Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Hitch-Mounted Carrier: My New Rack (Lots of Photos)

James drills Thule Bike Rack

I had to drill the threaded locking bolt out to get the old rack off of my car.

Last fall, after finishing the final race of the year, I decided to take my bike rack off the car.  This served two purposes.  One, it allowed my wife and I to have easier access to the tailgate.  Two, I wanted to avoid dragging the rack through the harsh, salty, corrosive conditions of the Ohio winter.

Unfortunately, when I lugged out my tool set to remove it, the threaded locking bolt had seized to the rack and the head of the bolt snapped off under the torque of the wrench.

You can read more about how I removed the old Thule rack here:

Bike Rack Blues: http://quickdirt.com/2013/11/04/bike-rack-blues/

I decided it was time to get a new rack and I started doing a lot of research for the “ultimate” bike carrier.  In the end, there was a lot to consider, but the Yakima Fullswing came the closest to fulfilling all of my needs.

Opening The Tailgate All The Way is A Must Have Feature

Yakima Fullswing 4 Bike Hitch Carrier

I’ve been very happy with the quality of the Yakima Fullswing bike carrier so far. It functions well and swings completely out of the way of the tailgate, which allows for full access to the back of the vehicle.

The rear door on my Toyota Rav4 swings wide to the right.  With my previous rack, a Thule 4-Bike Hitch Carrier, the rack would bend forward, but not as much as I needed for this vehicle.  The rear door would partially open about two or three feet wide.  This was fine for putting groceries in the car, but made putting larger objects in the back of the vehicle nearly impossible.  That meant I had to get out my tool box and remove the rack every time I made a large purchase at Home Depot.  This was highly inconvenient, but I made due for several years.

I wanted a rack that would get completely out of the way when I was trying to live my non-biking life.

Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Hitch Carrier

I think the Fullswing is a nice looking bike rack when not in use. The slick paint job looks great on the back of my Rav4.  It’s a little dirty from the drive to Scioto Trails State Park, but mountain biking is a dirty sport. 🙂

Racks I Was Considering

I did a lot more research this time when I bought my rack.  After 5 years with my old one I had a much better idea about what was important to me.  There were several racks that probably would have worked.  You can click on the links to check out prices and reviews of the products below.

  • Kuat NV 2 Bike Carrier

    I really liked the Kuat NV, but ultimately price steered me towards the Yakima Fullswing.

    Kuat 2 Bike Black Chrome NV Rack (2-Inch) – I was really drooling over this one.  Especially after I saw it in person.  It would require the 2 Bike NV Add-On to make it a 4 bike carrier.  Ultimately, this put it out of my price range.  However, if price wasn’t a factor, or if I only wanted to carry two bikes, then I probably would have bought this one.

  • Kuat Alpha 3 Bike Rack – This one wouldn’t swing out of the way, but it was so light-weight that I thought it would be easy to remove with the twist dial system.  Also, I wanted a 4-bike version and they did not have that.  The price and the weight were the top two factors for me on this one.  I thought it was a good quality rack for the price.
  • Thule 9027 Apex Swing Away 4 Bike Hitch Rack – This swings away from the car and was also a top contender.  Unfortunately for me it uses the threaded bolt locking and stabilization system that caused me so many problems on my last rack.
  • Hollywood Racks HR1400 Sport Rider SE 4-Bike Platform Style Hitch Mount Rack (2-Inch Receiver) – It seemed like a good quality rack for the price, but this was more like my money-saving compromise pick to the Kuat NV.
  • Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack – This one wouldn’t swing away from the tailgate, but it has a twist-dial removal system that I thought would make it easy to take off the car when I wasn’t using it.
  • Saris Axis Steel 4-Bike Rack, 1-1/4″ or 2″ Receiver – I liked the price of this one, but did not like that fact that it had a thread-lock stabilization system.  My father-n-law has a Saris rack and it works well.

Why I Chose the Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Hitch Carrier

 

Yakima FullSwing 4 Bike Hitch Rack

The Yakima Fullswing allows you to pivot the entire rack so that you have full access to the back of your vehicle.

Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Auto Hitch Carrier

It was really nice at the last race I attended to have full access to the back of my vehicle. I was able to set up a nice little tailgating area rather than just squeezing in and out of the back of my car.

Ultimately, the number one reason that the Yakima Fullswing was the ultimate rack for me was that it swung completely out of the way of the rear door.  No other design promised to get out the way this easily.  Even the platform design of the Kuat NV that I really liked would fold down, but that would still prevent my feet from getting close to the vehicle.  I like the fact that when the Fullswing is opened up I can sit down on the bumper and change my shoes or enjoy a post-ride recovery drink.

Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Hitch-Mounted Rack

The pivot arm clicks into place so that your bikes don’t swing back into you on a hill or in heavy wind. The red handles are a great visual cue to help you figure out how to release the arm and/or lock it into place.  It is solidly constructed and feels very secure.

Yakima Fullswing tension knob

This knob is used to put tension on the rack when it is folded back against the vehicle.

The Yakima Fullswing is Easy To Remove From Your Vehicle

James Knott drills the bolt out of his hitch-mounted bike rack.

I don’t want to have to drill out another threaded bolt from my hitch receiver. That’s why I was really drawn to twist-dial systems that required no tools.

My traumatic experience of drilling out my threaded lock bolt was not the only issue I had.

I lost one of the locks when it wasn’t locked properly.  The replacement cost is over $40.

Another time, I left the rack on during the winter and the corrosion of the road salt caused the lock to seize up.  I had to use a hacksaw to remove it.  There went another $40.

There were long stretches where I knew I wasn’t going to use my old rack, but it wasn’t very easy to remove because it required wrenches to get it on and off.  Sometimes, I didn’t remove it because of laziness.

I really wanted something that would be easy to remove from the vehicle.  I was drawn to the twist dial speed lock and stabilization system of the Fullswing.  The fact that I didn’t need any tools to remove the rack was a huge plus.

Yakima Fullswing Speedknob

The Yakima Fullswing requires a 2″ receiver. I love the Speedknob system that adds tension to the hitch receiver and prevents the rack from swaying.

Yakima Fullswing Speedknob

A dial at the base of the rack allows you to remove the rack without any tools. Yakima calls this the “Speedknob”. By twisting the knob to the right, you increase tension inside the hitch receiver and prevent the bikes from swaying. When properly secured the bike rack feels very sturdy.

Lock Your Bike To The Rack

Many serious cyclists have several thousand dollars tied up in their bikes and so bike security is a big issue.  It’s not hard to put $10,000 worth of bikes on a 4-bike carrier.  I like the locking system that comes on the Yakima Fullswing.  It is easy to lock and unlock and the locking cable stows easily inside the rack so that it can’t get lost.

On my previous rack, the cable was stowed in such a way that it fell loose from the bottom of the rack and dragged along the highway for a few hundred miles.  After that it was useless.  This new design was definitely a selling point for me because I knew it would prevent a repeat scenario.

Yakima Fullswing locking cable

The locking cable can secure 4 bike frames with one easy twist of the key.

Yakima Fullswing locking cable

The locking cable is fed out of the back of the rack.

Yakima Fullswing locking cable and key

The locking cable uses the same key as the Speedknob tension dial.

Yakima Fullswing locking cable is stowed.

The locking cable stows securely behind the rack. Gravity keeps it from falling out of it’s holster.

Will Your Bike Fit on the Rack?

Most road bikes and hard-tail mountain bikes will fit on this rack.  For other bikes that don’t fit, Yakima sells a Tube Top Cross Bar Adaptor that allows the bikes to hang from a bar that is stretched between the seat post and the steering tube.  This is good for children’s bikes, smaller women’s bikes and some full-suspension mountain bikes.

I have had two full-suspension mountain bikes on here with no adaptor and no problems.

Yakima Fullswing

The Yakima Fullswing can hold up to 4 bikes. So far, I have only put three bikes on it – including full-suspension mountain bikes. For certain configurations, you might have to take off the front tires to get all the bikes on.

Yakima Fullswing ratched strap system

The Yakima Fullswing uses a ratcheted strap system to secure the bikes. The straps come completely off the rack and it comes with extra straps.

My one criticism of this rack has to do with the ratcheted strap system that they use.  I really liked the stretchable straps that came on my Thule rack.  When they were stretched tight the bike felt very secure.  The ratcheted straps make it difficult to secure the bike as tightly as I would like.

This is not a huge deal.  I don’t have any concerns about the bike falling off the rack.  However, there is some slight forward and backward sway to the bike that I would like to prevent.

Yakima Fullswing ratcheted strap system

The straps can be moved up and down the arms of the bike rack. This allows you to customize the distance between the bikes and adjust depending on how many bikes you are carrying. This is a nice feature. The gray tab locks it into place.

Yakima Fullswing straps

The straps can be completely removed from the rack. I’m not sure why this is a good thing. It seems like it’s just a good way to lose the straps. They must think so too because they included extra straps with the rack.  I suppose it is possible that the straps will wear down over time and this system would make it easy to replace them.

Yakima Fullswing straps

I should do a better job of cleaning my bike. 🙂

Yakima Fullswing bungie cord

I use a short bungie cord strapped to the bottle cage to keep the front tire from swinging around when I drive.

Overall Thoughts

I am happy with my purchase.  The Yakima Fullswing is solidly constructed and easy to use.  It will carry up to 4 bikes safely and securely.  The fact that it swings completely away from the tailgate makes accessing the back of your car a breeze.  I like that I can remove the rack from the car without using any tools.  The fact that I can do this allows me to store it in the garage more often and will add years of life to my investment.  I feel like the price is reasonable for the high quality product that you are receiving.

I ordered my bike rack from roll: Polaris.  If you live in the Columbus area, I hope you will consider ordering a rack from them.  They have provided a ton of support and great service to Quickdirt.com.

If you live outside of Columbus and you enjoyed this review, then please click here to check out the Yakima Fullswing on Amazon.com.  This is a great way to support Quickdirt.com.  You can check out the price and read other reviews for the rack.  It will also give you links to other similar bike racks and accessories for your research.  Plus, you will get the same low price that Amazon always offers.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the Yakima Fullswing in the comment section.  Also, let me know what you think of this review.  I don’t write a lot of product reviews and I just want to make sure I am providing the type of useful information that cyclists are looking for.

Thanks,

James

A Few More Photos Just For Fun

Yakima Fullswing release lever

This red lever is used to release the hang arms when you want to raise or lower them.

Yakima Fullswing hang arms

Yakima Fullswing with arms extended

Yakima Fullswing

Yakima Fullswing pivots your bikes away from the vehicle.

 

 

10 thoughts on “Yakima Fullswing 4-Bike Hitch-Mounted Carrier: My New Rack (Lots of Photos)

  1. Thanks for the review! I have a Rav4 and mainly wanted to know if the Fullswing fit with the spare tire, but found the rest of your review very useful as well. The pictures really help, I had trouble finding pics of the integrated cable lock in use.

    I always loved my Dad’s Thule, but last time he said he was getting tired of the stretch straps and some of them were getting worn, So even though the Zipstrips have their own pluses and minuses, I was intrigued by having something different and easier to pull on/off.

    I also like the tool-less hitch attachment. I hate screwing in the long bolt and locking pin of my current cheapo rack.

    You’ve added to my resolve to step up to this one vs looking at the SwingDaddy that this replaces and the Thule Vertex or Apex.

    • I’m glad you found the review helpful. Let me know what you think of the rack when you get it. I’m sure other Quickdirt readers would love to hear your honest opinion about it.

  2. I just got this one – picked the yakima over the thule because the yakimas support bars are one 12″ apart allowing the kids bikes to easily fit. Thule ones are set wider and have giant cradles so that those smaller bikes would not fit on to them.

    one question – my knob used to put tension on the rack when it is folded back against the vehicle never goes in as far as it should – it is tight but the washer is loose – is that normal?

  3. I just purchased this model. The main reason for choosing this over the Thule apex was the support bars.
    Yakima has them 12″ apart with smaller cradles allowing the kids bikes to easily fit, Thue has them 15″ apart and quite large cradles, only one bike I have would have fit without a lot of messing around.

    one question – my knob used to put tension on the rack when it is folded back against the vehicle never goes in as far as it should – it is tight but the washer is loose – is that how yours is?

  4. Hi,
    I just bought Yakima Fullswing too.
    On Yakima web site, it says “Comes with fully integrated security. Locks bike to rack and rack to vehicle with included Same Key System Lock (SKS),” but I can remove the bike rack from my car with the knob tightened & locked with SKS key.
    Is this normal?
    Or I got a faulty one?

    I would appreciate if somebody could give any advice on this.

    Thank you

    • I don’t think I could remove my rack if the knob was properly tightened. That being said, it takes a lot of torque to get it completely tightened. A handle that provides more torque would make it easier to tighten the rack to the car.

  5. Hi James,

    First, thanks for taking the time to create such a thorough post on your rack woes and your experience with the Fullswing. I found it extremely helpful as I’m just looking at getting our first hitch-mounted bike carrier. In a previous life (before my wife and I had children) I had a Civic with a Thule roof-mounted rack that I now dearly miss. With that said, I had a couple of questions that I was hoping you may have some answers to…

    1.) I’ve got a 2006 and a 2013 RAV4, both of which will need a hitch receiver installed. I was looking into picking up a couple of the Curt #13149 receivers as they’re highly rated and fit both of our RAV4s; however, I’ve read that many people, when using aftermarket receivers, have had issues with the hitch-mounted swing-away bike racks with regard to bumper and rear tire clearance (this seems to be a common issue for Toyota Sienna owners). From the pictures you posted and from what you wrote, it doesn’t appear that you encountered any issues with clearance on your RAV4 so I wondered if you were running a Toyota factory-installed hitch receiver or an aftermarket unit? If aftermarket, do you happen to recall the make/model?

    2.) In your “Racks I Was Considering” section, I noticed the one rack not listed for consideration was the Yakima SwingDaddy. The SwingDaddy looks to be similar to the FullSwing so I was wondering if you ever had it on your radar at one time and if so, what compelling factor(s) influenced you to go with the FullSwing. I only ask because there seems to be about a $100 price difference between the two.

    Regards,

    -Tom

    • It’s an aftermarket hitch receiver, but I don’t remember which one. I think I bought it at Autozone.

      I went back and looked at the Swingdaddy and honestly can’t remember why it didn’t make the short list. When I went back and looked at it on Amazon it looked like a pretty good rack. Let me know what you end up doing!

  6. Thanks for the review, James. Very helpful–I was ready to pull the trigger on a 1Up or Kuat before realizing how important swinging out of the way is. One question – you don’t mention the Kuat NV failing the “swing away” test, but I don’t think it does, right? It just tilts down a little.

  7. I believe I have an issue with my fullswing, but am not sure. Perhaps you guys can help me. When I go to tighten the handle (NOT the one in the hitch), I cannot get it to tighten flush against the frame. There seems to be about a 1/4 inch gap. I can wiggle the washer around. This doesn’t seem normal from the other ones I have looked at. I have attached a couple pics. Thanks all.

    https://goo.gl/photos/QXSjZEmzv4YgTLj36

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