What is it
We’ve been using Yakima’s newest hitch rack, the Dr. Tray, for about seven months and it has proven to be a vast improvement over the Hold-Up 2 rack. It’s packed with practical features that make hauling bikes and even dealing with an empty bike rack much easier.
The Yakima website states the trays can carry wheel sizes from 26” to 29”. Yes, I’ve had 26”, 27.5”, 29”, cross bikes, road bikes, and my 4.8” tire fat bike on it no problem. But they left something out! My son’s 16” wheel bike fits as well! Pictured here on the EZ+1 extension with the front wheel cradled in the cage behind the basket and the clamping arm holding tight against the top tube.
Have you ever put two mountain bikes on a rack and the seat posts and levers just don’t align correctly? So, you end up barreling down the freeway with the seat post of one bike rattling around between the grip and brake lever of the other? With the Dr. Tray’s ‘QuickChange’ levers, you can slide the trays fore and aft on the rack to allow for space, and even angle them to a slight degree. The levers are easy to use and prove to be handy when you run into bike-to-bike interference.
And because this rack is fat bike compatible, bike vs. bike interference is at the minimum. Sure, it’s not the most compact rack around but in terms of trouble-free usability, it ranks high. Even if the bikes don’t have dropper posts to deal with saddle to seat interference, this rack does pretty well.
One of our favorite features on his rack is the one hand operation to lift and lower it. When you approach your folded up rack, 99% of the time you’re carrying something. Either it’s your bike to load, or gear to put in the back of the car. My wife no longer gets frustrated with me when I leave the rack on the car. She can lower the rack with one hand while holding our son, or anything else. For those of you with liftgate vehicles like ours, that same lever can lower the rack down far enough to open the back of the car even with three bikes on. Its lightweight aluminum construction makes raising and lowering it SO much easier than the heavier HoldUp 2. At one point, I needed to change the rack from the SUV to the truck after two CX bikes were already loaded. Because it’s so lightweight, I transferred the rack with the bikes still on it!
There is no need to keep a wrench in the car thanks to the SpeedKnob system. The only tool needed for installing or removing the rack is the SKS lock key. It’s as simple as twisting that red knob to tighten or release the compression plug inside the hitch. Even when fully loaded down, that compression plug keeps the hitch tight so I never see my bikes wagging around in the rearview mirror.
The EZ+1 third bike carrier is a bolt-on addition and is very solid. It is raised up a couple inches from the plane the other two trays are on, and the mount takes up a little bit of space on the back end of the rack. So with the EZ+1 installed, you lose a little bit of the sliding space for the other trays and you cannot slide the EZ+1 around. However, with its raised position the bike on the EZ+1 does not normally interfere with the other bikes and there is still plenty of sliding space for the other two trays to get the fit right. When removed, the EZ+1 can be bolted to a piece of plywood and used as a back-yard bike stand and wash rack.
The arms clamp down on your bike’s front tire and move much more freely than the older HoldUp 2 system and there’s not a loud ratcheting sound. The release lever is small and angular, and for the most part, releases as it should. I’ve only run into problems when it’s been really cold out and I tightened the clamp down too tight, so it’s was tough to release and was a pain in the thumb.
The SKS lock cable slides nicely into the lower part of the tray when not in use. When you need to lock your bike on for the post-ride burrito stop, just pull the cable out of the tray and put it through the frame and lock it to the post at the rear wheel. It’s still just a cable lock, but about as good as you can hope for with a built-in system. I do miss the added ratchet lever lock I installed on the HoldUp 2, which is not an option on the Dr. Tray.
The Dr. Tray is a feature packed rack that is extremely easy to use and versatile. It’s easy to get out of the way when you don’t need it, and easy to configure to basically any bike you throw on it. It’s held up well through one season of cyclocross and the daily life of a mountain bike family. It’s the most expensive hitch rack in Yakima’s lineup, but truly delivers.
It’s not the most compact rack around a can obscure rear visibility but its light weight and ease of use won us over.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: $599 +$239 for EZ+1
For more info roll over to yakima.com.