Thule vs Yakima Hitch Bike Racks Comparison and Review

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Any adrenaline-rushed biker would agree. In any outdoor trip that involves your 2-wheeler, a reliable bike rack is essential. Not only does it save you space inside your vehicle, but it also guarantees your bikes are transported safely and securely.

The task of picking your bike rack, especially if it is your first time can be confusing. There is so much in the market offering promises and guarantees. But, if you are a seasoned biker or anyone who has done so much reading about bike racks, you sure must have heard of the two giants in the name of a bike rack.

Try to do a quick search on Google for the best bike rack. This brings you to a lot of links that have their own list of them. If you check each one, you won’t miss the brands Thule and Yakima. These two are the rival names that dominate the rack world. They each have their own following.

They are the rack world’s Marvel vs DC Comics or the bike rack industry’s Coke vs Pepsi. They are considered the trade’s leaders.

With so many winning notable advantages under their names, which brand is it that really suits your needs?

Brief History of Thule and Yakima

outdoorsman looking out

Thule – “Active Life, Simplified”

Thule Group’s history of making the active outdoor life simplified, dates way back to 1942. With the love for outdoors, the Thulin family founded the Thule group. This company started selling fishing traps under their own designs. Realizing the need for other outdoor gears, they ventured into other products such as car-related items and sporting gears.

It was in 1992 when Thule Group launched its first bike carrier which was towbar-mounted. Since then, they have researched and studied to develop the best one that can fit their customers’ needs.

Yakima – “Take More Friends”

Yakima’s tag line envisions you to keep your active lifestyle while maintaining connections with your friends (and families). This company believes that any activity done together creates worthy memories you will always come back to.

Taking more friends is surely possible as Yakima’s gears free up your car space.

Started in 1979 as a small machine shop in Yakima, Washington, the new owners of Yakima Industries saw quite a potential for the company. They geared towards hauling recreational sporting equipment and has since then kept their promise of getting you, your gears, and your friends where you need to be.

In 1984, Yakima made history by being the official bike rack supplier for the 7-Eleven Cycling Team who won nine gold medals in the Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles.

Thule vs Yakima Comparison: Which is the Right Hitch Bike Rack for You?

Judging by the earliest histories of these two brands alone already gives you a great challenge in picking which one of them you’d get for your bike rack. Their experience in handling outdoor gears is unquestionable and has been improving and evolving according to customer’s needs.

Take a quick look at the comparison table below.

Thule vs Yakima Comparison Table

Thule Yakima

Average Price




Hitch Mount, Spare Tire, Roof Rack Mount, Bike Wheel Carrier, Truck Bed

Hitch Mount, Spare Tire, Trunk-Mount, Roof Rack Mount

Number of Models Available



Available Accessories


Locks, Roof Rack Wind Fairing




Thule Hitch Bike Racks

Being one of the most trusted names in bike racks and carriers, Thule tends to offer a more expensive option. Its price can be considered a worthy investment though if you need a secure rack that can hold up well over time.

With durable construction, paint-friendly cradles, easy-to-install designs, and adjustable arms, the manufacturing Thule Bike Racks have got every base covered.

Offering a wide range of bike racks that suit any kind of vehicles and functions, Thule Bike Racks haul your 2-wheelers safely and securely. Their selection of products has racks that can carry from one to four bikes.

What’s interesting is, among these number of offerings, you find bike carrying solutions that require no frame contact. This is especially critical for bikers whose bikes are expensively framed and painted. They also come with security features to prevent thieves from getting a chance at your bikes.

Another factor that makes cyclists support Thule is its anti-sway feature. Bikes, with their moveable nature, may sway and move around during bumpy rides. It doesn’t require you to be an experienced biker or driver to know that such repeated movement may cause damage not just to your bike but your bike too.

Quick Facts About Thule Bike Racks

  • Their systems come with all the accessories needed
  • No tools needed for installation, thereby making them the user-friendly rack
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Sold in more than 100 countries worldwide
  • Total of 9 manufacturing facilities with about 2,200 active employees
  • Bike racks are extensively tested in their Test Center ™ giving you confidence that these racks are up for the job

Yakima Hitch Bike Racks

With over 25 years of experience ever since they started the business in 1979, you sure are getting something from a manufacturer that knows what it is doing. Committed to constantly updating their designs, they have products that are exceptionally state-of-the-art. No wonder they were picked for that Summer Olympics.

It doesn’t matter if you are driving a sedan, an SUV, or a truck, Yakima has a bike carrier for you. Mount it up on a roof rack or attach it to your trailer hitch, these bike racks will keep your valuable bikes safe during transport.

What most cyclers appreciate about Yakima Bike Racks is the adjustable spacing between each bike. It offers a good space of up to 18 inches between bikes. This is helpful and seems like an added feature to be able to carry bikes of all sizes. Most Yakima Bike Racks are designed to hold bikes sized up to 29 inches.

Just how much can Yakima carry? These systems are made to go well with individuals or groups of cyclists. You may choose from their wide range of designs that can carry single to multiple bikes.

Yakima Bike Racks are one of the most affordable racks in the market, but the design they have for their racks has improved practicality. They can haul different types of bikes such as mountain bikes, fat-tire bikes, roads, women’s, BMX, e-bikes, hybrids, and even kids’ bikes.

Quick Facts About Yakima Bike Racks

  • Toyota is one of the many partners Yakima has in the automotive world
  • They have one of the lightest hitch-mounted bike racks that weigh 20 pounds
  • Installation on most of their bike racks require no tools
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Unique feature includes bike racks with integrated bottle openers

Yakima FullSwing  vs. Thule Apex Swing

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Made sturdy with its solid steel constriction, Yakima FullSwing 4 Bike Rack is chip-resistant, thanks to its high-gloss black powder coat finish. Each part that may come in direct contact with the bike frame has an excellent TPE (Thermoplastic elastomer) padding that absorbs road shocks during bumpy rides. This also helps in minimizing vibration.

Thule’s answer to road shocks is their RDT (Road-Dampening Technology) that has 2 layers of cushioning, quite helpful in reducing vibrations and taking up shudders. This USA-made Thule Apex Swing 4 Bike Rack showcases an attractive, two-tone design with molded black covers and superior silver finish.

Mounting System

Both bike racks are hitch-mounted with swing-away designs allowing easy access to the rear cargo area without removing your bikes. Yakima FullSwing 4 Bike Rack uses its SpeedKnob technology that has an integrated AutoPin hatch. This provides a tool-free and anti-rattle installation.

Yakima’s SpeedKnob tightens the rack inside your hitch to minimize noise and movement. Its AutoPin reduces the need for the use of standard hitch pin and clip.

The EasyMount system is Thule’s response to Yakima’s SpeedKnob. With EasyMount, the bike rack has a built-in locking hitch-pin and tool-free anti-rattle diver. These enable quick and easy installation. Removing the need for tools or pins and clips.

Need to store when not in use? Thule’s Apex Swing has a quick-release lever (HitchSwitch) that lets you fold down the arms for easy storage. Its audible click lets you know they are now in a locked position.


Thule and Yakima both agree that security plays a big part in transporting bikes, therefore, each had its own security features. Thule has a built-in cable lock integrated into the mast that allows you to lock your bikes to the rack. When not in use, it can be stored inside the mast. It also features Thule’s One-Key System that locks in cable and hitch connection with locks that are keyed alike.

Yakima has the Same Key System (SKS) locks that prevent theft not just of your bikes but of the rack as well. SpeedKnob lock guards your rack to your vehicle with the built-in cable lock that secures your bikes to the rack.

What Customers Say

What better way to verify if such a product is of your money’s worth that the words coming out of the users who experienced using it. Find out what customers say about these two items

Yakima FullSwing

JA Kamban, a verified purchaser has no regrets buying this product. After a long debate with himself, he concluded it was a wise decision to pick this due to the following reasons; (1) Easy installation, (2) The ratchet style bindings secure the bike to the rack extremely well, (3) Integrated bike lock, (4) The all black with red accents is really a sharp looking design. He gave it a 5/5 rating.

Thule Apex Swing

Stephen, a verified purchaser who drives a 2013 Volkswagen Tiguan with Hidden Hitch 2″ receiver considers it a fantastic bike rack and was well worth the money. All due to the durable and solid construction plus its being USA-made. He gave it a 5/5 rating.


Thule Apex Swing

Yakima FullSwing


2-inch x 2-inch trailer hitch receivers

2-inch x 2-inch trailer hitch receivers

Carrying capacity

4 bikes

4 bikes

Weight capacity

140 pounds

160 pounds

Carrier Weight

42 pounds

56 pounds

Thule T2 Classic vs Yakima HoldUp 

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Materials and Fabrication

Both Thule T2 Classic and Yakima HoldUp are made of solid steel construction except Yakima’s are finished with a glossy black powder coat while Thule is with the normal black powder coat finish. Individually, they are both looking stylish while being rust and corrosion-resistant.

Yakima has ratcheting hooks on its pivoting upright arms that hold your 2-wheelers securely by its front wheels with absolutely no frame contact. The beefed-up pivot method withstands wear and tear due to continuous use.

Thule also uses the same ratcheting hooks to hold the bikes with no frame contact. However, the One-Key System that locks the cylinders to secure the bikes to the rack is sold separately. Its SnugTite hitch is a feature that eliminates movement and clatter in the hitch. Yakima’s response to this technology is their HitchLock threaded hitch pin that also acts as an anti-rattle device.

Mounting System

Both bike racks are hitch-mounted, platform-style rack and carry up to 2 bikes. Their designs fit almost any bike regardless of its size, weight, frame design, suspension, or brake style.

Unlike the first two bike racks, we have compared, these two tilts down for easy cargo access. Thule uses a HitchSwitch lever that allows easy setup and folds up for each use while Yakima has a Spring-loaded pin that does the same.

The bikes can be loaded and secured with ratcheting wheel straps that fit most bikes of any length. Thule T2 Classic’s additional feature is its deep wheel holders and extra-long wheel fastenings that accommodate fat bike tires up to 5″ wide.

Yakima, on the other hand, has on its Yakima HoldUp, a side-to-side wheel tray adjustability. This is perfect for bikes with large handlebars like 29ers and some mountain bikes.


Bikes are no doubt valuable for a cyclist looking to consider getting a bike rack, therefore, the security feature is just as important. Both manufacturers have equipped these two products with security systems that will leave you confident as you leave your bike at the gasoline station you must take a quick break at.

Yakima HoldUp features cable locks with the Same Key System (SKS) that are built into each upright arm lock bikes to rack. Thule has a feature for security but is sold separately. This is the One-Key System lock cylinders that secure the bikes to the racks.

What Customers Say About Thule and Yakima

Thule T2 Classic 2 Bike Platform Rack – Tilting

M. Robinson, a verified purchaser says you must get this rack. He had concerns prior to getting it but upon receiving it in the mail and getting it installed to his vehicle, all his doubts disappeared. Based on his experience, it is a quality hitch that he’d highly recommend. He rated this product 5/5.

Yakima HoldUp 2 Bike Rack – Platform Style

Pawel, a verified purchaser says once you use this bike rack, you will laugh at other bike racks. It won’t perform close to holding up to its 600-mile round trip drive with two bikes in it. No rattling sounds or anything. He was so fond of it he rated it at 5/5.


Thule T2 Classic 2 Bike Platform Rack

Yakima HoldUp 2 Bike Rack


2-inch x 2-inch trailer hitch receivers

2-inch x 2-inch trailer hitch receivers

Carrying capacity

2 bikes

2 bikes

Weight capacity

60 pounds per bike / 160 pounds in total

60 pounds per bike / 160 pounds in total

Carrier Weight

50 pounds

49 pounds


Choosing between Yakima and Thule Bike Racks can be a tough decision to make, as both brands lead the rack world with their wide variety of great products. As a cyclist, outdoor adventurer, or hobbyist, consider some factors for your informed decision. This should include the kind of vehicle you drive, the number of bikes you need to bring with you, and, of course, your budget.

We’ve only covered their products that are both hitch-mounted, but you can check out other racks mounted differently. You may refer to the first table we have on this write-up. In checking out other models, keep in mind its convenience to use. Some may get in the way of your rear signal lights, make sure you have them alternative LED lights to attach or reflector stickers for improved visibility.

Also, consider aerodynamics especially if what you pick gets mounted to the roof. Always remember that the more wind drag it experiences, the more your fuel consumption will be.

Looking back at the comparisons, both offer the same features and capabilities making it even harder to pick. In the end, it all boils down to what you really need and what your budget can accommodate.

Thule’s reputation in bike racks tops all the reasons to pick them over Yakima. Their products are sure to be a worthy investment as they can last for a long time. Its lifetime warranty is also a plus

Yakima bike racks don’t come far behind, though. They keep up with Thule and mind you, at a cheaper price. Yakima is best for practical adventurers. They may not look as sophisticated and stylish as Thule, but they sure are durable and long-lasting.

In any case, you should be assured that the product you are getting from either one of these brands are of the highest quality and will serve you with all your bike hauling needs.

Check out our other articles on truck ladder racks and ski racks for your jeep wrangler!

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