review

Thule Raceway 992 car rack

8
£299.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Good for carrying road bikes, despite niggles; not so great for flat-bar bikes
Weight: 
0g

The Thule Raceway 992 carrier is easy to use and carries three bikes safely and stably on the back of your car. Clever design means it's easy to set up and once done it's very easy to refit, but a few drawbacks mean it's not for everyone.

Angeneral advantage of a rear-mounted rack like the Raceway is that it doesn't hit your fuel consumption as badly as a roof rack. It's also a lot less awkward to mount heavier bikes because you don't have to lift them over your head.

The big unique feature of Thule's pair of Raceway carriers is that Thule have already worked out for you how to set them up on your car, so all you have to do is dial them in and away you go.

The numbered positions make initial set up really easy. Look up your car in the manual, set the arms and you're sorted.

Dialling in the cable tension is similarly straightforward. It needs strong hands, though, and it helps to have someone hanging on the arms to get the lower cables really snug.

Once you have the main body in place the arms swing up and lock in place with a very firm clunk.

To remove it, you just loosen the lower cables, leaving the top ones set up for next time and therefore making subsequent fitting a doddle.

Here's Thule's video of how to mount it:

We've driven to Brittany and back with bikes on it and it's been rock-solid stable.

Thule offers two versions. The Raceway 991 carries two bikes, while the 992 that we have here carries three.

It's heavy at 10.4kg. On the one hand, that means it's robust, on the other it's too heavy for some. I could manhandle it into place; my significant other Caroline couldn't. That also means even with no bikes, opening the rear hatch takes effort. Best make sure the boot's loaded before you fit the rack.

It doesn't officially fit all cars. Our Renault Scenic mark 2 isn't on the list, probably because it has plastic door trim and unless you're careful you can hook the lower cables to the trim instead of the metal. This theoretical niggle aside, it has, as I said above, been absolutely stable.

It folds down small enough that it's easy to squeeze it into a corner of the garage or the cupboard under the stairs.

Bikes are held in place with three silicone rubber straps, two round the top tube and one round the seat tube. The latter is mounted on a hinged cradle that comes off the arm to make it easier to get bikes on and off. The cradles that support your bike are all lined with thick silicone rubber.

I managed to damage unlacquered decals with the straps but they're kind to paintwork.

However, the seat tube cradles are a bit of a pain. They have to be removable otherwise getting a bike past them is awkward, but 'removable' to me means 'easily mislaid'. I think they're in the glove box right now, but I'd have to check to be certain.

The hooks for the door edges are also removable and this is more annoying as they're small, black and easily lost.

The Thule Raceway 992 works best with light, diamond frame bikes with drop handlebars. That's how Thule's website and other marketing shows it, so this is no surprise. For other frame shapes, you'll need Thule's Bike Frame Adapter 981 or similar device that bridges the seat tube and head tube of a drop-framed bike.

Its not the right rack for flat-bar bikes. The bars tend to interfere with each other, and I ended up loosening stems and turning bars to get them on. That's the kind of faff you can do without when you just want to get riding.

Once you've mounted the Thule Raceway on your car, the locks on the dials secure it so nobody can help themselves to it.

The same key operates the integrated cable lock that goes round the outermost bike, therefore securing all three. It's a flimsy cable though, clearly intended as protecting against a casual thief not a serious one. We added a D-lock if we were leaving the bikes unattended.

Conclusion

The Thule Raceway 992 is easy to fit, and even easier to refit. It holds your bikes securely in a position that makes mounting them easy, and that keeps fuel consumption under control on long journeys.

Its weight means you'll need a modicum of upper body strength to fit it, and the number of loose pieces that can go astray is annoying, but those irritations are outweighed by how nicely it cradles your bikes and its overall feel of bombproof quality.

It's definitely far better for carrying road bikes than hybrids or mountain bikes, to the point where I'd choose a towball-mounted rack like the Easyfold or EuroClassic if I were carrying flat bar bikes.

Verdict

Good for carrying road bikes, despite niggles; not so great for flat-bar bikes

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Thule Raceway rear-mount 3-bike carrier

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Thule says:

"The revolutionary Thule RaceWay is our strongest, most secure and easiest to use rear mounted bike carrier."

It's certainly easy to use, and feels study as all hell.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Sturdily constructed and with Thule's usual excellent attention to detail, but removable parts are a pain.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Score is for carrying road bikes. For flat-bar bikes it'd be a 4 or 5.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
4/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Remembering where the removable bits were.

Did you enjoy using the product? On the whole, yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes if I only owned road bikes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes if they only owned road bikes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

This is not a versatile rack, but Thule only shows it with road bikes, which is a pretty clear signal it's not really intended for use with mountain bikes and other flat-bar bikes. Within its limitations, its a very good rack.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Thule says: Sure-Tight ratcheting cables 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. Premium Cradles with RDT (Road Dampening Technology) secure the bike to the rack while absorbing road shock. Patented No-sway cages prevent bike-to-bike and bike-to-vehicle contact. Narrow cradle arms hold a variety of bike frames including smaller children's bikes and fold when not in use. Lockable bike-to-carrier and carrier-to-vehicle (locks included). Folds flat for easy transport and convenient storage. This product does not have universal fit. Please use the Thule Buyer's Guide for information related to specific car models. Use Thule Bike Frame Adapter 982 for fitting of bikes with non-standard frames (e.g. ladies' bikes, BMXs, downhill bikes).

It's not light, which can make initial mounting awkward.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Great with road bikes, as long as you keep track of the bits.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Ease of set up and fitting.

Three hundred quid is a lot of money for a boot rack. The Raceway's sturdiness, construction quality and ease of use help justify the price tag. It's a decent buy if it suits your bike fleet and car.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 48  Height: 5ft 11in  Weight: 85kg

I usually ride: Scapin Style  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,

 

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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