Hitch racks are becoming the de facto standard for transporting bikes, and with good reason. As someone who carries dozens of different bikes on my car throughout the year, I am stoked to never need to deal with adaptors with different axle standards or wheel sizes.
I’ve also used almost a dozen hitch racks, and Yakima’s claim that “Dr.Tray is the ultimate bike tray rack for your hitch” might actually pass my hyperbole (read: bullshit) detector. It has been a rock solid companion for the last few months.
A locking knob tightens a wedge into the hitch to keep the rack sway-free and secure, and each tray has a cable lock stowed inside that is designed to loop through the frame and both wheels. There is tool free adjustment for side-to-side and fore-and-aft adjustment of the trays, so even the fattest of fat bikes, or smashy of downhill bikes, will fit fine with no seat-to-handlebar interference. Kids bikes fit fine too, assuming 24-inch wheels and up. Yakima only claims 26-29 inch wheels with tires up to five inches wide, but my son’s 24×2.1 tires did just fine. Bikes can be up to 18 inches apart, which is a huge amount compared to anything else I’ve ever used.
The Dr. Tray was super simple to assemble, and even the add-on EZ-1 bike tray was an easy four-bolt job. The EZ-1’s mounting bracket sits above the other two trays, which improves ground clearance, a good thing for those of us without lifestyle 4x4s. Installing the EZ-1 reduces the spacing of the other two trays, but it never created issues that a little adjustment couldn’t solve.
The rear wheel mount pivots instead of sliding. It seems like it shouldn’t work, but it handled everything from a 24-inch wheeled kid’s bike to a 48 inch wheelbase all-mountain 29er. The longer bikes’ back wheels end up hanging lower than the front, but in the end, it didn’t make a lick of difference to the functionality.
The biggest tires on the market fit fine, but I noticed both the wheel strap and wheel hook can be hard to release when firmly secured on low-pressure tires. The rear wheel straps fit any size tires, no need for an extender or accessory for skinnies or fatties. The release handle to pivot the rack up and down needs a firm pull to activate, but even with three bikes, it is easy to reach. The cable locks weren’t always long enough reach though frames and both wheels, but really, a cable this thin is more about appearances to keep the honest people honest than keep the professional thieves away. All the locks use the same key, and when not used they store neatly in the tray, so I was always glad they were around for a quick run into the store, but I always apply a bigger lock when sitting down to eat somewhere.
I have a specific set of needs for a hitch rack. It needs to fit a 1.25 inch hitch, it needs to carry three bikes, and it needs to fit just about any bike in production today without adaptors. The Dr. Tray is one of the few racks on the market that hits all those points, albeit with a $808 combined price tag. But after using a lot of less expensive racks, the fact that this is easy to assemble, easy to adjust, easy to add a third bike, easy to install and remove and easy to fold, I can see why it costs real money. No one needs this rack, but it has made my life a lot less frustrating, and that is worth some extra cash.
Bike racks continue to evolve to be lighter, stronger and more user-friendly. Here are a few new ones that we saw at Interbike:
3 new bike carriers from Thule
By Scott Williams
The EasyFold XT is Thule’s new foldable platform hitch rack which will be available come March for $749.95. The two bike tray is capable of holding bikes up to 66 pounds in 2” and 1.25” options which is pretty incredible considering that this puppy only weighs 45 pounds and is 15 pounds lighter than Thule’s T2 Pro XT and fits bikes all the way from 20” – 29” wheel, 700c and fat bikes up to 4.7”. Riders who often have difficulties getting their bikes situated on the rack will be relieved to hear that this rack also comes with a foldable ramp that stows away nicely within the center and allows you to roll your bike right on the rack. Loaded with convenience this rack has the ability to fold up to roughly the size of a suitcase for easy storage solutions and offers an easy foot actuated pedal to tilt the rack for quick and easy trunk access.
Thule’s other new racks include their single platform rack which weighs 37 pounds and offers frame free clamping with a ratcheting arm and integrated cable locks. This bare-boned single bike rack does not offer a tilt feature but is easily folded up when not in use by activated the HitchSwitch on top of the rack. And if you still prefer to utilize the space on the roof of your car for carrying your bikes, Thule now has the UpRide. This upright bike rack features an intuitive interface for switching between wheel sizes and provides additional support with the scissor-like interface for the front wheel.
New bike transport solutions from Yakima
By Helena Kotala
The BackSwing adapter from Yakima converts almost any hitch rack with a two-inch receiver into a swing-away rack (even those that aren’t Yakima). It will hold up to a four-bike rack with bikes (or about 250 pounds), will retail for $299 and will be available in April.
The SingleSpeed one-bike rack is designed for folks who tend to travel solo (or don’t have any friends) and want a minimalist hitch rack. It is compatible with a variety of sizes of bikes from 20-inch BMX to fat. It will also be available in the spring and will retail for $259.
The GateKeeper truck tailgate pad will be available in two different sizes (fitting five or six bikes depending on the size of your truck) and features individual straps to hold each bike in places as well as a cutout to allow use of a backup camera with the pad in place. The larger of the two (62 inches wide and holds 6 bikes) will retail for $149 while the smaller (54 inches wide and holds 5 bikes) will cost you $139. They’ll be available in February.
For me, the hitch mounted tray rack is what you graduate to after toying around with other, lesser types of bike carriers. The Holdup 2 from Yakima is an excellent example of what a bike carrier can and should be.
The Holdup comes in two variations for receivers of either 1.25-inch or 2-inches. Yakima supplies you with a hitch bolt and lock for said bolt. The bolt screws into a receiver inside the rack itself and tightens, eliminating side-to-side sway.
For an extra $285, you can get an extension (the Hold Up +2) complete with extra trays and wheel locks for two additional bikes. Making your potential carrying capacity 4 bikes, though not without paying for it.Tweet Print