The Thule Parkway 956 is a hitch mount rack that utilizes two horizontal supports to hold bikes by the top tube, in a similar manner to other hitch and trunk mount racks we tested like the Thule Apex Swing 4-Bike. A tilt-down feature allows access to the rear of the vehicle when not loaded with bikes. Best suited to road bikes and other bikes with traditional front triangle shapes, the Parkway is an affordable hitch mount option.
Thule Parkway 4-Bike Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Low loading height, does not require front wheel removal
Cons: Direct contact with bike frame, bike-to-bike contact can cause damage, blocks access to rear compartments of vehicle, can only be lowered with bikes removed, no security features
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Thule Parkway is an arm style hitch mount rack compatible with 2" receivers. It has a capacity of four bikes and holds bikes by clamping the top tube with rubber straps. Front wheel removal is not required, but the design of the rack is best suited to bikes with traditional front triangle shapes and horizontal top tubes.
Ease of Everyday Use
This model has the advantage of a relatively low loading height, similar to the Allen Deluxe 4 and the Thule Apex Swing, making loading compatible bikes easy. Attempting to load full suspension bikes can be difficult, requiring some awkward lifting and positioning to get the horizontal supports to pass through the front triangle. We found it impossible to get some bikes with unique frame designs to fit at all, but we had similar issues with all racks utilizing this design such as the Allen Deluxe 4 and the Thule Apex Swing. The Parkway does have a tilt-down feature, akin to the Kuat NV, but it cannot be used with bikes loaded. So access to the rear of your vehicle is not possible when the rack is loaded with bikes. The Parkway is also dependent on the use of a nylon strap to lash bikes to the rack during transport.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The rack slides into any 2' inch hitch receiver and is secured with a bolt that threads into the body of the model. You need a 19mm wrench or socket wrench to attach and remove the rack from your vehicle. The Parkway is a somewhat cumbersome and unwieldy contender to carry, and it takes up a lot of space when stored.
This model has a four-bike capacity with a weight capacity of 165 lbs. This style of rack is not as versatile as a tray style hitch mount rack, such as the Thule T2 Classic or the Kuat NV which can hold any bike. The cradles that make contact with the bike are adjustable fore and aft on the support arms, similar in function to the Thule Apex Swing. We had difficulty fitting any combination of four bikes on the rack without bike-to-bike contact.
Despite the claimed four-bike capacity, we found the Parkway to be better suited to carrying three bikes or less. The ability to move the cradles on the horizontal supports does allow more flexibility for bike positioning than on other tested racks with horizontal support arms that have fixed cradles, such as the Allen Deluxe 4-Bike Hitch Carrier. Versatility is limited by the design of the bike retention system. The Parkway works well with bikes that have a traditional front triangle and horizontal top tubes, but we struggled to adequately secure full suspension bikes and bikes with unique top tube shapes.
Ease of Assembly
The Parkway requires minimal assembly and is mostly ready to use out of the box. Attaching the rack to the vehicle is the only real assembly that is required.
Not much to say here. The Parkway has no security features; it does not come with bike locks or a locking hitch pin. This rack is compatible with the Thule Snug-Tite locking hitch pin ($49.99) if you wish to add a bit of security to your purchase.
This competitor survived our testing with no durability issues. Construction appears to be sturdy, and the majority of the rack is made of steel. The cradles are plastic, but they held up well under testing. The rubber straps that secure the bikes are susceptible to fatigue from the frequent stretching required to attach bikes, as well as to damage from the sun. The good news is they are easily replaced and readily available from Thule and Thule dealers.
The Parkway is best suited to carrying road bikes and other bikes that have a traditional front triangle with a horizontal top tube. Use caution when carrying carbon bikes and bikes with delicate paint; direct contact with the cradles can cause damage to your frame.
Despite shortcomings in versatility and security, the Parkway is a good value at $199. Its function is similar to the Allen Deluxe 4, but the overall finish and quality are worth the extra money. The ability to position the cradles to prevent bike-to-bike contact also give the Parkway an edge over the Allen Deluxe 4.
The Parkway is an affordable rack, but its design limits the type of bikes that can be carried. Most riders would be better served with more versatile tray style hitch mount rack.
— Curtis Smith