The Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack is an excellent, robust product that will enable you to transport up to three of your bikes safely over the roughest of roads. It’s a cinch to install, strong but relatively lightweight, and easy to use. It requires a 1.25″ or 2″ tow hitch/receiver.
A while ago, Maggie and I decided to increase the range of our bike rides by putting a bike rack on her car. Up to then we could only explore bike routes within biking distance of our home, because Maggie was fairly clear that we could not load bikes into her car (“Put one of your dirty bikes in my car and die!”). We did a lot of research and ended up with the 3-Bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack, which attaches to a tow hitch/receiver (which we had installed at the same time).
First You Need a Tow Hitch/Receiver
You need a 1.25″ or 2″ tow hitch/receiver for this bike rack. We did not have one, so we bought one at Rack Attack. They told us it would take about two hours, but it was closer to four hours. And as the only place we were close to was Ikea, that turned out to be a pretty expensive wait! However, the installation was perfect.
This video shows you how easy it is to put the Thule Helium bike rack on your car and load up your bikes:
Putting the New Bike Rack on our Car
First off, the 3-Bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack is easy to put on and take off, even for two not very handy people (that would be Maggie and I). Seriously, I think a person with just one arm could put this thing on, on his own. The huge nut that holds it on is permanently in place, so you don’t have to waste time searching for it (and cursing and swearing) when you want to rush out and take advantage of the sun. Also, you can lock the rack onto the hitch, so you can leave it on overnight and not worry about it.
Next, the 3-Bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack is perfect for two bikes – it’s easy to put them on , and there are effective sway bars that prevent the bikes from swaying all over the place and touching each other. The bike rack is guaranteed to transport up to 100 pounds of bikes, and the bikes feel 100% secure.
Built-in Bike Lock
Also, the 3-bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack features a handy built-in lock for the bikes. It’s just a cable lock, but it’s enough to make you feel safe if you just need to stop somewhere and run into a store.
We bought the 3-bike rack because sometimes we take one or other of my kids along for a bike ride. But the first time we tried to load up three bikes, it was quite a challenge. We tried it various different ways, and finally got it to work. Still, I have to say it wasn’t ideal. In fact, it was such a tight fit that we photographed it so we could remember how we got it to work, so we wouldn’t have to struggle so much the next time we did it. That said, my daughter’s bike is big and clunky.
Since we bought the 3-bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack, we have been on a lot of rides we could not possibly have done without the rack. It has done exactly what we wanted – extended the range of possible rides we can go on. In particular, we can get my youngest daughter to places where it is safe for her to ride, such as the West Dyke Trail in Richmond, BC, Canada.
Key Features of the Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack
- Convenient access to the rear of your vehicle – the Hitch Switch feature allows the rack to be easily tilted down.
- The super lightweight aluminum construction is half the weight of steel hitch bike racks, making it easy to install, remove and generally handle.
- This rack offers excellent hanging hitch carrier bike protection, with industry-leading 7″ spacing between bikes.
- Complete bike security with integrated cable lock (lock included)
- Superior bike stability and fit, with integrated anti-sway that prevents your bikes from making contact.
Bottom Line: This Bike Rack is Perfect for 2 Bikes, Acceptable for 3 Bikes
The bottom line is that the 3-bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack is perfect for two bikes, and acceptable for three bikes. Three bikes took a bit longer to arrange on the car, and looked a bit odd, to be honest. However, all three bikes were safe and securely fitted.
Using Your Bike Rack as a Bike Repair Stand
Also, we discovered another use for the rack. If you read my post on basic bike maintenance, you’ll know that we recently learned how to clean and grease the bike chain and derailleurs. However, we were putting off actually doing it, because neither of us much enjoys being on our knees – and our backs hurt if we bend over a lot (hey, we’re not 20 any more).
I was therefore delighted to realize that when the bikes are on the rack, they are at the perfect height for working on the chain – without bending or kneeling! So our 3-bike Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack now doubles as a bike repair stand. Given that stands cost hundreds of dollars, this is pretty cool.
All in all, even though the hitch and rack together were not cheap, we are really happy we bought it. I would recommend it to any average cyclists who want to extend the range of their bike rides.
Update: After we bought a new, much smaller car, we discovered that our big old 3-bike Thule Helium Bike Rack can be attached to a tiny Fiat 500 just by getting a new hitch receiver.
Bottom Line on the Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack
The Thule Helium Pro Bike Rack is an excellent, robust product that will keep your bikes safe over the roughest of roads. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every cent. I give it an Average Joe Cyclist Gold Bike Star!
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