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Pendle Bike Racks' W2 is a wheel-supporting, towbar-mounted bike rack, and with its big 70kg weight limit it's capable of carrying two heavy bikes. It's strong, made almost entirely from steel, and adjustable enough to fit a wide range of bike types. It isn't the simplest to fit, but once on it creates a very stable platform for transporting bikes.
The key part to the rack is the Universal Mounting Block, which attaches to the towball. It's identical across different models, including the Hang On rack I tested earlier in the year.
For towbars with a twin-bolt flange fixing, the mounting block can be left in place behind the towball, which will speed up the fitting of the rack each time. If, however, your vehicle has a swan neck towball, as mine does, and you want access to it when not using the rack, the mounting block needs to be removed and refitted each time. This takes a few minutes, and you'll need an 8mm hex key and 17mm spanner.
The mounting block is available to buy separately, which would speed up fitting if you wanted to use the rack on multiple vehicles. If you need to carry more bikes, a four-bike W4 version is also available for £489.99.
The rack itself is a modular design and needs assembling before first installation. This took me about an hour, and is a bit fiddly in places.
Note: as with the Hang On rack, a couple of spanners are provided with the rack but they're for use on the security plate and aluminium fixing caps, not for assembling the rack; they aren't suitable for this, which isn't clear in the installation guide.
After fitting the mounting block, the rack slots into the upright holes, with a security plate to ensure it doesn't move; this is secured in place with one of the two spanners provided.
The rack also comes with a full lighting unit, with a seven-pin electrical connection. Unlike the Hang-On rack, this is bolted into place, and with a coiled cable makes for a very simple and neat connection.
Once attached, the rack is very versatile in how and what bikes can be fitted. It's fully adjustable in terms of the position of each wheel support and the distance from the front and back of the rack, so even if you have a mountain bike with a very wide bar, the rack should be able to accommodate it.
The standard wheel support sections are also generous in size, accommodating up to 3in tyres. I tested it with up to 2.3in tyres and there was plenty of space remaining.
Straps hold the wheels in place perfectly; my only concern would be if you have a more modern wide and deep carbon wheel, as this might make contact with the metal part supporting the wheel. A simple solution would be to secure some foam pipe insulation cover around it.
I've needed to do some adapting and tinkering on every towbar rack I've owned, adding extra protection to certain areas of the bike and adjusting straps in places. While this was minimal for the W2, I would still add some foam protection around key tubes to reduce rubbing and potential knocks.
With the wheels in place, the bike frame is attached to the upright support. This is kinked to clear the chainset, and can be rotated from vertical to flat, allowing a little tweaking when fitting bikes and meaning it can be folded down when not needed. I found it particularly useful when securing a full-suspension bike because of the location of suspension linkages.
The rack itself has a weight capacity of 70kg, which is very generous, and higher than all other towbar racks I am aware of. The total weight you can carry will also depend on the nose weight (sometimes called maximum vertical load) of your vehicle/towbar, and this could be less than 70kg, so it is essential to check.
If your vehicle/towbar has a high enough nose weight, the maximum load of the W2 would allow you to carry almost any combination of bikes, including e-bikes which are often 25kg or more and potentially max out other brands of towbar rack.
A few areas where I think the rack is lacking include not having the ability to tilt it to allow access to the vehicle boot area, and no way of locking the mounting block to the towbar, although given the tools required it wouldn't be quick to remove. There's also no lock for securing bikes to the rack.
The W2 retails for £349.99, which is very competitive compared with other wheel-support racks. At the high end of the market, the Thule Easyfold XT2 can be folded up for easier storage, has a tilt function, and has locks to hold the bikes in place, but it's £675. And while the maximum load of 60kg is higher than many others, it's still below the W2.
Thule also produces the VeloCompact 2, which also has a tilt function and a much easier towbar close/locking system than the W2 but a much lower 46kg maximum weight, and is still more expensive at £431.
The reassuring solid metal construction of the Pendle is a big plus, and it carries bikes securely, holding them in place perfectly with no movement noticeable through the rearview mirror. The high maximum weight and ability to adjust the rack to suit different types of bikes, plus the ability to buy extras such as fatbike wheel supports mean it will be able to carry virtually any bike.
The initial fit was frustrating, and unless you have the mounting block permanently secured to your towball, fitting and removing it can be fiddly, but for the price this offers a very secure base to mount and carry bikes.
Strong and adjustable bike rack with a big weight capacity to suit a range of bikes, including e-bikes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pendle Bike Racks W2 two bike rack
Size tested: Two 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?
Pendle Bike Racks says:
Our wheel support racks are available in several configurations to fit your needs. No matter what type of bike you need to carry, our all-steel wheel support racks are designed to keep your bikes secure for trips on all types of terrain. Our racks are also compatible with Electric Bicycles (e-bikes).
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Pendle Bike Racks lists:
Capacity: Two Bikes
Maximum Rack Load: 70kg
Unloaded Rack Weight: 19kg
Make sure the nose weight of your tow bar is enough to support the combined weight of your rack and load.
Fabricated from high tensile steel.
Powder coated in textured Pendle Orange.
Bike Rack x 1
Universal Mounting Block x 1
Universal Light Unit x 1
Strap Kit x 1
This reallly depends on your requirements; if weight is a major consideration then the W2 beats almost all others and is great value. If weight isn't such a concern, even the cheaper of the two from Thule mentioned in the review can tilt, but you pay extra for that.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well made, all in metal, creating a strong and stable base. It's fully adjustable, allowing a huge range of bikes to be fitted, including e-bikes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The large weight capacity, allowing e-bikes to be carried, and the adjustability that means different styles of bike can fit too. Also, wide wheel supports cater for generously wide tyres; bikes with 2.3in tyres were tested, with space for larger.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The initial assembly took over an hour and was very frustrating at times. Fitting the mounting block onto the towball is a bit fiddly too, and might be required every time you use the rack.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The main competition from Thule includes the Easyfold XT2 (£675) which can fold up, tilt and has a faster ball hitch locking mechanism, and the VeloCompact 2 (£431), which has a lower weight limit but can still tilt and lock onto the tow ball.
Did you enjoy using the product? After the frustrating initial fit, yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, to those who want a wheel support rack with versatility and large weight capacity.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The W2 rack is well constructed, reassuringly strong, and has plenty of adjustment options. The initial assembly is time-consuming and fiddly, but once that's done it's a simpler process, although the mounting block still takes a few minutes and requires a few tools to fit. In use, it holds and supports bikes very well, with no movement detected.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding