Your truck is a fantastic investment, you get all the refinement and power of a standard car combined with the load shifting capacity of a more industrial vehicle. The fact that they look good is a bonus! Unfortunately, as good as they are at shifting loads, they’re not ideal for carrying bikes. In short, your bike is likely to get damaged unless you use a truck bed bike rack. The Thule Insta-Gator truck mount is one of the easiest to use racks on the market, but is it the one you should be buying?
Let’s take a look.
Thule offers an impressive array of bike racks and other car accessories. If you’ve got a car and you need something that’s going to do the job well, then you’ll want to check out the best Thule bike racks of 2020. The company has been in business for nearly 80 years, although it has changed hands on several occasions it remains committed to building and supplying the very best quality solutions to your bike-related problems.
They have created a reputation for high-quality products, that’s why you should consider a Thule rack for your truck.
Of course, trunk mount, spare wheel, or even roof-mounted are not usually an option. You could choose one of the hitch options but this will prevent you from towing at the same time as carrying your bikes. Think carefully before you make that sort of investment.
- No frame contact
- Accommodates 20” to 29” wheels
- Takes up to 3” tires
- Okay for tailgate bed gap up to ½”
- Multiple Insta-gators can be used at the same time
- Extremely easy to use and store
- Dimensions 30” x 17.8” x 9”
- Weight 9.9 pounds
It’s hard to dispute that the Thule Insta-gator is a good rack, there are plenty of positive points:
Ease of use
I’ve tried a lot of different racks and there are very few that are as easy to use as the Thule Insta-Gator Truck Mount. It comes ready assembled and can be put into your vehicle in seconds.
The rack has two feet which slip in the gap between your truck bed and the tailgate; the tailgate needs to be open. You can then close the tailgate, securing the rack. If you’re tailgate locks the rack is pretty secure. The only way to remove it is by opening the tailgate or by cutting the straps.
There are ratchet adjusters that help to ensure the rack is positioned properly and secure but no tools are needed.
To load the bikes, simply lift your bike into the back of the truck and slide the front wheel into the rack, between the two arms. You can then swing the clamp arm up and over the bike wheel, pushing it toward the wheel to secure it in position.
It doesn’t get much easier!
Take the bike out and open the tailgate and you can remove the rack until you need it again.
No damage to bike or truck
Your truck and your bike are probably important to you. That’s one of the great features of the Thule Insta-gator, the rubber padding on its feet won’t damage your truck and there is no frame contact, limiting the opportunity for damage to your bike.
It’s not surprising that the build quality of this rack is high, it is made by Thule. In fact, the Thule Insta-Gator truck mount bike rack comes with a limited lifetime warranty. This covers the rack against any defects as long as you’re the owner. It’s not a transferrable warranty and it doesn’t cover normal wear and tear.
The rack itself is made with powder-coated steel, ensuring it will last for years. In fact, because it sits inside the truck bed it won’t be affected by salt and other road grime that can damage bike racks.
It’s strong enough to hold your bike stable at speed, even on a windy day, and also light enough to be effortlessly removed when not in use, allowing you to store it in the garage until next time.
Your bike can be locked to the rack with a Thule integrated lock. It’s worth noting that these are actually sold separately, but, they are a worthwhile investment to give you peace of mind.
Range Of Bikes
You can add as many Insta-gators as you want to your truck bed, simply calculate how many will fit in next to each other. This will allow you to carry several bikes in your truck and you can put almost any bike into these, providing the tire is less than 3”.
This makes it a great option for a day out with friends or taking the family bikes on vacation. It also leaves the hitch-free for the trailer which you’ll need for a family vacation.
It’s especially nice to be able to load your bikes without having to remove the wheels.
There aren’t many negative points about owning an Insta-gator. However, it is worth knowing what these are before you commit.
Let’s get one thing straight, Thule is not generally the cheapest option. You will get other truck bed racks for less money than the Thule Insta-gator XTM. The question is whether they will do the job as well and last as long.
Potential Bike Contact
The Insta-gator is designed to clamp on your bike tire, this means there should be no risk of frame damage to your bike. However, if you have a larger bike it is possible the frame will still connect with a part of the clamping bar. This could, potentially, cause damage to your bike.
Stability with the tailgate open
Closing your tailgate locks the rack into position. This allows you to stand your bike up and secure it, ensuring it doesn’t move during transit.
However, while the rack is very stable once the tailgate is closed, it isn’t when the tailgate is open. This makes it very difficult to load a bike with the tailgate open. In short, you’re going to need to close the tailgate and lift yourself and your bike over the side of your truck. That’s a hassle you may not want.
It is possible for someone to remove the rack and any bikes attached to it, even when the tailgate has been closed. It would require the nylon straps to be cut, this would render the rack useless but would allow the bikes and the rack to be stolen together.
This is only likely to happen if your bikes are worth stealing as a targeted raid. It’s unlikely to be an issue if you have a relatively standard bike.
But, it is worth noting and preparing for. Using your own locking cable can prevent this from being an issue.
Whenever you use a roof-mounted bike rack, or a truck bed option, you’re going to need to lift the bike. This means you need to consider the weight of your bike or bikes before you decide this is the best carrying system for you.
It’s not actually a fault with the Thule Insta-gator truck mount, but it is something you need to consider.
If I’m using the truck and want to take my bike there really is not a better option. The Thule Insta-Gator is so easy to put in the truck and allows you to load a bike in seconds. It also takes a minimal room, allowing me to chuck in a load of other gear.
It’s a well-built rack that you should seriously consider if you’re planning to take your truck and your bike on multiple trips together. You may be surprised at how many opportunities it opens up.