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In this first-look review we check out the new Thule Sprint 528, the company’s latest roof-mount bike carrier.
Thule have long been considered a trusted supplier in aftermarket transport accessories. Their carriers are some of the more popular on the road and find their way onto all manner of cars, from Grand Tour convoys and NRS fleets to Europcar’s ‘Bike Ready‘ range of hire vehicles (utilising the popular ProRide) through to recreational cyclists.
As bike carriers have evolved the functionality has largely remained the same, with the majority of new models on the market being lead by aesthetics. The clamping mechanism for fork-mounted carriers is generally a heavy-duty lockable version of a standard quick release. Thule’s new Sprint carrier looks to change this, with the addition of torque-controlled fork clamping, and a quick and simple tightening method.
When opening the box the first impression of the already assembled Thule Sprint carriers is both a streamlined design and the solid feel. There is a confidence in handling a product designed to keep your pride and joy securely attached to your roof at 100kmh that comes when handling a slightly heavy (4.8kg) and sturdy carrier.
Installation is a breeze. We paired the carriers with Thule’s bars, and attaching them was as simple as a quick adjustment to match the width of the cross bars, and then placing the heavy rubber ‘feet’ atop the bars followed by passing a discrete heavy rubber strap under the bar and tightening with a lever. The ‘Speed-Link’ mounting system removes the need for tools to install, and is compatible with most major cross bar brands. All that remained after installing was locking the carrier to prevent someone removing it with the same ease (the locking barrel was not included in our unit for review). A pleasant surprise was the use of the same key for both attaching the carrier to the cross bars, and to lock the bike to the carrier.
Once installed the carriers look very minimalistic. The leading edge of the carrier doubles as the clamping system, with a rounded head (Thule’s ‘SonicHead) which at appearance looks to have aerodynamic properties as well, especially when not in use.
Loading the bike is quick and easy. The rear tray can be quickly adjusted to allow for differences in wheelbase using a simple undermount dial. The rear tray can also be stowed when not in use for greater rear-hatch clearance. The fork load takes seconds, and is simply a case of placing the fork ends on the clamp and twisting the head of the carrier (the ‘AcuTight’ knob) until the torque-controlled clamp clicks. There is no need to worry about over-clamping, particularly with carbon fork ends, and the nagging concern about whether the clamps have been tightened enough is also negated.
Given the increase in different wheel release systems it is no surprise to hear that the Sprint carriers can be adapted with an additional kit for 15mm and 20mm through-axels, as well as ‘lefties’.
In summary the Thule Sprint 528 is simple and quick to install, features a minimalistic design, and they’ve made it simpler to gauge the clamping pressure on your bike.
Click here to read more at the Thule website.