Thule EasyFold 9032 bike rack review£543.00

Made for e-bikes, but fraught with issues

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Designed with e-bikes in mind with a 59kg (130lbs) load capacity, Thule's EasyFold 9032 works with almost all bikes by clamping to the bike's frame rather than using a hook over the front wheel. While it holds bikes solidly in place, we generally found it difficult to use.

The wheel straps are set too narrow and aren't fat bike compatible
The wheel straps are set too narrow and aren't fat bike compatible

Thule EasyFold 9032 highlights

  • Folds up for handling and storage
  • High load capacity for handling the weight of two e-bikes (2 x 65 lbs/30 kg)
  • Fits all 1 1/4in or 2in receivers with included hitch adapter
  • Convenient removable ramp for easy loading and unloading of your bikes
  • Snug-Tite receiver lock virtually eliminates hitch rack movement in receiver and locks the hitch rack to the vehicle

Thule EasyFold 9032 in use

Is there anything more disconcerting than looking in the rear view mirror and seeing your prized possessions wobbling to and fro? For most cyclists, not really. 

With the EasyFold 9032 rack, you don't have to worry about this, thanks to its Snug-Tite connection to the vehicle's receiver. Throughout testing the rack remained rock solid – no loosening, no backing out, no side-to-side dance. 

The Snug-Tite receiver works with 1 1/4in and 2in hitches and remained wobble free
The Snug-Tite receiver works with 1 1/4in and 2in hitches and remained wobble free

The bike mounting was solid, too. Once positioned adequately, the attachment claws clamped the bikes with authority and zero movement.

Removing the Thule EasyFold 9032 from the vehicle is relatively easy. Once out of the hitch, the rack's receiver arm folds back and the rack itself folds up like a book and creates a handle to carry the unit to its off-vehicle resting spot. It's pretty lightweight too, at 17.2kg (38lbs).

We liked how simple and quick it was to fold the rack down for rear hatch access. Even with two bikes loaded up, stomping on the simple step hinged it nicely out of the way.

The EasyFold 9032 folds away super easily and quickly, even when loaded with two heavy bikes
The EasyFold 9032 folds away super easily and quickly, even when loaded with two heavy bikes

The included ramp is an interesting addition and shows that Thule understands its EasyFold 9032 demographic of e-bike users. The typical e-biker is older, so hoisting a heavy e-bike up on the rack could be a challenge.

And, kudos to Thule for finally designing keys with a bit of substance. The small metal keys used with nearly all car racks are annoying.

Annoyances

It wasn't all carefree miles and smile-friendly loading and unloading, however.

Loading two bikes is difficult. The claw arm for the second bike must pass through the first bike's frame, or over the top tube, to reach the second bike. If the first bike is a small frame size, or has a water bottle cage, or has a funky full-suspension design, or is an e-bike with a down tube-mounted battery, then this gets seriously tricky.

The claw for the second bike must pass through, or over, the first bike. Small bikes, certain full suspension designs, and water bottle cages can make this difficult
The claw for the second bike must pass through, or over, the first bike. Small bikes, certain full suspension designs, and water bottle cages can make this difficult

Also, the wheel straps are much too close together. Trying to secure a size large mountain bike with a decent wheelbase (121.5cm) was frustrating. Compound that with the regular length wheel straps and that means fat bikes weren't compatible, either. 27.5+ wheels were the limit, but only with short wheelbases. Regarding the wheel straps, Thule says extra-long accessory straps are available for fat bikes, but not in the US, as most US riders use the EasyFold for e-bikes. 

The odd wheel strap placement annoyed us further when loading two bikes and when trying to offset them to prevent saddle to handlebar contact. 

The base of the rack, where the wheels sit, was too narrow as well. In fact, we had two different bikes slip off the end of the rack when we couldn't fasten one of the wheel straps due to wheelbase length or tire width issues. 

The short rack base did not work well with bikes sporting even middle length wheelbases
The short rack base did not work well with bikes sporting even middle length wheelbases

The wheel straps for the first bike have the strap buckle release on the inner side (close to the vehicle) which means you have to wedge between the vehicle and rack to secure and undo them. Plus they get loaded with road grime from vehicle spray.

Unloading two bikes is also cumbersome. It's impossible to remove the first bike and leave the second one in place due to the rack arm snaking through the first bike. Thule's PR Chris Ritchie acknowledged this but said: "In most circumstances, the consumer would be taking both bikes off at the same time."

The aforementioned loading ramp was tricky to use to unload a bike due to the wheelbase/short rack issue. Our bike's tires covered the little slots that the ramp sits in. The ramp also doesn't store on the rack itself but rather is meant to be stowed in your vehicle. 

These claw clamp onto the bike's frame
These claw clamp onto the bike's frame

E-bike rack

So how does this rack designed to work with e-bikes actually work with e-bikes? Well, we found a Haibike XDuro AllMtn e-bike very hard to transport with it. There's nowhere for the rack claw to clamp: the battery is on the down tube, the top tube is too high, and the rear shock is in front of the seat tube.

We tried clamping it underneath the down tube but while driving along a bumpy road, the clamp slipped off. Thankfully the bike landed on the rack's base tray, not on the road.

The claw has a torque limiter to prevent over tightening on bike frames
The claw has a torque limiter to prevent over tightening on bike frames

When the base of the rack was folded up, it rattled and felt loose. Thule does include a strap to secure it together, but it's an extra step and seems like a quick fix rather than a considered solution.

And finally, during a spell of brutally cold winter weather, the plastic step that folds the rack away from the vehicle snapped off. There's zero functional difference, though.

Bottom line: Thule makes better racks than this one

The EasyFold 9032 was built for e-bike hauling with a high weight capacity, ramp, and small folded size when off the vehicle. In addition to these features it does hold bikes securely once everything is sorted. However, there are numerous bike racks available (including from Thule) that do a better job at transporting bikes while being more user-friendly. When you factor in the premium price tag, it's a tough sell.

An included strap keeps the rack from wobbling when folded up but sort of seems like an afterthought
An included strap keeps the rack from wobbling when folded up but sort of seems like an afterthought

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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