If you’re a true bike bum, you follow the time-honored axiom that your newest mountain bike must cost at least three times (3x) the price you paid for your car. This is a great axiom obviously has a lot of very deep, spiritual truth, but it also leaves the world with a crowd of bikers driving quirky cars. Thule has the solution and, thanks to the Raceway Platform 2, you can get a tray-style rack for your oddball vehicle.
Thule Raceway Platform 2 Features:
- Carries: 2 bikes
- Convenient tray mount design allows for fast, easy and lower bike loading
- Sure-Tight™ ratcheting cables with locks provide maximum fastening security to your vehicle
- Patented FitDial™ guarantees a “perfect fit” to your vehicle
- Molded rubber pads provide firm hold to vehicle and protect against scratches
- Max Carrying Weight: 2 Downhill Bikes (read 75lbs)
- Weight: 30 pounds
- MSRP: $349.95
Hauling with the Raceway Platform 2
I drive a Toyota Corolla without a hitch receiver, but I still wanted the ease and simplicity of a hitch-mounted rack. And, let’s be honest, tray-style racks are where it’s at for people who are hauling bikes on the daily. Thule’s solution with the Raceway Platform 2 provides an elegant compromise for people who don’t have a hitch but wish to avoid the hassle of roof racks.
Assembly is straightforward out of the box – the whole thing is already put together, you just need to figure out which bits do what and go where. The Raceway can be thought of a main body which supports the rack and has four cables going from it to attach to your vehicle. The cables tighten up via ratchets, and, before you know it, you’re ready to haul bikes. The Raceway is different from most conventional tray racks in that it doesn’t use a wheel hook to secure your bike to the rack – rather, there are what my friend described as ‘little alien spaceship claws’ that pivot down and clamp onto your top tube.
Said alien claws are a little unique, but they’re still very secure. I’ve clamped everything from the hydroformed top tube of a Trek Madone to skinny steel fixie top tubes and the claws can grapple with all sorts of shapes. The claw portion is padded with non-scuff rubber, but the rest of the arm isn’t and, if you’re hauling two bikes, there’s a danger of the arms scuffing your bikes; fortunately, they’re the type of scuffs that come off with a little spit and elbow grease.
The rack is secure while driving, but there’s a decent amount of sway and jiggling as you’d expect from a cable-oriented design. There’s going to be stretch and play because you can never tighten all the slack out of the lines, but it’s nothing that will endanger neither rack nor car. Should you decide to park your car in a high-crime area, however, I’d be less confident; the cables only lock on one side, (which, in theory, won’t matter if the other cables are uber tight) and the clamp that locks onto the bikes is a little questionable.
The Raceway locks onto your vehicle securely, but I’m skeptical as to whether or not it’ll keep your bikes from being stolen. The Raceway locks onto your bikes by tightening down hard on the top-tube clamp; the thing is, the groove of the clamp is kind of shallow. This results in a whole lot of friction, but not a whole lot of actual mechanical resistance; that is, even if you’ve clamped it down tight, if you have a fat hydroformed top-tube it still wouldn’t be too hard to rip the clamp off. My advice? Put the clamp on the narrowest part of the top-tube you can find, and then tighten it down HARD before locking it. When you ‘lock’ the clamp, it simply disengages from the screw that loosens and tightens it spins freely and a thief won’t be able to tighten or loosen it.
Construction overall is solid but leans toward plasticky. The main frame is injection-molded nylon and extruded aluminum. All of the surfaces that contact your vehicle or bike are covered with rubber pads and I haven’t noticed any scuffing on my vehicle; make sure to clean off the areas that the rack will sit on, though, or that dirt will scratch your paint. The one thing I haven’t mentioned is fit – Thule’s clever engineering has made this a non-issue. With their FitDial technology you can size the Raceway to fit a wide variety of vehicles with minimal hassles. Kudos on that point.
Now then, if you’re driving one of these funky biker vehicles, you’ll have to accept that things will be inconvenient at times. For example, the Raceway is a bit of a hassle to take off – the tray folds up but has to be locked with one of the top-tube clamps, rather than a simple catch down where it pivots. The obnoxious part is, of course, that you’ll have to remove the rack every time you need access to your trunk.
When all other things are said and done, loading bikes onto the Raceway is as easy as can be. Shuck your first bike up there, lower the top-tube clamp and then secure the wheels with the rubber straps. The rack is low enough that even my sweet granny could put a bike on it (providing it was a Cervelo Rca), which adds a lot of ease-of-use for riders who are shorter or smaller. The aluminum trays slide in and out very easily with a simple locking clasp, making it possible to quickly adjust the trays to your fat 29’er or diminutive BMX bike. Carrying two bikes is just as easy, but you may have to flip your bikes around so that the clamp arm for the outside bike is sitting in the dip in the inner bike’s top tube. The only frustrating thing is that the arms themselves don’t have rubber padding, so the long arm tends to rest on the inner bike and scuff the top tube.
- Bike loading is low-to-the-ground (at least on my Corolla) and ergonomic
- Eliminates bike-to-bike contact
- Locking cables securely hold the bike, minimal flex or wiggle
- A rare tray-style solution for vehicles without hitches
- Very easy to adjust and fit onto a vehicle
- Clamp arm undersides should be padded to avoid scuffing bikes
- Clamps should have a deeper bite and be redesigned to minimize flex
- Ratchets are inconsistent, temperamental to tighten or reluctant to loosen
- Cable mechanism compartments hold lots of water
The Bottom Line
Thule’s Raceway platform gets the thumbs up from me simply because it’s a tray-style design for people like me, who don’t have a hitch on their bike hauler. That being said, the execution seems to be a little clumsy at times and this rack can’t compare to the quality that Thule’s shown they can deliver on products like the T2. Overall I’ll recommend it for people who are particularly keen for tray-style hauling, but it’s my hope that Thule will revamp this fundamentally good design.
Buy Now: Available from REI.com