Thule T2 Pro XT
Number of bikes: 2 (4 with add-on)
Weight: 52 lbs.
What we like: Loaded with features, well-built, and easy to use.
What we don’t: Expensive and a bit heavy.
See the Thule T2 Pro XT
Sweden-based Thule is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of car racks and bike accessories, and the T2 Pro XT is their core hitch-mounted offering. An evolution of the popular T2 Classic, this is a fully featured rack with an easy-to-use tilt lever, integrated cable locks, and high-quality materials throughout. We spent the better part of two years and over 20,000 miles testing the Thule, and below we break down the T2 Pro XT’s performance. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best hitch bike racks.
Editor’s note: For 2021, Thule has replaced the T2 Pro XT tested here with the T2 Pro XTR. The only differences with the new model are a set of wheels at the base that make it easier to transport and a $30 increase in price. As such, everything that we cover in the review below is still relevant to the current XTR hitch rack.
Table of Contents
- Set up and Ease of Use
- Bike Capacity and Wheel Sizes
- Weight Capacity
- Build Quality and Durability
- Key Features
- What We Like/What We Don't
- Comparison Table
- The Competition
We’ll get straight to the point: Thule’s T2 Pro XT is the best hitch-mounted bike rack we’ve ever used. That’s a bold claim, but we have yet to find another model that combines all of the features you could possibly need into such a thoughtfully designed and durable package. The T2 Pro XT includes an easy-to-use tilt lever, sturdy ratcheting arms, built-in locking system, and has the ability to carry almost any type of bike. It has held up well to all of our tests, including adding more weight than advised (more in “Bike Capacity” below), and endured countless outings with everything from electric bikes to fat bikes. If you’re looking for one hitch-mounted rack to rule them all, we think the T2 Pro XT is it.
Like most platform-style bike racks, the T2 Pro XT required some assembly before we could put it to use. Compared to similar models like the Kuat NV Base 2.0 and Yakima Dr.Tray, it took us slightly longer to set up (about 25 minutes with the included tool). One thing to note is that there are some attachment intricacies, mainly with the front wheel cradles. Specifically, make sure to pay attention to the direction they’re facing as you mount them. We accidentally did it backwards the first time around, but the mistake was quickly and easily remedied once we realized the issue.
One of the big perks of platform-style hitch racks is how easy they are to use, and the T2 Pro XT is a shining example of that. Loading and unloading bikes is a breeze, taking no more than 10 seconds per bike (yes, we timed it). We also found the ratcheting arms to be very user-friendly: simply place the bike on the rack, lift the arm up and over the front wheel, then pull down on the handle until it cinches on the tire. The rear strap is equally intuitive: after the front wheel is secure, simply loop the strap over the tire and pull down. Despite heavy use and concerted attempts to find flaws in the design, we have no criticisms to report here.
As with most platform hitch racks, the T2 Pro XT—both the 2-inch and 1.25-inch receiver models—can handle two bikes. But what sets the T2 Pro XT apart is its ability to carry a wide range of two-wheelers without adapters. With generous cradles that can accommodate tires up to 5 inches wide, you can carry fat bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and kids’ bikes with at least 20-inch wheels. Most other platform racks (we’re looking at you Yakima, Kuat Racks, and 1Up USA) require purchasing additional hardware and swapping parts to achieve the same versatility. And if two isn’t enough, you have the ability to double the rack’s bike capacity with a separate add-on (of note: this is only available for the 2-inch receiver model). But the extra capacity doesn’t come cheap—you’ll almost double the price of your rack with this $450 extension.
In terms of weight capacity, the T2 Pro XT is able to handle two 60-pound bikes, which is the same or better than the competition. We don’t recommend following our lead, but we did test the limits of the rack with two electric bikes, each weighing around 65 to 70 pounds. We only transported them about 60 miles total, but we didn’t notice anything concerning, and the rack seemed to handle the additional weight with ease. The only negative part of the experience was awkwardly lifting the bikes up and onto the rack by myself, a task definitely intended for two people (for e-bike users, it might be worth checking out a rack like the Thule EasyFold XT 2, which includes deployable ramps).
As expected from a high-end hitch bike rack like the T2 Pro XT, Thule didn’t skimp on quality materials. It’s easily one of the heaviest-duty racks we’ve used and noticeably more rugged than the Yakima Dr.Tray, which costs only $21 less. Build-wise, the T2 Pro XT’s metal frame is stout, and its plastic cradles and smaller parts feel just as burly. In fact, the only platform model that outdoes the Thule in the durability department is 1Up USA’s Heavy Duty Double with its all-metal construction.
Throughout our two years of testing, we’ve only had one very minor (and easily repaired) issue with the Thule T2 Pro XT. Namely, the tiny screw that holds the tilt lever handle in place came loose, so we simply put a drop of Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242 on the threads and it’s been problem-free for more than a year since. All in all, we’re confident in saying that although the T2 Pro XT may be pricey and relatively heavy, the long-term value of this rack is exceptional. It’s worth noting that we’ve experienced various durability issues with racks from both Yakima (their Dr.Tray and HoldUp models) and Kuat (the Sherpa), but not Thule.
Weight always is a concern with bulky hitch racks, and Thule’s T2 Pro XT is on the heavier end of the spectrum at 52 pounds. However, this is pretty much on par with other top racks, plus it’s a result of all the quality metal and components in the build. For comparison, Kuat’s NV Base 2.0 comes in slightly lighter at 51 pounds, while 1Up USA’s Heavy Duty Double and Thule's Helium Platform 2 shave off some weight at 46 and 43 pounds respectively. The only real standouts in this category are Kuat’s Sherpa 2.0 (32 lbs.) and Yakima’s Dr.Tray (34 lbs). That said, weight-saving comes at a cost—namely, durability—and we will happily tote a few extra pounds if it means a longer lifespan.
In our opinion, the T2 Pro XT’s ratcheting arms are some of the sturdiest in the business and easily put our obsessions about bike movement at ease. Even when deliberately pulling them side to side, the arms feel very secure and there was little to no give. And this theme continues with the rest of the system: the top arm that compresses against the tire tightens down snugly on everything from road to fat bikes, giving a nice, confident clicking sound as it locks, and the handle is thick enough to withstand adequate force. In addition, the rear wheel restraint is similarly easy to use and sturdy, with deep notches in the strap itself and two stopping locations (the first works well for standard road and mountain bikes and the second for fat bikes). On most other platform racks, you simply pull the strap tight with your hands, but we really like having the mechanical advantage as it provides a little extra security.
Thule’s tilt system, which they call the HitchSwitch Lever, is ideally placed for adjustments. The lever is located in the middle of the rack, away from the car and bikes, and it’s one of the few that we’ve been able to reach with ease when the bikes are loaded. What impressed us most, however, was how effortless it was to tilt the rack and bikes up and down once the lever was disengaged. We’re not sure what kind of design magic (or simple physics) went into this feature, but somehow Thule managed to find a pivot point that made lifting and lowering the bikes simpler than any other system we’ve tested. For comparison, the tilt lever on the 1Up Heavy Duty Double is much harder to reach (1Up actually sells a tilt lever extender for an extra $70), as is the lever on the Kuat NV Base 2.0.
Many hitch-mounted racks include a locking system for your bikes and/or the rack itself, which is a nice touch and can save you money in the long run. On the Thule T2 Pro XT, you’ll find an integrated lock at the end of each ratcheting arm, as well as on the expanding wedge knob that secures the rack to the vehicle. Given their location, we found that it was easiest to run the cable locks through the fork on each bike (or on the frame of our shorter-travel mountain bikes), but we weren’t able to secure them through the front wheel and frame at the same time—another six inches of length would have been ideal. That said, we really came to appreciate the fact that all three locks were concealed and well-integrated into the rack, which meant there was no need to wrangle extra cables in our vehicle. The older T2 Classic has a spot for locks on the ratcheting arms, but they are not included with the rack and will cost you an additional $40 (for the Thule versions).
- The Thule T2 Pro XT includes all the features you’d expect from a rack in this price range, including a premium, wobble-free build, robust attachment system, and integrated locks.
- One of the easiest-to-use tilt features on the market.
- The rack proved to be extremely durable and sturdy over two years of hard testing.
- Compatible with a wide range of wheel and tire sizes without an adapter.
What We Don’t
- This fully featured hitch rack comes at a steep cost: $620 to be exact.
- Platform-style racks are heavy and the T2 Pro XT is no exception, weighing in at 52 pounds.
- The integrated cable locks are a bit short to run through both the frame and wheel of the bikes we tested.
|Rack||Price||Weight||Tire Width||Wheel Sizes||Capacity*||Locks|
|Thule T2 Pro XT||$620||52 lbs.||5 in. max||20-29 in.||60 lbs.||Yes|
|Kuat Racks NV Base 2.0||$649||51 lbs.||3 in. max||24-29 in.||60 lbs.||Yes|
|1Up USA Heavy Duty Double||$595||46 lbs.||3.1 in. max||16-29 in.||50 lbs.||No|
|Yakima Dr.Tray||$599||34 lbs.||5 in. max||26-29 in.||40 lbs.||Yes|
|Thule Helium Platform 2||$750||43 lbs.||3 in. max||26-29 in.||37.5 lbs.||Yes|
|Thule T2 Classic||$500||51 lbs.||5 in. max||20-29 in.||60 lbs.||No|
*Editor's Note: "Capacity" refers to weight capacity per bike.
The T2 Pro XT currently is our favorite hitch-mounted rack, but there are a number of viable competitors. With its NV Base 2.0, Kuat Racks makes a solid effort at dethroning the Thule and comes pretty darn close. Like the T2 Pro XT, the NV Base 2.0 has an attractive feature set that includes integrated locks, an expanding hitch wedge, sturdy arms, and a sleek design. Where does it fall short? The NV Base 2.0 is not able to accommodate fat bikes or kids’ bikes without adapters and its tilt lever is closer to the car, requiring you to reach through any mounted bikes. For $29 less, we give the nod to the Thule.
For serious riders, Wisconsin-based 1Up has a significant following. We’ve really enjoyed testing their Heavy Duty Double, which wins out in durability with a unique all-metal build that comes in 6 pounds lighter than the T2 Pro XT. That said, it can’t haul as much weight as the Thule (it can carry two 50-pounders) and requires an adapter for any bike with tires wider than 3.1 inches (the T2 can accommodate up to 5-in. tires). In addition, the tilt lever location makes it a bit awkward to use: you have to reach under any mounted bike to lower and reset it. Lastly, the Heavy Duty Double is bereft of any locking mechanisms for bikes, and its attachment system—which includes two metal arms that envelop the tires—isn't quite as sturdy feeling as the arm and strap combination on the T2 Pro XT. You can’t beat the craftsmanship of the 1Up, but the Thule is the more well-rounded design.
Yakima’s Dr.Tray is another popular hitch-mounted rack that incorporates many of the features that we love about the T2 Pro XT, including an easy-to-use tilt lever and integrated cable lock system. In addition, it comes in an impressively light 34-pound package, which is a whopping 18 pounds less than the T2 Pro XT. However, the Dr.Tray started showing signs of wear after only a few months of use (for more, see our in-depth Dr.Tray review). In the end, we give the nod to the Thule for its robust build, high-quality materials, and ability to haul extra weight (the Yakima can only handle two 40-lb. bikes).
From within Thule’s lineup, they released the high-end Helium Platform 2 rack midway through last year. The biggest differences from the T2 Pro XT are its attachment system and weight. Like the 1Up above, the Helium has two arms that secure around the outside of the tires. This guarantees no contact with your bike’s fork and also saves you from having to ratchet down a strap over the rear wheel. Weight is also impressive at about 43 pounds, which easily undercuts the T2 (52 lbs.). But the trimmed-down design has an impact on versatility: the Helium has a max load capacity of 37.5 pounds per bike (vs. 60 for the T2) and can’t accommodate fat bikes or wheel sizes under 26 inches. In the end, the Helium Platform certainly has its appeals, but we think the T2 Pro XT is the better all-rounder.
Finally, the Thule T2 Classic is the predecessor to the T2 Pro XT and still is available for $500 (or $120 less than the Pro XT). The savings are tempting and the rack does offer a number of similar features, but not without compromises. Most notable is the tilt lever, which is located at the base of the rack instead of the end, making the tilting process more involved. And although the T2 Classic has a spot for locks on the ratcheting arms, they are not included with the rack and will set you back an extra $40, closing the aforementioned price gap. We like the T2 Classic and it’s a decent value for a well-built hitch rack, but we appreciate the extra features of the newer version.
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