Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $450 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros: Versatile, Ergonomic, High weight capacity
Best Uses: transporting nearly any type of bike, a particularly excellent option for heavy downhill bikes, shuttle runs
The Thule T2 is a tray style hitch mount rack, similar in function to our Editor's Choice, the Kuat NV. A favorite among our testers, it is the less expensive, blue-collar option when compared to the more refined and visually pleasing Kuat NV. The Thule T2 can carry nearly any type of bike regardless of wheel size, fork dropout style, or frame design. It offers a level of versatility only matched by the Kuat NV. A ratcheting arm clamps the front wheel and tire of the bike, eliminating frame contact, plus cable locks provide security for the bikes and a hitch lock secures the rack itself.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Thule T2 is a tray style hitch mount rack that uses the bicycle wheel and tire as a primary point of attachment. Great ergonomics, durability, and a competitive price make it a viable alternative to our Editor's Choice, the Kuat NV.
More versatile than any arm style hitch mount rack, like the Thule Apex Swing 4-Bike or the Allen Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Carrier, the Thule T2 receives top scores for versatility/capacity. It has a weight capacity of 100lbs, (note: the 2"reciever version has a 160lb capacity) less than the 120lb capacity of the Kuat NV, but this is due to the 1 ¼" receiver not the construction of the rack. The T2 will accommodate any bike with a wheelbase of 48" or less and wheels from 20" to 29". A ratcheting arm clamps the front wheel, and a ratcheting strap secures the rear wheel. There is no contact with the bicycle frame. Unlike the Kuat NV, the bicycle trays on the Thule T2 are adjustable both fore and aft, and side to side on the hitch base, allowing the trays to be positioned in an offset manner to eliminate bike-to-bike contact. The adjustable trays allowed us to configure the rack in a manner that prevented the handlebar/saddle interference that was an occasional issue on the Kuat NV.
Ease of Assembly & Attachment
The Thule T2 comes out of the box in multiple pieces, and requires a bit of time and patience to assemble and properly adjust. The directions for assembly are excellent and Thule includes two wrenches and a 5mm hex key. In addition to the included tools, you will need a ½" socket for assembly of the wheel trays and a flat head screwdriver. The Thule T2 was not as easy to assemble as the Kuat NV, but some of the additional work is due to the more adjustable design of the Thule T2. The wheel trays on the Kuat NV are fixed in position, but the Thule T2 has wheel trays that are adjustable, allowing the user to position them in the best location to accommodate their bikes. Attaching the Thule T2 to a vehicle is a bit more involved than the Kuat NV. With a weight of 56.1lbs, the Thule T2 is heavy and a bit awkward to carry around. The rack slides into the receiver and a threaded hitch pin must be tightened with the included wrench to eliminate wobble in the receiver. Both the Thule and Kuat anti-wobble systems are very effective, but the Kuat requires no tools to take the rack on and off the car and is easier to use.
Ergonomics & Ease of Use
The Thule T2 is the only rack we tested that comes anywhere close to our Editor's Choice Kuat NV in terms of ergonomics. A low loading height and easy to use ratcheting arms make loading and securing bikes a simple task. When loading and unloading bikes multiple times a day for shuttle runs, no other type of rack can equal the tray mount style of the Thule T2 and Kuat NV. Tilting down the Thule T2 when loaded with bikes is a bit more difficult than with the Kuat NV. The Thule T2 requires the user to briefly un-weight the lowering mechanism by lifting up on the rack while pulling the release lever. Not a huge deal, but we have to give the Kuat NV the nod for ease of lowering.
The Thule T2 is a well-constructed, durable rack. The body of the rack is steel with a long-wearing black paint. The trays are sturdy, and despite the use of plastic wheel trays, we had no issues with durability. The design of the rack allows for easy replacement of the individual trays should one become damaged. Some of our testers have been using previous versions of the Thule T2 for several years with no durability issues.
The Thule T2 comes with a locking hitch pin, as well as cable locks that deploy from the wheel clamp arms. Both the hitch pin and the cable locks take the same key, and Thule includes two keys and a blank key that allows you to pull the lock cylinders for replacement if necessary. The T2 utilizes individual cables and locks for each bike. The cables pull out from the wheel clamp arms, and are designed to be looped through the front triangle of the bicycle frame. We wish that the cables were long enough to be looped through the front wheel for additional security, but that is not the case. The cables are thinner in diameter than the cable used on the Kuat NV, but they are substantial enough to act as a deterrent to thieves.
The Thule T2 will carry nearly any bike. From road bikes to downhill bikes, it will provide you with years of service. That being said, it truly shines when used for transporting heavy bikes, due to excellent ergonomics and a design that does not rely on the bicycle frame or fork for attachment. The Thule T2 is an excellent choice for vehicles with a high roof height that are not well suited to roof racks. From shuttle runs to road trips, the Thule T2 delivers.
The Thule T2 is the blue-collar answer to the Kuat NV. For $440 you get most of the function offered by the Kuat NV and save $110. It does not come with a work stand and does not have the aesthetic appeal of the NV, but it is well designed and durable. The Thule T2 is an excellent value, and we would not hesitate to recommend it to those looking for a slightly more affordable alternative to the Kuat NV.
Thule offers the T2 in a 2" receiver version for the same price, Thule T2, 2 inch. The 2" receiver model can be expanded with the Thule T2 918 XTR, 2 inch to increase the capacity to 4 bikes. The T2 918 XTR add on will set you back $319.95.
— Curtis Smith
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: December 18, 2013
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