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Thule OutWay Platform Trunk Bike Rack Review

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Review of the Thule OutWay Platform Trunk Bike Rack


You're in the market for a trunk-mounted bike rack, but you want one that's gonna give you the most benefits compared to all the ones we sell here at etrailer, well, the Thule OutWay is gonna be one of those racks. As you can see, it's a platform-style rack, but it does mount to your trunk. You get a couple of different benefits to this. One, they're not gonna be blocking the taillights. You can fully see the taillights, so you don't have to worry about adding any lights or reflectors. You're gonna be able to see that, your blinkers, and that is always a plus.

Another thing, with the bikes taken off, we can actually lift open the hatch, so we're not gonna be limiting our vehicle at all. And also, if you do have a hitch and you just wanna use it for something else and not bikes, we are still gonna have plenty of room down here to load up a cargo carrier or anything else you wanna put into your hitch. I think that's awesome. And we're gonna go over some of the specs and all the good things you get with the Thule OutWay. The OutWay does have a lot of unique features, but let's go over the limitations.

So, we wanna make sure that the tire width is not gonna be any wider than three inches. As you can see, the cradles here are gonna be great for your road bikes and even your mountain bikes. But for those fat tire bikes, this is probably not gonna be the best for that. We do have a carbon fiber and a normal aluminum bike on here. If you are gonna use the carbon fiber, grab this little pad, it's just gonna protect that frame.

As you know, it's nice to have a carbon fiber because they're nice and light, but you wanna make sure they stay protected, so add this to your cart if you plan on hauling those. It will work with any bike under 33 pounds. And you wanna make sure that they're not gonna be that heavy. So, for your e-bikes, probably not gonna be the best for it. We are gonna have a maximum wheel diameter of about 29 inches.

And the wheelbase is gonna have a max of 50. So, that is kind of a large portion of your bikes. Just no e-bikes and no fat tire bikes. But anything else, if it falls within that range, you're good to go. These bikes are pretty snazzy and the rack looks really good, so we do have locks in place to keep both of them secured. One, we're gonna have locks for the little knobs here. And when you lock it up, this isn't gonna do anything. So, if someone wants to steal it, they can't. Just make sure you keep those keys. And this is gonna be keyed alike to the knob on the side. So, this is gonna control this top cable. And that is locked now, so this isn't gonna tighten or loosen. So, you know, if you go into the store or whatever, you can keep this on here, whether your bikes are loaded or not, and it's gonna be nice and safe. It's gonna keep honest people honest. And they're gonna have to do quite a bit of damage to get this off and not gonna be able to use it afterwards. So, the locks is definitely something I love about this rack and it comes with it. One thing I noticed is this thing is extremely solid. The whole rack itself is pretty much one with the car. You see a little bit of wobbling, but we're gonna put it to the test and we're gonna set up some GoPros. Rip around, go in the test scores and stuff like that to see exactly how much movement we're gonna get while the car is in motion. It really wasn't that bad. I didn't hear anything. And a lot of the times, with these trunk-mounted bike racks, they have a decent amount of play, up and down. This one really doesn't. And whatever play it has, it isn't enough to make any noise, so I really liked that. The only thing that I noticed is just in my rear view mirror, this does kinda block a decent amount of your view in the back. So, if you do have a backup camera and it's down low, you're not gonna see this at all, and you can use that whenever you're backing up. But it really didn't completely cover all my view going back. So, now, let's just say, we're at the trailhead, let's go ahead and take these bikes off. So, we'll go ahead and unlock this knob, so I can get this loosened up. Just like that. And before I get this off completely, I do wanna get the straps undone, just because once that clamp is completely undone, that's the only thing really holding it upright. These straps pretty much just handle that vertical movement that you get. So, now you wanna put a hand on your bike and open it up enough to be able to rotate this around. Just like that. Let me take this off from the body. And we can do the same thing with the back one. Get this undone, and out of the way. It is pretty high off the ground, but it's not really that bad. I mean, I have plenty of frame to hold on to, so it's not really giving me any trouble. I thought that that would be an issue. But with a capacity of 33 pounds, you're not really putting heavy bikes on here anyway, so I don't really think it's gonna be that big of a deal. You do wanna make sure that this extra little clamp gets out of the way. And that is basically it. So, you can either just keep it like this until you get done. But if you just wanna keep it on here, 'cause I think that that is where this really shines. You're not gonna lose your hatch access having this in and mounted onto your vehicle, which is nice. So, what you can do, you can fold these in. Fold these in. Just like that. Now, I can go ahead and grab all my gear out from the inside. Helmets, riding gear, or if you're just getting groceries or something, you don't have to really take this thing off every single time. And then this will fold in, just like that. And now, you're not really adding much length at all to the vehicle. And that is just about perfect. This is gonna cover again this back window, so you might not be able to see that well. But it's enough to be able to get an idea of where you're at. One thing I did notice, if you have a powered hatch, the rack isn't gonna be that heavy, so it might keep it open. But if you just have a manual hatch with just these gas struts, as you can see, it kinda wants to fall down. But that's not a huge deal, at least I can open it. But those powered hatches, you're not gonna have that issue. I'm not much of a trunk-mounted bike rack guy, but this one didn't give me a whole lot of trouble. What I think is the best about this is the cables and the bottom connection here, it all stores in here, and of course, in this little housing. So, with all the other trunk-mounted bike racks, there's just a lot of different straps. They're kinda flailing everywhere. You gotta figure out what to do with the excess. With this, the excess goes here, the excess goes here. So, that really did win me over when I was installing this bike rack. And you might be wondering if it's gonna fit your vehicle. So, what we're gonna do is we're gonna go through the parking lot, I'm gonna show you the do's and don'ts when it comes to which vehicles these are gonna fit and why. So, the best way to find that out is going on our website and using our Fit Guide, but there are some exceptions. So, right here, if you do have a spoiler, some of these aren't gonna work, but some will. This one will not, just because it is a rather big spoiler, but it is plastic, so it's gonna put a lot of pressure on that and it might end up breaking off or start to rub. Regardless, this is definitely something we cannot put the OutWay on. But on some of the other ones with spoilers, this one's a little bit smaller and it is metal. So, it's not going to bend or break or anything like that. So, it is good to go on our Escape here. But if you don't have a spoiler like this, you're pretty much good to go. The clamp will go right here and it's not gonna put any pressure on the spoiler that's not there, so this is a check. When it comes to your coupes or sedans, we are gonna have a little bit of limitations and just the overall width of your trunk. So, what gives them that limitation is this little strip. So, from there, all the way down to the hook, it's about 16 inches. So, measure from where your glass hits the trunk lid to the edge of your trunk. And if that is gonna be anywhere less than 16 inches, we're not gonna be able to use it. And if it's more, you're good to go. So, from that point to the edge, it's about 12 1/2 inches, which is less than 16, so this Cobalt is not gonna work. If you do have a spoiler on your sedan or coupe and it is metal, you will be good to go if the measurement is right. So, with these, we're gonna go from this end here to the start of our spoiler. It's about 14 and a quarter of an inch, so on our Passat, it's not gonna work. What we've found with our larger sedans, we are gonna have a larger trunk. This is an Impala, so it's a rather larger car. And as you can see, right here, we're over 16 inches, so the Impala, is a check. So, a lot of you guys we're asking about the fitment and hopefully that gives you an idea of what to really look for. But ultimately, our Fit Guide is gonna help you out. And hopefully, this video does too. Once you've figure out if it's gonna work with your vehicle, you're gonna have to install it, so we're gonna take it inside and show you exactly how the process and everything goes together. After going over the instructions, they're not the best, but that's why we're here. We're gonna help you guys get an understanding of how this thing mounts up. Step one, we wanna make sure we get the right pads, so we're gonna have two. One's gonna look like a V, and the other one's gonna be a little bit more flat. So, the way to determine this is depending on your vehicle. So, if you have a sedan or coupe that has a trunk, we're definitely gonna have to use something like this. But today, on our Subaru, we're not gonna have to do that because it's a little bit more flat. So, for your CVs, your SUVs, and also your vans that it's a little bit more flat on the back, we're gonna use the flat pads. And you can take these and put them back in the box, we won't use them. So, what we wanna do is these are gonna install right here. So basically, this is gonna go in there, like this. And pop them in, make sure they're nice and secure. And then we'll do the same exact thing for the other side. Pretty simple stuff. It doesn't take a whole lot of force. But once we go ahead and place it in like that, pop it in, it's nice and secured. Just so the platform doesn't make contact with the vehicle, what we wanna do is kinda rotate this inward. So, this is gonna be the part that's sticking out the most, 'cause this is gonna attach to our hatch. To do that, right here, on both sides, pull this up and then we're gonna rotate this out. Kinda like that, just to get that clear. And you can go ahead and push these back down. It was a little difficult to push this down, so what I did was I rotated this. So, if we rotate it left, it's gonna loosen it, make it a lot easier. You rotate it right, it's gonna have a lot more pressure to put on it. So, don't force it, just adjust it with the knob, 'cause we are gonna have to come back here later and do this again. Now, on both sides, we're gonna have this little tab. You're gonna push this in and fold it out. Just like that. You'll see this little red marker. And that's just gonna release these, they are spring loaded. So, we're gonna do that on both sides. Just like that. Let's go ahead and open up our hatch. You don't have to open up too much, just like that. I'm gonna take these little clips on the bottom. And that's where they will live. Now that that's in place, we can go ahead and pull these up since those latches are engaged. And we wanna put it right on the edge of the glass. They do have a little adjustment knob here to get the right angle on our pads. And once it's right on the edge of the glass, so it's gonna be on the stronger part, we can go ahead and take these out. So, this is gonna be the storage position, this little channel right here. Pull that out, just like that. So, if you are just putting it into your garage, that's where they're go. So now, we can go ahead and take these up. Fit it down into there, just like that. We're gonna do that on both sides. Just like that. Make sure they're nice and even. And then it should be pretty much free-standing at that point. And we can take these knobs and if they're spinning really fast, like that, grab your keys 'cause it is locked. It does come with it, which is nice, so we don't have to swap out cores or anything. Go ahead and get that unlocked. 'Cause this is gonna tighten up the cable. With your initial setup, you might have to spin it a bunch of times. So, if you do have it unlocked and you're still seeing that spin, just keep on cranking down and it will eventually start to tighten up, just like that. And we wanna do this until we hear a nice little click. And we're gonna do that on both sides. Once both are locked down and torqued down properly, we can go ahead and take this little latch and clip that in. Once that's done, we can undo these again and fold this up. And what we wanna do is we wanna get a five degree angle. And what I mean by that is this little bar right here. So, this is about upright. So, we're gonna come back a little bit, just like that. And then we'd go ahead and tighten these up. And again, if it's a little too tight, you can go ahead and loosen up this knob, just a little bit. Now, we can go ahead and fold this down. Unfold this all out and get ready for our bikes. Now, with our bike in hand, we wanna get an idea of what bikes we're putting on here. So, I'm gonna put a carbon fiber bike on here and also this one. This one's a little bit heavier, so I'm gonna put it on the closest cradle towards the vehicle. It doesn't matter which way you do it. Just go ahead and put the handlebars to the driver or passenger side. We'll take this little clamp here, loosen it up, fit it into place. It'd be a little bit better if we we're to just go ahead and put it this way. And it all just depends on your bikes where we're gonna put this. It does slide on the tube, which is nice. So, this is gonna work best for this bike. Go ahead and put that in and we can tighten this down. You might hear another click, like that. And then we can secure our wheels down. This is pretty basic. It comes with all of the different bike racks. So, just go ahead and take this. Put it in here. And we do have a little strap to protect our wheels. Just kinda pull that tight. And I like these because you can go ahead make it a little bit easier on yourself to tighten that down. And we're gonna have one for the back and the front wheel, so it's the same deal over here. Get the strap, put it in, protect those wheels and tighten them down. I do like how this rotates. It gets a nice snug fit to whatever you're tying down. And we are good to go. If you're like us and you're putting a carbon fiber bike on this rack, I do recommend grabbing this. This is just going to protect your frame from any more damage. It just gives it a little bit more protection than just using the frame clamp. So, put it up. Position it to where it's going to do the most protecting. Kinda like that. And the same deal, open it up, tighten it down until we hear that click. Now's a good time to take the key. Lock it, just so this isn't going to tighten or loosen. And then we can go ahead and go down to the wheels and just do the same exact thing that we do with the other bike and secure down our wheel. All in all, this all wasn't that bad. I deal with a lot of trunk-mounted bike racks, and this one really didn't give me a whole lot of trouble. There are a lot of different steps and stuff, but once I got it all kinda lined out, it all kinda came together pretty simply. With this, it's extremely solid and this is definitely gonna be one of my main picks when it comes to trunk-mounted bike racks. And again, this was the Thule OutWay platform-style trunk-mounted bike rack, and I'm Adam with etrailer..


Info for this part was:

Employee Jacob T
Video Edited:
Jacob T
Employee Chris R
Video Edited:
Chris R
Employee Adam E
Test Fit:
Adam E
Employee Robert O
Test Fit:
Robert O
Employee John S
Video by:
John S
Employee Thomas T
Video by:
Thomas T
Employee Evangeline M
Installed by:
Evangeline M

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