In this Thule ProRide 598 Review we will look in detail at Thule’s frame-friendly, mid-level, roof-mounted bike rack.
The ProRide 598 is a mid-price bike rack in the Thule roof rack range. But is a slightly higher priced justified by any better features when comparing to the FreeRide entry-level model? Is it easy to install on your car roof? How quickly can you get a bike on and off? Does the bike wobble at speed?
We will answer all those questions and more in detail in this Thule ProRide Review.
The review is quite long so skip ahead to the section that interests you or sit back and enjoy your coffee.
This review is about all the aspects of fastening the Thule ProRide 598 to your EXISTING ROOF BARS and then using it with a variety of wheel types and bike/frame types – including carbon.
Thule was founded in 1942 but its pedigree for bike carriers started in the 1960s. Thule has diversified into a wide range of related products from aero roof bars to jogging buggies, backpacks and towbar bike mounts.
Thule Bike Fitting LOCATION Options
Thule offer options for either: roof bar racks; towbar racks; or boot-based bike racks. Towbar- and boot-based locations require a certain type of car but roof bars are an option for very many, but not all, cars.
On your car roof, one these 3 alternatives will most likely be possible: a bracket specific to your roof shape that clips into the door frame: attachments for a dealer-installed roof rail; OR a T-track.
This review assumes that you have already figured out how to get two roof bars on your car roof – and that can be somewhat convoluted if you have an unusual car, good luck!
A further rack type option is a roof-mounted bike rack that requires you to remove the front wheel and then your bike’s forks attach to the Thule OutRide 561 rack (link). This will really help eliminate wobble during transport but you have a rather large wheel to carry inside the car.
Fitting on your existing roof bars
I’m assuming you already have a roof bar. But there are different kinds & shapes of roof bars.
By default, the Thule ProRide 598 assumes that you have a roof bar with a standard 20mm T-track, as shown above. (ie a track for T-shaped bolts to fit in to)
T-Tracks can also be found on several non-Thule brands.
The Thule ProRide 598, by default, also supports Thule’s own WingBar, SideBar and AeroBar models. If you have one of these all you need to do is buy the ProRide 598 and you should have all the parts you need. NO ADAPTERS NEEDED.
Some cars, like BMWs, have a non-standard T-track and, in the case of BMW, require a 24mm T-track adapter (Thule part: 889-1)
Older cars, with older square bars like mine, require an adapter kit (Thule part: 889-5).
As shown on the image to the right., this adapter kits provide the 80mm U-bolt clamps that fasten the ProRide around your roof bar
Got all that? Then you are good to go…
You will need to buy the rather large box with a top that looks like this.
Open the box up and you will get a bike rack that is mostly pre-assembled along with the following additional pieces.
These parts form: 3 levers; 1 lock; and 2 wheel protectors made of rubber.
In my case I will be attaching to Thule square roof bars and so I discard the 3 bolts shown above and instead use the contents of the Around-the-Bar-Adapter kit 889500. Note: I still KEEP and use the levers and cylindrically shaped nuts. In fact I’ll keep the bolts too in case I buy or use a new car.
I’m not going to give step-by-step installation instructions. Thule’s manual for the ProRide 598 is in an “IKEA-format” ie instructive pictures with a minimal amount of words.
However I am going to comment on some of the installation steps and things to watch out for as it is a little daunting to open the ProRide 598 and find the bags of various components. Once you’ve installed the ProRide all of the steps you took will be ‘obvious…in hindsight‘. In the future, mounting and unmounting the BIKE RACK will then only take about 5 minutes per bike rack.
It’s a good idea to partly assemble the mount on the ground so that you can figure out which way the nuts, bolts, levers, locks and 80mm U Bolt Clamps all fit together.
and like this
And you should also put on the rubber protector to the front and rear straps.
Have a good play with the two locks too. Both keys are the same. One lock is on a lever which stops the entire frame being removed and the other lock stops the arm of the rack being untightened.
Fitting of the ProRide 598 on the Roof Bars
I would imagine that the T-Bar fitting is super-straightforward.
Instead I used the adapter kit with square roof bars.
Getting the clamps from the adapter kit around the square bar for the first time required a bit of fiddling. But once you’ve figured out where everything goes and how it tightens up, it soon becomes ‘obvious’ (with hindsight).
The ProRide is a relatively light roof mounted bike racks and can easily be lifted by one person. In the preparation of this Thule ProRide 598 Review I looked at other Thule roof-mounted bike racks and the high-end Thule UpRide 599 (Review ed here) was the heaviest.
The brackets that fasten my roof bar to the car body sometimes got in the way of where I would like to attach the ProRide. Re-site the ProRide further from the edge, ensure it’s straight and tighten up the levers – use the lock if you want to fasten it more securely to the bar. You DO have to close the lever but the lock is not required.
It will be fine to align the ProRide’s position by eye. It’s good to align it exactly point forward but don’t worry too much if you are an inch out.
The ProRide CAN be modified (without any additional new parts) so that the controls can be used on either the left-side or right-side of your car. It’s explained in the manual and take about 15 minutes to do for the first time. As a flavour of what you need to do here you can see that the end of the ProRide comes off and the mounts can then be slid off and turned around to face the other direction.
Here you can see that 3, possibly 4, bike roof racks can fit on an estate car.
I managed to install two ProRides, the UpRide and a FreeRide simultaneously on one car (ie 4 bike racks). A total of 3 is relatively easy but adding the fourth bike rack required the pedals to be removed from the bikes and was quite a squeeze. If you are going to install 3 or 4 bike racks then you will need to alternate the direction in which they face (forward-back-forward-back) and you will need to ensure that the various closing mechanisms on each of the bike racks are relatively easily accessible. Good luck 😉 !
I am not sure if it would be possible to have 3 or 4 ProRide racks on your car. 3 probably is possible but 4 could be a close fit. The following image shows the ProRides on the left.
Putting Your Bike on the ProRide 598
I have a wide variety of bikes from kids’ bikes to carbon fibre racing bikes and a relatively heavy aluminium-framed mountain bike. I tried them all for this Thule ProRide 598 Review .
The heavier bikes are obviously harder to lift onto the roofrack of whichever brand of rack you buy.
The ProRide 598 is quick and easy to load your bike onto. The only thing to watch out for is the balancing act at the start. Once you have the frame inside the lever it becomes much easier. Make sure you open up the lever before starting!
Ultimately you want it to end up looking something like this, with the base of the wheel all the way forwards to the front of the rack.
To get to that point. First you do this with the lever that attaches to the front of the wheel. Turning the circular knob near the key hole to the bottom right of the above images grips the frame. You want to get the part that is gripped close to the front chain ring of your bike. As shown above.
You then slide the black plastic ‘tray’ (below with the word Thule on it) so that the centre of that tray aligns approximately with the centre of your wheel (ie the wheelnut). Roughly as shown below, perhaps the tray could go very slightly more to the right.
You then secure the rear wheel with the strap, as shown above. Noting that the clasp rotates clockwise to point to about 2 o’clock.
Then you do the same with the tray and strap on the front wheel. Just like I’ve shown below.
Now you can lock it if you want to. You don’t have to unless you will leave the bike unattended.
The following image shows the grey RELEASING button. Other than initially releasing the clamp, you won’t need to touch that button when putting your bike on. But when releasing your bike you will need to press it down to release the grip on the frame by arm.
Different Bike Types Covered by the Thule ProRide 598 Review
The principle is the same for all the bike types I tried in the preparation of this Thule ProRide 598 Review and each of the following were fine to fit onto the ProRide.
Heavy mountain bike with chunky (ish) tyres
Kids Bike – Surprisingly Heavy
Road Bike – Carbon Frame, 50mm Rim Wheels
80mm Rim Rear Wheel & Disc Wheels
This 80mm Mavic rear wheel has a carbon rim. I don’t think the rim would be damaged by the rubber strap. Not THAT much pressure is needed to hold the wheel in place. Contrast that with other bike mounts where a LOT of pressure is required to clamp to a carbon frame (#NotGood)
Also note that if your RIM is deeper than 80mm, the strap will be too short.
You will also have problems with rear disc wheels. Some discs do have a hole where you could feed the strap through but my guess would be that road vibration during transport WOULD damage those discs that have a foam-like interior. #ExpensiveWheels
My previous travels with a disk wheel meant I just put a trainer wheel or spare wheel on the rear for transporting the bike. Remember than on windy days your disc wheel will be banned in races or have reduced performance in cross winds so always take and use a spare.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Theft, stupidity and plain bad luck will be encountered by all of us at some time or other. This Thule ProRide 598 Review looks at some of the things you will want to avoid.
- THEFT: With this design your front wheel could perhaps be stolen if the thief deflated the tyres and removed the wheel skewers.
- THEFT: A determined and well-prepared thief will have the tools to steal your bike in any case. I would imagine that, with an expensive bike, the thief might not be too concerned about prizing open the frame clamp and damaging the frame as the re-sale value of untraceable and expensive bike parts would more than compensate them for their efforts. The ProRide’s anti-theft mechanisms are sufficient to prevent the casual thief. Use your own bike lock when parked to better deter would-be thieves ie lock the bike to the roof bars with a motorbike lock or similar
- TYRE DEFLATION: This has never happened to me. In theory if this happened during transport then the bike would become considerably more loosely attached. The front wheel would most likely wobble considerably at speed.
- LOST KEY: Keys are numbered and you can get a replacement.
- DRIVING THROUGH A LOW HANGING SIGN – Hey. You know what to do next time.
- Tightening the clamp. In my opinion this design is fit for a carbon frame as not that much pressure is required to hold the frame firmly (unlike the FreeRide model). However Thule DO recommend and sell a frame protector.
- The rear strap design now requires the strap to go at an angle rather than directly over the wheel (as with previous Thule rack models). Make sure that you twist the strap clasp lock as well so it points to about 2 o’clock. I’m not entirely sure why this aspect of the design was changed as the straight-through strap always seemed fine to me and was more easily stowed away.
- Wobble – At speed your front wheel will wobble. I doubt you will stop all of the wobbling. However you want the frame NOT to wobble much at all. In my opinion this design is better at wobble control than the cheaper FreeRide (then again, I’ve used the FreeRide for over 10 years on motorways, admittedly with occasionally worried glances up through the car’s sunroof)
- Tip: Ensure that the centre of the wheel approximately aligns with the centre of the adjustable tray that each wheel sits on.
- Tip: don’t leave the rear strap flapping around when not in use. Fasten it up.
Positive Thoughts on this Thule ProRide 598 Review
- If you are concerned about compressing your expensive carbon frame then you ARE RIGHT to be concerned. The ProRide 598 design does compress the carbon frame, albeit slightly and acceptably in my opinion. Nevertheless Thule recommend a frame protector.
- The bike is relatively easy to load onto the rack. Probably slightly more easily than with the cheaper FreeRide model.
- Supports 29″ wheels and the small children’s bike sizes indicated in the images, above.
Thule ProRide 598 Review Manual
Thule provide a relatively straightforward manual to aid installation and usage.
Link to: Thule ProRide 598 Manual
Specifications for Thule ProRide 598 Review
|Load capacity||20 kg|
|Dimensions||145 x 32 x 8.5 cm|
|Fits round frame dimensions||22-80 mm|
|Fits maximum oval frame dimensions||80×100 mm|
|Carbon frame compatible||✓ Adapter/s required: Thule Carbon Frame Protector|
|Fits roof racks with 20×20 mm T-tracks||✓|
|Fits roof racks with 24×30 mm T-tracks||✓ Adapter/s required: Thule T-track Adapter 889-1|
|Fits Thule SquareBar||✓ Adapter/s required: Thule ProRide SquareBar Adapter|
|One Key System compatible||✓|
Accessories for Thule ProRide 598 Review
These are the adapters you might need depending on your car/bar setup
- Buy a 24mm T-Track adapter (eg BMW) (Thule part: 889-1).
- – Buy a square bar adapter kit (eg old Thule bar)(Thule part: 889-8).
- A Black version is available
- A twinpack is sometimes available that might save you a little money
- Adapters are available for super-fat tyres
This is a well-made bike rack that improves on the lower FreeRide model in how the bike loads onto the rack and how the bike is restricted from wobbling. Loading on the bike to the frame is relatively easy. It’s quite a bit more expensive than the FreeRide model but offers protection for special carbon frames as well as a wider range of accessories over and above what are discussed in this review.
It looks GREAT and will last you MANY years. If you can afford it, it’s the go-to choice.
Price, Discounts and Availability
The Thule ProRide bike racks are available to buy in many outlets.
If you benefitted from this Thule ProRide 598 Review it would be great if you completed your purchase below.
Prices in September 2018 should be: Eu 189, £184, $199.