Thule Outway Hanging 2 Review
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Thule Outway Hanging 2
|Price||$399.95 at REI|
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|Pros||More security features than other trunk racks, comes in 2 and 3 bike versions, lightweight, folds small for transport or storage, more stable than other trunk racks||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact||High-end construction, capable of carrying a wide range of bikes, slightly easier to load than wheel on models||Very inexpensive, no assembly required, lightweight, folds small for storage|
|Cons||Some assembly required, 33 lbs per bike weight limit, may not be compatible with all frames styles and shapes||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load||Ease of assembly could be easier, have to lift bike to roof level to load/unload||Not adjustable, support arms may not work with all frame shapes/styles, no security features|
|Bottom Line||A quality trunk mount rack that stands out for its security features, stability, and adjustability||A versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratio||A roof-mount rack with an exceptionally sturdy and secure hold of your bicycle with no frame contact||This is an awesome fork mount roof rack that can hold almost any type of axle||A very affordable, bare-bones trunk rack for the infrequent rack user on a tight budget|
|Rating Categories||Thule Outway Hanging 2||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Kuat Trio||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Ease of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease of Removal and Storage (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Thule Outway Hanging 2||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Kuat Trio||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Lock?||Yes||Yes||Available but not included||Yes||No|
|Rack Weight||17 lbs 1oz||44 lbs 2 oz||17 lbs||7 lbs||7 lbs 9 oz|
|Max Weight Per Bike||33 lbs||60 lbs||44 lbs||45 lbs||35 lbs|
|Other Sizes Available?||Yes, 3 bike||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||No||No||Yes, 3 and 4 bike versions|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory||Most factory||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Thule is one of the biggest players in the bike rack market, and they make some of the most highly regarded models available. The Outway Hanging 2 is the top-of-the-line hanging model in their line of trunk mount bike racks. We were very impressed with a previous model of trunk rack from Thule, so we were excited to try the latest and greatest. We feel that they did a great job designing the Outway, and came away impressed by this lightweight and easily storable new model. Like any trunk rack, it has weight limitations and won't work with all bikes, but it stands out for its enhanced security features, stability, ease of removal and storage, and adjustability.
Ease of Everyday Use
Once the Outway Hanging has been attached securely to the vehicle, it is relatively easy to use. There are several steps in the loading process, and using it proficiently takes a few practice runs, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty straightforward. When installed correctly and loaded with bikes, the Outway is very stable on the vehicle as the steel cables don't tend to stretch or sag the way that nylon webbing can. The bikes themselves are also held very steady as Thule includes some stabilizing anti-sway spacers and a frame/wheel strap to keep the bikes from moving around.
The first step in the process is folding the support arms up into position, horizontally to cradle the bikes, and laterally for the appropriate width. Two large plastic levers, one on each arm, lock and unlock the arms in place. Once the arms are extended, open the inner set of ratchet straps and lift the first bike up onto the firm rubber cradles closest to the vehicle. Pull the ratchet straps over the top tube of the frame, and tighten them down. Attach one of the anti-sway spacers between the bike frame and the bike rack, this keeps the bike steady while driving and helps prevent damage to your vehicle and the bikes.
Repeat the loading process for the second bike, but with the bike facing the opposite direction to reduce handlebar conflict. Depending on the size/shape of the bikes, they may still make some contact or be challenging to fit side by side; one of the drawbacks of trunk racks. Attach the second anti-sway spacer between the two bikes to keep the outer bike steady. Loop the frame/wheel strap through the rack and the front and rear wheels of both bikes to keep the wheels from spinning and the bikes steady. Reverse the process to remove the bikes from the rack.
Ease of Removal and Storage
Installation and removal of the Outway Hanging trunk rack is relatively straightforward and simple, and storing it when not in use couldn't be easier thanks to its small collapsed size and light weight. The initial installation takes a little bit of time, but once the rack has been adjusted to fit the dimensions of your trunk and you've become familiar with the process it is quick and easy to put on and take off the vehicle.
Thule has made it easy to install and remove the Outway Hanging, but you'll definitely want to follow the instructions the first time around. There are 4 connection points, 2 that hook under the bottom of the trunk door, and 2 that hook over the top (there are also additional spoiler straps for vehicles with plastic spoilers). The first time you install the rack, you'll need to adjust the lower hooks, they move vertically and get locked in place, to the correct position for your vehicle. Two feet in the middle of the rack rest on the trunk door or window that support the majority of the rack's weight, and you may need to swap them out depending on the type of vehicle you have (it comes with 2 styles of rubber feet). The angle of the feet also needs to be adjusted to match the angle of the surface they are resting on.
The steel cable straps extend up to the top of the trunk, and hook over the top. The steel cables coil inside the rack and their tension is controlled by a knob on each side of the rack. The knobs have a torque limiting feature so that they can't be overtightened, as well as locks so that the rack can't be removed without the keys. To remove the rack, all you need to do is unlock the knobs and release just enough cable tension that you can slip the hooks off the top of the trunk door. The next time you install it, you will need to extend the cables, but the torque knobs will be close to the correct tension, and it only takes a couple twists of the knob to tighten them down again.
Ease of storage and portability are other benefits of trunk racks, and the Outway Hanging does well in that regard. This rack is very lightweight at just over 18 lbs, making it easy to carry and move around. The support arms of the rack also fold down, and the rack is quite small in its collapsed position. With folded dimensions of 30.7 x 20.9 x 9.5 inches, this rack can easily be stowed in the trunk of your vehicle, and it won't take up too much room in your garage or storage space, especially when compared to larger, heavier hitch mount racks.
Versatility is one metric where most trunk-mount racks suffer compared to other styles of racks, and the Outway Hanging is no different. Due to the design of the rack and the fact that the support arms hold bikes by the top tube, it works best with bikes that have more traditional frame shapes with large, open front triangles and horizontal top tubes. Thule thoughtfully designed the support arms of the Outway to have some lateral adjustability, however, so they can be moved side to side to fit bikes of various sizes, such as kid's bikes. Unfortunately, many full-suspension mountain bikes or those with oddly shaped frames may be difficult to fit or incompatible. Thule does, however, sell a Thule Frame Adapter, a horizontal tube that attaches between the seatpost and stem, for those situations. The 33 lbs per bike weight limit is another consideration, as it can't carry heavier electric bikes or enduro or downhill mountain bikes.
Vehicle compatibility is another important consideration in a rack's versatility. Trunk racks like the Outway Hanging do work with a large number of sedans, minivans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and station wagons, and don't require either a trailer hitch or roof bars like other styles of racks. They don't work with all vehicles, however, so it is important to use the Fit my car feature on the Thule website to determine which racks will be compatible with your vehicle. Additional considerations like spoilers may also affect the fit on certain vehicles, as this rack is held on the vehicle with straps that attach to the top of the trunk door.
Ease of Assembly
Most trunk racks score quite high in our ease of assembly metric because they typically come fully assembled. That is not the case with the Outway Hanging. This rack arrives in several pieces, and there is some assembly remaining that can easily be done at home. What makes this confusing though, is that the fully assembled rack fits neatly into the box the rack is shipped in. This left us wondering why Thule couldn't just finish the job themselves?
Finishing the remaining assembly of the Outway Hanging isn't particularly difficult but it involves a few simple steps to get it ready for use. The process involves attaching the two support arms to the main body of the rack along with one ratcheting strap per arm. Thule includes the tools needed and an instruction manual, although the instructions are in the form of drawings. We understand that it would probably be a hassle to print written instruction in 20 different languages, but some words would probably be helpful. Regardless, we put our test rack together in around 15 minutes without too much hassle. Once the rack is assembled, you may also need to swap the rubber feet depending on the style of vehicle you will mount the rack on.
In our opinion, trunk mount models are among the least secure styles of bike racks. That said, the Outway Hanging offers more in the way of security features than any other trunk rack we've tested. The rack itself can be locked to the vehicle, and the bikes locked to the rack. That said, the security features of this rack aren't foolproof, though they should provide a little more peace of mind and theft deterrent compared to other racks of the same style.
One thing that sets the Outway apart from other trunk racks is that it has steel cables for straps. These metal cables feed into the rack and are controlled by locking knobs on both sides. This allows you to lock the straps so they can't be loosened without the key, and the metal cables are much harder to cut than the nylon webbing straps used on other racks. The lower feet of the rack also hook under the trunk door and should not be removable unless the door is opened. There is also a cable lock that extends out of one of the support arms that can be looped around the top tubes of the bikes and locked into the rack. All of the locks on the rack use the same key for convenience. While these features are undoubtedly a good theft deterrent, we still wouldn't leave our bikes unattended on this rack for an extended period. The cables are all relatively thin and could easily be cut with a bolt cutter or something similar.
The Outway Hanging seems to be a well-made and durable trunk-mount rack. That said, there is a good amount of plastic used in its construction, though we feel if used with care and without exceeding its weight limit it should provide the user with many years of faithful service. One thing that stands out about the Outway is how stable it is in use which should help to prevent moving parts and contact points from premature wear when compared to other racks that don't seem quite as sturdy.
Unlike other trunk racks that use nylon webbing straps to secure them to the vehicle, the Outway Hanging has steel cables and fixed lower feet. This system feels more solid, and won't break down from the sun or weather as quickly as webbing straps. The aluminum tubing used in the construction of the body of the rack and support arms is lightweight but feels plenty sturdy to support the loads the Outway is designed to handle. The plastic or rubber parts on the rack will be susceptible to wear or damage over time or if used carelessly, like overtightening the ratchet or anti-sway straps, for example, but feels rugged enough to handle regular use. Another consideration would be using this rack on rough dirt roads, as the increased vibration could wear on the plastic parts more quickly than on smooth pavement.
The Outway Hanging 2 bike rack isn't exactly cheap, but it is one of the best trunk mount bike racks we've ever tested. It's well made with a thoughtful design and useful features. We'll let you decide if you can justify the expense for this rack, but if we were using a trunk rack, this is the one we would choose.
The Outway Hanging is a quality trunk mount rack that stands out for its stability, security features, and adjustability. It suffers from some of the same limitations as other trunk-mount racks in terms of bike fit and bike weight, but some clever design features help to make it more versatile and stable than other models on the market. We wouldn't call it perfect, but this is the best trunk mount rack we've tested.
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