Review – Thule 9705 BoltOn bike carrier
It used to be that I could sling the kids bikes into the boot of the family car, and strap mine and my wife’s onto a cheap two bike carrier on the boot. Life isn’t that simple any more. Now that the kids have their own little mountain bikes they don’t fit into the boot any more, so I needed something that could manage 4 bikes, which turns out to be less straightforward than I hoped. A bit of research let me to two options:
Option 1 – Roof rack mounted
This was never my favoured approach. For some reason I keep getting visions of driving under a low bridge (and with many cycle tracks on disused railways there’s a lot of these about) and hearing and awful clattering noise. When I totted up the cost of rails, bars and bike holders it was far too much, and I was also put off by the fact that most of the packages seemed to be only for two bikes (though I’m pretty sure four would fit).
Option 2 – Tow hitch mounted
If you want more than two bikes on the back of your car then it seems to be obligatory to get a tow hitch. A friend of a friend showed me a neat setup with a detachable tow hitch and a Thule carrier that went onto the tow ball, but ‘detachable’ seems to add around £130 to the cost so I went down the cheaper route. A ‘flange’ tow bar from Towequipe  set me back £85, and then the Thule 9705 carrier was a further £65. The carrier comes with a plate that bolts on to the towbar (hence the name ‘BoltOn’), and then clips into that plate . It’s a simple but effective arrangement.
My favourite thing about the 9705 is that you can but extra mounting plates (part no 958). I’ve got no intention of putting the bikes on my little car (what’s the point of four bikes on a car that only holds two people?), but I thought it would be useful to put one on the wall in the garage. This turned out to be a great move. Not only do I have a place to store the carrier, but I can also sling a few of the extraneous bikes onto it so that the garage is less of a mess than it might otherwise be.
I’ve yet to try the carrier in anger. I’ve had a dry run, putting it onto the car and putting the bikes on, but the British summer weather has so far prevented a proper trial. I wouldn’t be surprised if it alters the handling of the car a little with so much extra weight so far behind the back wheels, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. With the caveat that it hasn’t yet had the ultimate test I’m very happy with my new carrier, especially when I go into my tidier garage.
 For some peculiar reason the version for my car at this price was only available on their eBay store.
 One of the clips didn’t seem to align properly. On further inspection it seemed that the holes weren’t quite true. Rather than go through the hassle of returns I did a bit of reaming with an 8mm HSS drill bit and all is now as it should be.
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Tags: 9705, bike, bolt on, BoltOn, carrier, Thule, towbar