Bike carriers are essential equipment for those who need to transport their bicycles safely and without hassles to another location. There are three categories of bike carriers; the roof-mounted, trunk mounted, and hitch mounted bike racks.
In my review of hitch mounted bike racks, I mentioned that hitch racks are better than the roof mounted in regards to installation. That’s because they are versatile and they have a low mounting height which enables you to load your bike without lots of lifting. They could also be cost-saving. While the initial cost can go up, you wouldn’t need to buy much in accessories like the roof-mounting racks.
One company who manufactures a wide range of hitch bike racks is the Thule group. They are global market leaders and are quite famous with good feedbacks from customers. Both for this and their range of products for outdoor use.
For this review, I am looking at the Thule 2 Bike Rack Hitch. Before taking your money to the market, it’s important that you understand the features and how well this carrier can stand against hard or frequent use over time to conclude if it’s worth your money.
Features of the Thule Helium Aero Bike Hitch Carrier
The Thule Helium Aero carrier is a premium and super-lightweight hitch bike rack capable of accommodating two bikes. It has a maximum weight capacity of 35 lbs per bike.
This hitch bike rack is nearly half the weight of most hitch racks and is the only ultra-light rack to integrate maximum convenience, bike protection, and security into one sleek Aero design.
The Thule 2 bike rack hitch lightweight also allows for easy handling, installation, and removal. It has a fold-down feature that’s really great for when you’re not in active use of it but still need it attached to your vehicle.
The sleek Aero-design of this Thule hitch bike rack has dual arms that provide for fast and easy bike loading, and it improves ground-clearance and increases the distance between the bikes for maximum protection.
It has a patented hold fast cradles with RDT (Road Dampening Technology) that secures the bike to the rack while absorbing road shock. These cradles are attached at varying heights along the arm allowing the bikes to hang at different heights reducing scratches when loading them. The two layers of cushioning also hold the bike frame at three points to prevent bike to bike contact.
The reinforced cradle straps provide maximum strength and durability. It has a hitch switch feature which allows the rack to be easily tilted down when not in use. It also has a detachable anti-sway cable strap which keeps the bike secure when driving.
One feature that puts it above some other carriers is its integrated cable lock and auto-attach lock knob. Those shut the bike to carrier and carrier to the vehicle. The knob is equipped with a key lock built into it so that when you tighten the knob and lock it, it can’t be turned to release the carrier from your hitch receiver.
It is important to note that the key lock doesn’t keep your bike completely safe from desperate thieves. It may only slow them down for a while and to be honest, nothing is 100% secure, so don’t leave your bikes unattended to for long.
The Thule Helium Aero 2 bike rack comes with a blue safety strap and buckle that further stabilizes your bike to the rack and adds extra security during transit.
The Bike rack has great reviews from customers on Amazon and other marketplaces. There is a lot of positive feedback with regards to its ability to fit properly into a 2 inch and a 1-1/4 inch receiver.
Mounting The Hitch Rack
Mounting the ultra-lightweight aluminum 2 bike carrier is a straightforward process as it comes with a tool-free installation that allows you to set up and remove the rack from your vehicle quickly and easily.
Just in case your vehicle’s receiver requires you to switch the carrier from a 2-inch setup to a 1-1/4 inch setup, you can do so first by simply removing a few bolts on the hitch mount. However, If your receiver is a 2-inch setup, you can install the rack right away.
Slide the shank of the carrier to the hitch of the receiver and line up the build in hitch pin to the hitch pin hole then turn the knob to lock for security. Then pull the grey lever at the top of the mast to swing the arms out.
This video will show you how to carefully install the Thule 2 bike rack hitch in simple steps.
To tilt the rack for easy access to the rear of the vehicle, simply lift up the grey lever at the bottom of the carrier until you hear a click. To fold the cradle arms down, simply lift the grey lever at the top of the mast till you hear a click. This click indicates that you can fold the cradle arm down, parallel with the mast of the carrier.
Loading up your bikes
To load up your bikes on the Thule bike rack, firstly, undo the cradle straps on the back of the carrier then place your bikes on the frame cradles, and strap the bike in around the bike frame with the three straps.
You can load up a second bike if you want to and bring out the integrated cable lock and lock it into position, securing the bikes during transit.
Compared to hitch mounted racks made with steel, the Thule hitch bike rack is made with aluminum and weighs about half the weight of most steel bike racks.
Sturdy, lightweight and perfect fit are the best words that describe the Thule Helium Aero Bike carrier which is highly recommended if you intend to load not more than 2 bikes. The price is a bit high, but it is worth it when you think of the many benefits this hitch rack offers over similar products in the market.