The first time I came across a fork-mounted rack, my jaws literally dropped. I couldn’t comprehend the fact why someone would use it instead of a roof-mounted carrier. It just didn’t make any sense. Why would someone go through the trouble of opening the front wheel and then mount a bike?
Now, I feel embarrassed to even remember how I felt about fork-mounted racks because later on, I understood it’s much easier to mount a bicycle on top of your car when the front wheel isn’t there to weigh you down.
I’m not very tall nor a bulky dude, so I often had to go through a lot of nuisances to lift up my bike on top of the car and mount it. With a fork-mounted rack, I never had to face this problem, even when I was using an SUV for the journey.
Without the front wheel, it felt like my bicycle didn’t weigh much at all.
This is the reason why I became a big fan of such racks. Anyways, I’ve tried out quite a lot of fork-mounted carriers in the past few years, and among them, I found the Thule TopRide and FastRide to be absolutely amazing.
It got me to wonder. Which one will the duel between the Thule TopRide vs. FastRide rack? So, today I am here to show you guys which one of these carriers is better suited for your car and bike.
My Run with the Two Roof Bike Racks
Although you guys are here to see the differences between the racks, I would still prefer to start by sharing my experience and giving you lot a general review of them. Believe me, the more you know about the carriers, the better you’ll be able to dissect them.
|Thule TopRide Rack||Thule FastRide Rack|
|Type||Fork-mounted Roof Rack||Fork-mounted Roof Rack|
|Mounting Type||Strap||Roof & Strap Mount|
|Load Capacity||40 lbs||40 lbs|
|Dimension||55″ x 8″ x 6″||53″ x 9″ x 4″|
|Item Weight||7.7 lbs||7.3 lbs|
|Max Tire Width||3 in||3 in|
|Max Wheel Base||1250 mm||1250 mm|
|Max Wheel Size||29 in||29 in|
|Thru-axle Compatible||Yes||Adapters required|
|Price||Buy From Amazon||Buy From Amazon|
My Time with the Thule UpRide and ProRide
Before jumping into the similarities and differences, I would very much like you guys to take a glimpse at my experience of the two products. It’s okay if you hop right into the following sections, but a detailed review of the bike racks will help you better understand the little things.
Thule TopRide Roof Mounted Bike Rack
By the time I got the TopRide rack, I was already a huge fan of Thule. Before using or buying this rack, I’ve used the UpRide and ProRide and found both of them worth the money. However, the TopRide carrier is a little different from the two I just mentioned.
This one is a fork-mounted carrier. It operates only with quick release and thru-axle bikes, meaning you have to carry the front wheel separately. It took a little time to get used to it, as the whole mounting system was new to me. Over time, the process became easier and took only a couple of seconds.
The best thing about fork-mounted racks is that they’re incredibly light. The TopRide carrier weighs only 7.7 pounds; therefore, it is super easy to place it on the top and install.
However, the downside to such racks is that you’ll need to remove the front wheel every time you plan on mounting the bike on it. I use a mountain bike with a thru-axle, and opening the front wheel takes about a few seconds only.
Once you open the front, you still need the thru-axle or the quick release to lock the bike on the rack. I usually keep the thru-axle attached to the bicycle before placing it on the carrier. However, you can also attach the quick release or thru-axle to the front of the rack and position the bike afterward.
Mounting a bicycle on the rack is a piece of cake. The TopRide carrier comes with a Thule AcuTight torque limit knob that makes a click sound and shows a green sign when the bike is perfectly placed on the rack. Just lift the bicycle, put it on the rack and slide the front or thru-axle.
Remember, the rack can only take a quick-release and thru-axles of 12x100mm, 15x100mm, 12x110mm, and 15x110mm with the help of the included adapters. If your bicycle features a 20x110mm axle, then you’ll need to buy a separate adapter.
For additional security, there is a strap at the back to secure the rear wheel. The strap can be adjusted for a perfect fit, so I had no issues there.
However, one question still remains— what about the front wheel? Well, the first few times, I just kept it inside the car, but it was not working for me. So, what I did was I bought a wheel holder and installed it on the other side of the crossbar. Now, both my bike and the front wheel stay up on the roof.
Things I Like About the Rack
- It weighs only 7.7 pounds
- Mounting my bike on the rack was not even a challenge
- Due to the audible click and the green sign, I was confident that my bicycle was securely placed
- The rack was suitable for bikes that came with both quick-release and thru-axle
- The wheel strap made sure the rear didn’t wobble much during the ride
Things That Could’ve Been Better
- The locking cable seemed a little too weak and could be sliced open without much effort
Thule FastRide Roof Mounted Bike Rack
The battle feels the best when both sides are equally strong and fierce. Therefore, I had to choose something that could stand up against the TopRide carrier and what could be better than Thule’s very own FastRide roof-mounted bike rack.
My overall experience with both racks was pretty similar. If one was, let’s say, a hitch rack, then things would’ve been much different.
So, let’s start with the basics. The FastRide carrier weighs even less and is only 7.3 pounds. Installing the rack is also a piece of cake, and the process is almost the same as TopRide’s. Your car will need to have a crossbar, which is in the case of all roof-mounted racks; however, the good thing is FastRide is suitable for all Thule and T-track crossbars.
The mounting system is a little different here. Here, I had to lift up my bike and place the front part (without the wheel) on the axle of the rack. After positioning the rack, there is this Thule AcuTight torque limiter knob, which I had to rotate a few times till it clicked.
One thing that I didn’t like about the rack is that it only accommodates bikes that feature a 9mm quick-release axle. Anything other than that requires an adapter which you’ll need to buy separately.
Similar to the TopRide carrier, this one also came with a locking cable but without a core. I had to purchase the core separately to increase the security.
I must admit it did feel like the bike was more secured on the FastRide rack. My bicycle didn’t wobble much, even on bumpy roads, so I was able to drive peacefully.
Things I Like About the Rack
- It is very easy to install the rack
- I didn’t need to keep the quick-release axle handy to mount the bicycle
- It weighs only a few founds, so lifting it to the top wasn’t a challenge
- I was able to switch the rack from the driver to the passenger side without any effort
- The carrier is compact, so there was a lot of space left on top of my car
Things That Could’ve Been Better
- I had to buy an adapter to mount my thru-axle bikes
The Similarities Between the Thule TopRide and FastRide
Now that I’m done giving my honest opinion about the carriers, let’s move on to see the similar aspects between them. Once you see the things they have in common, it will be easier for you to understand the differences.
Both racks have a lot of similar aspects between them. The obvious one, they are both fork-mounted carriers. The less obvious one, both of them are made up of aluminum and have a powder coating to resist corrosion.
The installation process of the racks is also the same. You can easily switch them from one side to another with minimum effort and work. Both carriers come with a locking cable but don’t have a core, and you’ll have to buy it separately.
There is an adjustable wheel strap at the rear for securing the back wheel in the TopRide and FastRide rack. Both carriers are compact; hence, there will be quite a lot of space left on the top of your vehicle.
Thule TopRide vs. FastRide: Comparison
Now comes the fun part that you’ve all been waiting for— the differences between the two racks. Once you go through this, you’ll know what makes one of them better than the other or what makes one of these racks better suited to your needs.
The Mounting Pattern
The way you have to mount the bikes on these racks differs from one another. The difference is there because of their unique designs.
On the TopRide rack, there is a green indicator and a release lever at the front. You have to either place the adapter (included with the purchase) inside the front panel of the rack or set it up on the front wheel area with the thru-axle before mounting the bike.
When you put your bicycle on the rack and slide it forward, you’ll hear a click sound, and the indicator will turn green, which lets you know your bike has been mounted securely.
On the other hand, there is no sliding involved with the FastRide rack. You take up the bike and place it on the adapter, which is located at the front portion of the carrier. Afterward, you rotate the knob till it’s tight enough to keep the front secured.
Quick-Release and Thru Axle
The other significant difference between the racks is that one of them (TopRide) is compatible with both quick-release and thru-axle bikes, but the other (FastRide) can only carry quick-release bicycles.
Well, there is a catch to it. Thule TopRide has multiple adapters, which are included with the purchase; therefore, you can use the rack for thru or quick-release axle bikes.
However, the case is not the same when it comes to FastRide. The rack is suitable for only 9mm standard quick-release bicycles. However, if you get your hands on the adapters, which you have to purchase separately, then you should be able to mount both types of bikes.
Dismounting the Bikes
This one you can already guess. If the mounting process is different, then it is obvious that the way you dismount the bikes from the rack will also differ. Yes, you did guess, right, they are not the same, and I believe it’s easier to remove a bike from the TopRide carrier than from FastRide.
So, here is what you need to do when it comes to the former— as I’ve told you before, there is an indicator and a front panel that clicks when you slide a thru-axle on the rack. There is also a release lever right beside the indicator and a little behind the panel.
If you want to dismount your bike, then all you need to do is press the release lever, which unlocks the bicycle’s axle from the panel, and you can simply pull it out.
On the other hand, if you’re using the FastRide rack, then you’ll need to turn the Thule AcuTight torque limiter knob backward and loosen up the axle. Afterward, you have to pull the front part of the bike and remove the wheel straps.
Basically, TopRide lets you dismount using a release lever, and for FastRide, you have to spin the knob.
Drawing the Curtain
Now that you have gone through all the facts and details, you know which one is better than the other. Honestly, there isn’t much difference between the two racks. Both of them are pretty similar in terms of durability and security.
However, if you ask me to choose one of them, I will go with the Thule TopRide roof-mounted rack. It is not because the carrier is better than the FastRide rack, but because I like its overall design. It is my opinion, and you can have a completely different one.
So, if you ask me for suggestions to help you choose between the Thule TopRide vs. FastRide rack, I would tell you to go through the details and see which one is more suitable for your needs.
Related: Comparison Between RockyMounts SplitRail and MonoRail Bike Racks