|The Raceway Pro comes in a 2-bike and 3-bike version. $350 for the|
2-bike, and $380 for the 3-bike. Expensive but solid and secure.
In addition to the old Yakima roof rack I've been using for years (it's on its third car!) for the past year or so I've also been using a trunk-mounted rack from Thule that I think just might be one of the best of its type. It's the Thule Raceway Pro (also known as the 9002PRO - 3 bike). It's incredibly solid, secure, and easily installed and adjusted. It's an expensive rack at about $380, but it's a good one that I assume should last a long time.
One of the first things to mention is the rack's construction and ease of use. It's a substantial and fairly heavy piece of equipment - much heavier than a lot of the tubular steel or aluminum racks that are more common. The upper and lower support arms are wrapped in a soft, paint-friendly rubber. There are numerous positions available for the upper and lower supports and for the bike cradle arms, and a fit guide (included with the instructions) makes finding the proper position for a particular make/model of car pretty straightforward. On that note, I'll mention that my car was a newly re-designed model when I got the rack, so the fit guide that was included in the box didn't list my exact car - but I went online to the Thule website and managed to find a more recently-updated version of the guide, so I assume that they must update it on a regular basis. It's possible that there may be some vehicles that the rack will not fit, but that can be true of any rack, and there are so many possible positions available with the Raceway Pro that I can only imagine that such a list of incompatible vehicles would have to be shorter with this rack than with most others.
Installing the rack is easier than most racks of its type. Instead of the usual nylon straps that affix most trunk racks to the vehicle, the Thule uses steel cables that wind up inside the base and are tightened/adjusted with a simple ratcheting mechanism via a set of large knobs on the sides. I find that it's much easier to get the rack securely fastened than with the nylon straps. Once in place, this thing does not move. Even with two or three bikes installed, it seems very solid.
|Instead of the usual nylon straps, the Thule Raceway Pro attaches with |
steel cables which are easily adjusted via large ratcheting knobs on the sides of the rack.
Security is always something to consider when transporting bikes, and it's another area where the Thule is probably one of the better options out there. Understand that when talking security with a trunk-mounted rack, I don't think any of them could be considered "high security." If somebody really wants to steal a bike off of an unattended car's rack, they're going to be able to thwart any rack's built-in locking features. The built-in security is really more about stopping the opportunistic thieves. With that caveat in mind, the Raceway Pro's steel cables almost certainly provide more security than nylon straps when it comes to keeping the rack locked to the car. Anybody with a pocket knife can cut through nylon straps in seconds, but the steel cables would probably take a decent pair of bolt cutters to get through. And the cable winding ratchet mechanisms have locking covers to keep someone from easily loosening them. There is also a locking cable that secures the outermost bike to the rack. Why only the outermost bike? I suppose the thinking is that if the outermost bike is locked to the rack, it would be impossible to get the other bikes off. However, that does mean that when carrying only one bike, it has to be carried on the outermost cradle or it can't be locked. Still, locks on the other cradles would be handy.
Having said all that about security, I'd still add that if someone is really serious about it, or their bikes are going to be unattended for more than few minutes (or in a higher crime area) I'd still recommend locking them to the rack with a good U-lock or a heavy duty cable, or both. Besides, the built-in cable lock only stops someone from taking the frame off the rack, but doesn't stop anyone from stealing wheels or other components. It's just common sense to make the same considerations that you might take anytime you leave a bike unattended.
One more thing to mention about the Thule is that spare parts are available for it, and their service for spares is very good. As mentioned, I've been using the Raceway Pro for over a year now and recently discovered that I lost the keys for the locking features. Ordering spares from their website was easy and took only a few minutes - and the replacement keys arrived within 2-3 days. Excellent.
Although the Raceway Pro is probably one of the more expensive racks of its type, I've gotten quite a lot of use out of it and expect to be able to for a long time to come. It's sturdiness, ease of use, and security features make it a good choice.