"Consumer feedback suggested to us that the front wheel tray was perceived as wobbly. It wasn't, but we've designed that worry out now with a diagonal strap."
Thule's Head of Product Design Eric Norling is leaving nothing up to chance. The label's 2016 introductions pay more attention to detail than ever before to both the product itself and the entire user experience.
"We've added a wheel to the Velospace. Though our racks are built as light as we can safely make them, they're still an awkward shape. Getting them to and from the shed or garage tends to take more time than attaching to the towball, so we've added a fold out roller. We want our products to useable by a wide demographic. People have back problems, we all get old - so it's important that we address useability for all," says Norling.
The 2016 Velospace goes further to aid the user experience too, adding a clip on tray that will enable bikes to be rolled on if lifting is going to be an issue. Even the minor details such as wheelstrap storage is considered with fresh slots.
"The Velospace was ahead of its time in 2009, but this year it'll take up two 30kg fat electric bikes with room to spare," says Norling. "It'll even take a cruiser with a 1,300 wheel base. There's a new 90-degree turn handle to improve access and as previously, the rack won't suddenly drop when the lever's opened, giving you time to tilt onto the fold out wheel."
The story with this year's roof rack additions is much the same, with the best selling 591 benefitting from some drawing board love.
"We've opened up the clamping system so the user can choose whether they prefer to mount from the right or left. It's a simple mechanism on the base and can be rotated and locked again in under 30 seconds," says Norling.
At 11 years old and still winning product tests, the 591 is designed to be low profile, giving the user roof level interaction. A re-shaped tray sporting a curve lends itself to ease of use. The frame contact point also benefits from an upgrade, with the claw offering a softer yet larger clamp that's limited to 7NM of torque.
With the rise in popularity of Thru-axles in road and cyclocross, the ThruRide is ready for all axle diameters. With a new fine tuneable dial and vice system, the ThruRide doesn't require the user to remove the axle and balance the bike while re-inserting, instead you simply slot in and close the clamp. A 9mm QR adapter will be found in the box.
Plus size wheel trends have been met head on too, with stock of oversized wheel tray racks expected by January. An adapter for fat bikes is also set to be available.