For years, Thule's ProRide 591 roof rack has been a market leader for those wanting to drive with their bike on the roof with the wheels on. We just got our hands on the yet-to-be-released ProRide 598 – a progression on the original 591's design. Details of this new rack's arrival are currently scarce, with the official launch quoted for 2016 according to Thule's website.
At first glance, the ProRide 598 is extremely similar to the continuing 591 (and 598 Criterium for those in the US). The frame-holding arm with its easily accessed tightening knob remains, as do the two ratcheting wheel straps. And that's all still on top of a one-piece alloy beam. Like the 591, it's a rack that's designed not to discriminate against cycling disciplines, and isn't affected by wheel axle standards or disc-brake placement.
However, take a closer look and some subtle changes start to make themselves clear. First, installation onto a wide variety of crossbars is now far simpler and tool-free. Even switching the rack from left to right placement on the car needs no tools.
Something that should ease the loading process is the raised lower jaw on the frame holding clamp. This is done so to hook over the frame while you tighten the bike in place. It's said to offer a more stable hold at speed too.
This one is tough to explain, so here's a photo
Fitting a tube diameter up to 100mm (the same as the 591), the frame-holding jaws now feature a compression-based material that conforms to odd frame shapes and with a softer touch too.
Hidden inside, there's a torque wrench-type thingy
The clamp now includes a feature we first saw on the Thule Sprint 528 rack – the torque limiter. It's effectively a preset torque wrench within the clamp mechanism that prevents you from over tightening the rack and crushing your frame as a result. Whether it's sensitive enough for the very thinnest of carbon frames is something we'll have to test (anyone want to lend us their Cervelo R5CA?), but it's a huge improvement nonetheless.
New wheel strap layout
With large wheel trays, the ratcheting wheel straps are now fixed at a diagonal angle. This is said to pull the wheels into the centre as they're tightened.
With the trend for bigger and fatter tyres, the 598 is said to fit up to 3in-wide rubber in stock format. And as a first for Thule roof racks, fat bikers are catered for with the optional Thule ProRide Fatbike Adapter (5981) to fit 3-5in items. That said, we can't imagine travelling with these on your roof will do much for your fuel efficiency.
Lock cores are included, providing the ability to lock the rack to the crossbars, and the bike frame to the rack. The rack will be available in silver or black.
The ProRide 598 has a max bike capacity of 20kg, and fits most common crossbar types straight out of the box. Square bars and 24mm T-tracks (such as BMW) can be used with appropriate adaptors.
With just two days left to order, Thule is advertising limited edition colour versions of the ProRide 598 at €180. Global pricing is still to be confirmed, although it’ll certainly be more than the continuing Pro Ride 591, which sells for £95 / $190 / AU$279.
Note: The Thule Criterium 598 sold in the USA is a similar version of the ProRide 591. The Pro Ride 598 is a different rack.