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Comparing Thule Helium Aero 3 and Kuat Alpha Trailer Hitch Mount Bike Racks for a 2014 Mazda CX-5

Question:

I am interested in a 3-bike hitch mount rack that can be installed or removed easily. The Thule seems to have better features, while the Kuat is more minimal and would be easier to store. Any thoughts or preferences or any other racks youd recommend? I drive a 2014 Mazda CX-5.

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Expert Reply:

Hands down my favorite bike racks are the Thule Helium Aero series such as # TH9043PRO. Basically, the rack has a great set of features. It has the integrated cable lock, cradles with road-dampening technology, built-in anti rattle and locks, and it weighs only 19-1/2 pounds.

The Kuat Alpha, A102-Black, for 2 inch hitches or A102-BLACK-114, for 1-1/4 inch hitches are no longer made but when they were they were excellent racks and weighed just over 14 pounds. If you wanted a rack that would fit both 1-1/4 inch or 2 inch hitches then the Helium Aero comes with an adapter for both. But for the Alpha, you would want to get the 1-1/4 inch version and then add an adapter, # D101. The racks do also include hitch and cable locks.

The folding mechanism of the Helium Aero is also superior. You just have to lift the handle and tilt the arms or mast. On the Alphas, there is a pin you have to pull and then reinsert to fold the arms or mast.

The Alphas are smaller and could store easier but the Helium Aero is not all that much bigger and the ease of folding it can actually make it quicker to store. I have included links to video reviews of each bike rack for you.

If you will be carrying any bikes that do not have a top frame bar that goes straight across (like a typical mens bike would) then I recommend using bike adapter bar # TH982XT or # UB01. This will allow you to carry those bikes more level and will provide better ground clearance. I have to use these adapters and without them my wifes bike would be at a severe angle and I would not be able to load my sons bike at all.

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