Beautifully designed and executed, the Thule T2 Pro XT bike rack is the most spacious car bike rack on the market. We put it to the test along with other top selling hitch mounted-racks to see how the faired when loaded up with bikes for the whole family. Read our review to learn why we love the T2 Pro.
Thule T2 Pro XT Review
- RATING: Exceptional
- MSRP: $620
- BEST FOR: Families needing to haul a wide range of bike sizes
- CAPACITY: 2 or 4 with up to 5″ wide tires
- HITCH SIZE: 2″ only
- EXPANSION KIT: 2-tray for 2″ hitch only
- With the add-on kit, can easily switch from 2 or 4 capacity as needed
- Folding lever is located at the end of the rack (even with the extension kit)
- Accommodates 20″ bikes without any adapters
- Can accommodate bike tires up to 5″ wide without adapters
- 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 locking system (no separate bolt that can get lost)
- Very Heavy
- Does not fit with 27.5″ fat bikes
Thule T2 Pro XT Review – Results of our Testing
From top to bottom, the Thule T2 Pro XT is thoughtfully designed and executed. From its folding and ratcheting system, it’s a breeze to use and exceptionally sturdy. As one of the few tray-based bike racks that can hold 20″ and 24″ bikes without any adapter, it’s our top pick bike rack for families.
Thule’s current model of this design is called the Thule T2 Pro XT, which was an update of their Thule T2 Pro rack. The XT update brought several improvements to the Pro including wider spacing between the bars and more travel room in the tray offset (more on these below). The functionality and overall design of the rack did not change. The Pro XT is the model currently available for purchase.
Already having and loving the Thule T2 Pro, all the images in this review are of the T2 Pro, not the T2 Pro XT, but the racks are almost identical visually. We have, however, seen the upgrades to the Thule T2 Pro XT in person and will be sure to point out differences in this review.
What makes it stand out?
The Thule T2 Pro XT will hold just about any 20″+ bike you can throw at it. From fat tire bikes to mountain bikes, the T2 Pro XT has got you covered. No adapters or extra velcro straps needed to keep bikes secure, it all comes included. With a remarkable 12″ of space between the bikes on the rack, gone are the days of bikes rubbing or hitting against each other.
What about an e-bike? Not a problem! With a 60 lb. weight capacity per bike, the T2 Pro XT has got you covered. Just throw the bike on, ratchet down the shepherd’s hook over the front tire, secure the rear wheel with the back strap, and you’re good to go.
20 inch Bike and 26 inch Fat Bike on the Thule T2 Pro
From our experience with Thule as well as some other racks, the ease of use is also a huge selling point for the T2 Pro XT. The rack’s anti-wobble system keeps it sturdy and secure, and also eliminates the need for a locking hitch pin (that always has a way of getting lost).
Folding and tilting the rack is also a breeze and the handle is readily accessible at the end of the main mast of the rack. All in all, its ease of use and adaptability make the T2 Pro XT an exceptional pick for families.
The Thule T2 Pro XT 2-tray base rack is available for 1.25″ and 2″ hitch receivers, but the 2-tray expansion kit is only available for 2″ receivers.
Who is the T2 best for?
- Anyone looking to haul multiple bikes, especially those with a wide variety of wheel or tire sizes
- Families needing to haul bikes 20″ and up
- Those who need a rack that is easy to fold – 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 without an adapter (does not fit 27.5″ fat tires though!)
- People who tend to forget tools while on the go – the T2 Pro XT needs to tools to install! It’s unique mounting system also eliminates a hitch-pin that can easily be misplaced.
- 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 – on many cars the backup camera is not blocked as much with the T2 Pro XT as it is with other racks.
Who is the T2 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.
How the Thule T2 Pro XT Works
The Thule T2 Pro XT relies on a tray and shepherd’s hook system to secure the bikes to the rack. The front tire tray has three different sized groves to conform to various tires widths. Once the front tire is in place the shepherd’s hook is then ratcheted down to hold the bike in place. The ratcheting system is smooth and easy to use and easily cinches down when pressure is placed on top of the shepherd’s hook.
To keep the tail end of the bike stable, each bike has it own rear tire tray that slides to adjust to the wheelbase of the bike. The tray has a strap that is then used to cinch down the back tire. Unlike the straps found on other racks, the T2 Pro XT stands out due to its ratcheting strap and tab. Once the strap is directed through the rear wheel, the strap slides behind a gray tab that locks the strap in place. Always keen on the little details, Thule then takes it one step further as the tab itself can then be repeatedly lifted up and down to ratchet down and further tighten and secure the strap.
While the rear strap ratcheting system isn’t life-changing, having used several racks without this minor feature, we certainly appreciated it. It’s a quick and easy way to ensure the rear tire is properly secure on the rack. As an additional bonus, the Pro XT 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.
Unlike other tray-based systems, the ratcheting shepherd’s arms of the T2 Pro XT 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. The rack, however, is 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 both transport 20″ and 24″ bikes without an adapter. The RockyMounts and the Yakima, however, do not accommodate fat tires as well as the Thule.
The front-wheel tray of the rack is specifically designed to securely hold any tire up to 5″ in width. Thin road bikes will drop into the narrowest slot in the tray while fat bikes will sit on top of the medium slot designed for standard-width tires.
Bike Spacing on the Rack
The Thule T2 Pro already an ample 11″ between each tray, but the Pro XT ramped it up to 12″! If you have ever used a bike tray of any design, you’ve certainly experienced the frustration of trying to get handlebars and saddles of neighboring bikes from rubbing together. With other racks offering as little as 8.5″ between bikes, the Thule is quite spacious!
Need even more space? Another update from the Pro to the Pro XT is additional room to offset the trays from side to side. To prevent handlebars and saddles from touching, each tray has the ability to slide 4″ to the left or right of the bike’s center mast (the Pro had only 2″). 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 XT’s are 2″ longer)
One of our favorite features of the Pro XT (as well as the reason we upgraded from the T2 Classic) was the ease with which the Pro XT folds up. Unlike other racks which place the folding lever underneath the rack (or even worse, at the base of the rack near the hitch like the T2 Classic!) the T2 Pro XT’s lever is right at the end of the main mast of the rack. Simply squeeze the lever and push up.
When unfolding the rack for use, the lever is also easy to access, but considering the Pro XT rack is really tall when folded up, reaching the lever may be an issue for shorter adults, especially if the rack is mounted on a taller car.
As shown above, the side profile of the Pro XT is pretty narrow when folded so it doesn’t take up too much room behind the car, but as a 4-tray bike capacity, it’s very tall and covers almost the entire rear window.
Hitch Size and Height
In addition to being “longer” due to the ample spacing between the trays, the Pro XT is also “taller” due to the design of its hinge that allows it to fold.
RockyMounts SplitRail vs. Thule T2 Pro XT
The Pro XT’s hinge is much taller hitch-to-base of rack as compared to other racks, which makes the rack not only taller when folded, but also higher off the ground when in use. As a result, the Pro XT is slightly harder to load for shorter adults (or kids) as compared to other racks such as the RockyMounts SplitRail shown above on the left.
Although the type of car and placement of the hitch receiver on the car makes a huge difference in the position of the rack on a car, in the side-to-side comparison below you can see the RockyMounts on the left sits a lot lower than the Pro on the right.
On the flip side, the higher-set Thule T2 Pro XT 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 vary widely, if you plan on keeping the rack folded up on your car fairly often, the higher position of the Pro XT will be to your benefit.
Rear Hatch Access
For easy access while loading and unloading bikes, the Pro XT tilts 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.
To keep your bikes secure while on the go, each shepherd’s arm on the Thule T2 Pro XT 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. The entire rack itself locks onto the hitch to prevent theft as well.
Once assembled, installing the T2 Pro XT onto a car is fast and easy. Unlike other racks, installation of the Pro XT 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 hitch pinhole. Then to fully secure the rack, turn 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.
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 XT weighs almost 100 lb., so if you plan on taking your bike rack on and off frequently, the Thule T2 Pro XT likely isn’t the best choice for you. The much lighter RockyMounts SplitRail or Saris SuperClamp are worth taking a look at.
Thule T2 Pro XT vs. RockyMounts and Saris
There are many great tray-based racks available on the market, but for families, the Thule T2 Pro XT is our favorite. With its ample spacing and ability to fit a wide range of bikes, the high-price tag of the Pro XT certainly comes with some extra perks. To get a full rundown all of the four racks we mentioned in this article, be sure to check out our 9 Best Car Racks for Families.
Thule T2 Pro XT Comparison
|Features||Thule T2 Pro||Rockymounts Splitrail||Thule T2 Classic||Saris Superclamp EX|
|Link to Review||Thule T2 Pro XT||Rockymounts Splitrail||Thule T2 Classic||Saris Superclamp EX|
|MSRP (4-bike Capacity)||$1,030||$1,040||$830||$899|
|Fits 20" Bikes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Max Tire Width||5"||3"||5"||4"|
|Total Weight||96 lb.||76 lb.||85 lb.||63 lb.|
|Capacity Options||2 or 4||2, 3 or 4||2 or 4||2 or 4|
|Space Between Bikes||12"||11.5" and 9.25"||11"||9.5" and 8.25"|
Thule T2 Pro XT Bike Rack Bottom Line
Thoughtfully designed and executed, the Thule T2 Pro XT 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 the family’s bikes is a breeze. With 12″ of spacious room between each tray and 4″ of offset available for each tray, the Pro XT is the most spacious, yet rugged, rack available on the market.