cage style strap prevents your bike from swaying although you may wish to add extra padded straps for complete peace of mind.

Clever design ensures minimal movement of the rack arm in the receiver. But, at the same time, a simple lever allows the arms to fold into the pole and then the rack to tip away from your vehicle at an angle. This should allow you to access the trunk but it is advisable to keep the bikes off the rack when doing this.

Your Thule Helium can be fitted to 1.25” & 2” receivers. It weighs just 20 pounds and can handle 2 or 3 bikes up to 35 pounds each with a clearance of 5.5” between each bike. Of course, the size of your bikes will affect this gap slightly.

This may not be the cheapest product on the market but it is well designed, durable and backed with a comprehensive warranty; you’ll be investing your money wisely.

2. Thule Parkway Hitch Mount

Thule Parkway Hitch Mount

The second offering on this list is also a hitch mounted rack, in many ways the Parkway is similar to the Helium. Again it has a central pole and two long arms, one on each side. However, there are several key differences. For example, the Parkway does not have the patented anti-sway cages that the Helium does. Your bikes will still be held firmly in place in the soft rubber cradles but you will need to secure them to the rack with extra straps. If you don’t the movement of the bikes while you’re driving is likely to leave the frames damaged.

This doesn’t mean it’s not a good buy but it may be better suited to those who use racks occasionally, you certainly can’t leave it on the car. On the plus side, it can carry 4 bikes without an issue, making it perfect for those family days out or even the annual vacation. (You can purchase this in a 2 bike version if you prefer).

As with most hitch mounted racks, there is no need to remove the wheels from the bike. The rack is fairly low, allowing you to easily load any bike and secure it while still having enough road clearance for all but the bumpiest of roads.

While the Parkway doesn’t look quite as stylish as the Helium it is just as functional. The rack is made from high strength steel; this reduces the cost of making the rack and is reflected in the retail price. This is also the reason that the central pole is square instead of circular. The steel is powder coated to ensure it is protected from the elements.

You can fit this rack to a 2” receiver or a 1.25”. However, you’ll need to specify before you purchase the rack to ensure you get the right size. It is also possible to purchase a snug-tite receiver lock from a Thule bike rack parts supplier; this will allow you to lock the rack to the car. It is also worth noting that there is no bike lock supplied with the Parkway; you’ll need to invest in a good quality cable lock in order to secure the bikes to the rack. This may not be necessary if you only ever go from home to your riding point without stopping. But, there’s a good chance you’ll need the locking cable at some point.

The rack weighs approximately 34 pounds and can handle bikes up to 35 pounds each; again the clearance between bikes will be approximately 5.5”. Your Parkway rack is very easy to install, simply slide it into the receiver and then drop the securing bolt into place before tightening it. It is worth noting that the rack may wobble slightly if you don’t use the snug-tite receiver as well.

You can then use the lever at the base to release the main pole, allowing it to tilt away from your trunk; giving you access to the rear of your vehicle although this shouldn’t be done with the bikes in position.

This is a great entry level model for someone who wants quality, ease of fitting and will use it occasionally. If you’re biking every weekend then the Helium will probably be the better choice for you; assuming you have a hitch on your vehicle.

3. Thule Easyfold XT

Thule Easyfold XT

The Thule Easyfold XT is designed to be used with 2 bikes although you could also safely carry one electric bike on it. The only reason that you’ll be limited to one electric bike is due to the weight limit; the XT is capable of carrying up to 130 pounds, that’s two 65 pound bikes or one electric bike.

This is a hitch mounted Thule bike rack, you’ll need either a 2” receiver or a 1.25”, the adaptor that comes with the rack will allow it to slide comfortably into either. It should take less than two minutes for you to slide the rack into your receiver and then slide the locking pin into place. You can then connect the supplied 13 pin plug. It is worth checking your vehicle; if you have a 7 pin plug you’ll need an adaptor to be able to plug the Easyfold XT in. This connection will allow the lights on the rack to work and for you to add a registration plate.

However, you will need to note that this rack weighs 40 pounds; you may want to get assistance lifting it while you slide it into the receiver.

One of the best features of the rack is the folding ramp. It is integrated into the rack but unfolds easily to help you load your bike. This is important as the rack is designed to take heavy, large bikes. It will handle tires up to 4.7”, although you will need the additional Fatbike wheel straps.

The main arms unfold to create the tray support for the wheels of your bikes. These are curved downwards to improve strength while lowering the height of your bikes. In turn, this will reduce drag and help the performance of your vehicle as you carry the bikes. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the space allowance; there is 9” between bikes and a maximum wheelbase of 48”; in short, you’ll have enough space to carry virtually any bike without damaging it.

It is also good to see that Thule has considered trunk access. You can operate the pedal in the middle of the rack with your foot, this will allow the rack to tilt away from the trunk; giving you access. But, what’s really impressive is that you can do this with the bikes on the rack.

The bikes are held o the rack with adjustable pump buckles which are strapped around the wheels of each bike. There is also a central arm that has a soft grip for clamping onto the frame of your bike; preventing it from swaying as you drive.  These central arms are tightened into position with a simple knob. But, this knob has a torque limiter built into it; it will click when the optimal torque is reached. The soft grip on the clamp works with the rubber insert on the base to ensure that your bike won’t be damaged in transit.

It may be heavy to fit but this is one of the best Thule bike rack products ever!

4. Thule Apex Swing Away Hitch Rack

Thule Apex Swing Away Hitch Rack

This single pole, dual arms style bike rack is a pretty standard approach to carrying bikes on the back of your vehicle. But, as with most Thule products, there is more to this than meets the eye!

It is important to note that the Apex swig Away is designed to work with 2” receivers, if you have a smaller receiver you’ll need to consider getting an adaptor or choosing a different rack from the best Thule bike rack list.

There is no doubt that this is a heavy duty offering which is why it is commonly found on the back of SUV’s and other, larger, vehicles. The rack uses a Thule Snug-Tite locking system to ensure it won’t wobble in transit. This system also allows you to lock the rack to your vehicle; preventing anyone from walking off with it. Fitting is as simple as sliding the rack into the receiver and then securing the locking pin.

The supporting arms are arched and placed close to the central pole. This ensures the weight distribution is even and helps to keep the bikes off the ground. It also allows extra room between the bikes; which can prevent them from being damaged. Each arm has 4 clamps on it that can be moved to accommodate the best position for your bike frame. The cradles use Thule’s road dampening technology to reduce the road vibrations; protecting your bikes while you’re driving.

You’ll also appreciate the simple switch at the top of the central pole; this allows the arms to fold inwards, reducing the space it takes up and helping to reduce the risk of accidents when out. The folding arms also make it easier to store the rack when it’s not on your vehicle. The same switch allows you to swing the rack away from your vehicle and access the trunk. You can even swing the rack when you have bikes on the rack; this makes it one of the best racks you can buy for trunk access.

The Apex Swing is one of just a few Thule 4 bike racks on offer, although there is also a 5 bike option. However, you will need to do some assembly when the rack arrives and this rack is not the best option for any bikes with full suspension. It is also worth noting that the frame sits in the clamps on the arms; it is possible that the frame can be damaged in transit. To help prevent this you’ll need to be careful when loading the bikes and strap the lower part of the frame to the rack. The less movement there is the better.

A locking chain is fitted to the Apex Swing which can be pulled out and wrapped around your bikes. This will help to deter opportunist thieves. You should also be aware that the Apex Swing weighs in at 48.8 pounds which makes it pretty heavy to lift into position. The carry handles built into it will help but you want to list the help of a friend when fitting it.

It can handle up to 140 pounds, whether you load one heavy bike or four lighter ones. If you choose to load 4 bikes onto it there is a good chance that the frames will come into contact with each other and cause damage. It may be better just to carry 3 bikes.

5. Thule Prologue Roof Rack

Thule Prologue Roof Rack

An alternative to the hitch style bike rack is the roof mounted one. This is a great option if you don’t have a hitch, carry relatively light bikes and don’t want your rear view obstructed. Unsurprisingly this rack is designed for the roof of your vehicle. You will need crossbars fitted to your vehicle and be able to lift your bike onto the roof relatively easily; you won’t want to damage the bike or your vehicle.

The Prologue consists of a single bar which is secured to the crossbars on your vehicle. A clamp mechanism then attaches to the front forks of your bike and holds it in position while you’re driving.

The Prologue can fit onto most crossbars, whether they are aerodynamic, square or round. If it won’t fit there is an adaptor kit available from Thule bike rack parts which will adapt your crossbars to the Prologue. A simple bracket extends down from the Prologue, this goes each side of the crossbar and is tightened into place with two knobs. The knobs incorporate the Thule one key locking system to ensure that the rack cannot be removed from your vehicle.

You’ll need to remove the front wheel of your bike before putting it onto this rack. The front clap of the prologue is a simple locking bolt that clamps through your front axle.  The skewer that runs through the axle is stainless steel and has an oversized lever to assist with securing the bike properly. The actually lock is built into the lever, preventing it from being opened and your bike being released. There is a pressure dial built into this clamp to help ensure the bike will not move in transit.

Your rear wheel simply sits in the groove and has a ratchet style strap over it. The Prologue can handle a bike up to 35 pounds and you can mount several of these racks on your roof, providing your roof can handle the weight of the bikes. Providing you tighten the clamps properly there is very little risk of damage to your bikes. The rear strap is made of rubber and holds the rear wheel softly but firmly. In contrast, the stainless steel pin at the front has rubber washers to prevent the metal clamp from contacting the frame of your bike; effectively protecting it. There are adaptors available if the clamp is not suitable for your bike.

It measures 51.5” x 8.6” x 4”; that makes it easy to store when not in use although most people tend to leave them on the vehicle, you may be surprised to find that it weighs just 5 pounds. It is worth noting that the rack is made from corrosion resistant double-wall aluminum; that’s why it’s so strong and so light.

The Prologue is not designed to take Fatbikes. However, it can accommodate virtually any other type of bike without the need for adaptors. The tray will accommodate tires up to 2.6 inches and is one of the cheapest options available; providing you already have cross bars.

6. Thule 9001 Trunk Mounted

Thule 9001 Trunk Mounted

The trunk style bike racks tend to be cheaper than hitch mounted or even roof mounted racks (assuming you need to purchase cross bars). However, this doesn’t mean they are a poor alternative. In fact, many of the best Thule bike rack products are trunk mounted. These are the perfect solution for anyone wanting to throw the bikes n occasionally and then take them off again at the other end. They are the hardest racks to lock to your vehicle but the most popular for people who use their bikes occasionally and don’t want to spend too much.

The 9001 trunk mounted Thule bike rack is designed to take 2 bikes. It has a stylish curved designed that increases strength while helping it to fit a multitude of trunks. It is important to verify that the rack you’ve chosen is designed to fit your specific vehicle; before you buy it.

Each end of the curved bars is covered with soft rubber; to ensure your paintwork doesn’t get damaged. These rest against your vehicle; if you have an estate vehicle the top one will be on your windscreen and the lower one on the lower part of your trunk. For a saloon, the rack will sit on top of your trunk and at the back of it. There are four cables coming from the rack, two at the top and two at the bottom. These have hooks on the end and are designed to hook over the base of your boot as well as at the top.

Once you’ve hooked the cables into place you turn the ratchet knob in the center of the rack. You’ll need a special tool to do this which is supplied with the rack. This ensures the right amount of force is placed onto each cable, securing the rack firmly onto your vehicle.

It can take several practice attempts unit you get it right; you will take longer to fit this rack than it takes to install a hitch bike rack. But, once it’s on, it’s just as secure as any other rack.

The 9001 has two arms extending out to support up to 2 bikes. The arms have anti-sway cages which tighten around your bike frame. The claps are made from rubber to protect your bike from damage. These should also prevent the bikes from bashing each other while in transit but it is worth adding your own strap to make sure of this.

When you’re not using this rack you can leave it on as the arms fold into the main body of the rack; keeping it discreet. However, you may struggle to open your trunk with the rack in position.

It is worth noting that a lockable cable is included that wraps around the bikes and secures them in position. The ratcheting knob also has a lock built into it. This means it is very difficult to remove the rack from your vehicle without your permission.

The maximum weight allowed on the 9001 is 70 pounds and it is recommended that the maximum tire width is 3”; any wider and the frame will probably not fit into the cradles and you may struggle to get two bikes on the rack.

7. Thule 9007 Gateway Trunk Mounted

Thule 9007 Gateway Trunk Mounted

This trunk mounted Thule bike rack is very similar to the 9001 although it offers enough space for 3 bikes instead of 2. Of course, this is not the only difference. The curve of the Thule 9007 does make it the perfect fit for any saloon car, but, it should also be comfortable and secure on an estate vehicle. The rubber mounts on both crossbars will help to ensure that your paintwork is not damaged during fitting or transit.

However, instead of using cables and hooks to secure the rack, the 9007 Gateway uses nylon straps; there are 6 of these which does make it a little trickier to fit the rack. There are two straps over the top of your trunk, two wrapped over the bottom and one on each side.  The straps are split into left and right side; three straps originate from the pivot point of the bike support arms. These straps can be tightened using the patented FitDial, you’ll need to tighten both sides evenly to ensure the rack is sat centrally and is secure.

As mentioned, the trick is in getting all the hooks in the right position first, you’ll need to open your trunk for this. You can then tighten the 9007 Gateway into position; it shouldn’t move in any direction.

It’s worth noting that your boot can be opened with this rack in place but you won’t be able to open it once it is fully loaded.

The bike support bars extend out from your vehicle with a slight curve in them; this helps to keep the handlebars from touching while the bikes have enough ground clearance not to be an issue. Each bike has two anti-sway cages, (one on each support arm). These can be twisted to ensure they are in the right place for your frame type. Once the bike is sat in the cage you simply pull the rubber strap over the top and secure it; the softness of the material will prevent your bike from getting damaged.

One feature that is very clever is the cinch lever; this actually allows you to adjust the arms independently of each other and will help you to get them in the best possible position for your bike. Of course, when you’re not using the rack you can pull the lever on the side of the pivot and fold the arms down flat to your vehicle. This could prevent you from accidentally damaging your rack.

The 9007 Gateway can carry 105 pounds, spread across 3 bikes; it doesn’t have a locking system which means anyone could remove the bikes or even the rack. Purchasing a separate cable to lock the bikes to the rack will help deter opportunists but it is generally difficult to chain the rack to your vehicle; although not impossible.

An often overlooked feature but a valuable one is the Thule warranty, it will cover any repair needed to the rack which is not the result of wear and tear. Of course, the warranty is only valid for the first owner of the Thule 9007 Gateway.

8. Thule Spare Me 2 Tire Mounted Rack

Thule Spare Me 2 Tire Mounted Rack

If you have an SUV or any vehicle that has a spare tire on the back of it then there is another option that may interest you. The Thule Spare Me 2 is designed to fit onto your spare wheel and carry 2 bikes safely on the rear of your vehicle. Considering it is difficult to fit standard trunk racks to the back of your vehicle this is an attractive and cost friendly solution.

The Spare Me 2 actually attaches through the bolt that holds the spare tire in place. You’ll need to remove any tire cover first. To fit, remove the bolt that holds your spare tire in place; you don’t need to remove the tire. Then, simply hold your bike rack against the spare tire, and screw the bolt that comes with the Spare Me 2 through the bike rack and the tire; into the original threaded hole in your bodywork. The bolt has a large knob to help you tighten it up properly. Once you have the knob tight enough you use the inbuilt lock to ensure that no one else can remove your rack.

If you’ve done this uptight enough the rack shouldn’t move, despite only being held in place at one point.  The next step is to twist the knobs on the sides of your rack; they are at the base of the arms. This will allow you to move the arms from their folded position and point them straight out from the rear of your vehicle. The back of the bar will act as extra support; preventing the rack from rocking onto your vehicle.

Both arms have two soft anti-sway cradles on them. These can be moved to find the best position for your bike. The anti-sway feature prevents the bikes from rocking into each other while in transit; the fact that they are made of soft rubber will help to protect your frame. The cradles have easily operated straps which hold the bike in position.

It is worth noting that the Spare 2 bike mount weighs 17.3 pounds. While you should be able to fit it yourself, it is possible that it will be too much to hold it and get the bolt in place; you may want a little assistance. It measures, when folded, 36” x 19” x 5”; you shouldn’t have an issue finding somewhere to store it when you’re not using it!

As well as having a locking adapter plate to secure the rack to the vehicle, the Spare Me 2 comes with a high quality locking cable; this will allow you to lock your bikes to the rack when traveling; helping to ensure they don’t go missing when you need them the most.

However, it is worth noting that this rack will only just fit onto a 17-inch tire; if you have anything bigger than this then there is a good chance it won’t fit; you’ll need to choose a different rack. The rack does have an adjustment feature which will allow you to centralize your bikes even if your tire is off-center; that’s a useful feature!

9. Thule Insta-Gator Truck Mount

Thule Insta-Gator Truck Mount

If you have a truck then you’re not going to be able to use a roof mounted system and most trunk mounted options are likely to be off limits. It’s possible you can use the hitch mount options but, you may need your tow hitch. Of course, you can simply throw the bikes in the back of your truck but this will increase the likelihood of them becoming damaged.

That’s where the Insta-gator comes in. This simple device is designed for the rear of any truck. It can be fitted in minutes and will hold your bike safe while you’re traveling. In fact, you can install more than one in your truck; the only limit is the space you have available.

Let’s get one thing straight, this is one of the best Thule bike rack options if you have a truck but it’s not the cheapest. On the plus side, you need no tools to fit it. The rounded legs sit on the floor of your truck while the front legs sit in the small gap between your tailgate and the truck bed.  The nylon straps go between your truck bed and your tailgate, hooking onto the bottom of the tailgate. You can then ratchet these to the correct tension with the oversized lever.

That’s it, your Insta-Gator is secure and ready to use. You can’t remove it from the truck unless you open the tailgate. Providing the tailgate is locked your rack will be secure. It is worth noting that a determined thief could cut the nylon straps to release the rack, if you’re concerned about this you’ll need to add your own locking security chain.

You’ll then need to lift your bike into the tailgate and drive the front wheel in between the raised bars. On the side of the hooked bar is a small lever that allows you to extend the bar upwards. Once the wheel is in place the bar can be slid back down until it claps firmly around the tire. As this is the only contact point there is no chance of damaging your bike. This part of the rack has a Thule locking system which will prevent anyone from being able to take your bike without your permission.

The Insta-Gator weighs 9.9 pounds and can accommodate bikes up to 50 pounds in weight. However, it can’t handle any bike with tires wider than 3 inches. The wheels should be between 20 and 29 inches.

You may also want to consider strapping the rear of the bike in a position to prevent them from moving on very sharp corners or bumps. You can fit 3 of the Insta-Gators in a 51” truck. Each rack is 30” x 17.8” x 9”.

It is important to note that closing the tailgate is what secures the rack in place; you can’t put your bike in the rack until the tailgate is closed. Of course, you’ll need to lift your bike into the truck bed to use this option.

10. Thule Low Rider Bike Mount

Thule Low Rider Bike Mount

There is an alternate option you can use in a truck or you can even use this if you are building your own trailer to carry several bikes. The Thule Low Rider bike mount can be used anywhere there is a flat surface; you can even use it to store your bike at home and prevent someone knocking it over by accident!

It is important to note that this particular rack needs to be bolted to the floor; you may need to drill a hole in your truck bed! You’ll notice there are 6 holes in the base of the Low Rider; this means you can secure it with 2, 3, 4, 5, or even 6 bolts if you wish. Naturally, the bolts can be removed; they are not lockable but 6 bolts is a significant deterrent to most people.

The Low Rider is made from heavy-duty metal; this is high quality and corrosion resistant. It has a 9mm quick release fork mount skewer; in short, you’ll need to remove your front wheel before you can put your bike in this clamp. Once you’ve taken your wheel off simply position your front axle on each side of the Low rider and then slide the quick release skewer through the bike forks and the clamp. You’ll need to tighten it up to ensure your bike doesn’t wobble while in transit. To give you complete peace of mind it’s a good idea to secure the back of your bike separately; this will stop it hopping around as you drive.

The skewer doesn’t have a lock on it; if you’re likely to leave your vehicle with the bike in it you should wrap a security chain around the bike frame and onto something solid in your truck bed.

Impressively this rack is great for a huge array of bikes, providing they have a 9mm axle; the suspension type or braking system doesn’t seem to matter at all.

The Low Rider comes with the standard Thule lifetime warranty which is valid for the lifetime of the first owner and will resolve any issue as long as it’s not just wear and tear.  This bike rack from Thule weighs just 10.6 ounces and measures 9” x 7” x 3”. It can be mounted onto the floor of your truck bed or even the side walls but you will need to drill holes. Of course, you can fit several in your truck bed, the exact number will depend on the types of bike you have and the width of your truck bed.

The great thing about the Low Rider is that, once it is installed, you can simply leave it there. It won’t affect you using the space in your truck bed and you’ll always be ready to load your bike up and head for the hills. That alone makes it worth the price tag. In fact, you can even secure these mounts to wood and transfer your bikes inside a tall vehicle with very little effort.

Thule Bike Rack Buying Guide: Make The Right Decision

There is no doubt that Thule is one of the best manufacturers of bike racks, they have numerous options available which will ensure that you can find the perfect ad best Thule bike rack for your vehicle and your current needs.

However, before you run out and purchase the best looking option on this list you should consider exactly what you need; this will ensure the bike rack you choose will last you for years to come, or at least as long as you have your current vehicle.

Size

This is an obvious first step. After all, there is no point in purchasing a cool looking 2 bike carrier when you want to carry 4 bikes on the annual family vacation. It may be that you go for a ride by yourself every weekend and a rack for just one bike feels like it will be enough.

However, you need to consider the maximum number of bikes you may carry throughout the year; that will dictate the size of the rack you need. It should be noted that the type of rack you are purchasing can also affect this part of the decision; it may be possible to purchase a rack that can be extended when needed or to have a roof bike rack for your weekly needs and a separate trunk mounted rack for the other occasions.

Style

If you have a truck then your options regarding the right style of bike rack may be limited. But, if you have a fairly standard vehicle you’ll find that most types of bike rack will fit your vehicle.

In this instance, you’ll need to decide how often you’re going to use the rack. The more you use it the more likely it is that you’ll leave it on the car; which means you’ll want a rack that still gives you access to the boot.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If you rarely use a rack you may be happy with a trunk mounted one that reduces access to the boot but is a lot cheaper to purchase than hitch mounted options.

Equally, you may prefer the simplicity of a bar on your roof; this can be fitted and left, allowing you to take your bike at any time. Of course, you do need to be able to lift the bike onto the roof!

Ease of Fitting

Tied in with the style of rack is the amount you’ll use it. This is an important consideration as the more you use it the more likely it is to stay on. In this case, you may not worry if it’s complicated to fit as you’ll probably only be doing it once.

However, if you’re likely to put it on and take it off regularly then you will need to consider how easy it is to do this. Most Thule bike racks are designed to go on and off easily, especially after you’ve fitted them for the first time.

It’s a good idea to try fitting your preferred rack before you buy; if at all possible.

Price

It should go without saying that you should consider your finances and decide the right budget for a bike rack. The amount you spend should be tied into how much you use the rack and whether it will stay on the vehicle. After all, if you’re using it a lot and it needs to stay in situ you really need to spend the extra and get one that tilts or swings away from the rear of your car.

However, this could mean the additional expense of having a tow hitch fitted; if you don’t already have one. Equally a roof bike rack can be cost-effective unless you need to have cross bars as well; these can add a significant amount to the total cost.

Alongside knowing which type of rack really suits your needs you must consider how much you can afford to spend. If your perfect Thule bike rack is beyond your current budget then you may wish to purchase a cheaper one and sell it in the future to fund the purchase of the one t=you really want; this is preferable to purchasing the rack on credit.

Security

The best Thule bike rack on offer comes with an integrated locking system but not all bike racks do. If you only ever drive from your home to a biking spot and then back you may feel that a lock is not necessary. However, if you ever leave your vehicle and you have a decent bike you’ll want to have a lock; the cost is significantly cheaper than replacing your bike.

The question will then be whether the rack you like has an integrated lock, the ability to add a Thule lock, or if you’ll just need to buy a good security chain. It is worth paying out to ensure you have the best security; you don’t want your pride and joy to go missing.

Trunk Access

It can be very frustrating loading your bike on and then finding that you need to get into the trunk. Of course, you may be able to get in through the back seats of your vehicles but this is not always a practical option.

If you’re going to leave the rack on then you seriously need to consider getting a rack that allows you to access the trunk; if not you are certain to be frustrated at some point.

It’s worth noting that many of the trunk mounted racks will still allow you to open the trunk; providing you don’t have your bike on the rack. Only hitch style racks will allow you access to the trunk with the bikes in position.

Accessories

There are hundreds of different Thule bike rack parts available on the market. In many cases, you won’t want to spend on accessories after having bought the best Thule bike rack. However, you may need new protection bushing, frame adaptors, or a multitude of other parts.

It is important to be aware of what accessories you may need and how much they are likely to cost you. Not only will this help you to make your budget decisions but it will also influence your ultimate choice of Thule bike rack. There is little point in buying the cheapest option if all the accessories you’ll need will make to more expensive than another rack; which already has what you need.

Your Vehicle

You’ve already considered what vehicle you have as this partially dictates which types of bike racks you can look at. However, you should also consider how long you have had your current vehicle and how long you are likely to keep it for. If you have a habit of changing your vehicle every 3 years and you’ve had your current one for 2 ½ years then you need to think about what you are going to replace it with.

This will help to ensure you choose a rack that will meet your needs today, tomorrow and in 6 months time.

Reviews

You already know that Thule is a well-established firm with a reputation for quality but that doesn’t mean that every product reaches the high standards they want it to. You should always have a look at the reviews on Amazon and similar places. This will help you to decide if there are any known issues and whether you should purchase a specific bike rack or not.

Summing Up The Best Thule Bike Rack

It’s fair to say that the best Thule bike rack is different for everyone and you shouldn’t be influenced by which rack your friends or family members are purchasing. There are plenty of different options; the key is to consider each one carefully and really think about what it is you need a bike rack for. This will help to ensure that you don’t just pick the best Thule bike rack; you will pick the best bike rack for your personal needs.

The best Thule bike rack is not necessarily the most expensive but this is a costly purchase, in general, which you should consider carefully before committing to.

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