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Shopping for my next Bike Carrier…

I recently got back into MTBiking after taking several years off and bought myself a Trek Marlin 8 to ride around the trails near where I am staying.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

As you might have seen recently, we’ve now expanded our ZA Bikers platform, with a new sub-section called ZA Lifestyle. Here we will be covering other aspects of the outdoor adventure lifestyle that we enjoy in this beautiful country of ours.

As with all hobbies, part of the attraction is researching and plotting what next to buy, as my father always tells me… “the hunt is better than the kill”.

So next up for me, is to start researching the latest bike carriers that are available on the market today. Looking at Thule’s website, you can get older-gen spec bike carriers starting from R12,999 up to their latest-tech Epos 2/3 models which sell for R29,999/R32,999.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

I was keen to see what the latest-tech models were all about, and to find out if the extra spend was justifiable or not. So I reached out to the guys at Thule SA who then very kindly arranged for me to collect a test unit from my closet Thule store in Morningside, JHB.

Enter Thule’s Epos 2:

First impressions are good, the Epos 2 certainly is a very sleek-looking bike carrier and folds down extremely easily into a compact size, combined with its lightweight design (17.3kg) and conveniently placed grab handles, carrying and mounting the Epos 2 is a very straightforward single-person job.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Holding the right side grab handle with your left hand, place the mounting point onto the towbar and position the carrier so that it is parallel with the ground, then with the right hand, push the lever down to mount the Epos 2 into position onto the towbar and then lock it on securely using the key.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Once mounted, fold out the Epos 2 into position and voila! It’s that simple!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

If like me, your towbar can be easily detached without using any tools, then the Epos 2 is small enough when compacted to store in the boot of your vehicle. This for me is great, as it gives you peace of mind as you don’t have to leave an expensive bike carrier attached to the rear of your vehicle when out on the trails. It also stores away easily as it is very compact when folded down—no need to hang it on your garage wall like with the older-gen models.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

The new telescopic bike support arms with pivoting cradles are a huge improvement over the older-gen bike carriers.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Combined with extra-long wheel holders and with a load capacity of 30kg/bike, we found that you could load any type of bike, we even fitted two heavy e-bikes with awkward frame sizes very easily.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Fitment couldn’t be simpler, place your bike onto the carrier and extend/rotate the support arm accordingly, then pivot the cradle to line up with the bike’s frame, strap firmly into position onto the rubberised cradle using the steel reinforced rubber strap ratchet system, and finally lock the strap for added security.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

For loading bigger e-bikes, we used Thule’s Foldable Loading Ramp (not included with carrier) the ramp fits into slots at the side of each loading channel, this works great for heavier e-bikes and/or for ladies who don’t want to lift their bikes onto the carrier.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Down at the wheels, is a similarly designed ‘strap ratchet system’ enabling you to fix both wheels into position, the straps are rubberised to not scratch your rims/frame, which is good for OCD people like me who like to look after things. When not in use, all straps/arms fold away very neatly.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Another big improvement over the older-gen models is the foot pedal tilt action that allows you to access the boot of your vehicle with your bikes loaded.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

When the carrier is tilted forward, there’s even an area to mount your Foldable Loading Ramp away securely underneath the bike carrier when in the fixed position.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Now for the party trick, with the carrier tilted forward (without any bikes loaded) using one of the telescopic bike support arms, lift the bike into the air and hold using the strap, now when out in the field, you can very easily lube your chain—how cool is that?

Image source: Flow Mountain Bike

A must-have accessory in my opinion, especially if you have expensive bikes, is Thule’s High-Grade Lock. It comes with a locking device which mounts onto the carrier. Simply wrap the robust cable (150cm in length and 12mm thick) through the bikes, and then lock it into the mounting device for added security.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

Overall, I am very impressed with Thule’s Epos 2, but is it worth the extra spend over your more entry-level models?

Look you can’t deny that the Epos 2 is packed with the latest features and benefits; patented telescopic bike support arms, fully foldable design, easy truck access, and works well with e-bikes – to name a few…

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

I would say, it depends on who’s buying it, if you have heavy e-bikes or just like me, like to buy expensive things and want the best technology then of course, you cannot get any better than the Epos 2, however, if you’re only carrying kids bikes away on vacation, then the entry-level carriers from Thule will work just fine.

Some interesting news from Thule SA is if you are planning to buy a new vehicle from Toyota, then you can now add any Thule product to the finance of your purchase, therefore, adding 30k to a 600k plus vehicle isn’t going to make much difference in the overall finance – read more about it here.

Image source: Thule SA

Personally, I ‘absolutely’ love the Epos 2, the only question for me is whether to buy the Epos 2 or Epos 3. Chatting to the salesman at Thule Morningside, he tells me that, for people with vehicles that do not have an extended towbar (like the one fitted to my Jimny), and have a spare wheel at the back of their vehicle (for example the new Defender) then they opt for the Epos 3 as this would then extend your carrier without having to change the towbar, however, you’ll only have the ability to load two bikes (basically forfeit the 3rd bike loading channel instead of buying a new towbar extender) the extra costs for the Epos 3 is R3000. I don’t have that issue as my towbar is extended, therefore, the Epos 2 would be my first choice.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Lifestyle

For more information on the Thule products featured in this article, click on the links below…

Thule High-Grade Lock

R1,999.00 (RRP)


Brand: Thule

Thule Epos 2

R29,999.00 (RRP)


Brand: Thule
Simon Morton
Simon Morton
Online Editor at ZA Bikers.
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