Top critical review
14 of 14 people found this helpful
More difficult to use than they should be
on 30 March 2012
First the background: I have been using an old set of steel Thule bars and cycle carriers for about 15 years and they were great, but now a new car and a new mountain bike has required changes so I decided to splash out and get 'premium' options from Thule. I ordered these carriers and a set of Aerobars.
The good stuff: Carriers appear robust. The wheel straps and the clamp jaws hold the bike securely, which is not easy with the varied cross sections of modern aluminium mountain bike frames. They also look pretty smart.
The bad stuff: The aluminium channel is nowhere near wide enough to hold the tyre. The old steel carrier had a nice wide channel. This means that the only things locating the tyres as you offer up the bike are the raised edges on the far side of the plastic wheel holders. This makes it much more difficult than it ought to be (and I've been doing this very easily for 15 years). The front wheel tends to turn away from straight and the bike topples away from the carrier. It is only a matter of time before my head or the car gains a big dent. This brings me to the wheel straps. You can see them in the manufacturer's picture. The plastic straps are not particularly flexible (particularly in the cold) and they set in the 'closed' position such that even when undone they spring over the wheel holders. You have to jiggle them out of the way with the bike while struggling to get the wheels onto the holders. The old carrier had a plastic hinge mechanism that held the strap open. Easy. Suppose you've overcome these issues; the next step is to get the clamp onto the frame. It is now necessary to lean the bike towards you, align it with the clamp and then lean it back upright to get the down-tube into the side opening jaws. If you are lucky the bike doesn't fall from the carrier while you do this. The old carrier had the clamp opening facing backwards so you could very easily roll the bike, already safely in the channel, into the open mouth of the clamp. Another thing; when you remove the carrier from the bars, which is easy with the T bolts, the rear bar clamp is completely free to slide around on the aluminium channel. This means two things. It is never in the correct place when you re-mount the carrier and it can slide quickly enough down the length of the channel to knock out the plastic end cap. Do this a few times and I guess the end cap will never stay on.
Overall I'm amazed these carriers get high scores. Maybe reviewers have not experienced how much easier the old systems were? I have not tried any modern competitors; perhaps they are all this poor.