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Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack review

A rear-mounted bike rack that promises impressive carrying capacity and practicality

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £400.00 RRP | USD $475.00 | EUR €489.95
Thule OutWay Hanging car rack

Our review

The Thule OutWay Hanging 3 is a superb way to carry lighter bikes for medium distances. Installation isn’t painless but once on your car, the rack is easy to live with
Pros: Stable; secure; silent when driving; carbon-frame compatible; takes three large bikes; protects paintwork; folds away when not in use
Cons: Expensive; can’t raise boot when bikes loaded; bike lock easily cut; 15kg max weight per bike
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The Thule OutWay Hanging 3 is a premium rear-mounted bike rack that sits halfway up the brand’s range.

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Thule’s fancier towbar-mounted options cost twice as much, while some of the best bike racks for cars, including roof racks, are available for substantially less.

But if you don’t have a towbar and don’t want to carry a bike on top of your car, the OutWay Hanging 3 might be just the ticket.

The advantage the OutWay Hanging 3 has over the brand’s cheaper rear-mounted racks, such as the Thule FreeWay 3, is the rack locks to the boot of the car and bikes can be locked to the rack.

How to assemble the Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack

The black arms need to be slotted into the rack.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The Thule Outway Hanging 3 comes in a pretty large cardboard box, partially assembled.

There are written instructions, but I found the assembly and mounting YouTube videos much easier to follow.

The fiddliest part for me was installing the straps and buckles to the rack’s horizontal arms.

These need to be attached to the correct side of the arm and facing the correct way with screws, washers and covers. The tools required are supplied in the box.

How to fit the Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack to a car

The straps make the hooks’ hold more secure.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack mounts to your car’s boot (or trunk, for our American readers), relying on hooks and straps to fasten it to the car.

Two hooks secure the rack to the top of the boot, fitting into the hinge where it opens. You can thread straps through the attachment for added tension.

Rubber feet press down onto the boot just below the rear windscreen.

The bottom hooks, which go beneath the bottom of the boot, are also covered in rubber.

An extra set of my linguine arms would have come in handy for the next steps.

Mercifully, the rack feet don’t move once in position beneath the lip of the boot.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

First, the bottom of the rack’s vertical arms needs to hook under the lip of the boot. To do so, the boot needs to be an inch or so open.

Unless you have an automatic boot that can be suspended, you’ll probably need someone to hold it there for you.

Supporting the arms there, you then press down the middle feet where the bottom of the windscreen meets the paintwork.

Getting them to sit flush to the car required many twists and turns of the knob that changes their angle.

After that, hooking the wire straps to the boot is relatively straightforward.

Thule OutWay 3 bike rack loading

You can move the rack arms closer together or further apart to suit varying frame sizes.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The OutWay 3 has adjustable arms. This means bikes of various frame sizes can fit.

You can move the arms closer together to carry small frames and wider apart for bigger bikes.

Your bike’s frame slots into grooves on both arms. You secure it by folding a strap over the frame on each side and passing it through a buckle.

The grooves on the arms hold round and more angular-shaped tubes equally well.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

Another rubber strap loops around the rack’s vertical arm and then around somewhere on your bike’s frame, such as the seat tube. When carrying multiple bikes, the other rubber straps hold one bike to the next, about 15cm apart.

Finally, a longer nylon strap goes around the back of the rack and the bikes before fastening in front of the outside one to hold the bikes together.

Weighing a claimed 8.9kg, Thule says the OutWay Hanging 3 holds up to three bikes of a 15kg-maximum bike weight and 45kg total load capacity.

According to the brand, the rack is compatible with carbon frames.

Thule’s frame adaptor creates a faux top tube on bikes with dropped tubes or unconventional frame sizes, such as many mountain bikes and step-through commuter bikes.

Although Thule told me you don’t need a number plate and lightboard for the OutWay Hanging 3, it does sell these as extras.

Because my bikes have large frames, I had to adjust the arms’ spacing to stop a wheel from overlapping the side of the car.

Thule advises loading bikes in a certain order and orientation.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

It’s best to start by placing your largest or heaviest bike closest to the car, driveside facing out.

The rack arms hold the bike far enough away from the boot, so the pedal or wheels don’t scrap the bodywork of your car.

The second bike should go the other way round. If carrying a third bike, this should go on the same way as the first.

A strap fixed to each rack arm folds over the bike frame and threads through a buckle to hold it down.

In addition, there are three detachable rubber straps.

Use a loop to connect the first bike to the rack.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

One attaches to the horizontal rack arm at one end and the first bike’s seat tube at the other.

The two others secure a bike to the one in front, for example from the first bike’s down tube to the second’s down tube.

You buckle down the straps after passing them over the top tubes.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The grooves the frames slide into are spaced apart sufficiently to stop the wheel of the first bike touching the rear derailleur of the second.

You’ll also need to find a way to make room for saddles and handlebars while positioning pedals so they don’t graze another bike. But loading three bikes soon gets easier with practice.

Thule Outway Hanging 3 bike rack security

To remove the rack from the car, you turn the key in this lock.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The OutWay Hanging 3 comes with a key to lock the rack to the car and the bikes to the rack.

Once you have hooked both wire straps to the top of the boot, you turn dials to tighten them until you hear a series of clicks. When Thule says in the instructions to turn many times, it really means it.

Turning the key in the lock on the side of the dial keeps the wires at that tension, so the rack won’t budge.

This feature provides a solid platform to hold the bikes and makes the rack hard to steal.

If a thief did cut the wires, they would also have to prise the rack feet from beneath the lip of the boot – nigh-on impossible without opening the boot.

But what Thule calls the bike lock is actually just a cable. It passes from the end of the horizontal rack arm furthest from the car over the bikes, where you lock it with the same key.

The cable is cafe-lock standard and would be easy to snip. It’s disappointing on an expensive product.

If I were to leave my bikes unattended on the back of the car, I’d use one of the best bike locks for additional security.

Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack driving stability

The cables remained tight, stopping the rack from sagging.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

On my first forays with the OutWay Hanging 3, I kept glancing nervously to make sure the bikes were still attached (they were).

Eventually, I stopped worrying so much. The rack seems secure on rough-surfaced country lanes and when doing 70mph on the motorway.

During hundreds of miles, the rack didn’t make irritating noises. The positioning of the rack’s arms doesn’t cause mounted bikes to totally obscure the rear window view when driving.

I repeatedly checked the angle of the arms and the straps’ tension, but they remained steadfast.

Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack issues

The rack is unobtrusive when unloaded, so you could leave it on your car.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

With bikes on the rack, you can’t operate the boot. This is less problematic on a five-door car, where you access the boot via the rear side doors.

But when unloaded, the rack arms fold down and you can use the boot as before.

Loaded or not, the OutWay Hanging 3 sets off parking sensors, so they’ll bleep away as soon as you put the car into reverse (violins please).

That’s not so inconvenient that I’d remove the rack when not carrying bikes, though.

The rack adds about 9kg to your car. But that’s half the weight of a three-bike towbar-mounted Thule bike rack.

The rack’s positioning means it shouldn’t have as adverse an effect on aerodynamics, driving up fuel consumption, as a roof-mounted bike rack.

Thule OutWay Hanging 3 bike rack bottom line

You soon get the hang of loading, then fastening, bikes to the rack.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

The Thule OutWay Hanging 3 performs very well, carrying multiple road bikes safely on short-to-medium journeys.

Setup takes time, but once fitted the rack is no hassle. Loading bikes on and off is easy.

You can fold the rack arms down when unloaded, so there’s nothing sticking out behind and then you can use the boot.

The bike lock supplied with the rack is underwhelming. Therefore, I’d buy a better lock to secure the bikes if they were out of sight for any length of time.

As a result, if you’re planning to travel with your bikes, for example on holiday, and to transport heavier bikes, such as electric bikes, investing in a towbar (if your car doesn’t already have one) and a towbar-mounted rack could be best for you.

Towbar-mounted bike racks fit more securely to the car and bikes are harder to steal from them.

The combined cost of a towbar and a towbar-mounted rack, such as the Thule VeloSpace XT3 towbar-mounted bike rack, far exceeds that of the OutWay Hanging 3.

The VeloSpace XT3 also weighs twice as much.

The OutWay scores highly for efficiency and safety.
Steve Sayers / Our Media

On the other hand, there are much cheaper rear-mounted bike racks available than the OutWay Hanging 3. These could be fine for moving cheap road bikes or kids’ bikes shorter distances.

The Halfords Rear High Mount bike rack we tested costs four times less than the Thule OutWay Hanging 3, but our tester gave it only three and a half stars.

Spending £400 / $479.95 on a bike rack is a considerable amount. But it could be a fraction of the price of the bikes you’re carrying.

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I value the peace of mind the OutWay Hanging 3 offers, which is worth a lot if you’re transporting your and possibly your family members’ and friends’ precious bikes.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €489.95GBP £400.00USD $475.00
Weight 8.9kg (three-bike)
Brand Thule

Features

Bike capacity 3
Car rack type Rear mounted
Maximum load 45kg