Worth the investment if the clamp fits your top tube.
How many modern mountain bikes can you list that have round, straight tubes? Maybe a handful of steel-framed hardtails, from the likes of Genesis or Cotic, but most now have extruded, formed or baked (for carbon) tubes that curve and swoop from tip to toe.
This is a pain for the VeloCompact because it still works like its predecessors — rubbery jaws on a rigid arm clamp to the top tube. Funky-shaped frames make it harder to get a good hold on certain bikes, particularly where there are shock mounts on the top tube.
Otherwise, there’s nothing at all to fault with the VeloCompact, and it’s Thule’s best tow bar rack to date. The jaws can be slightly tricky to attach, but we’ve never yet failed to get a secure hold on a bike, albeit with some fettling and moving of the arms (even sliding them down the rack’s A-frame).
The clamp is really just there to hold the bikes upright anyway, with the wheel holders and ratchet straps doing the hard work.
Watch: Buyer’s guide to bike racks
A big lever lets you attach the whole thing onto a tow bar and then locks it into place, with the same key operating the bike clamps. I wouldn’t rely on these, but they’re a useful deterrent during quick refuelling stops.
The whole rack also tilts, even fully loaded, to allow access to the boot, and the whole package is finished off with powerful rear lights and a simple seven-pin adapter for the electrics.
The VeloCompact differs from its predecessors by being smaller and lighter. The wheel trays and lights slide inboard by 30cm when not in use, meaning it’s more convenient to carry and store.
Even so, it doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap — in fact it seems just as well-made and secure as Thule’s other tow bar racks.
It takes the same 60kg maximum load as the top-end EuroClassic too, so if you’re using this three-bike rack with the optional fourth-bike adapter, four muddy trail bikes will just sneak under the limit. It’s actually three kilos lighter than the EuroClassic too, and nearly £100 cheaper.
Yes, there are less expensive tow bar racks out there, but you’ll only buy a rack like this once, so it’s worth the investment.