Choosing the bike rack can be daunting, especially when shopping online. Materials and construction specs can be hard to decipher, and you might wind up with something different than what the marketing may have led you to believe. And at a price that can reach $1,000, it's no small purchase.
If you're juggling a few options, your delay has paid off because Thule just announced a brand-new hitch rack, the Epos, which has made vast improvements in functionality and design.
Built upon the platform of another of one its successful racks, the XT Fold, the Epos utilizes advancements in materials, construction and design to correct some of the previous rack's pain points.
I personally owned and used the XT Fold for three years before the Epos came out, and got a chance to see and use the brand-new rack and feel the improvements. Here's the full story on the Thule Epos Rack:
Thule Epos, At a Glance
- Load Capacity: 132 pounds (66 lbs/bike)
- Frame Sizes: Fits all frame designs from 20mm to 90mm diameter
- Bike Lengths: Fits longer wheelbases up to 53 in
- Weight: 38 pounds (2 bike version); 51 pounds (3 bike version)
How the Epos Improves Upon Past Designs
The arms have been vastly improved.
Thule says the core improvement made with the Epos is its telescopic arms, and I'd have to agree. The all-new Epos features individual, flexible telescoping arms with pivoting heads and reinforced straps. This accommodates bikes' front and rear fenders and allows for numerous attachment points to work with any style of bike. The pivoting heads each come with their own lock, so you can secure bikes independently. You can now attach your bike to the Epos anywhere on the frame, or on the rear wheel for no-frame contact. The Epos now carries up to three bikes at a time.
The Epos can accommodate e-bikes.
Thule's previous hitch-mounted bike rack, the XT Fold, was marketed as being able to handle all types of bikes, up to 130 pounds total — but in my experience, having two e-bikes on the rack made it extremely wobbly, to the point where I didn't feel comfortable driving on the freeway with it fully loaded. Although the Epos's max weight load capacity is only two pounds more at 132 pounds, it's a much more stable mount, and Thule explicitly markets it as being able to handle electric bikes. This is helpful since everyone and their mom rides them now.
You can independently load and unload bikes.
No more taking off the front bike to get to the back bike — the Epos is designed for independent removal of whichever bike you need access to. Thanks to the tilting feature of the entire rack, you can also access your trunk without removing bikes.
There are retainers for the new, steel-reinforced straps.
With the old XT Fold, the straps that held the wheels in place used to flap around when taking the bike on and off the rack — with the new version, the straps have retainers you can stow them in while you're loading and unloading your bikes. It sounds like a minor adjustment, but after fidgeting with these straps while holding a heavy e-bike for the last three years, I'm personally very excited about this change. The plastic straps themselves have been reinforced with steel, remedying any potential snapping or breaking over prolonged periods of use.
The Epos: Should You Buy This Rack?
While we're still conducting long-term testing on Thule's new rack, based on our initial in-person experiences with it and Matt's feedback, I'm comfortable recommending the new Epos. It's a beefed-up, better version of previous designs, and as a heritage brand in the space, Thule is one you can trust.
Thule Epos will launch to consumers on June 15, 2023 starting at $999.95 for the two bike version, $1,249.95 for the two bike version with tail light integration and $1,099.95 for the three bike version.