Swedish manufacturers Thule have released an innovative range of bicycle load-carrying solutions, known collectively as the Pack 'n Pedal system. The beauty of the collection lies in its versatility, with all the products being suitable for nearly any bike.
Thule's racks are adjustable, meaning that they can be fitted at the front or rear of nearly any bike. They've been designed to fit all forks or rear stays with quick and pain-free installation, made possible by a patented adjustable strap system.
They're tough, too, rated for a full 25kg (55lb) load even during off-road use. Two models are available – the Tour, which includes side rails to accommodate panniers, or a slightly sleeker Sport version designed to accept top loads only.
Magnetic pannier mount on the Tour rack
Expect these to be in stores at around the £85 mark, while the optional side frame for the Tour will set you back a further £25 (US prices to be confirmed).
It's not often we get excited about panniers, but these new Thule designs are particularly nifty. Each one gets the company's Blade Helix attachment system, which means the panniers simply attach and detach at the pull of a cord, while the bottom section is held extra securely via a pair of magnets – one integrated into the bottom of the pannier and one on the rack itself.
Another cunning bit of design is revealed when the panniers are off the bike. Thule's Helix attachment system simply rotates 180 degrees to reveal a flat cover plate, so no sharp edges or fiddly hardware to snap off here.
The tidy cover plate for snag-free transport off the bike
Thule offer five choices of bags, with everything from touring specific models to more stylish designs aimed at commuters. All get decent handles and shoulder straps, and a translucent pocket designed to carry rear lighting.
Pricing details are vague at the moment but the largest touring bags are expected to be about £100, with the others coming in slightly cheaper (again, US prices are to be confirmed).
Thule have developed a unique handlebar mounting system for specific bags. The design works on either side of a stem and features adjustable mounting points for one or two fixings.
In another effort to keep things versatile, removable inserts can accommodate different bar sizes. Fixing and removal is easy once again – each accessory simply snaps into place and is released via a button.
The simple click-and-lock attachment
Three specific bags are available, one with room for a mobile phone (optimised for the iPhone 5) plus ample storage (£35), and one designed for use with a tablet (optimised for iPad, £40). Both devices are easily inserted and removed via a zip closure.
Why an iPad on the handlebar, you might be thinking? Well, Thule say that a lot of riders might use them on turbo trainers. Anyway, a crushproof regular bag is also available (£85), which Thule say is ideal for camera storage.
The attachment itself comes in at £35 (US prices pending).
Towbar car rack
Thule's clever new EasyFold rack folds vertically for convenient storage – you could even pop it into your vehicles boot. Wide straps and an impressive 60kg (132lb) total load rating mean the rack is ideal for transporting two downhill bikes, or even e-bikes.
The Thule EasyFold in its part-folded state
It also tilts, for tailgate access, has built-in locks and uses a six-pin trailer plug for the integrated light units. Available at the end of March, the EasyFold will cost a cool £495 (again, we're waiting on a US price).