Thule Improves 29er Capability, Adds Lock Cores Standard-on T2 Bicycle Hitch Racks

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SEA OTTER CLASSIC 2010 – Thule has updated their popular T2 hitch-mount bicycle rack to be more compatible with 29er mountain bikes.  In the process, they’ve added lock cores to the ratchets, which will now come standard on all new T2s.

If you’re recall, they’ve had a very vocal opponent of the T2 rack, creating a video that I’m sure Thule wishes would disappear.  The customer’s video claims that the design is inherently faulty, and goes on to show what happens when a large mammal (or, presumably 70mph winds) vigorously assaults the rack. I spoke with Karl, Thule’s marketing guy, about the issue and he said that as long as the rack is assembled properly (which is pretty important for most things to work right, don’tcha know), it works perfectly well.  The reason for the design is actually pretty nifty, and I’ll explain why after the break so you can make your own opinion…

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Lock cores now come standard on the wheel ratchets, providing light security without cables.

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The Thule T2 uses two metal brackets to attach the cross bars to the main bar.  Unlike models from Yakima, Kuat, etc., that bolt the cross bars directly into the main bar, Thule’s design allows for fore/aft and left/right adjustment.  This lets you space the bikes as far apart as you need to, and lets you adjust their entanglement by sliding them left or right.  This is especially important if you regularly carry two similarly sized bikes whose saddle and brake levers like to wrestle for space.

The potential issue is that if you don’t properly tighten down the bolts on the brackets, the cross bars could slide backward. On newer models, Thule has added a stop-screw to the bottom of the main bar at the rear, so even if they do slide, they’ll  stop against the screw before coming all the way off, but Karl says if they’re adequately tight, they won’t move. He added that of the thousands upon thousands of T2 racks they’ve sold, they’ve had virtually no customer complaints.  For what it’s worth, I shook the rack and it didn’t budge.

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Comments

Jasonsheep - 05/10/10 - 6:39pm

Can someone get a few shots of that rack holding onto the Lefty? I would have thought you would have to have the arm mounting the other way, but then again it is the Thule booth. I want to make sure that I’m doing it like they do with my Lefty and my T2. Thanks brothers.

Tyler (Editor) - 05/10/10 - 7:06pm

Jason, I had one more pic of the whole thing I just posted, hope that helps. We routinely use similar racks (with ratchets that clamp down on the front tire) with Lefty-equipped c’dales and haven’t had any problems regardless of which way the bike is facing. I don’t think the side of the tire that it’s clamping on matters as long as it’s clamping down securely.

Kyle - 05/10/10 - 10:03pm

What’s the 29er upgrade? And can I get it?

Kristibee - 05/11/10 - 7:34am

Contact Thule directly to get it. The upgrade parts are only the ratchet and arm, but they’ll be able to tell the exact bits.

Paul Andrews - 05/11/10 - 3:09pm

Tyler, a simple Web search would have corrected Karl’s comment about no customer complaints. Come on — I’ve recorded numerous complaints on my Web site, and MTBR Forums has them as well. This is not to say Thule is a bad company, just that they made a faulty rack which, with a few corrections, could be far better — and safer!

http://bikeintelligencer.com/2009/09/warning-thule-t2-rack-failure-exposed/

Paul Andrews, editor
BikeIntelligencer.com

Tyler (Editor) - 05/11/10 - 4:16pm

Thanks, Paul. To my knowledge, Thule has made updates to the T2 that should correct the potential for a cross bar sliding off the rear. As for any other issues, we haven’t used, tested, reviewed or owned one, so I can’t comment on anything else.

Also, to be fair to Karl, I paraphrase my notes and have to draw on memory a lot for a big show like Sea Otter where I’m covering a ton of stuff, so his exact words may have been different. I did call him prior to publishing this post, but got voicemail.

dr alan binner - 05/12/10 - 11:53am

‘Virtually’ no complaints? yeah, right…..there are a lot of customers out there with negative experiences. look at this one i found on the web:

I was driving home from Whistler last night when my T2 rack jettisoned
the rear most carrier and the Turner bike that it was holding on the Sea
to Sky Hwy!

Now you have to know that the bolts were all as tight as they can be,
the brackets have stretched with time and use so both carriers are a
little floppy. IT all turned out ok and the cars and bikes behind were
able to see the bike in the center lane soon enough to avoid contact.
The bike sustained minor damage.

Rack and Road claimed they have never heard of such a thing happening
before. I suggested that the rack needs a “stop” that would prevent the
tray\carrier from sliding off the back even if the bolts became loose.
They installed a large carriage bolt in the hole intended for the 2 bike
extender. This should prevent it from happening again. I will calling
Thule about this matter tomorrow as they are closed on Monday.

They should issue a recall and or prescribe a fix such as the one I now
have, in addition shims could be applied to the streching brackets to
keep them tight to the rail.

I am grateful that no one was hurt. IT could have been very ugly.

dr alan binner - 05/12/10 - 11:55am

another ‘virtual’ complaint from a president of a major mountain bike club can be viewed here:

It happened to me in spring of 2008 – on I-5 in midday traffic. I filed a
report with the Consumer Products Safety Comission (and also posted to this
list serve).

A couple of months after I filed the report I received a call from someone
at Thule who wanted to replace the parts of my bike that had gotten damaged.
He was pretty tight-lipped about whether they were going to do anything in
response to my incident, but they did say that the new models were going to
have a stop. Maybe if enough people complain to the CPSC they will do a full
recall.

While I think the consumer/car owner bears responsibility for keeping the
bolts tight I have heard from others (Andy included) that you can have the
bolts super tight and still lose the rack. In fact, earlier this year one of
my brackets somehow got bent and was no longer able to be fully tightened
(since my incident I obsessively check my rack bolts). I tried shimming it
to no avail, so I finally went on the Thule site and ordered a new bracket.
Not sure why it bent, but it sounds like it has happened to others’ racks as
well.

When it happened to me, the bike damage was not too bad, but a few minutes
after it happened a group of motorcyclists came by in the lane I had been
driving in. I was horrified to think of what might have happened if the rack
had come off in front of one of them.

I would encourage anyone who has experienced this issue to file a report
with the CPSC: http://www.cpsc.gov/ and click “Report an unsafe product.”
It’s an easy process and might pressure Thule to do a recall. Pass it on.

-it’s time that Thule stops minimizing this issue and accepts some responsibility for a faulty T2 bike rack

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