Cycling News

Thule Helium Platform XT hitch rack review

Thule Helium Platform XT

The strength of the Thule Helium Platform XT is not only in its construction—made with steel and aluminum—but in the hitch mount rack’s simplicity as well. It can carry two bikes. Each is secured by two arms that ratchet into place over the tires. The advantage of this system is that the arms don’t come in contact with your bike’s frame; they merely press down on the tires. To put a bike on and secure it takes a matter of seconds.

Apart from the arms, another design feature that speeds up mounting is the long trays on which the bikes rest. With some hitch mount racks, each tire has its own tray. The drawback of the one-tray-per-wheel design is that you have to adjust the trays according to the wheelbase of your bike. Then, you have to make sure the trays are arranged in such a way so that, up above, one bike’s bars aren’t bumping the other bike’s saddle. With Helium Platform XT, this bike Tetris is less of an issue. You can roll each bike easily into position within a tray’s long channel, which can accommodate tires as wide as 3”. The ratcheting arms let you set each bike a little farther to the right or left, depending on the machines you need to carry.

Tilt the Thule Helium Platform XT for better access to the trunk. Long mountain bike handlebars may still be in the path of the trunk door. Image: Matt Stetson

The installation of the hitch rack was pretty simple. The instructions are clear and straightforward, however, I did consult YouTube about assembly (but who doesn’t these days). Connecting the rack’s stinger to my hitch receiver took a matter of seconds. In fact, it went together so quickly that I was certain I had made an error. In all, from box to insertion in the hitch receiver took about 30 minutes.

Thule Helium Platform XT
One arm holding a bike in place. Image: Matt Stetson

The unit comes with a hitch adapter so it will fit both a 1 1/4” receiver and a 2” one. During the course of my testing period, I did change my hitch size, so it was handy to have the adaptor. Once the rack is in the hitch receiver, you tighten a knob that takes the wobble out of the rack. I am a fan of this feature. The previous rack I had would sway a lot—so much so that other motorists would comment. Not the case with the Helium Platform XT. After you tighten the knob, you take the provided key and “lock” it. When you turn the key, you actually disengage the knob, so would-be thieves can’t loosen it. To provide extra security, the rack comes with a cable…

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