When Thule sent us a pair of the 919 Fat-bike Upgrade Kits for the T2 rack we hooked up fat-bike.com friend Sam Derickson, who owns not only the required T2 rack but also a Moonlander and a Krampus, for the installation and testing of the 919 kit. Take it away, Sam!
Having used the Thule T2 Hitch rack on my Porsche Cayenne for roughly 3 years I was thrilled to hear that they were releasing a fat tire conversion kit for this rather solid rack.
The conversion from “skinny” to “fat” went very well with no problems what so ever. There are two simple parts, the oversized wheel holders and a spring-loaded buckle with an extra long strap to secure the rear wheel. The directions provided are very straight forward and easy to follow. Swapping the front wheel tray is very simple. There are only two bolts that screw into the plastic base of the wheel tray. I was happy to see the new wheel tray quite securely affixed to the rack. Mounting the new rear wheel holder is also pretty easy. The plastic end caps must be removed to gain access to the safety bolt, which keeps the rear wheel holder from sliding off the end of the tubing. Once the safety bolt is removed the rest is self-explanatory. The rear wheel strap can be mounted in two different slots, which can accommodate either fat, or standard tires.
In removing the end caps I was a bit alarmed to see a rather large amount of rust had accumulated along the bottom of both tubes. I do wonder that in time this may become a structural issue. I feel that applying an internal sealant to the inside of T2’s tubes when new may solve this particular problem. It is possible that moisture making its way into the tubes is not able to properly drain. There’s been other hints of rust about the rack which have become a concern of mine. The bolts which hold the rack together are thoroughly rusted and cannot be tightened or loosened. The good news is that Thule will warranty all rack systems and accessories purchased after January 1st 2006. This limited lifetime warranty is only available to the first owner of the rack. I have used the rack for all seasons in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which certainly has put the T2 to the test in terms of rusting.
I had been using the T2 to carry both my Surly Moonlander with 4.5” wide Big Fat Larry tires, and my Surly Krampus 29 plus with 3” wide Knard tires without the conversion kit. Admittedly, it had become quite frustrating for one major reason. The secure hook which clamps down on the front tire would not properly accommodate my Moonlander or the Krampus without removing a large amount of air and squishing the tires far more than I am comfortable with. In addition, I would work like crazy to achieve that first click of engagement; locking the secure hook into place. In doing so I have squished the tires up rather drastically, and have broke the seal of my tubeless set ups several times now, which ends up deflating the tire and clearly making it far less secure for the ride. I have used the rack to haul a few Surly Pugslys with the 3.8” Larry tires before the conversion with no problems and the 919 should make this wheel/tire combo a breeze.
The 919 kit does make the T2 a bit more useable for those who prefer the more extreme end of fat-bike tire sizing. The wider tires do fit very snugly in both the front tray and the rear wheel holder, but the conversion does little to solve the issue of the secure hook being too short. Having been designed before the conception of the fattest of fat-tire bikes, the total outer diameter of wheel and tire is just a bit much for the T2, which does fit all standard wheel sizes incredibly well. Thule may address this issue and design the same rack with a slightly longer secure hook, as the demand for such a rack continues to build.
So, if you have a Pugsley or other 3.8″ fat-bike the 919 mod should treat you right. If you have a Mooonie or a Krampus it is still better than the original trays but know that you will have to squish the tires to get the arm to set. Here’s looking forward to a slightly longer arm in the future! I’ll continue to use the rack with the 919 mod and let you know how it is working down the road a piece.