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Can the Thule Helium Aero 3 be Used to Carry 3 Bikes in a Class I Trailer Hitch Receiver

Question:

Hi - I would like to confirm that 3 bikes should NOT be mounted on a Class 1 hitch even if using the lighter weight Helium Aero rack. Ive received different answers to this question from different dealers - i.e. some say its OK to mount 3 bikes if using the lighter racks.

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Expert Reply:

The straight-forward answer is no, you should never carry 3 bikes in a Class I hitch. Any trailer hitch manufacturer will confirm this.

Even though it would seem like using a lighter bike rack like the Thule Helium Aero 3 # TH9043PRO would keep the total weight down, it is more about the leverage than the weight. If you have a Class I trailer hitch receiver that has a 200 lb weight capacity and you max it out with 2 bikes or 3 bikes the 3 bike configuration will not be safe because the 3rd bike will be sitting further away and put too much pressure on the light-duty Class I receiver.

As a result your vehicle, trailer hitch receiver, bike rack, and bikes could all end up getting damaged if something were to happen. I have talked to people who think it would be okay if the bikes were light enough, but it is more about where that weight is being applied - not how much weight. You can use the Helium Aero 3, but only for 2 bikes.

Since manufacturers are the ones who have tested the hitches and they are the ones who have established this rule of thumb it is best to stay within the limits of your equipment. The best way to carry 3 bikes on a vehicle that has a Class I hitch is to install a roof rack onto the vehicle and carry the 3rd bike with a roof mounted bike rack.

If you let me know what the year/make/model is of your vehicle I can make a roof rack recommendations for you.

expert reply by:
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Jon G

Question:

After doing a lot of research on eTrailer and manufacturers sites it looks like my best option is the Helium Aero 2 I can buy from a friend. I have a Honda HRV 2017 that can only use a class 1 hitch. Any other recommendations for the hitch mount? I did read one review on the Thule site where someone said the straps/other parts melted in 97 degree heat. Ever heard of such a problem? Planning a trip to Utah and Arizona this summer so don't want that to happen! At some point I may need to get a roof rack as well so would appreciate a recommendation for that too. I don't have roof rails.

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Expert Reply:

Since you do have the Class I trailer hitch receiver the (discontinued) Thule Helium Aero 2 9042 is the better option for you to carry bike on your 2017 Honda HR-V. In all honesty this bike rack has a lot to offer so there really isn't anything else that I can recommend that will enhance this bike rack. You might need an Adapter Bar # TH982XT if any of your bikes have a step-through bike frame, but since the arms are so close together it can accommodate most other bike frames.

I talked to my contact about the reviews on Thule that you mentioned and he said that the straps are tested in heat that is well above 97 F. He said the only way that the straps would have melted is if they were a defect, but Thule would cover something like that under warranty.

I would say just to be safe it would be wise to keep your bike rack and bikes in the shade if the temperature starts to exceed 100 F. Just like any other equipment that you might have, in cases of extreme heat or cold anything is liable to get damaged.

For a roof rack I recommend going with the Thule WingBar Evo Crossbars, part # TH711400 for Silver or part # TH711420 for Black, Evo Clamp Feet # TH710501, and Fit Kit # TH145175. The AeroBlade bars are some of the best out there because of how well they reduce wind noise and drag. You can add some security to your roof rack by installing the Thule One-Key System Lock Cores # TH450400 which will help to deter theft.

One of our most popular bike racks by Thule is the UpRide Wheel-Mount Bike Carrier # TH599000. Since it is a wheel mount you will not have to take the front wheel off, plus it is compatible with any bike frame style that does not have a fender. For a complete set of locks for the Thule roof rack and this bike rack you will need part # TH450600.

I have attached some review videos that you can check out as well.

expert reply by:
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Jon G

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