Transporting your pride and joy can be a little nerve racking at the best of times, but it doesn't have to be if you have the right equipment and you know what you're doing.
For most of us - especially in my case - our cycle passion steeds cost more money, and are worth more emotionally, than our cars. When we venture off to the trail centres, or go on vacation, we want to ensure that our bikes are secure during transport .
Established in 1942, Swedish manufacturer Thule have been leading the way for safe, secure and quality transport equipment. Their mission to to enable freedom in your life by allowing you to discover and explore the world with your board, bike and skies in tow.
First thing's first, there are many wild and exotic pronunciations for "Thule". Having spoken with one of the employees at their HQ, I can confidently report back to the UK that the correct pronunciation sounds like this: Too-La.
With that matter settled, let's move onto the new and vastly improved roof mounted bike rack, the Thule 598.
Thule 598: Out of the Box
Packaged in a well detailed and informed box, the Thule 598 roof mounted bike carrier comes equipped with fittings, a manual, safety guide and keys.
Weighing just 4.2kg, it's light in the hand whilst feeling strong and robust in quality. Because I'm quite a lucky duck, I've received the limited edition 598 model which comes finished in a matt black hardened anodized aluminium, whereas the regular 598 model is finished with a smooth silver anodized finish.
With some assembly required, no additional tools are needed which is great. Using the fittings in the box and some elbow grease, it's easy to attach the levers and fixtures to the bike mount.
I've been using the predeceasing model, Thule 591, so I already had the appropriate roof bars installed on my car. You can find out which ones you'll need here, but not to worry because they are super easy to fit to your car, once you've wiggled around with the initial set-up. With my roof bars already on, and the fixtures fitted securely to the Thule 598 mount, it was time to install.
It's a simple case of sliding the Thule 598 mount into the rails of the roof bars using the screw fittings. Once the mount is in place, tighten it to the bar so that it doesn't move during transport.
It's really that easy to install the mount onto the rails, and even though you've secured it as tight as possible, it's always a good idea to get a second pair of hands to give it a wiggle and check as well.
Thule 598: Road Test
With the Thule 598 fitted securely to the roof bars, it was time to load up the bike.
If you're a little short, or weak in the arms like I am, then get someone to give you a hand lifting the bike onto the car roof. With a defined and well rutted channel, the wheels fall easily into the track of the mount.
- Top Tip: When lifting your bike onto the car roof, hold the fork and the frame together to stop the front wheel from turning
While holding onto the frame, lean the bike gently towards you in order to lift the clamp arm and place it in position on your down-tube. When in place, turn the adjuster wheel to vice it in. This wheel fastening system is really easy to use, great grip for the hand, even on wet days! With the clamp arm secure, use the keys provided to lock in so it can't undo.
Once the frame is locked in place, it's time to strap in the wheels. With a slight diagonal cross over, the straps thread through the spokes of your wheel, and into a ratchet system on the other side. The rubber tabs protect your rims and the ratchet lever allows you to dial in a comfortable and super secure fit.
With the wheels and frame secured and locked in place, I took the car for a spin along some winding country lanes, and on to the motorway. Thule recommends no weight exceeding 20kg, and no driving speeds to exceed 80mph. Being the law-abiding citizen that I am, I most certainly kept with the UK legal requirements of driving, but... let's say you were to use the Thule 598 on the Autoban in Germany, then I would say you should be ok.
Glancing up through my sunroof, I could see my bike was secure. A safe and tolerable amount of wobble was to be expected, but no rattling, ominous noises or reason for concern cropped up.
Thule 598: Verdict
I was really pleased to test the Thule 598 roof mounted bike rack because I'd been using the 591 for some time, so it was interesting to compare and contrast the improvements.
Fortunately, Thule have made significant and functional improvements to the model and have really taken on customer feedback to produce something a little safer, easier and more secure for transporting your bike.
The first noticeable improvement is the clamp arm. The previous 591 model is more simple in design, whereas the 598 model shows additional cushioning for the frame, and works well as an indicator on how hard you've clamped your frame. Another new feature is the small lip on the outside of the clamp which adds a little more security and piece of mind that the bike is properly enclosed in the clamp.
Also improved is the adjuster wheel for clamping the arm onto the frame. Thule have redesigned the shape of the wheel to make it easier to grip onto and turn, something I found very useful. The wheel straps have changed for the better as well. Previous model's have a straight-through strap which you pull through a click-clamp, whereas the new model has a cross-through strap which gives a little more stability on the wheel. As mentioned before, the new wheel straps also have a ratchet system for tightening which is so much easier to use, and feels a lot more secure.
Overall, I'm really impressed with the Thule 598. I already thought my 591 model was pretty good, but this new improved model just blows that out of the water. The bikes are a lot more secure which is exactly what I want when I'm driving to trail centres, races and on vacation.
It's always best to ensure your bikes are well protected and secure during transportation. With innovative designs such as the Thule 598, you can travel with confidence and freedom with your favourite two wheeled steed.
If roof racks aren't suitable for your vehicle, then Thule do a range of tow bar fittings as well so whatever the car or van, you can take your bikes with you on any adventure.
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