Thule tow bar mounted bike racks- do you get what you pay for?

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  • Thule tow bar mounted bike racks- do you get what you pay for?
  • mefster
    Member

    A recent change of car has meant a rethink for our bike transport. Our previous car had roof rails and so we used the Thule 591 roof carrier- a great bit of kit. Quick, easy and a secure way to carry 2 bikes. Now our 5 year old’s bike is too big for the boot with any luggage, on our last trip I added a 3rd 591 carrier: quite tricky to get the middle bike loaded on a tall car. With a bigger bike coming for his 3 year old brother and I new car with a roof I can hardly reach with a sponge, 4 bikes on the tow bar seems an easier solution!

    We need to carry 3 bikes at the moment but would require 4 bikes in the future. I’d want the bikes to have ‘gutter’ wheel supports rather than swing off their top tubes, and I’d like to be able to tilt the rack when loaded to enable us to open the splint rear hatch. I’d also want to be able to easily lock the bikes to the rack and the rack to the tow bar.

    The Thule range seems pretty good. The Thule 9403 seems very good value at about £160 although I think locks are extra and it looks to only carry 3 bikes. The Thule Euroclassic 929 does everything we need and carries 4 bikes but comes in at over £500. Is it worth the difference?(ignoring our future need to carry 4 bikes).

    Are there any other contenders I’ve overlooked?

    Any advice from owners would be really helpful…

    alanf
    Member

    Atera Strada sport
    3+1 system.
    Check out http://www.roofbox.co.uk
    They have a vast array of carriers and great to deal with

    andermt
    Member

    Another vote for the Atera Strada (I have the DL version)

    The thing to be careful of for the towbar mounted racks is weight.

    At the moment with kids bikes it won’t be an issue but as they grow and bikes get bigger (heavier) it can be.

    On our car we have a max nose weight of 75kg so a lightweight carrier was key if we wanted to carry 4 adult sized bikes and the Atera DL is only about 14kg.

    Premier Icon mrhoppy
    Subscriber

    I’ve got a 9403 and its fine. Did 3 bikes including Snaps 40lb monster to the Alps easy, bikes are simple to put on and off and I just lock them with a cable lock to the roof rails. I’m not sure I can see too much benefit in spending 3 times as much for what amounts to a slightly better tilt function and a top tube clamping system.

    crofts2007
    Member

    If you can find a Thule Euroclassic Pro 903 you can add a fourth bike carrier extension on.
    http://www.autorack.co.uk/sitemap/thule_903_bike_carrier.htm
    Two on Ebay at the moment.
    They have been superseded by the ones you mentioned but are worth the money if you can find one.
    I have the 902 with the extensions parts, it is a very solid rack.

    superfli
    Member

    I have a Euroride 943 (3 bike) rack. It was a pretty good price for a 3 bike, towbar rack with wheel slots (approx £250). It tilts, holds 3 bikes securely, but is fairly heavy (15kg) so a woman will struggle. I have a few moans about it –
    The Aframe folds down, but you need to unscrew the hand screws on the sides (some sort of QR would be much easier)
    The arms clamps are removeable to ease fitting of bikes, but they are a pain to undo and do up with the spring inside.
    The bike slots could do with being further apart. A triple clamp 40 bike takes up 1.5 bike widths.

    On the plus side, it took our 3 AM bikes to Chatel recently and extremely securely at 80-90mph. 1st bike on the rack had boxxers on as well.

    You can get some roof racks that move towards you, allowing you to put the bike on easier. Yuo then pull a lever and it moves the bike in.. A friend has some… I’ll try and find out the make.

    Premier Icon ransos
    Subscriber

    I bought a buzzrack from Roofbox. Very little assembly required, it’s properly solid even fully loaded up, and we had no problems on a recent trip to Denmark:

    http://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php/car-specific-accessories/buzz_rack_buzz_cruiser_3_bike_wheel_support_rack_no_brp203/Qx%40w%2C6M42VAwp3%40Rb%7B~cC4ure5HWI_

    The only thing I don’t like is it needs a spanner to fully tighten up – more expensive racks have a lever. It does make it more secure I suppose.

    Premier Icon Tracey
    Subscriber

    Got the 903 with the fourth bike adapter. Had it for seven years and do regular 4 bike trips. Goes to the Alps every year. Easy and quick to fit to the car and fit the bikes. Worth every penny. Looked at the rest and the Thule is miles ahead on quality.

    Pic taken a few years ago

    b r
    Member

    The Thule range seems pretty good. The Thule 9403 seems very good value at about £160 although I think locks are extra and it looks to only carry 3 bikes. The Thule Euroclassic 929 does everything we need and carries 4 bikes but comes in at over £500. Is it worth the difference?(ignoring our future need to carry 4 bikes).

    If you pretty much know that you’re going to be carrying 4 bikes in the future you’d be a bit daft to buy any rack that couldn’t accommodate 4 bikes, wouldn’t you?

    torihada
    Member

    I’ve got the Thule Euroclassic bought from: Freeborn with fourthbike adapter. Its a lot of £ but is easy to fit and the bikes go on without too much hassle. My cars nose weight is 100kg so 19kg bike rack plus up to 60kg of bikes is fine. The tilt option allows access to my hatchback.

    It took 2 DH bikes and 2 orange 5’s to Chatel last week. I used to have four bikes on the roof using Thule 591 roof mounting. I used a folding plastic step to put the bikes on the roof. The roof mounted bikes always felt more secure but I needed to fit a roof box, hence the towbar rack and fuel consumption was horrendous with bikes on the roof. If fuel was cheaper & I didn’t need a roofbox I think I’d prefer them on the roof.

    Premier Icon ndg
    Subscriber

    I’ve got a 929 – it works very well, and is a nicely engineered bit of kit!

    Got mine for significantly less than any internet price by buying it from a Volvo dealer. I think they retail it at £355, but a friend with bloody good negotiating skills argued them down to sub £300. Give themn a call, if you don’t ask you don’t get!

    ebygomm
    Member

    The Thule 9403 seems very good value at about £160 although I think locks are extra and it looks to only carry 3 bikes. The Thule Euroclassic 929 does everything we need and carries 4 bikes but comes in at over £500. Is it worth the difference?

    The conclusion we came to was no it wasn’t worth the difference for us (bearing in mind we also managed to pick up our 9403 for £105). Tilt function and clamp are slightly better on the euroclassic but not enough for us to justify the huge jump in cost.

    If the tilt function is important you might want to check it will actually work on your car. Opening the boot isn’t possible on some cars even when tilted. With ours you have to open the boot partially then tilt otherwise the boot is obstructed by a pedal (prob only an issue if you ride flats)

    mefster
    Member

    I forgot about the Atera Strada. I know roofbox give it an excellent review and the price it comes in cheaper that the Euroclassic at about £400. Not many come up on eBay so either they’re not too common or people keep hold of them!

    I don’t think the weight of bikes and racks should be too much of a problem: the car weighs 2800kg and has a pretty big towing and load capacity. Certainly something to bear in mind though.

    mefster
    Member

    Thanks for all the info guys! Much better to hear first hand experiences than read the sales blurb!

    If you pretty much know that you’re going to be carrying 4 bikes in the future you’d be a bit daft to buy any rack that couldn’t accommodate 4 bikes, wouldn’t you?

    I agree it would be better to have a 4 bike capacity, but it may be 3 years until we need to carry 4 bikes- if we change the car again roof bars may be an option again, it if we need to use a roofbox, a combination of towbar carrier and roof mounted.

    If it was a choice between Euroclassic and Atera (if price was not an issue) it would be a trick choice: I think I’ll give Volvo a call. Was their rack Volvo branded or Thule?

    Premier Icon ndg
    Subscriber

    It’s a 929 with Volvo stickers on – it’s still plated a as a thule.

    It’s the one at £335 (got the price wrong!) on this page.

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