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Thule Sprint 528 bike carrier review

Best fork-mount carrier to date

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The Thule Sprint 528 bike carrier is arguably the ultimate open-dropout bike carrier

The Thule Sprint 528 bike carrier is arguably the ultimate open-dropout bike carrier (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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It's entirely possible to use a thru-axle adaptor with the Sprint for greater bike compatibility. However, this does do away with many of the rack's great features (stuff you're paying a premium for

It's entirely possible to use a thru-axle adaptor with the Sprint for greater bike compatibility. However, this does do away with many of the rack's great features (stuff you're paying a premium for (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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nother look at the telescoping arm, easily enough to handle long-wheelbase mountain bikes (assuming the axle at the fork is not an issue)

nother look at the telescoping arm, easily enough to handle long-wheelbase mountain bikes (assuming the axle at the fork is not an issue) (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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A telescoping wheel tray allows for easy fitting of various length wheelbase bikes. It easily tucks away at its shortest when not in use

A telescoping wheel tray allows for easy fitting of various length wheelbase bikes. It easily tucks away at its shortest when not in use (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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his little handle is used to tighten the Speed-Link mounting system

his little handle is used to tighten the Speed-Link mounting system (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The Sprint gets its name from its extremely slim and aerodynamic profile

The Sprint gets its name from its extremely slim and aerodynamic profile (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Simply tighten the AcuTight knob until it clicks – then you know your bike is held securely, but not so tight that the fork is getting crushed

Simply tighten the AcuTight knob until it clicks – then you know your bike is held securely, but not so tight that the fork is getting crushed (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Tightening of the steel skewer is done with Thule's AcuTight knob

Tightening of the steel skewer is done with Thule's AcuTight knob (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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Fitting a bike to the Sprint is simple, fast and very secure

Fitting a bike to the Sprint is simple, fast and very secure (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)
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The Speed-Link mounting is great, but does have some give to it once mounted. For a completely sway-free solution, Thule offers the Sprint (569) in a 'T-Track' option

The Speed-Link mounting is great, but does have some give to it once mounted. For a completely sway-free solution, Thule offers the Sprint (569) in a 'T-Track' option (Image credit: David Rome / Immediate Media)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Straight from when we pulled the Thule Sprint carrier out of it's miniscule box and wrote our first-look piece, we knew this rack was special. Generally, the growing variance in axle standards has made us less fond of open-dropout fork mount carriers, but the Sprint indicated that there's life left in this front wheel-off method.

Compared with newer 'whole-bike' type roof racks, fork mount carriers offer the benefit of lower height and improved fuel economy, and potentially have less impact on car handling.

  • Highs: Fast bike attachment, worry-free clamping, easy installation
  • Lows: High price, dropout-clamping racks offer limited compatibility

While it's only been released recently, the Sprint was first announced over two years ago. During this time, we've seen the industry scramble for a new axle standard to match the uptake in disc brakes.

Roof racks are often a long-term purchase – something that will last across cars – with Thule's five-year warranty offering an indicator of this longevity. Given this, we can't help feel that the Sprint would have been an even finer prospect back when it was first showcased, when road bike dropouts were properly a standard.

The Sprint can be adapted for thru-axles if needed, but it's not ideal

Simply twist the dial until it clicks – it's satisfyingly simple

That process can be compared to how a common torque wrench will click once the optimal setting has been reached. With the advent of lightweight, and sometimes hollow, carbon dropouts, this can be a crucial factor – knowing you haven't under or over-tightened this sensitive component offers great peace of mind regarding the risk of a cracked fork (or a dropped bike!).

As well as its retention method, the Sprint benefits from a minimal frontal profile, with a noticeable cone to the front of it. While we weren't able to test for improvements in fuel efficiency compared with other rack designs, there seems little doubt it will save you some (however minimal), especially if you do plenty of driving without bikes on the roof.

The Speed-Link system is simple and effective

An adjustable wheel tray makes boot access simple for even the smallest of hatchback cars
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