Thule T2 Installation on Outback: Pictures and Questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Thule T2 Installation on Outback: Pictures and Questions

    So I installed a T2 on my 2005 Outback this week. I had ordered up a Hidden Hitch with a 2" receiver a couple of weeks ago and finally got around to putting it in. The hitch install took about an hour with the help of a friend. Fairly straightforward, but there were a few things that took some wiggling around with. BTW, the Hidden Hitch itself isn't all that hidden. I'm sure the Subaru OEM hitch would have looked better, but it was twice the price, and only has a 1-1/4" receiver. I wanted a 2" receiver so I could allow myself the option of getting the T2 2-bike add-on somewhere down the road.

    After I assembled the T2 and slid it onto the hitch, I noticed that the first (lower) tube section of the T2 seemed to sag down. There is a little bit of vertical play between the T2 and the hitch receiver itself. Is this normal? The second (higher) tube section where the racks are attached is more level.



    Here is the hitch in its open position.



    Here it is in the folded position.



    When I folded up the hitch, I noticed that the clearance between the front wheel well of the bike closest to the car and my rear bumper is very tight.





    In fact, I ended up offsetting the centerline of the inner rack to the left to afford myself the space you see in these pictures. If the rack were left dead center, it would interfere with the rear bumper. Is it OK to have the rack offset like this?



    When I made my first attempt at putting the bikes on, I thought the pre-determined spacing between the racks was just too tight. I was having issues with the bars of one bike jamming into the seat/seatpost of the other. I ended up offsetting the outer rack as well, but this time to the right...



    ...and I increased the spacing between the two racks beyond the pre-determined white indicator marks on the Thule sticker. The inner rack is on the white line, while the outer rack is off by about an inch. Has anyone else found the need to do this? Or do I just have a couple of bikes that just so happen to not fit so nicely together?



    So after I got the bikes on, they looked like this. I first tried my bike (the larger one) closest to the car and put my wife's bike on the outer rack.









    Even with the added spacing between the racks and the extra offsets I put in, the bikes are still really tight.



    Swapping positions doesn't make much difference. Here's a close-up with my bike on the outside.



    So I guess I'm asking the users of this rack if this set-up looks pretty normal and that's just the way things fit, or if there's something else I can do to give myself a bit more room. I guess I could take the seatpost off my bike... TIA.

  2. #2
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    If your hitch installation is anything like I remember mine ('05 Legacy wagon), you have the ability to place leveling washers under the attachment points. In your case, a fat washer on each of the forward points ought to cure your droop.

    In my experience with 1-1/4" hitches, it's typical for the rack to sag a little when it sits in the hitch, because there is always a small amount of slop between the receiver and the hitch's tongue.

    As for your bike fit issues:

    You can give yourself a little more space by sliding the 2nd carrier further towards the end of the beam. You'll cover the two sets of holes used for the add-on rack, but if you have no plans to use this in the immediate future, that isn't an issue.

    Reading Thule's T2 installation instructions, it appears that you can slide the trays all the way out to where the outer white lines are centered. They don't say this directly, but "<i>Do not slide the tray past offset limit marks on either side of the bracket or failure may occur.</i>" I interpret that as meaning you've got a good 3" of side-to-side adjustment room in either direction, and the width of the supporting bracket seems to confirm that.

    If you're really concerned about the distance of the wheel tray from your bumper, you can buy a 6" hitch extension. I wouldn't sweat it -- looks like more than enough room.
    speedub.nate
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  3. #3
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    I'll try to post up some pics of my T2 on an '05 Outback tomorrow. I have the OEM hitch on my car.

    On the OEM hitch, I don't think mine sags at all ... though will need to take a picture to confirm. An observation though, is that my Outback is lowered 3"+ and I probably have way more departure angle than you due to how low the Hidden Hitch is.

    My T2 folds up even closer than yours pictured. The nearest trays front wheel holder nestles above the bumper, inches away from the sheet metal of the hatch. Personally I like it that way, since it means the rack sticks out the least possible when folded up.

    As far as bike overlap, I think yours looks fine. You can fine tune the trays positions if you'll always carry the same bikes, but in my case it's usually my bike and a friends. It's nice to have the trays far enough apart that you don't get pedal interference, but I think handlebar/seat conflict will always be an issue. I have Jones and Mary bars on all of my bikes and find they always collide with the other bikes seat, so I just oblige my passenger to deal with it (QR seat collars are a blessing).

  4. #4
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    The T2 does have some vertical play in the mechanism, but usually gravity keeps it from doing anything. It's not an issue. It looks like the hidden hitch is the culprit for the spacing issue (not being able to fold it up), and I would agree that the OEM hitches do not have this problem (they also look decent). I wouldn't worry too much with your solution.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  5. #5
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    The centering and tray positioning are mere guidelines from Thule. The whole unit is designed to be custom tailored to your needs and bike clearance. Being offset a couple of inches to one side will not affect the integrity of the system as you know how beefy it is. The only thing I recommend that you avoid is crashing it into a pole like I did. They sell every single part individually on their site tho.

    As from what I can tell from your pics, the "hidden" hitch being tucked so far under your bumper definitely is affecting your clearance. I wouldn't worry about it so much since you offset the tray accordingly but can you access your hatch door, with your bikes on the rack, by dropping the rack down? Ya know how it tilts down a few degrees to let you access your hatch normally? I think because it's so set in on your hitch that this convenient feature might not work anymore. I'd say take it to a welder and have them extend your hitch out further. Maybe they can fix the sag while they're at it.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the feedback. Sounds like my installation is OK. To respond to a couple of questions/comments that were raised:

    - I am still able to drop the rack with the bikes on and have full access to the hatch. This feature was an important component in my decision to purchase the T2, so if that didn't work, I definitely would have played with the positioning until it did.

    - I am able to fold the rack all the way up without hitting the bumper. It's just tight.

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
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    MAJL,

    I am curious as to why you didn't go with the roof rack option? No judgement just looking for a little input. Did you ever consider the Subaru rack?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by whit022000
    MAJL,
    I am curious as to why you didn't go with the roof rack option? No judgement just looking for a little input. Did you ever consider the Subaru rack?
    I do have a roof rack system capable of hauling 4 bikes: Yakima Lowriders, 48" cross bars, 2 Yakima Steelheads, 1 Yakima Raptor, and 1 Thule Sidearm. However, I recently acquired a rooftop cargo carrier (Thule Atlantis 1600), and in doing so, lost space for 2 of my bikes. When I load up the family for trips and we want to take our bikes, I need the extra capacity off the rear.

    I actually had the car fully geared up this weekend for a camping trip: 2 bikes on the T2, 2 bikes on the Steelheads, and the Atlantis. Worked great to haul all our gear and goodies for the weekend!

  9. #9
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    T2 using stock hitch

    Here are pics of my T2 on an '05 Outback XT using the OEM hitch (self-installed). The car has been lowered to about Legacy wagon height, but otherwise sits flat. The tongue does seem to sag down, but it is so short that it isn't obvious. Also, it looks like I've slide my bike trays toward the extremes.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by anotherbrian
    Here are pics of my T2 on an '05 Outback XT using the OEM hitch (self-installed). The car has been lowered to about Legacy wagon height, but otherwise sits flat. The tongue does seem to sag down, but it is so short that it isn't obvious. Also, it looks like I've slide my bike trays toward the extremes.
    Thanks for the comparison pictures. I assume you haven't had any issues with the trays offset to the outer white indicator markings, so it looks like I have some additional room to play with. Do the front tires of the bikes stick out past the widest point of the car (the side mirrors)? If they did, I would be worried that I may not clear an opening that I normally would be able to.

    The OEM hitch is definitely a cleaner install. Look like I'm losing about 1-1/2"-2" in ground clearance (or the height of the front wheel well), but since I am considering the 2-bike add-on, I needed the flexibility that a 2" receiver afforded me.

  11. #11
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    You have the T2 set up fine. Someone posted, and it's true, the T2 is made for the user to customize it a bit. I run the T2 with two 40-45lb DH bikes on it always. I have never adjusted the side to side spacing of the rack, only the distance between the bikes spacing to avoid pedals from hitting the downtube. I am running it on a stock Toyota 4-Runner with a stock 2' reciever. I find this rack system to be far superior than the competitors.

    Also, this may be a dumb suggestion, but drop your seats on the bikes when transporting them. I run QR seat collars, so it is easy. But it is not that hard to carry a tri-tool and drop your seat post. I made a mark with a silver sharpie where the seat is suppose to go back to on my bikes. Makes it easy to set back up and roll. And there is no contact with any part of the bikes with the T2 set up without moving the rails.
    "We can always find excuses if we want to find them, but if we really want to do something, we have to just go."

  12. #12
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    T2 on the 4-Runner.

    Here is a shot of my T2 on the truck.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "We can always find excuses if we want to find them, but if we really want to do something, we have to just go."

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by majl
    Thanks for the comparison pictures. I assume you haven't had any issues with the trays offset to the outer white indicator markings, so it looks like I have some additional room to play with. Do the front tires of the bikes stick out past the widest point of the car (the side mirrors)? If they did, I would be worried that I may not clear an opening that I normally would be able to.
    No issues with tray placement. The front tires stick out beyond the wheel wells, but within the width of the mirrors (same deal; I want to be able to use the mirrors as a clearance indicator).

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