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Question: I recently bought and installed a new Thule 971XT Helium 3 bike hitch rack on a trailer hitch on my 2010 Honda CR-V. Thue 971XT Helium is supposed to be one of the best according to all the reviews I read. I've checked to make sure everything is secure and installed correctly. But, I noticed that while driving, the bike rack bounces quite a bit whenever I hit a small bumps on the road. I When I re-examined the rack, all the bikes are secure and nothing seemed to has come loose, but the driving 60 mph and looking at the rack/bikes bouncing through the rear-view mirror is a bit nerve racking. I feel like the rack might break off due to the bouncing around. This was the first time that I has 3 heavy bikes on a hitch rack. So the question is: Is it normal for the rack to bounce somewhat when loaded with 3 bikes?
Answer: I would not call it normal but yes it is common that hitch bike racks have some wobble or 'play' to them, usually the problem lies with the variability in trailer hitches and hitch stingers (the part on the bike carrier that inserts into the hitch) and the resulting “play” you get…it allows for movement. This movement is then compounded by each and every joint, bolt, cradle, rubber strap, etc can cause their own bit of movement and yes, things get to bouncing.
If you see an unacceptable amount of movement I would advise stopping and looking at the Thule 971XT Helium bike carrier and how the bikes are secured, as something may be beyond what is safe. This particular rack does have a shim at the hitch that should take out most wobble, so would be a very good idea to examine the trailer hitch receiver itself as it too may be a source of movement.
In the end, hitch racks are an extremely safe and secure method of carrying bikes, and the Thule 971XT Helium in particular is rated as one of the best. Thule Racks has also tested this product extensivley under all types of road conditions and varying trailer hitch configurations. To date, personally I’ve only heard of one bike hitch rack ever failing and that was a Thule T2 that must have been overloaded or not properly attached, but I don’t know the exact cause. Another good idea is to do to a local car accessory installer (your local dealer can point you in the right direction) and have them take a look and see if they can isolate the issue or determine that it is an acceptable amount of play. Hope this helps.
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