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Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
@ytimesmotoring
2:48 PM 23rd October 2023
cars

Time To Cycle Further Afield – Thule Bike Rack On Test

 
A keen cyclist in my youth, the appeal of cars soon saw me exchange two wheels for four. With advancing years, and the need to take more exercise, I have starting cycling once more. I must confess to having an electric bike, the hills in my locale being too much for me. Now I can cycle twenty miles plus with ease and should get out more than I do.

One of the barriers I suspect is that I keep riding the same routes over and over. Lovely as they are, the need to head off somewhere new made me think about adding a cycle rack to my trusty old Toyota Landcruiser or any towbar equipped test car that might come my way.

Swedish manufacturer Thule are quite possibly the world leaders in such items and although their products may not be the cheapest, there is the reassurance of buying a properly developed product that will transport your two wheeled transport safely and securely.

Thule puts their bike racks through harsh durability tests, such as those which might be encountered during use on rough or uneven terrain. Specialized tests are used to evaluate the racks and carriers over time, to assess their durability and long-term performance as well as their ability to protect the bikes during transport.

Exposure tests are also used to evaluate the performance of the racks under conditions that might be encountered during use – extreme heat and cold, moisture, sunlight, and chemicals.

As my Landcruiser has a rear-mounted spare wheel, I was recommended the VeloSpace XT which can be specified with an adapter to accommodate. Capable of carrying three bikes, there is also the ability to carry a fourth, with the addition of another adapter.

A little home assembly is required if you purchase direct from the manufacturer, though companies such as Halfords will do the hard work for you. I thought I had done quite well but had fitted the spare wheel adapter the wrong way round. More haste, less speed and ten minutes wasted…

Never having used a bike rack before, I was a little sceptical as to how secure the rack would be, secured just to the towbar. I need not have worried, for once I had locked the clamp into place, there was the very minimum of movement.

I would mention at this point that the bike rack weighs 20.6kg and is a little awkward to handle singlehandedly. I managed without too much difficulty, but some may find another pair of hands to be useful.

My bike is quite heavy, but Thule have thought of that too with a loading ramp available for an additional £60.

Money well spent. Once installed, the clamp attaches to the bike’s frame and two easy to use straps clamp the wheels in place. Simplicity itself to do. For security, the clamp can be locked to prevent anyone helping themselves to your precious cargo, should you leave your vehicle unattended at say a motorway service station. The rack itself is also locked to the tow ball, using the same key for convenience.

With the rack fitted and loaded, there is the ability to still gain access to your car’s load bay. A foot operated release pedal allows the rack to fold away from the car, which should allow most tailgates to rise unimpeded.

At the rear of the rack, a full set of quality lights are fitted and there is a section for fitting a proper number plate, rather than a stick-on item. A 13-pin connector plugs easily into the car’s trailer socket.

This weekend just gone, I had SsangYong’s new Rexton on test. With a towbar fitted, I attached the VeloSpace XT in the matter of moments, secured my bike and was off on a new adventure. It really is so very simple to use. I’m impressed so far and will report back over the coming months.

Fast Facts
Thule VeloSpace XT3
Price £750
Carries 3 bikes
Max bike weight 30kg
Max load capacity 60kg
One key locking system
13-pin power connector
Product weight 20.6kg
Loading ramp £60
4th bike adaptor £160