Thule T2 Pro XT Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Easy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installation
Cons: Hefty, pricey
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Thule T2 Pro XT
|Price||$619.95 at REI|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$599.00 at Competitive Cyclist|
Compare at 2 sellers
|$449.95 at Competitive Cyclist||$549.00 at REI|
Compare at 3 sellers
|Pros||Easy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installation||Low loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removal||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Lightweight, simple, foot pedal tilt mechanism||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact|
|Cons||Hefty, pricey||High price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use, questionable durability||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Lacks versatility, expensive, 40 lbs per bike weight limit||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load|
|Bottom Line||A thoughtful design makes this versatile rack incredibly user-friendly and we think its the best hitch mount rack available||A lightweight alternative to other hitch racks, with great adjustability||This rack combines solid performance and a reasonable price||As the lightest hitch rack we tested, the Sherpa was a favorite for its good looks and simple design||An highly engineered and somewhat complex rack that does a wonderful job holding your bike|
|Rating Categories||Thule T2 Pro XT||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Kuat Sherpa 2.0||Thule UpRide|
|Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)|
|Ease Of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Thule T2 Pro XT||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Kuat Sherpa 2.0||Thule UpRide|
|Style||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Roof|
|Lock?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Available but not included|
|Weight||51 lbs||34 lbs||44 lbs 2 oz||32 lbs||17 lbs|
|Other Sizes Available?||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 1 additional bike||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||Yes, 1.25" receiver||No|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Thule could easily have left the T2 Pro alone — it was a great rack and our previous favorite. Instead, they took an amazing product and made it even better by increasing the spacing between the trays and growing the lateral tray adjustment range. These changes are barely noticeable without comparing the old and new versions of the model side by side; but when we put the new T2 Pro XT to the test, the increased clearance between bikes was noticeable.
The T2 Pro XT maintains all of the groundbreaking features that established it as the benchmark hitch-mount rack; remote tilt release handle, and a tool-free vehicle attachment system. Its innovative features are what vaulted it into the top position in our previous review. Our current round of testing includes some racks that have copied some of the Thule design features. Despite many other racks now employing the same features, Thule maintains the top spot due to its impeccable execution compared to its competitors.
Add on the Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Add-On and this becomes our favorite 4-bike hitch rack.
Ease of Everyday Use
The T2 Pro XT is hands down the most user-friendly rack we've ever tested.
Thule was the first brand to bring a hitch rack with a remote tilt release handle to market and despite intense competition from other brands, the T2 still has the smoothest and most user-friendly release mechanism on the market. The two factors that have the greatest impact on ease of everyday use are the tilt mechanism and ease of loading bikes. We tilt our rack every day whether we're out riding or running errands, access to the rear of the vehicle is always a priority. The low loading height and easy one-handed front wheel clamps make loading bikes simple and easy. The Dr. Tray has tool-free tray adjustment which is a great feature especially for those who frequently load different combinations of bikes. However, we seldom needed to move the trays on the T2, due to the generous, 13" of tray spacing, and we set the rack up with the greatest lateral spread possible, so bike-to-bike interference was rarely an issue during testing.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The T2 Pro uses a tool-free system to secure the rack to a vehicle. Just slide the rack into the hitch receiver and release the stinger pin, which drops into the hole that traditionally would hold the locking pin. Then, a knob is turned on the body of the rack that secures the rack to the vehicle and prevents wobble. One of the included keys is used to secure the knob, preventing theft. This may seem like a trivial feature, but if you're removing your rack from your vehicle on a regular basis it can be a huge time saver. Other racks, like the first generation Thule T2 Classic, use a threaded hitch pin to prevent wobble that requires a wrench for attachment and removal. While the threaded pin system works quite well, using a wrench can be frustrating and time-consuming due to the cramped working space.
The T2 Pro XT takes up a lot of space when stored, and moving it around on a regular basis is not all that enjoyable since it weighs 51 lbs. The Kuat Sherpa and the Yakima Dr. Tray are both lighter and easier to carry to and from the garage. If limited storage is an issue than the 1Up USA Heavy Duty Quick Rack packs up smaller than any other platform hitch rack in the test.
The T2 Pro XT is one of the more versatile racks we tested. Wide V-shaped tire trays effectively hold any tire, from skinny road tires up to monster 5" fat bike tires. Other contenders are limited to 3" tires making them incompatible with fat bikes. Some tray racks will work but may require modification such as extending the rear wheel straps. The T2's individual trays are adjustable laterally on the main mast arm of the rack, making it easy to avoid bike clearance issues by straddling the trays. Other competitors we tested have fixed tray positions and do not allow for this adjustment. Our only complaint is that the trays are not adjustable fore and aft, so the distance between the trays is fixed.
The first generation Thule T2 Classic and the Yakima Dr. Tray feature trays that are adjustable both laterally and fore and aft, a feature we've always liked and one of the reasons that the Thule T2 Classic has always been a favorite with OutdoorGearLab testers. That said, the T2 Pro XT has more clearance from the back of the vehicle to the inside tray than many racks we tested, which decreases the likelihood of vehicle clearance issues.
Ease of Assembly
The T2 Pro XT requires tools for assembly. The trays must be attached to the main support mast, and some work is also required to attach the plastic front wheel baskets and the rear wheel straps. When compared to racks like the 1Up USA which comes fully assembled or the Yakima Dr Tray which requires very limited assembly, this rack is a bit of a project. We were able to assemble this model with one person, using the included tools and the addition of a Philips screwdriver.
Attaching the trays is best accomplished with the support arm of the rack attached to a vehicle. Four hex bolts secure each tray to the support mast. If you're averse to assembly, there are many easier racks available, but we feel that the end product is worth the extra assembly time with the T2 Pro XT.
Securing your bikes during transport is a major concern for most riders, and the ability to secure the rack you're using to transport the bikes is equally important.
The T2 Pro XT attaches to your hitch receiver with an expanding wedge that is forced against the inside portion of the receiver tube, this prevents wobble and prevents the rack from falling out of the receiver. Thule has a novel approach to security for the T2 Pro, the knob that is turned to expand the wedge that holds the rack in place can be disabled by turning a lock within the knob. Once the lock is secured, the knob just free spins and it's impossible to release the wedge. We feel that this system is just as secure as a locking hitch pin and much easier to use.
The T2 Pro XT also comes with cable locks to secure bikes. The cables are housed in the front wheel clamp arms and can be pulled out to wrap around a bike in the rack. While this system is straightforward to use, the short length of the cables only allows you to loop around the front fork on most bikes. When carrying road bikes we were able to get the cable through the front triangle, but the geometry of most mountain bikes we used in the test prevented us from attaching the lock to anything but the fork. These cables may work well as a theft deterrent, although we feel a determined bike thief would make quick work of them. For an additional level of security, we would suggest adding a sturdy aftermarket lock to the mix.
We felt that the first version of the T2 Pro was exceptionally durable, and the new XT version improves on the design with bombproof black paint that was impervious to scratches during testing.
The previous version had a silver finish which scratched easily. The overall construction of the T2 Pro XT is stout, and it feels that way too at 51 lbs. The T2 Pro has some plastic pieces that are prone to degradation from sun exposure. The moving parts are almost entirely made of metal, and despite some pretty serious abuse, the T2 Pro functioned flawlessly during testing. If anything we would describe it as being overbuilt, if durability is high on your list of required attributes, then this rack should be on your shortlist.
Like most quality hitch-mount bike racks, the T2 Pro is relatively expensive. Despite the high price, we feel that it represents a good value due to its versatility, ease of use, and durability.
We've tested a lot of hitch racks here at OutdoorGearLab. Every time a new model comes out with a host of impressive features, we can't help but get a little excited. Despite having a pile of the best racks on the market in the garage, 99% of the time, the T2 Pro XT is the one we grab. There are lighter competitors, better-looking racks, and racks with better security features, but when it comes down to it, this rack is the easiest and most intuitive model we've ever used, and the one-handed tilt feature is better designed than the competition. Frankly, ease of use trumps every other factor for us, and it doesn't hurt that it's impressively durable and reliable to boot. If you want the best all-around hitch rack on the market, we think this is it.
— Curtis Smith