Thule has finally joined the wheel-hold tray rack category with the Helium Platform rack. The wheel-hold style is the most preferred by enthusiast mountain bikers because of their ease of use and care they offer expensive mountain bikes.
It’s easy to mount a bike of any shape and size and the rack can be a one bike or two bike version. And each version looks absolutely dialed on any vehicle with clean lines and one of the finest brushed aluminum materials and finish available in a rack.
The Helium is not the first in this established market but what it brings to the table is ease of use. A tray hitch rack should fold up and tilt and this is perhaps the easiest to use in this arena. The lever is stealthy but it’s big and easy to activate. It’s at the perfect spot to press and fold the rack up or down with one hand. This is key as this task is performed hundreds of times a season for a rack that’s kept on the vehicle all year.
And most important, putting the bike on and off the easiest in class. One-handed wheel arm operation combined with smooth sliding action translates to little effort when opening and closing the arms. This is key as this task gets harder as bikes get heavy or at the end of a long day. It’s so easy that your friends or kids can manage it on their own and feel confident that the prized bike is secure for the journey.
Hitch compatibility is a 1.25″ native format with a slick 2″ adapter that is bolted on. This system is very secure and is the best adapter around. However, since it is a 1.25″ hitch arm by nature, it won’t be the stiffest and the rack will not support a 4-bike version due to weight limits.
The rack is secured to the car with the best system around, a spring-loaded safety hitch pin, and a lockable cam that secures the hitch, and removes wobble as it wedges the rack in the hitch.
Lockable cables are included too with the rack and all locks are operated by the same key.
Ease of use comes into play with the levers as the folding and tilt lever is hidden but accessible. They’re big with light action and can be operated with one hand. This is key because when the rack is loaded or the bike is tensioned into place, the other hand can lift or push, making lever operation easy.
- Dashing good looks with a clean, functional design
- Ease of use is one of the best in class
- Long wheelbase and plus tire compatible
- Locking cam mechanism is very effective
- Rack is stealthy and close the vehicle when folded up
- Arms are tall and rigid, allowing a secure hold
- 43 rack lb weight is significantly lighter than others in the category
- 2-bike max with no expandability
- 37.5 lb max per bike weight limit
- can obstruct license plate, tail lights
- Rack may be too close to the vehicle and that cannot be easily adjusted
- Locking cam is quite low and is thus protected by a bar, for steep departure angles, which will result in some scraping
It’s not perfect for all applications but this will be a great option for many. Its dialed looks and incredibly easy operation are its biggest selling points. It holds the bike securely and will get it those remote destinations safely.
For more information, go to Thule.com