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Thule’s burliest European hitch rack, the VeloSpace XT3 is tough enough to carry a pair of heavy gravity sleds, e-bikes, fat bikes, or fat, full-suspension e-bikes. With 28 member nations in the EU, and between 18 and 23 European nations outside the block (depending on where the political lines are drawn), there are loads of diverse traffic laws for rack companies to comply with across the continent. In most of those nation-states, a visible license plate and a fully functioning set of signal lights are required. The VeloSpace XT3 has all of those goods and a host of other helpful features to get your bikes to the trail safely.

While the rack does fold down to allow access to the rear hatch, the tow ball on my car is too short to allow the door to swing up.

The VeloSpace XT3 rack requires some minor assembly, and the directions are about as clear as they come. I often find assembly diagrams confusing, and I managed to have the rack unboxed and mounted on my car in about ten minutes.

Once assembled, this rack can be quickly mounted on a tow ball. Simply flip the main locking lever to the verticle position, slide the rack over the ball, and firmly push the lever down. Locking the rack in place requires 40nm of pressure, so don’t be afraid to put your weight into it. Once it’s firmly clamped to the tow ball you can lock the handle with the included key and plug in the signal system.

The attachment lever and all three frame clamps have locks, providing a small amount of security.

With the rack secured, it’s time to strap on some bikes. I have not had any luck cramming three bikes on this rack, despite its name and number of wheel trays. With modern trail bikes, there is only room for two, and it takes a little time to position them so that they don’t scratch one another.

This seems to be the best Tetris for our frame shapes.

All frames will fit on the rack differently, and the system I have found most effective is to put the smallest bike on first so that the arm for the second frame clamp can easily reach over it. In my case, both bikes weigh roughly 15kg (33lbs) so there is no need to determine where a heavier bike should be placed. When there isn’t a frame in the clamp it can be opened up and removed from the stabilizing bar so that you can place it in the optimal spot to reach your frame. Then tighten the rubberized clamp to your frame, and strap the wheels in place with the ratchet straps that brace both wheels. Finally, lock the clamp handle with the key and hit the road.

Thie longer clamping bar clears the short frame and the mid-sized clamp bar can be removed and stored for carrying narrower road bikes.

The rack is labeled VeloSpace XT3 because it offers room for 3 bikes or even 4 with an aftermarket extension, but it depends on the sort of bikes you are bringing. You could fit three road bikes on the rack as it comes, and possibly mount three mountain bikes with the fourth bike arm extension, but only two modern mountain bikes will fit across the three-wheel trays without touching one another. When I bring another riding partner or an extra test bike to the trail I have to put it in the car, which is not ideal with winter mud. While my car is not a safe space for the dirt-phobic, I didn’t buy a rack to then throw my muddy bike inside.

The ratchet straps secure bikes tightly, leaving almost no movement in any direction.
Maybe you could put a third bike on if you removed all of the pedals and turned at least one set of handlebars sideways.
Price€913.95 (compare prices online)
Bike capacity2 – 4
Load capacity60kg
Rack weight 20.6kg
Dimensions 135 x 73 x 79 cm
Power connector 13-pin
LocksIntegrated hitch and frame clamp locks
Colors Silver or black

In conclusion

The VeloSpace XT3 is simple to assemble and use, and unlike a lot of other bicycle hitch racks, it doesn’t bobble or sway in any direction while you drive. It keeps your bikes securely in lockstep with your vehicle while maintaining all of the vital signal features that your tires would otherwise obscure. It would be great if it actually carried three mountain bikes, but it does a solid job with two.

A glaring demerit for this rack is the fact that it requires frame clamping. No one appreciates tightening a claw to their muddy bike, sanding the paint as they turn it to a secure setting. Every time I put my bike on the rack I have to clean the tube where the rack will clamp it, which is not a favored task when the weather is cold and I want to get into dry clothes. I have used several racks that only touch the tires of a bike, which is a drastic improvement over this method. I asked the folks at Thule why their hitch racks that don’t touch the frame are not available in the EU and they replied, “Frame clamp is the current consumer market preference in Europe.” Hopefully, that changes sometime soon.   

The foot actuated lever in the middle drops the rack out of the way for rear hatch access.

We would like to thank Thule for sending the VeloSpace XT3 for review.

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