It all started with a trip to the mountains. I got geared up and loaded up my bike in the car; yes, you heard it right— inside the car. I had a great time riding along the narrow rocky roads, and it all seemed perfect till I came back home.
When I brought out the bike from my car— I saw that the seats, the mat, and everything behind the front seats were covered up with dust and dirt. I learned my lessons and vowed never to carry my bikes inside the car, but I had to take them with me one way or the other; thus began my search for racks, which led me to the Thule UpRide and ProRide roof rack.
As I’ve tried both racks and found out their benefits and demerits, I thought about making a comparison between them to help people like my past self who are still carrying their bikes inside the car or someone who is having a tough time choosing between the two.
So, it’s time I share my years of experience with the racks and tell you guys which one will win the battle between Thule UpRide vs. ProRide.
Comparing Features of Both the Racks at a Glance
Most of you would like to make a quick decision based on data and facts, I know. For people who don’t have the time to read through detailed breakdown of the two products, I’ve designed a comparison chart. Let’s go over important stats to help you make the purchase, shall we?
|Thule UpRide Rack||Thule ProRide XT Rack|
|Type||Roof Bike Rack||Roof Bike Rack|
|Mounting Type||Strap||Wheel & Strap Mount|
|Load Capacity||44 lbs||44 lbs|
|Dimension||64″ x 13″ x 4.3″||58″ x 13.5″ x 4″|
|Item Weight||18.5 lbs||11 lbs|
|Max Tire Width||3″ (up to 5″ with Adapter)||3″ (up to 5″ with Adapter)|
|Max Wheel Base||1300 mm||1235 mm|
|Max Wheel Size||29 in||29 in|
|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 UpRide Roof Bike Rack
Now where to begin. Let’s start with how I got to know about the rack and my first impression of it. I was never a big fan of roof-mounted racks as they seem insecure and unsafe. Many different questions like— what if the bike falls down, what if it hits the top of a tunnel or a tree, what if it dents my car’s roof— were playing hopscotch in my mind.
Somehow, I mustered up the courage to buy the Thule UpRide bike rack. It was quite affordable, and that was the biggest reason why I invested in the roof rack in the first place.
There are a few things you need to keep in mind before settling on the carrier. It weighs around 18.5 pounds, so the weight doesn’t really affect your car. The rack is meant for only one bike, and the maximum load capacity is 44lbs.
I use a 2017 Lexus NX300 that comes with factory crossbars. I wasn’t sure the rack would attach to factory crossbars, but it did perfectly and without any tinkering. It made me realize that the carrier is suitable for most sedans and SUVs. Remember, SUVs are taller than sedans; hence, it will be challenging to mount the bike on the rack without any assistance.
Anyways, the bike I took with me was the Yeti SB130. It weighs about 29lbs and comes with a wheel size of 29-inches. Installing the rack on my car’s roof was a piece of cake, but mounting my bike was a challenge.
It was not because of the bike’s weight or because of my height. The mounting process is a little tricky, and it will take a couple of runs before you get used to it. Once you learn how it works, you’ll find the job of mounting very easy. Make sure to go through the instruction, as it helped me out a lot at the beginning.
I haven’t seen any visible defect or substantial wear while using the rack, so it’s safe to say that the rack is sturdy and will last for quite a while. The buckles and the knobs also worked as they should and didn’t wobble or loosen with time.
The rack comes with a secure hook and ratcheting wheel strap to keep the bike secured in one place. Still, the best thing about the carrier is that it doesn’t come in contact with the bike’s frame. Thus, your bike always remains safe from unwanted dents.
You can increase the security with additional locks, but they are sold separately. I wasn’t going to take the chance of risking my precious bike, so I went with the extra locks. The choice is yours.
One last thing I want to add is that the rack is able to hold bikes that have tires up to 3-inches wide only. If your bicycle has a fatter tire, you’ll need to purchase a Thule UpRide fat bike adapter to compensate for it.
Things I Liked About the Rack
- My mind was at ease, knowing there was nothing to scratch or dent the bike’s frame
- It is suitable for all types of Thule crossbars and can work with most factory crossbars
- I was able to mount my bicycles rather easily
- Any bike with 3-inch-wide wheels and 20-29″ wheel size will sit perfectly on the rack
- It is very easy to switch the carrier from one side to another
What I Think Could be Better
- Locks are sold separately, so that’s a bummer
Thule ProRide XT Roof Bike Rack
After using UpRide for a couple of months, I became a big fan of Thule. Naturally, I wanted to try out a few more of their bike racks, and after searching high and low, I finally bumped into the Thule ProRide XT, a roof bike rack that is just as good or better than my old one.
Similar to the last carrier, the ProRide is also a single-mounted rack. It means you’ll only be able to carry one bike and not more than that. The maximum weight capacity is 44lbs, so you shouldn’t use the rack for a bike that weighs more than the limit.
As mentioned before, the bicycle I use weighs around 29lbs; hence, I didn’t have to worry about exceeding the capacity. Setting up the rack was also an easy task; however, you’ll need crossbars on your vehicle.
The good thing about ProRide is that it is suitable for almost all standard car crossbars. So, even if your vehicle doesn’t come with factory crossbars, you can easily get one and attach it.
The Thule ProRide rack comes with wheel straps and a frame holder. I was a bit worried about scratching the frame of my bike, but the holder came with claw pads, which kept my bicycle secured in a stable position while preventing any chance of accidental scratches or dents. I must admit, it felt safer putting my bike up on my car because of the frame jaw.
Although it seemed a little wobbly at first; however, after driving for a few miles, I was sure that my bike wouldn’t fall off the rack.
Placing my bicycle on the rack was very effortless. I didn’t even need to go through the instruction manual. My bike automatically positioned itself when I put it on top of the rack. I must admit, the tire straps did get in the way while I was trying to mount the bike, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
One more thing I found interesting is that I was able to switch the carrier from one side to another side without using any tools due to the unique interface.
I found the torque limiter dial very useful. What it does is it regulates the force moving into the frame, which helped me to know if I mounted the bike properly. As I often leave my car and bike unattended, I purchased the mount lock (not included with the purchase) to keep the rack and my bicycle from being stolen.
Things I Liked About the Rack
- I didn’t have to remove the rack every now and then because it didn’t increase fuel consumption by much
- As the rack remains at the top, I didn’t have to detach the rack to access the car’s rear, and I never had to compromise visibility while driving
- The rack is very easy to attach, and I didn’t even need to go through the manual to do it
- Frame jaw kept my bicycles secured in place
- I didn’t have any trouble dismounting my bike due to the diagonal quick-release straps
What I Think Could be Better
- The tire straps bothered me a little while I was mounting my bicycle
Similarities Between the Roof Bike Racks
I know you’re here to see the differences between the carriers and not what makes them similar. Don’t worry; I have my reason to point out the similarities. I want to bring them out because once you know the similar aspects, it will become easier for you to comprehend the differences between the racks.
So, what are the things in common? Let’s start with the easy ones. Both racks are from Thule, and both of them can carry only one bike. The maximum capacity is limited to 44lbs, so anything above that will cause some severe damage to the rack.
Apart from that, both racks have a limit when it comes to wheel size. They can hold bikes that come with a maximum tire size of 29-inches (diameter). As for the width, it is limited to 3-inches.
One more thing I found common is the ratcheting wheel straps. Well, it’s not entirely the same, and there is a little non-significant difference between the two, but I’ll talk about that later.
As for durability, I haven’t noticed anything major during my time with the racks. Therefore, it is safe to assume that both of them are quite sturdy and will do great in the test of time.
Finally, both racks are easy to switch from one side of the car to the other, and they are also suitable for all Thule crossbars and T-track roof bars.
Thule UpRide vs. ProRide: The Differences
Sorry for yapping on and on about my experience with the carriers and their similarities, but you’ll thank me later (if you have read it). I know most of you are here to see the differences between the racks, so without wasting any more of your time, let’s jump right into it.
The Clamp System
The most significant difference between the racks is their clamping mechanism. The UpRide or the ProRide uses hooks that don’t come in contact with the bike’s frame. There are two arms at the front and a ratcheting lever. You need to adjust them both to set up your bicycle on the carrier.
Adjusting the hooks is a little tricky, and if you can’t do it properly, either the bike will wobble while you’re driving or the arms will come in contact with the frame. So, make sure you’re doing it right.
On the other hand, the ProRide has a clamp that goes along with the downtube of your bike. There is also a torque limiter dial to control the force moving along the bicycle’s frame.
Your bike’s frame, or more specifically, the downtube,will be inside the clamp. You have to adjust the dial to ensure there isn’t too much or too less force going into the downtube.
The good thing is you can tighten the clamp without worrying about scratching or denting your precious bike because the claw features soft pads. However, don’t try to exert more force than you need to, or else it will cause some minor or severe damage to the frame.
The Mounting Mechanism
The way you mount your bikes on the rack is not the same because the carriers feature different clamping systems.
Setting up a bicycle on the UpRide is more complicated than on the ProRide rack. In order to mount a bike on the UpRide, you’ll need to flip the front arm and use the gray lever at the front to find the correct size of your wheel.
Afterward, you’ll need to open the rear wheel strap and place your bike on the carrier. It’s difficult to adjust the hooks because you need the perfect balance between them in order to keep your bike secured on the rack.
On the contrary, it’s much easier to position the bike on top of the Thule ProRide roof rack. It is because of the clamping system. There is only one arm that attaches to the bike’s downtube.
Here is how it goes. First, you’ll need to open the wheel straps and open the frame clamp. Afterward, you’ll need to raise or adjust the arm to 30 degrees approximately. Next, you place the bike on the rack and make sure the downtube sits inside the clamp. Attach the straps and tighten the clamp, and voila, you’re done.
I have established that both racks have a maximum capacity of 44lbs, but I have never mentioned their individual weights throughout the article.
Despite having the same capacity, the bikes differ in weight. The UpRide weighs around 18.5 pounds and the ProRide 11 pounds only.
You may think it’s not worth mentioning, but trust me, it is. With the former, your vehicle will be carrying more weight, which in terms will increase fuel consumption or reduce the mileage of your car.
However, a heavier rack is more stable than a light carrier. It is less prone to wobbling during long drives. Furthermore, a heavy carrier means the tubes are denser, so they can withstand the impacts or the effects of nature better.
Mud Guards: Yes or No?
Many people prefer bikes with mudguards to keep themselves away from dirt during a ride on a rainy day or on a filthy track.
The reason behind bringing up mudguards is that you won’t be able to mount or carry a bike with a mudguard on the Thule UpRide. The wheel hooks or clamps will crush the guard.
However, the case is not the same when it comes to the former or the ProRide. You won’t have to worry about flattening the mudguards because the clamp attaches to the downtube and not the front wheel.
So, this is something you should keep in mind before settling on either of the racks.
Time for The Big Announcement: Which One Should You Go Home with?
As you can see, both racks have their pros and cons. For instance, mounting a bike on the Thule ProRide rack is easy, but the clamp sticks to the frame. On the other hand, the UpRide doesn’t have the same problem, but you won’t be able to carry a bicycle with a mudguard.
It is evident that both racks differ a lot in many aspects. Therefore, your decision should be based on the features you need for your bike and vehicle. If your car is unable to handle heavyweight, then I would suggest you purchase the ProRide carrier.
If you want a long-lasting rack or you opt for something stable, then you better look into Thule UpRide. Hence, everything boils down to your preference and need.
There can’t be a champion when it comes to choosing between Thule UpRide vs. ProRide. Maybe the former is the winner for you but for someone else; the latter may be the best. If you want to check another thule roof rack then read my Thule TopRide & FastRide rack comparison to know more details.