One Perfect Thing: Thule T2 Pro
Sturdy, versatile, and easy to use, this hitch-mount bike rack might be the last one you ever buy
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I gave up on roof-mount bike racks about five years ago, after the strong winds of Colorado and New Mexico snapped the fork off one of my road bikes…for the third time. Since then, I’ve mostly been using hitch-mount designs—I even had a hitch installed on a car specifically for it—and given their ease and convenience, they are now my preference.
This two-bike rack is the most versatile thing out there, with trays designed to fit everything from road skinnies to five-inch fat tires, with a reversible rear-wheel strap design that easily flip-flops for the biggest rubber. The individual trays are laterally adjustable, as well, which makes it easy to negotiate interference between the two bikes’ handlebars and saddles. The main body of the rack is powder-coated metal, and while I initially worried that the plastic cradles wouldn’t be sturdy enough, they have weathered 20,000-some highway miles with no issues.
What really sets the T2 Pro apart, however, is the ease of use. Like most racks, the T2 Pro can pivot through three positions: vertical when not in use, horizontal when hauling, and approximately 45 degrees below horizontal so you can open hatch doors and trunks without removing bikes. The difference here is that while other models control this feature from levers that are out of the way or hard to reach (too close to the car, too low, etc.), which makes the swivel either extremely acrobatic or a two-man job, the T2 Pro uses a light-touch squeeze handle that sits at the end of the rack, farthest from the car, in a position that’s easy to reach. This means anyone can operate it on their own. It’s such a no-brainer design we can’t believe it hasn’t been done before. (The new Rocky Mounts SplitRail takes a similar approach, but Thule was the first.) What’s more, the slide-arm releases for the fork arms activate using similar, easy-to-squeeze buttons.
The T2 Pro builds up out of the box much quicker than comparable models from the competition. Installation is a snap, too: the unit easily slides into any 2-inch hitch mount, a clamping stinger lever, which replaces the need for a separate locking pin, clamps down into a hole on the stem, and a locking ratcheting knob spins to tighten and prevent wobble. Many racks, even Thule’s previous model the T2, have a few of these features, but it’s the combination that makes the T2 Pro so simple to use.
Like other hitch mounts, built-in cable locks slide out from each arm to allow you to secure the bikes by the frame while transporting them. Of course cable locks are only a deterrent, not full-fledged protection. If you’re leaving your bikes somewhere sketchy or for an extended time, I always back them up with a u-lock or simply bring the bikes inside.
One final advantage of a hitch-rack like the T2 Pro is that you no longer need to worry about the continual shifting of hub standard. Prior to going to a hitch-style, I was constantly buying adapters and switching out models on fork-mount racks to accommodate the variety of quick-release and thru-axle setups. (It’s worth noting that Thule also has an excellent new fork-style rack, the ThruRide, that fits all existing standards.) While some will complain that the T2 Pro is expensive at $550, I’d argue that the safety and security for costly bikes in transit merit that expense, and would point out that the universality of the design will save you money over time for all those extras and updates you won’t have to purchase. For my part, I hope this will be the last bike rack I’ll ever need.