Unless you’re lucky enough to have a van, at some point you’re probably going to need a bike carrier to attach to your car. I do have a van – a small one anyway – but with kids and luggage in the back I still find I need the space inside that a bike rack can create.
As I’m not blessed with a tow bar, a roof mounted rack is the only option for my Berlingo. For some years we’ve had the earlier ProRide 591, but I’ve never been able to master getting anything other than my road bike into the rack – and even then it’s a real struggle, so I was curious to see how this new ProRide 598 would fare.
The 598 has two main differences to the 591: the ‘shoes’ into which the wheels sit have been slightly redesigned, giving a ratchet strap which cross the wheel at an angle, rather than at 90deg; and the down tube ‘claw’, which is now more claw-like, with an extended lower jaw.
This revised ‘claw’ promises to make mounting the bike easier, and I have to agree that it does. There’s a definite knack to getting the claw in approximately the right place so that it doesn’t clash with any bottle cages, pedals, or chain rings when you first put it on the car, but when you get that right the bike slots neatly into the claw. You can then tighten up the claw until it clamps your down tube without fear of the bike toppling sideways onto your head.
The old 591, without the extended jaw, requires you to hold the bike in place while you’re turning the handle to tighten the claw – something which I find is at the limits of my upper body strength, and the main cause of me not being able to use the 591. So, I’m inclined to agree that this development is a welcome one.
Also worth noting at this point is that the dial used to tighten the claw is torque limited to 5Nm. in theory this will stop you crushing even a precious carbon frame, but I’ll admit to being nervous of actually putting this to the test.
As for the angled ratchet straps…I’m less convinced by these. Apparently these should reduce lateral movement on the rack better than the straps of old. In practice, I found that this created quite a faff and fiddle trying to lace the straps through between my spokes, often having to try and turn the whole wheel while it was on the roof in order to get the strap to line up with a gap in the spokes and to sit properly on the rims rather than catching the spoke nipples.
Once you’ve got this all lined up, the ratchet straps tighten up well, but I can’t say that I noticed any improvement in stopping lateral movement. I also found that the releasing the ratchets took quite some doing, and the force required to undo them leaves me wondering how long the mechanism will last, although so far so good.
I’ve managed to load a plus bike with 2.8in tyres, a standard (ha!) 2.25in mtb, a cross bike and a road bike onto this rack, and all have held in place, although I have on occasion failed to get the front ratchet quite lined up right and arrived home to find the front wheel turned a bit. It is worth taking the time to get these straps right. You can also buy a fat bike adapter for £24.95, which will allow you to carry a fat bike with tyres of 3-5in. The weight limit is 20kg, which may be an issue for e-bike owners (and something of a weight lifting challenge in any case).
Being the sort of person that seeks out back streets with free parking, the stealability of the parts is something I’d never thought of until someone stole the ratchet straps off my 591, but now it’s happened I’m rather conscious of it. While the main body of the 598 is locked to your roofbars, the ‘shoes’ for the wheels can be easily removed by sliding them along the rails. A potential annoyance that you might wish to consider if leaving your car in unsalubrious areas, although the usual array of spare parts is available from Thule should you need them.
Overall: I can get a variety of bikes onto this rack while it’s fitted onto the top of a small van (with the assistance of a folding stool!). If I can do that, I think pretty much anyone is going to be able to use it on a normal family car.
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|Price:||£100 (on sale from February 2016)|
|Tested:||by Hannah for 6 weeks|