We had a sneak peek of the Thule Helium back when Interbike was still a thing in 2018, but now we finally have full details on the platform rack and it's available to purchase. The new offering from Thule is similar to 1Up USA's system and the Saris MTR, both tray-style hitch racks that hold bikes without frame contact.
The Thule Helium Platform 2-bike is priced at $699.95 USD. It's also available in 1-bike option for $449.95 if you don't like your muddy friends bumming rides off you or being the designated driver.
Thule Helium 2-Bike Details
• Load capacity: 75 lb
• Max bike weight: 37.5 lb
• Fits 1.25" and 2" hitches
• Weight: 2 bike: 43.2 lbs. / 1 bike: 23 lbs.
• Fits 26”-29” wheel sizes up to a 3” wide tire
• Distance between bikes: 10 inches
• MSRP: $699.95 USD
Squeeze the lever on the end of the arms to pivot them and then easily mount your bikes.
The Thule Helium fits 26 to 29-inch wheel sizes and up to a 3-inch wide tire.Tech Details
The Thule Helium 2-bike with its sleek aluminum finish weighs in at 43.2-pounds and fits everything from a 26" wheel to a 29" wheel and up to 3” wide tires. The simple design holds bikes without frame contact and is easy to adjust as there is little resistance in the ratchet system.
You also just need one hand to tilt the rack up when it's not in use. If you need to access the rear of the vehicle when there are bikes on the rack you can tilt the rack below parallel instead of having to remove them. Just make sure to double-check that the rack is locked back in place at parallel before you start driving.
The rack has integrated cable locks for each one of the two bikes that are stored neatly in the rack arms, as well as a lock that locks the rack to your hitch. A convenient feature is that you can run the rack on a 1.25" or 2" receiver using the handy adapter that comes with the rack.Installation
When the rack arrived, it was in a relatively small box in five pieces and I was able to easily assemble it in under 20 minutes. Assembly is easy - slot the main section into the receiver and then fasten the rack arms, which are clearly labeled as left and right, to the main middle section using the provided Allen key. Use the blank key to install all the locks and you're set.
Then you can quickly and easily put your bike on the rack using the ratcheting arms.
At 43.2-pounds for the Helium 2-bike rack, it's easy to fold up and remove it from your car if you won't be riding bikes for a short or long period of time. It's also super convenient if you want to swap the rack between vehicles, even if one has a 2" receiver and the other has a 1.25" receiver, because of the provided adapter. Comparison
Looking at another tray rack option, Saris' MTR 2-bike rack comes fully assembled but is a hefty 15.8-pounds heavier than the Thule Helium 2-bike and is only available for a 2" receiver option. The Saris MTR 1-bike is available for a 1.25" receiver, however, and you can get a 1 or 2-bike add-on since it's a “Modular Tray Rack”. The 1-bike option weighs in at 12-pounds more than the Thule Helium 1-bike option and is $75 USD more expensive. However, it does have a higher maximum load limit at 60-pounds compared to the Thule Helium's 37.5-pound limit, so if you have a heavy downhill bike or an eMTB, you'll likely be over the capacity for the Thule Helium.
The Thule Helium weighs in at 4.3-pounds less and is roughly $30 USD cheaper than 1Up USA's Equip-D Double rack. However, 1Up USA also has a Quik Rack Single option that you can buy an add-on for, which comes in 2-pounds lighter than the Thule Helium at 41-pounds (23-pounds for the Quick Rack Single plus 18-pounds for the Add-On) and is cheaper at between $538 and $598 USD. It can carry 100-pounds, while the maximum load limit on the Thule Helium 2-bike is 75-pounds.
It's worth noting that you can't add on an extension to the Thule Helium 1 or 2-bike racks. If you have a heavy bike or want the flexibility of a modular rack, then the Thule Helium likely isn't the rack for you. Each of these three options will suit different vehicles, bikes, and budgets. Do keep in mind that it makes sense to choose the lightest rack option suitable for your needs since a lightweight rack is easier to install, remove and store, and saves on gas money.