The Thule VeloCompact 92501 is one of the Swedish company's most affordable towball racks and it's really easy to use. It has a wide range of adjustment to suit different types of bikes, and it's very solid and secure. When it's fitted you can still get into your car boot, and it folds flat for storage. It's a good investment for anyone who regularly transports bicycles on a car.
Because a towball rack is solidly mounted to your car, there's almost no chance of it coming off as you drive. With multiple attachment points for the bikes themselves, they're very securely attached and being behind the car they can't get damaged because you forget they're there and drive into a low-roofed garage. All that makes a towball rack the safest way to transport a bike.
The Thule VeloCompact 925 is fully assembled out of the box and fitting it to the car is a really simple operation; you don't even need to read the instruction manual. Simply position the rack over the towball and push the large lever down, then turn the key to lock the rack inplace. The tension of the locking arm can be adjusted, but once set you never need to do it again. The trickiest bit of this operation is lifting the rack up to the towball, because at 14.3kg, it's not exactly light.
Fitting a bike to the rack is equally simple, and shows Thule has really thought carefully through the entire process. Moulded wheel supports slide out of the rack and wide plastic ratchet straps clamp the wheels into place. The straps are generous enough to take very wide tyres. I fitted a 3in mountain bike tyre, so the widest road/adventure bike tyre is absolutely no problem.
Two metal arms extend from the top of the frame and end in soft-jawed clamps that grab your bike's frame, either around the top tube or down tube. The arms can easily be repositioned wherever you need them. You use the short arm for the bike closest to the car, and the long arm for the bike on the outside of the rack.
Fitting one bike is easy, and once you know the best way to position a bike, it takes all of 30 seconds to have a bike clamped down onto the rack. Fitting two bikes occasionally requires some Krypton Factor level mental agility to figure out which one best goes where and how to clamp them, but if you take your time it's straightforward to get two bikes nicely secured into place on the rack. I never had any problems with a wide range of bikes, even pairing a mountain and road bike together.
The arms have rubber coated clamps to protect the paintwork of your pride and joy, and the large knurled plastic dials are quick to adjust. They can be locked to deter theft, but if you're planning to leave the bikes on the rack and out of sight for a significant amount of time, I would invest in a very long cable lock to secure the bikes to the car somehow. Or not leave the car unattended; it's just not worth the risk.
Thule packs some useful features into this rack. There's a slot for the car number plate with plastic clips that hold it in place, which means you can easily change the number plate if swapping between different cars. Indicator and brake light pods slide out when in use, and slide away to make the rack more compact when in storage. The lights are powered by a regular seven-pin plug.
I've been using this rack for the past few months, with all manner of bikes, from road race to adventure and gravel bikes, as well as mountain bikes. I've not come across a combination that causes any problems yet; even a plus sized mountain bike and a road race bike sit happily alongside each other on the rack. The rubber coated grippers haven't damaged any bikes, but I have used rags to protect the paintwork on some road bikes, just to be on the safe side. I've used carbon road bikes without any issues. You don't need to do the clamps very tightly around the frame tubes, so go easy on the torque.
Driving shows the rack to be extremely secure and very stable. It does wobble a small amount but it's not excessive. There's no wind noise and depending on the bikes fitted to the rack, there's little impact on the fuel economy or driving characteristics through the bends. If your car has parking sensors they are set off by the rack, but reverse parking with two bikes on the rack is easy because the bikes provide a useful visual indication.
If you need to access the car boot without wanting to remove the bikes, the Thule VeloCompact 925 shows its best feature: a foot switch that allows the entire rack to lean forward far enough from the car that you open the boot or hatch. It's an ingenious solution and works brilliantly. It's a key feature over the cheaper Thule EuroRide and worth paying the extra for, especially for road trips where easy access to the boot is so valuable.
There is a bike weight limit of 25kg which might preclude some e-bikes but regular mountain and road bikes should be just fine inside this limit. If you need to transport three bikes, the VeloCompact 927 (£425) has an extra bike rack.
It's not a cheap way of carrying bikes compared to a strap-on boot rack or even roof rack, but it's the most secure, stable and convenient for regular and longer trips. And you have to factor in the cost of the towbar as well, which on my car cost a couple of hundred quid. However, if you're regularly loading up your car with a bike or bikes, the investment quickly pays off with the sheer ease of use it offers over most other racks.
High-quality, sturdy and very easy to use towball bike rack
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Thule VeloCompact 925 2-bike towbar bike rack
Size tested: 2-bike
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's most compact and lightweight bike carrier for everyday use (2 bikes)
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Easy mounting of bikes through detachable bike arms.
Carries bikes with large wheelbases thanks to single action extendable wheel holders.
Easy boot access even with bikes mounted thanks to smart foot pedal tilt.
Adjustable one hand coupling for easy mounting of carrier.
Simple to fasten wheels thanks to long wheel straps with pump buckles.
Simple to fold flat and store – fits most car boots.
Lock your bikes to the bike carrier and your carrier to the tow bar (locks included).
Pre-assembled, no tools required.
Fulfills the City Crash norm.
It's more expensive than a strap-on boot rack but it's more secure, stable and quicker to fit and remove so for regular use and long trips it's perfect
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Securely clamped two bikes in place without damaging or scratching the frames, is easily adjustable for different bikes and you can still access the car boot when it's loaded up
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Keeps mud and dirt out of the car! Very stable and safe. Doesn't scratch the car. Can still access the car boot
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite heavy to lift it up on to the towbar. The more expensive Thule racks can be folded up on the towbar which would be useful in some circumstances
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Very regular use and long trips, the solid stability, security and ease of use makes the Thule VeloCompact 925 a good investment
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.