Beautifully designed and executed, the high-end Thule T2 Pro XTR and its more basic brother the Pro X, are both highly versatile hitch bike racks compatible with everything from fat bikes and road bikes to ebikes and kids bikes. After owning and using almost 20 different bike racks, the Thule T2 Pro line is our go-to platform hitch rack for riders looking to haul a wide range of bikes styles and sizes.
In this review, we’ll break down the differences between the Pro XTR and the Pro X as well as highlight the unique features that make these racks worth the extra investment as compared to other hitch racks.
NOTE: The Thule T2 Pro XT has been discontinued and replaced by Pro XTR. The only difference between these two models is that the XTR has Rolling wheels to make it easier to move the rack while off the vehicle. The Thule T2 Pro X is also new and is a slightly more basic version of the XTR.
Thule T2 Pro XTR and X Overview
- RATING: Exceptional
- BEST FOR: Anyone, but especially those who need to haul a wide range of bike sizes
- CAPACITY: 2 or 4 with up to 5″ wide tires
- HITCH SIZE: 2″ and 1.25″ (extensions only available on the 2″ hitch)
- EXPANSION KIT: 2-tray for 2″ hitch only
- With the add-on kit, can easily switch from 2 or 4 capacity as needed (2″ receiver only)
- Folding lever is located at the end of the rack (even with the extension kit)
- Accommodates 20″ bikes and most fat bikes without any adapters
- XTR can accommodate bike tires up to 5″ wide without adapters (X limited to 3″)
- Provides 12″ of space between each bike!
- Trays shift up to 4″ side to side to help offset bikes
- Tool-free installation and integrated hitch pin (no separate parts that can get lost)
- XTR has built-in locking cables for each bike
- Very Heavy – but XTR has wheels to help move the rack around when not attached to the car
- Does not fit with 27.5″ fat bikes
**NOTE: This review is based on our experience and continued use of the older version of the Thule T2 Pro rack. The changes made to the current models – the T2 Pro XTR and the T2 Pro X – are minor. As a result, some images are labeled as the Pro, but unless noted, their features are the same as those on the Pro XTR.
Thule T2 Pro XTR and Pro X Review
From main features to the tiniest details, the Thule T2 Pro racks are thoughtfully designed and executed for maximum durability, usability, and versatility.
As one of the few tray-based bike racks compatible with everything from fat bikes to 20″ kids bikes (without adapters!) the Pro XTR and Pro X are our favorite hitch platform racks for anyone with a wide array of bike sizes and styles in their stable.
But which Thule T2 Pro rack is the best option for you? Having tested all the major competitors – including Yakima, Kuat, Saris, and Rockymounts – we know a thing or two about bike racks and have experienced firsthand the pros and cons that come with each brand. So before we jump into the details of the two different T2 Pro models, we’ll first break down who the T2 line is best for… and who it’s not.
20 inch Bike and 26 inch Fat Bike on the Thule T2 Pro
Who is the Thule T2 Pro line best for?
- Anyone looking to haul multiple bikes, especially those with a wide variety of wheel or tire sizes
- Families who need to transport bikes 20″ and up (other platform racks require adapters or only haul 24″+)
- Those who want a higher-set rack that is less likely to interfere with a car’s backup camera while folded up on the car (both T2 models sit at the same high position)
- Those who need a rack that is easy to fold while on the car – no reaching across or under the rack, the lever is easily accessible at the end of the rack
- Fat bike riders – fits tires up to 5″ wide on the Pro XTR model. Pro X fits 3″, but fat tire cups can be purchased separately to bump it up to 5″ (Both models do not fit 27.5″ fat tires though!)
- People who tend to forget tools while on the go – the T2 Pro models do not need any tools to install! Their unique mounting system also eliminates a hitch pin that can easily be misplaced.
Who is the Thule T2 Pro line NOT the best fit for?
- Those who plan on installing and removing the rack by themselves – it is heavy!
- Shorter adults mounting the rack onto a taller car – the rack sits really high up off the hitch
- Those who need to haul more than 4 bikes
What makes the Thule T2 Pro XTR and X stand out from other platform hitch racks?
While many nuances exist between the various brands, looking strictly at numbers, the Thule racks outperform other racks in three areas – tray spacing, weight capacity per tray, and fat-tire capabilities.
|T2 Pro XTR||T2 Pro X||Saris SuperClamp||Yakima HoldUp EVO||RockyMounts Splitrail|
|MSRP (4 capacity)||$1,300||$1,100||$999||$1,030||$1,080|
|Space Between Trays||12″||12″||8.5″ or 9.5″||11.5″||9.5″ or 11.5″|
|Max Tire Width||5″||3″||4″||4.8″||3″|
|Max Bike Weight (Main tray)||60 lb.||50 lb.||60 lb.||50 lb.||60 lb.|
|Max Bike Weight (Extension)||60 lb.||50 lb.||35 lb.||50 lb.||45 lb.|
|Total Rack Weight Capacity||160 lb.||140 lb.||190 lb.||160 lb.||120 lb.|
|Weight of 4 capacity Rack||96 lb.||~92 lb.||63 lb.||98 lb.||76 lb.|
|Individual Bike Cable Locks||✔||–||✔||✔||✔|
|Tilt down while loaded||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Lateral Adjustments for Spacing||✔||✔||–||✔||✔|
|Fits 20″ Bikes||✔||✔||–||✔||✔|
Space Between Trays: While seemingly minor, the extra inches between the trays can make a big difference, especially when loading up mountain bikes with wide handlebars. Handlebars hitting saddles and shepherd’s hooks hitting derailleurs can quickly become a challenge. An extra inch quickly goes a long way to eliminating contact between bikes on a rack.
Max Tire Width: If you don’t have a fat bike or don’t plan on getting one, there really isn’t a reason to fret over tire width.
Weight Capacity: Although the T2 Pro models don’t have the highest total weight capacity (total weight = weight of all the bikes added together), every tray on the Thule racks (even the extension trays) can hold a 50 lb. or 60 lb. bike.
While you should always load the heaviest bikes closest to the hitch on all bike racks, sometimes due to fitting issues, a heavy bike can end up on one of the extension trays. On the Thule, it isn’t a problem, but could be problematic on the Saris or Rockymounts.
Looking beyond numbers, based on our 5+ years of experience with Thule T2 Pro, the ease of use is the major selling point of the T2 Pro models. From loading to unloading, the rack is a breeze to use; Thule has clearly taken the time to think through every touch point on the rack. The fold-up lever is easily accessible at the end of the rack, the straps and shepherds hooks are easy to tighten and release, and the 12″ between the trays makes it easy to load any combination of bikes with minimal (if any!) contact.
The T2 Pro racks are also built like a tank. Our rack has been through snow, rain, mud, and sand (as well as three crazy kids) and we have never had to replace or repair a single part on our 5+ year-old rack.
How are the T2 Pro XTR and X Different?
While the new T2 Pro XTR and X racks are functionally the same, here are the key differences.
The Pro XTR:
- Has rolling wheels for easier transport
- Has wider tire trays (5″ wide tire max versus 3″ on the X)
- Includes individual cable locks for each bike
- Has a ratcheting rear tire strap
- Has a higher weight capacity per tray (60 lb. vs. 50 lb. on the X).
- NOTE: Individual fat tire trays can be purchased for the T2 Pro X to allow the rack to hold fat tires up to 5″ wide.
Add-On Kits for 4-bike Capacity
Like previous models, the Thule T2 Pro XTR and X 2-tray base racks are both available for 1.25″ and 2″ hitch receivers, but the 2-tray expansion kits (for total 4-bike capacity) are only available for 2″ receivers.
Pro XTR: The add-on 2 capacity kit for the Thule T2 Pro XTR is still listed as the Thule T2 Pro XT. Since the add-on kit does not have rolling wheels, it does not have an “R” in its name. (Confusing, we know!)
Pro X: The add-on kit for the Pro X is listed as the Pro X add-on. Please note that due to differences in the racks’ main masts, the Pro X add-on kit is not interchangeable with the Pro XT add-on kit and vice versa.
Features of Thule T2 Pro XTR and Pro X
The Thule T2 Pro racks are platform racks that rely on a front tire tray and shepherd’s hook system to secure the bikes to the rack. Once the front tire is placed in the supportive tray, the shepherd’s hook is then ratcheted down over the front tire to hold the bike in place.
The ratcheting system is smooth, easy to use, and quickly cinches down when pressure is placed on top of the shepherd’s hook. To keep the bike secure, the shepherd’s hook locks firmly in place once the hook is ratcheted down. The hook will not loosen until the release lever on the shepherd’s hook is pressed.
To keep the tail end of the bike stable, each bike has its own rear tire tray that slides from side to side to adjust to the wheelbase of the bike. The rear tire is then strapped into place via a thick plastic strap that goes over the rear wheel’s rim.
The rear strap of the Pro XTR works slightly differently than the strap on the Pro X. The XTR’s rear strap has a ratcheting system that allows you to quickly tighten down the strap with little effort. Once the strap is inserted beneath the gray tab, the tab can then be lifted up repeatedly to pull down and tighten the rear strap.
The strap on the Pro X is similar, but it doesn’t ratchet down. To tighten the strap, you simply pull down on the tail end of the strap once it is pushed through the locking tab.
While the rear strap ratcheting system on the XTR isn’t life-changing, it really is a clever and appreciated feature. Having used several other racks without this “minor” feature, we can attest that it is truly helpful.
As an additional bonus, the Pro XTR has a rubber protective strap pad to help protect the rear rim while on the rack. Being able to slowly ratchet down the strap helps to ensure the rubber strap is properly placed. To release the strap, simply push in on the tab.
Wheel Size Limitations
Unlike other tray-based systems, the ratcheting shepherd’s arms of the T2 Pro models have enough travel to secure a 20″ to 29″ wheel without the need for any adapters. We’ve hauled 20″ and 24″ kids’ bikes, 26″ fat bikes, and 27.5″ mountain bikes on the T2 Pro without any issues or concerns. Both models, however, are not compatible with 27.5″ fat bikes.
As a comparison, the Kuat NV cannot accommodate 20″ and 24″ bikes without an adapter. While the adapter is free, the adapter has rubbed the paint off of several of our kids’ bikes frames. The Saris SuperClamp EX can hold a 20″ if another bike is not next to it (thereby turning its 4-capacity rack into a 3-capacity).
The Thule T2 Classic, RockyMounts SplitRail, and Yakima HoldUp EVO can also transport 20″ and 24″ bikes without an adapter. The RockyMounts and the Yakima, however, do not accommodate fat tires as well as the Thule does.
Tire Width Limitations – Front Tire Tray
The front tire trays of the Thule T2 models determine the max tire width of the racks. The larger and wider XTR rack can hold all tire widths from road to 5″ fat tires, while the narrower tray on the X can only hold standard tires up to 3″ wide.
The tray on the Pro XTR is unique in that it has three separate slots for various width tires. A narrow slot at the bottom for thin road tires, a standard slot for tires up to 3″ wide, and the widest outer slot designed to support tires up to 5″ wide.
Thule T2 Pro XTR Front Tire Tray
The tire tray that comes standard on the Pro X only has slots for standard and road tires. Individual fat tire trays, however, can be purchased for the Pro X as an add-on to allow it to accommodate larger fat bike tires up to 5″ wide.
Thule T2 Pro X Tire Tray
Bike Spacing on the Rack
The Thule T2 Pro XTR and X provide an industry-leading 12″ of space between each tray! If you have ever used a bike tray of any design, you’ve certainly experienced the frustration of trying to prevent the handlebars and saddles from rubbing together. With other racks offering as little as 8.5″ between bikes, the Thule T2 Pro models are quite spacious!
**The image below shows our older T2 Pro model which only had 11″, but the current Pro XTR and X both have 12″ of spacing.
Need even more space? To prevent handlebars and saddles from touching, both models of the T2 Pro allow each individual bike mounting bar to slide 4″ to the left or right of the bike’s center mast. Adjusting these trays does require tools, but once they are set, you likely will never have to reset them.
Thule T2 Pro’s Offset Trays (Pro XTR and X’s are 2″ longer than shown)
Folding and Unfolding the T2 Pro XTR and Pro X
One of our favorite features of the T2 Pro models is the ease with which they fold up. Unlike other racks which place the folding lever underneath the rack, the T2 Pro XTR’s lever and X’S lever is right at the end of the main mast of the rack. Simply squeeze the lever and push up.
While all previous models of the T2 Pro had this feature, the T2 Classic did not! The folding lever on the retired Classic was just above the hitch of the car and was significantly harder to access.
When unfolding the rack to load bikes (or access the rear hatch), the lever is easily accessible as well. With the 2-bike extension added to the rack, however, the lever is up pretty high and can be hard to reach, especially for shorter adults trying to fold down a rack mounted on a high hitch vehicle.
Thule T2 Pro Rack Length
Compared to other hitch platform racks, the extra-wide bike spacing of the Thule T2 Pro models does make them “longer” than other racks, especially when the extension is added to make it 4-capacity. So in addition to extending farther out past the rear of the vehicle when loaded, the rack also extends taller up the rear of the vehicle when folded up.
Although the four different racks shown below (all 4-capacity racks) are all on different cars, the Thule Pro shown is actually on the largest vehicle and still extends up to the top of the car.
The 4-capacity Saris Superclamp EX shown above is great for those who don’t want their rearview obstructed. As a word of caution, however, we found the Saris Superclamp struggled to fit four 27.5″ and 29″ full-size mountain bikes without contact between the bikes.
Thule T2 Pro Rack Height
In addition to being longer (or taller), both the T2 Pro XTR and X models also sit higher on the hitch than other racks. As a result, compared to other brands, you will need to lift your bikes up higher to load them onto the T2 Pro. In the image below you can see how the T2 extends several inches higher off the hitch as compared to the RockyMounts SplitRail.
RockyMounts SplitRail vs. Thule T2 Pro XTR
As a result, the T2 Pros can be slightly harder to load for shorter adults (or kids) as compared to other racks.
In the comparison image below, you can see how much higher the same bike (a woom OFF 4 20″ bike) sits on the Thule T2 Pro as compared to the Rockymounts. Granted, these racks are mounted on different cars (they are both Toyota Land Cruisers – just different model years), but the difference is pretty clear.
On the flip side, the higher-set Thule T2 Pro models interfered much less with backup cameras on our cars as compared to the lower-set RockyMounts. While the position of the backup camera on cars varies widely, if you plan on keeping the rack folded up on your car fairly often, the higher position of the T2 Pro will be to your benefit.
Rear Hatch Access
For easy access while loading and unloading bikes, the T2 Pro XTR and X models both tilt down to provide access to the rear hatch of a car. From getting out helmets to hydration packs, or simply throwing in that last item for a vacation that you almost forgot to pack, accessing the rear hatch comes in handy more often than you would anticipate.
Locking Mechanisms – T2 Pro XTR ONLY
To keep your bikes secure while on the go, each shepherd’s arm on the Thule T2 Pro XTR comes with a locking cable. The cable extends out of the arm and then wraps around the frame of the bike and locks back onto itself with the included locks.
This feature is only on the Thule T2 Pro XTR. The Pro X does not have individual locking cables for each bike, but like the XTR, the entire rack itself does lock onto the hitch to prevent theft of the entire rack.
Once assembled, installing the T2 Pro models is fast and easy. Unlike other racks, the installation of the Thule T2 Pro models is 100% tool-free! Thule’s unique mounting system doesn’t even require a hitch pin.
To install the rack, simply slide the hitch arm into the receiver and snap the spring-loaded pin into the hitch pinhole. The rack can then be fully secured to the hitch by turning the knob at the base of the rack several times to “tighten” the rack within the receiver.
As you turn and tighten the knob, a small corner of the hitch arm is pushed out against the inside of the receiver. This helps to steady the rack and greatly minimizes wobbling. The knob can then be locked to ensure the rack is steady and secure.
Integrated Wheels on Thule T2 Pro XTR
Although the actual installation of the rack is easy, lifting the rack on and off can be a challenge. As a 4-tray system, the T2 Pro XTR weighs almost 100 pounds!
In addition to lifting the rack up to load onto the car, moving it around the garage as well as to and from your car can be a challenge. To help in transport, the T2 Pro XTR comes with wheels along the base of the rack to allow you to easily roll it from place to place. The Pro X does not have these wheels.
Even with the wheels, both T2 Pro models are still pretty heavy, so if you plan on taking your bike rack on and off frequently, the Thule T2 Pro line likely isn’t the best choice for you. The much lighter RockyMounts SplitRail (76 lb. as a 4-capacity) or Saris SuperClamp (63 lb.) are worth taking a look at.
What About the Thule T2 Classic?
Thule’s more affordable platform hitch bike rack, the Thule T2 Classic ($549 for 2-capacity), has been retired and replaced by the T2 Pro X. Having used both the Pro and Classic models, we can honestly say that the Pro X is a big jump up from the Classic!
Unlike the Classic, the Pro X shares the same hinge and folding lever design as the T2 Pro XTR. As a result, the Pro X can be folded up or tilted down via the lever at the end of the rack as compared to the Classic’s hard-to-reach lever located at the base of the rack.
The Pro X, however, isn’t a complete rebuild as it has the same narrower tire trays, shepherds hooks without locking cables, and non-ratcheting tire straps as the T2 Classic.
Thule T2 Pro XTR and X Bottom Line
Exceptional in every way, the Thule T2 Pro line is a highly versatile rack that is amazing for families. With the ability to easily haul 20″ and 24″ kids’ bikes as well as fat bikes, hauling your family’s bikes is a breeze. With 12″ of spacious room between each tray and 4″ of offset available for each tray, the T2 Pro line is the most spacious, yet rugged, rack available on the market.