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Thule Apex XT 4 Bike Rack Review

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Review of the Thule Apex XT 4 Bike Rack


Hey guys, it's Randy here at etrailer.com. Today we're taking a look at the Thule Apex XT4 bike rack. This is a hanging style rack. It has a lot of nice features built into it. It's going to be the perfect solution for transporting up to four bikes to your favorite destination. So we've got the Snug Tight Stinger.

That's going to be a locking anti-rattle device. Really helps to keep that point very stable. It's got an incorporated cable lock and it comes back over all four of our bikes. It's going to secure in and both the cable lock and the locking knob for the Stinger, they're going to have the same key. The handles are really nice and easy to get to.

You don't have to pull pins, you don't have to pull clips. Lift the lever, your arms are going to fold up and down. Lift the lever here that and allows you to tilt it away. Now we're going to take just a few minutes. We'll take a closer look at each of those features and show you what we're talking about.Something else that I really like about the rack is that it can be tilted away from our vehicle to gain access into the rear hatch.

So if we're using it on SUVs like this, makes it pretty convenient. We'll grab the hitch switch lever, located down here, lift up on it and just rotate it away. See, in this position, we get more than enough room to get items in and out that we might need. I'm going to get it back in its original position. Just going to lift that same lever, bring it up until it clicks into position.

Now one measurement to keep in mind to help ensure the Apex XT's going to work on your vehicle, is the measurement from the center of the hitch pinhole to the closest point right here. It's going to be about seven and a quarter inches, so as long as you're a pinhole isn't tucked up underneath your vehicle further than that, shouldn't have any issues getting this installed.Also another measurement to help ensure this will fit in your garage maybe without having to take it off, is from the center of our hitch pinhole to the furthest back portion of the rack, and it's going to be right here. That's going to be about 16 inches. Now to get our bikes loaded, we'll need to extend the dual cradle arms. We'll do that with one lever located right here on the top, just want to lift on that. Then we can lift up on our arms. That lever clicks back down. They're going to be locked in position for us.And one last measurement you'll find handy, getting going from the center of our hitch pinhole there to the end of our arms when we have them extended, it's about 43 and a quarter. Now once we have our cradle arms deployed, we need to take the straps off of our cradle so we can get our bike in place. We're gonna push in on the tab located here, and then just lift those up and out. We'll have the two top two, here and here. Then we're also going to have one for our anti-sway cradle located here.Now we're ready to grab our bikes and place them on. But one thing you'll want to keep in mind, the heaviest bike that you have, you want that to be closest to your vehicle and work your way out. Once it's positioned where we want it, we'll bring the straps down around the top two. We're going to balance so it's nice and secure. And then to prevent forward and back movement of our bike, we're also going to have the one here for anti-sway. Just like that. That's going to prevent a lot of that forward and back movement.Now if you noticed, as I was loading that bike on since it does have a smaller frame, I was running into some interference with my anti-sway cradles here on the bottom. Now Thule's came up with the solution for us for that. It's kind of a pain to do it, to be honest with you. What we need to do, we need to open up our strap on that anti-sway cradle, and then we need to pull it out. And that takes a little bit of effort to get it out. So we can pull the strap out, then we can tuck that up and in. Now at that point, if we don't need to use it, we'll have to store this strap somewhere and hope that we don't misplace it. If you want to use it, then you'll have to get your other bikes on, and then you have to put your straps back on. And it's not that difficult to do. Just want to take our strap, just like when you assembled the bike rack. We're going to slide this through all the way until it clips into place.So it's not a terribly difficult thing, It's just a little bit more difficult to get those up and stored and then what I would have expected. Now the cradle and strap kits are adjustable in a sense we can change the angle. You can see, we can bring that up or we can rotate it the other way and bring it down this way. It doesn't take a lot of forced to do it. That's going to help us out with a lot of different type bikes, or maybe when we want to get our anti-sway cradle pitched a little bit further back, it's going to give us that full adjustment that we need. We also have nice long straps. As you can see, that one's kind of in its first position. That's given us a great deal of reach around that top tube of our bike. You'll notice the rubberized material here in the bottom.It's going to have grooves in it. That's going to help out with shifter cables, brake cables, things like that. That comes all the way around the back. It's going to give us really good protection. And on the anti-sway cradle here, let me pull that strap out, you can see that same material. It's going to run the full length here, so as we grab that tube and squeeze it in there, you're not going to have to worry about any marring or any damage. Something else I like that we don't often see, the inside of our straps where they're going to come the tube of our bike, they also have those strips in there. That's going to help, of course, prevent any bike rotation. But it also helps to protect those finishes.Now, something I really like and I think you will too, other than that anti-sway cradle being in the way, the way these straps are nice and soft up here, they're very malleable, you can see as we bring our bike on, those are going to move right out of the way for us. That's not something we're used to seeing. Generally these are much more stiff or they're really thick rubber. They're harder to get the bikes to slide over, so I think you'll really enjoy that aspect of it. Now the cradles themselves are seven inches on center, so we're going to load up a few more bikes and just see how they interact as they go on.There now, we've got all of our bikes loaded up and that extra little bit of spacing, being at seven inches, did seem to help as we we're loading up the bikes. We didn't have as much interference between them. Most of the other racks that we see, they've got a five and a half to a six inch spacing, so that extra inch and a half or an inch really kind of made a pretty good difference for us. The next step we'll want to do once we've got all of our bikes loaded up, it's going to be the grab our cable lock here. This is going to be included. We just bring it right back over all the bikes, place it down and in the slot. And then we'll use that same key for our Stinger. Just turn that over and lock it into place.Then the cam buckle strap that's provided is meant to go around all your bikes. You can see we've brought it through the frames of our different bikes. We've looped back around and it meets behind our mast. You can see that's going to be right here. This just gives us a fail safe. If for some reason the arms we're the break on the rack or some kind of issue we're to happen. This is going to keep everything attached so we don't have to worry about it hitting the road behind us. Now as far as capacities go, each bike slot can hold up to 37 and a half pounds and we don't want to exceed 150 total. Now in kid's bikes or women's bikes, maybe alternative frame bikes where we have kind of unique frames, or if our frames just don't want to sit up there properly without our bike being real tilted one way or another, you can use the Thule adapter bar. You can see that's going to be a great way to keep everything nice and level.Now the upper pivot point and lower pivot point of the rack, it'll be protected with the plastic housing, keeping all those internals nice and safe from moisture and stuff like that. And then the main mast here and down through all the other metal surfaces on the rack, it has a really nice textured powder coat finish to it. With the older racks, this tended to be a little bit more smooth. It didn't have quite that texture to it. All in all, that's going to be a really strong, very sturdy, long lasting finish.And get your rack installed. We're going to place the Stinger into our receiver tube on our hitch. You can see we're using a class three, so it's a two inch by two inch opening. We'll leave the adapter on. If you're using an inch and a quarter hitch, you want to use that provided tool. Take out the fastener there. Just take off that silver sleeve. Whichever hitch size we're using now, we want to get that slid in, so that our holes are lined up. And that's going to go right into our hitch pinhole. Then we'll come over to the Snug Tight Stinger. We're going to run our knob down and we're going to tighten it. Now as we tighten it, I like to lift up, kind of move the rack side to side. It's going to help get out of any movement or any play that we might have there. That looks nice and secure.Now at that point to secure it to our vehicle, place out key in. Turn it. Now you can see that knob just free turns, so we can't get any force put on it. That way, nobody can loosen it up and remove it.Now that we've got our rack loaded up and we've got it secured properly, we're going to go out and hit the test course. We're going to see how it performs fully loaded, give you a great idea how it's going to act on the back of your vehicle. We'll start by going through the slalom. This is going to show side to side action, just like going around a corner or maybe making a few evasive maneuvers. Then we'll go into our alternating speed bumps. That's going to be a lot like hitting a pot hole or maybe a curb as we're heading down the road. Solid speed bumps. This is where we'll see the up and down action in the rack, just like going in and out of a driveway or a parking lot.


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