Thule Raceway Platform Tray Style Trunk Rack

Gear Pro Reviews

Hitch simply the best way of carrying bikes. But most  sedans  don’t come with a hitch or cannot even accomodate a hitch.  so sedans are usually outfitted with roof racks when the rider is serious enough to commit to a roof rack.

A roof rack is expensive at over $500 and although it usually works very well, it has a few disadvantages. Some are: It drops the mileage of a car by 4-5 mpg when there’s a bike on top and about 1-2 mpg even when there’s no bike mounted.  Another is wind noise and pretty much all roof racks will generate some wind noise at speed. And finally, it really there’s always the danger of driving the bikes into a garage when one forgets that there’s bikes up there.

We looked at some trunk mounted racks despite knowing the downsides of  these devices. The biggest weakness is they’re just not that good at carrying different style bikes with sloping tubes, odd shaped full suspension frames and precious carbon road frames.  Trunk racks are usually inexpensive and temporary ways of transporting bikes.  They are particularly popular with beginners and riders who are not fully committed to the cycling lifestyle. We were surprised to see a tray style rack that is trunk mounted.

We ordered it up and here are our first impressions.

Pros:

  • Extremely well made with glass fiber material
  • tray rack style is functionality not seen with trunk style racks before
  • Cable straps are on adjustable by a ratchet wheel
  • Cable straps are lock in place
  • mounting and dismounting a bike on the rack only takes a few seconds
  • Trunk can still be opened even when rack is attached.
  • rack is very compact when folded in place.

Cons:

  • It is heavy and can put stress on the trunk of the car
  • 70 lb load weight limit is not enough for two downhill bikes
  • $350 price is expensive for a trunk rack.

Notes:  We’ve used it a couple times and it’s worked very well so far. We initially installed it wrong and rested the rack on the bumper. We later adjusted it so all weight is on the trunk of the car. It is easy to make this mistake and we suspect many are resting it on the bumper of the car and put stress on that plastic part.

MSRP is $349

Stock Description: Thule Trunk Bike Racks – TH9003

Transporting your bikes goes off without a hitch when you use the Thule Raceway Platform. This tray-style, trunk-mounted 2-bike rack offers easy loading, keeps bikes separated with frame clamps and secures to your trunk with a locking knob.

Features:

  • Trunk-mounted, platform-style 2-bike carrier provides fast and easy loading
  • Sloping, telescoping, aluminum wheel trays minimize lifting, so bike loading is effortless
    • Center bikes automatically on the carrier
    • Hold wheels in place with soft rubber straps
    • Adjust to accommodate most bike sizes, including children’s bikes
  • Adjustable bike-frame clamps keep bikes separated and secure during transport
    • Grab bikes by top tube or seat post
    • Include Thule One Key System lock cylinder to secure bikes to carrier
  • Patented FitDial makes mounting the rack to the vehicle quick and easy
    • Vehicle-specific number settings make rack adjustment as easy as 1-2-3
    • Rack base adjusts to fit your ride with the lift of a lever
  • High-strength, retractable cables with hooks anchor the bike rack to the vehicle at 4 points for stability
    • Tighten with the turn of oversize, ratcheting knobs
      • Locking knob includes Thule One Key System lock cylinder to secure the rack to your vehicle
    • Store in hub when not in use
    • Store cables in hub when not in use
    • Will not fatigue over time like nylon straps
  • Platform folds up and upright bar folds down for flat storage
  • Molded rubber pads on rack base protect vehicle’s trunk or hatch from scratches and abrasions

Specs:

  • Carrying capacity: 2 bikes
  • Weight capacity: 70 lbs
  • Arms where the bikes sit measure 23″ long
  • Works with most factory spoilers
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Picture of Thule Raceway Platform bike rack

The Thule Raceway Platform two-bike carrier gives you the convenience of a wheel-mount-style carrier even if you don’t have a trailer hitch. The tray-mount design allows for bike loading and unloading at a lower, more manageable height, and the telescoping base adjusts to carry a variety of bikes, including children’s. Adjustable bike-frame clamps grab each bike at the top tube or seat post, keeping your bicycles separated and secure. The clamps also lock to secure your bikes to the carrier.

Picture of Thule FitDial with arrow pointing to numbering

The Raceway uses Thule’s patented FitDial system to ensure a snug fit on your vehicle and to make installation a snap. The included instructions indicate which FitDial number is right for your vehicle; simply lift the lever and adjust the arm until the arrow lines up with the right number.

Picture of ratcheting-cable hooks on Thule Raceway bike rack

Sure-Tight ratcheting cables are extremely sturdy and provide outstanding security for your bicycles. They require only four attachment points for safe use, unlike standard straps, which require six attachment points. Having fewer straps makes it easier for you to put the rack on and take it off as needed. The installation instructions indicate the best attachment points for your vehicle. Hook the cables around the trunk panel, then tighten them by turning one of the oversize ratcheting knobs. The locking knob keeps the cables in place and deters would-be thieves when your trunk is closed.

Picture of platform-style bike carrier's locking clamps

The locking clamps and locking knob both use Thule’s One Key System lock cylinders, so they lock with the same key. These cylinders can also be changed out to make all your Thule products keyed alike.

Thule Raceway bike rack folded up

The bike rack folds up for storage or for those times when you’re not carrying bikes but don’t want to remove the carrier.


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Jason says:

    I wonder, if it’s cheaper to just get a hitch put on, and then get a hitch tray mount? I’ll have to research…my biggest gripe over the years with trunk mounts has been the Aero Wing effect that happens on the highway….always afraid my bike will fly away. Also the whole damage to the paint on my car. My Taurus is all messed up from Trunk mounting over the years.

    • David says:

      Yes, for the suggested $350 price of this tray rack, you can certainly get a hitch installed for your car and then get a hitch tray rack. I spent $200 back in 2010 for a hitch installed for my Mercedes E320 sedan. I spent another $155 for a Swagman XTC2 2 bikes tray rack. My 29er fits on the XTC2 nicely and it fits my friends 29er together with no problem. The XTC2 is very solid but light enough so you can install it in a few minutes or fold all the arms together and put it away in the trunk.

    • offroaded says:

      Receivers for BMWs and indeed most cars are widely available for very modest money. Your bike and car will thank you.

    • Francis says:

      Getting a hitch on and buying a hitch rack is not cheaper. But it is simply the best way for enthusiasts to transport their bikes. But hitches are not available in many cars.

      I sure wish more manufacturers offered hitchs…. not for towing but for carrying stuff. Then the costs/strength does not have to be so high.

      Trunk racks are more a temporary solution as beginners sort things out or they have multiple cars to use, etc.

  • john habanero says:

    I agree with jason about the paint. My hondas paint is all sorts of janky because of my Saris. My biggest gripe is that trunk mounts dont fit my Tracer2. I need one of those cross bars and those kill my Reverb seatpost. So this thing looks pretty cool but l would rather have a hitch.

  • offroaded says:

    2011 bmw 3 series direct fit no drill receiver $175
    Swagman 2 bike platform rack $111
    Shipping and installation beer not included.

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