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Features

  • Carries 3 bikes, up to 16kg each
  • Rack does not touch the bike frame making it safe for all frame materials
  • Unique wheel tray design holds MTB and road bikes safely and securely
  • Tilts down for fast access to rear of vehicle
  • Fits 26” to 29” MTB wheels.
  • Fits ISO 50mm tow balls
  • Tow ball clamp locks rack to vehicle
  • Lightboard and license plate holder included
  • Weight: 18kg
  • Made in Italy, TUV GS certified
  • Price: RRP R 6,995.00 (on special for R 5,595.00 at the time of publishing)

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Assembly

Our Thelma arrived flat packed and did require some assembly to get up and running. Almost everything you need is inside the box with the exception of a shifting spanner required to secure the tow ball clamp to the rack’s frame.

The assembly is fairly straightforward and instructions easy to follow. The only snag we encountered was the Euro standard 13 pin plug fitted was not compatible with the 7 pin variety found on most South African vehicles. However, adapters are available and, if you’re feeling handy, rewiring to fit a 7 pin plug is a quick job.

Fitment to the vehicle

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The 3-bike version of the rack is quite large, and although not overly heavy, it was somewhat awkward to attach to the vehicle on your own. Those with shorter reach may require a helper to lift and align the rack on the tow ball. Additionally, the added length of the 3-bike version might present some parking challenges, especially if you own an already lengthy vehicle.

The clamp, which secures the rack to the tow ball and base frame of the rack, feels quite solid and almost industrial. Both give confidence that the rack is fit to do the job. Lowering the lever grips the clamp onto the tow ball and a definitive click lets you know that it is snug. The clamp also features a key lock which prevents the lever from lifting, leaving the rack a little more secure on your vehicle.

The Thelma features a light board with the standard array of lights and an all important number plate mount to avoid you falling foul of any traffic regulations. The rack also sports a simple quick release mechanism which tilts the rack down providing access to the boot even with bikes attached. Although depending on the weight of those bikes the tilt can be tricky.

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Saris Thelma 3-bike review-23.jpgThe wheel mounts fold flat allowing for easier storage of the Saris Thelma when not on the vehicle.

Attaching bikes

One of the key features of the Saris Thelma 3 is that it does not make contact with your bicycle frame. Many other racks we’ve tried use the frame as a key point to secure the bike which can often result in scuffs and scratches, especially when mud or dirt is involved.

The Thelma features large plastic wheel mounts for the front wheel and a much smaller U shaped wheel mount for the rear. On both mounts the wheel is secured using plastic adjuster straps. The mounts are adjustable to fit 26” or 29” wheels and in our tests 650b fitted quite comfortably in the 29” mode.

Mounting bikes to the rack is a breeze. Simply pop the front wheel in, then the rear, secure the straps and you’re good to go. With wider bars on the mountain bikes tested we did have some contact between the adjacent bikes (bar and saddle / seatpost) and did need to lower the seatpost.

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On the road

Upon first inspection we were somewhat sceptical of how well the mounts would work, but out on the road we were impressed by the stability of the individual bikes. You do notice some bob due to the length of the 3 bike version, especially with heavier bikes mounted on the end. However, speed bumps and potholes aside, there was little movement of the bikes while driving on the open road. And when the road did get bumpy any movement was well clear of the back of the vehicle thanks to the good clearance from the boot.

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Verdict

At a price well below competitor offerings, the Saris Thelma 3 is a solid, reliable option for transporting your beloved bikes. While the length of the rack might cause issues on already long vehicles, the added room and zero frame contact do well to minimise damage to the bikes or car during transport.