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
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.
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 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
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.
The Yakima Fullswing is Easy To Remove From Your Vehicle
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Few More Photos Just For Fun