Thule UpRide Review
Cons: Complicated, over-designed, not a great option for shorter riders or taller vehicles.
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Analysis and Test Results
The Thule UpRide takes a unique approach to the relatively stale market of roof-mounted bike racks. Those who have been using roof-style racks for decades may find the UpRide to be a little over-designed and a little too complicated. That said, the security features and the firm grasp on your bicycle is impressive. This rack scored quite well in versatility, ease of assembly, and security metrics. Ease of everyday use is not a strong suit.
Ease of Everyday Use
The UpRide is a complex bike rack both visually and practically. There is quite a lot going on with this system. In fact, it feels a little over-engineered. Yes, it secures the bicycle very well, but it feels a little complicated, perhaps unnecessarily so.
The UpRide has a two counteracting arms that secure the front wheel to the rack. There is an arm with a hooked or curved end that holds the front of the front wheel. In addition, there is a closed cradle that secures to the rear part of the front wheel. These two counteracting forces do an excellent job holding the wheel in place by squeezing the front wheel.
The problem is the process is a little bit too complicated. First, you need to get the arm with the hook into the proper position on the front of the rack. This requires you to adjust the arm to the specific wheel size for the bicycle you are loading. This adjustment moves the position of the hook to fit 29" - 27.5" - 26" and kids wheels. The adjustment is relatively straightforward, but it is still an additional step. Next, pull the rear cradle upward until it clicks into place in a set position . Then, use the ratchet closure system to tighten down the cradle which squeezes the front wheel against the stationary hooked arm. Lastly, strap down the rear wheel with a ratchet system and your ready to go. This process can be difficult, especially for shorter folks with larger vehicles.
There is no doubt this system works well, but it is a lot of steps. Having to adjust the arm each time you load a bike with a different wheel size is a hassle. The counteracting arms do a good job, but aren't particularly user-friendly. The icing on the cake is the offset rear wheel strap. The strap is fed diagonally through the rear wheel into a ratcheting clamp. This offset strap a little more difficult than a traditional strap that feeds straight across the rear wheel. This is a perfect example of Thule overthinking things with the UpRide.
Riders used to working with roof-mounted racks, may not find the loading process to be such a big deal. Still, other roof-mounted systems are significantly easier to use with fewer moving parts and quirks. Those who primarily use hitch-style racks will find the whole process quite difficult and clunky.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The UpRide is not a rack you will be taking on and off too frequently. Roof racks slot more into the set it and forget it category. That said, some folks may take the rack off in the winter to avoid getting snow and road salt on this expensive rack. If that sounds like you, you are in luck.
Thule knocked it out of the park with the installation and removal of this rack. The removal process is tool-free and simply requires you to release three clamping points (which can be locked) and spin them loose. Once the clamps are loosened, simply finagle them around the load bars and the rack lifts right off the crossbars. Storage is easy enough, with the arms/cradles folded down, the Upride is relatively compact and won't take up too much space in the garage.
The UpRide is quite versatile. It works with virtually any wheel size and suspension design. It should be noted that it requires adapters to work with the massive tires of a fat bike. The lack of contact with the bicycle frame or fork makes it a nice option for carbon fiber road frames or those with really expensive suspension forks. Road bike, kids bike, downhill bike, E-bike, BMX bike, they all fit on this puppy.
While it does work with a huge variety of wheel sizes, the adjustment on the hooked arm is a little annoying. It isn't that difficult, but it is certainly an added step that may be difficult in the dark or after a massive ride. Still, the versatility of the UpRide was undeniably impressive. It should be noted that there is a 44-pound load limit on this rack. That should be plenty for any kind of mountain bike, fat bike, road bike, and hybrid bike. E-bikes will be too heavy for this system. This isn't a major flaw as your not going to want to lift an e-bike over your head anyway.
Ease of Assembly
Ease of assembly was a clear high point of the UpRide. Come to think of it, there was very little assembly required. This was a welcome change after dealing with a few racks that required well over 60 minutes and some reading glasses to assemble.
Upon opening the box, the UpRide is essentially all put together. Simply lay the rack in the proper position on your crossbars. Then, quickly assemble two of the clamps that hold this rack to the crossbar. Next, tighten each of these clamp points appropriately and snap them down. The entire process is tool-free. Some users may need to slide the rack forward or backward to avoid interfering with the trunk or hatch of their vehicle, but this is a tool-free and intuitive adjustment.
If you purchased the optional lock cores, they are just one simple additional step. There are locks that secure the clamps to the crossbar as well as a lock for the integrated cable lock.
The UpRide has a few security features.
In the traditional sense, there is a locking cable that extends out of the rear of the tray. The cable has a diameter of approximately .75 inches. The cable can pass through the rear triangle and rear wheel and locks onto a port on the cable. The actual locking cores are sold separately. The cable would be relatively easy for a seasoned thief to cut and serves more as a deterrent for an opportunist thief.
The rack itself locks onto the crossbar. The clamps that connect the UpRide to the crossbars have space for locking cores. Again, the locks are sold separately and easy to install.
When the bike is being carried on the rack, it is quite secure. There is an extremely low risk for this robust system to fail. We have very little concern about your beloved bike flying off on the interstate.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of substantial wear or evidence that the rack will not stand up to heavy usage. There is no play in the system and all of the knobs and buckles are functioning as they should.
Given the complexity of this rack, there is more likelihood of something going wrong over its lifespan. Again, there is no evidence of any issues developing, but with more moving parts comes higher levels of concern. As you add more clamps, knobs, and ratcheting pieces to your design, you are opening the door for a higher chance of failure.
The UpRide is a decent value. While the ease of use metric may have hit the Thule rack hard, it is still a nice piece of gear. This is an expensive option in terms of roof-mounted racks, but the UpRide offers a very strong hold on your bicycle.
The Thule UpRide is a unique roof-mounted bike rack. We found the process of loading and unloading bicycles to be a little more involved than we would have liked, but there is no-doubt the UpRide delivers a high level of security and a stronghold. In addition, there is no frame or fork contact. We found this rack to be a viable option for smaller vehicles and lighter bicycles. The UpRide is quite expensive, but we feel the quality and security make it a solid value.
— Pat Donahue