What do you want in a hitch-mounted bike rack? Something that’s easy to take on and off in mere seconds, right? One you can carry from the car to the garage without needing a dolly and a back brace would be helpful. Also great would be the ability to raise and lower the arms that support the bike with one hand while your other hand holds a burrito, a beer, a burrito and a beer, a beer burrito (?) etc.
Well, that’s what you get with the Helium Platform 2 from Thule. Not the beer burrito, whatever that might be, but all the other ease-oriented features above.
Paint it gold if you *need* that Kashima bling.
Other than how easy this rack is to use, it’s pretty stripped down in terms of features. It uses ratcheting arms that clamp down on the tires. There’s no frame contact and no tire strap for the rear wheel to fiddle with. It’s easier to clamp the bike down than the obvious competitor, the 1Up, because, one, the arms are much lighter, and two, you don’t have to find and press a metal lever to lift the arms. One-handed operation is pretty sweet. Of course, it tilts down to allow access to the rear of the vehicle.
And, there’s no locking hitch pin to mess with. Instead, there’s a hitch hook that’s permanently attached to the mount. Slide the mount into the receiver, slap the hook into the pin hole, and tighten a knob that drives a standard wedge into the receiver to secure the rack in place. It fits both 1.25″ and 2″ receivers with no additional adapter. Easy peasy.
Because it weighs so little (rack itself is only 43 pounds), each platform is rated only for 37.5-pound bikes. I’ve carried a 50+ pound e-bike on one with no issue, but, still, Thule will tell you 37.5 pounds each is the limit.
I have two complaints though. One, I suppose it depends on your car, but if you drive with the rack in the vertical stowed position with no bikes, the platforms will block your license plate. I’ve not received a ticket for that, but I did have a sheriff give me a warning. Now, the ease with which the rack comes on and off means you really don’t need to leave it on the car unless you’re transporting a bike. But still, something to think about.
Two, it costs $800. That’s luxury outdoor goods territory. It’s the easiest, best bike rack I’ve ever used, which is itself luxurious, but you’re gonna pay for that. Granted, most good platform racks are at least $600 if not more these days, but $800 is still a whole lotta cheddar.
If you drive to ride often though, you’ll prob be glad you spent the extra money for this rack. It saves so much time and is so freaking light and easy to remove, it’s easy to justify dropping some extra coin for this puppy. Heck, Yakima is selling Kashima-coated automatic racks that are like $1,200. I’d still much rather have this Helium Platform rack. Paint it gold if you *need* that Kashima bling.