Field Tested: Yakima’s HoldUp Hitch-Mount Bike Carrier

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TheYakima Holdup bike carrier has a built-in bottle opener. Yeah, I know, sodo flip-flops these days, but still.

Butfirst, why the hitch-mounted tray-style bike carrier? Hitch-mounted racks maketransporting bicycles easier because you don’t have to be Yao Ming or carry astepladder to get your bike on top of your roof. If you are driving afour-or-all-wheel-drive rig, you are already nodding your head, especially ifyour ride is a 50-pound downhill mountain bike. Second, hitch-mounted rackssave gas over roof-mounted models by reducing your vehicle’s aerodynamicprofile. I couldn’t find any studies on it, and I’m not the sort who records mymileage, but I’m pretty sure you’d pay off the cost of the rack ($415, in aseason or six in gasoline cost savings.  Some people don’t like dead bugsgetting welded onto their bikes when they are transported on the roof. Thosepeople probably won’t care about the Holdup's bottle opener (just saying), buthitch-mounted racks fix that too. Why the tray style, which supports the bikefrom below rather than dangling them from the frame? Loading bikes onto theHoldup is very fast—like 10 seconds—even with mountain bikes that have strangegeometry and don’t easily work on the less-expensive dangler-style models.

The updated-this-yearHoldup works beautifully. It loads quickly—simply slot the wheels into thewheel trays and swing the ratcheting arm onto the top of the front wheel andclamp it down. Then you clamp down the rear wheels with the classic Yakimarear-wheel snugging band. Hard to describe, but its pretty obvious in person.It accepts any bike type—from giant downhillers, even 29-inchers, to svelteroad bikes. When the Holdup is empty, you can fold the arms and the front wheeltrays up and then pivot the whole rack up upward to a vertical storage positionagainst the bumper of the vehicle. Also, when you remove the rack entirely, itdoesn’t take up much room in the garage. Some of these tray-style hitch-mountedracks have clearance problems on steep driveways. The Holdup curves up from thereceiver and places the bottom of the bikes several inches above the hitch,which should eliminate scraping on all but the steepest transitions. Lastly,the Holdup includes a cable lock that snaps to the rack and allows you to lockyour bikes to the rack, your rack to your car, or both, which is nice.

So,what are the improvements? The '09 Holdup replaces the straight pin on the tiltmechanism with a spring-loaded pin. Much better. The old version didn’t tiltaway from the vehicle for hatch entry, and lastly, on the '09 version, theratcheting keeper arms have an internal stop that prevents them from falling offthe end of the rack and dragging on the ground, which sometimes happened onolder models with careless operators.

—Frederick Reimers
Reimers, the former editor of Canoe and Kayak magazine, is a freelance-writer based in Portland, Oregon.

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