With their signature European design and engineering Thule bike racks are widely regarded as the Rolls Royce of the bike rack world.
And judging by the function and overall quality of the VeloSpace XT rack that we’ve been road testing throughout winter, it’s pretty obvious to us why the brand is so well regarded. The Thule VeloSpace XT is a rear hitch/towball style rack which carries 3 bikes of practically any shape and size, plus an aftermarket adapter allows for a 4th bike to join the party.
How easy/hard is it to install?
Fitting the VeloSpace XT is really straight forward and takes less than a minute. You simply pop the latch onto your tow ball and lower the arm which secures the rack in place. Then insert the lighting plug and that’s it, you’re ready to load bikes! Each bike is held in place via ratchet straps which clamp the wheels down into the wheel trays. Each bike is then secured using detachable bike arms that are secured to the rack’s A-frame and clamp to the bike’s tubes using soft rubber clamping jaws that have an AcuTight torque limiter and click when they’ve reached optimal tightness to help stop your bike’s tubes getting pinched or crushed in the jaws. The spacing between each bike is generous enough to ensure that the bikes shouldn’t rub during transit which is a comforting thought considering how valuable (and vulnerable) bikes are these days. Having installed the rack a handful of times I was quite surprised to read in the manual that the VeloSpace XT weighs in at 20kgs, because it really doesn’t seem that heavy when you’re lifting it on and off the car. Another nifty feature is the back beam of the rack folds down into itself making the unit nice and compact, and that also means that the VeloSpace XT is really easy to storing away when not in use.
How does it perform?
To be fair it would be hard not to award this rack a perfect 10 out of 10 for its performance. Loading bikes onto the rack and fastening them in place becomes very intuitive after a few goes. Whilst you’re driving the rack feels very stable and you certainly don’t notice any movement/sway coming from the bikes as you peer at the rear-view mirror. And because of this it’s actually pretty easy to forget that you’ve even got the rack on there at all. Another great feature is the rack’s tilt mechanism which makes it very easy to access your car’s boot. There’s plenty of space to load bulky items into the boot behind the rack and the amount it tilts means that even large boots can still open. The rack also features a ‘tilt’ function. A foot peddle operates the tilt mechanism which swings the bikes away from the vehicle, allowing for easy access to the boot of the vehicle. And, the tilt function can be performed even when the rack is fully loaded with bikes.
Can it carry e-Bikes?
You bet! The rack features a high load capacity meaning you need not worry about hauling around those heavy bikes. And because of the racks smart design there’s plenty of space and adjustment to suit even bikes with really long wheel bases and really weird frame shapes. Thule do also offer an aftermarket loading ramp which allows you to roll each bike up onto the rack rather than lifting them, but I’m not convinced that’s really going to be necessary. Afterall, it’s not as if you have to haul the bikes over your head and onto the vehicles roof or anything… I figure if you can ‘pop’ a wheelie whilst your riding then you’ll have no problem popping your pride and joy up onto a bike rack, right?
Value for money?
Sure, you’ll be able find plenty of cheaper bike racks out there but if you’re after a really high quality, excellent performing rack, then the Thule VeloSpace XT is hard to go past. And when you consider the cost of a nice MTB, and then times that amount by the number of bikes that you’ll be carting around behind your car, we could easily be talking 40k in bikes, so for me spending a few bucks more on a top quality bike rack that is going to give you that extra piece of mind, its totally worth every penny.
Options // An aftermarket 4th bike adapter + fastening arm is available for $299 which allows you to quickly and easily and securely add a 4th bike onto the rack. A 2 bike version of the rack is also available and it comes in at $1049.