Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack Review

Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack

This is a heavy duty rack. A piece worthy of inclusion to any cycling fanatics’ garage or vehicle. It really doesn’t matter what bicycle tribe you subscribe to!  From racing, mountain biking, downhill, enduro, cruiser, fatbike, touring, to a fleet of family bikes; if you need to transport your beloved steed somewhere to enjoy the pure joy of riding a bike, then this Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack will do the trick.  Designed to fit four bikes, and the first line on Yakima’s website for this rack is that “now the family bikes can ride in style.” The obvious and quite outstanding feature is the ability to swing away from the car allowing you to access the back of your vehicle without having to remove all the bikes. A family and friend camping trip with a Mountain Bike focus was on the calendar, and the ability to transfer kids, gear, dog, and bikes was the perfect opportunity to put this Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack to the test.

First Thoughts On The Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack

I think it is purely a life cycle or stepping process that we take with regard to the kind of bicycle rack system we have on our car. When it comes to transporting your bike there are quite a few ways, and I have put my car to the test for pretty much every single one. Wrapped in a blanket on the back seat, check! Remove both wheels, and cram in the trunk of my sedan, check! Trunk carrier with 16 straps, clips, bungees, complicated angles, swaying or bouncing bikes at speed or over a bump, check. Putting a bike on the roof is nice, but the bikes are harder to reach and the chance of a garage or drive-thru overhang collision is always looming.  If you don’t know someone who has done that, well, then now you do. And lastly, the hitch rack with a multitude of options to safely and securely get your treasured bikes to their destination. I suppose the only stage left is a fancy trailer which will hold my fleet of bikes.

Make sure you have a 2″ hitch.

Installation

The handy installation guide is quite detailed and will get the job done. If you have experience with this sort of thing, you can probably skip the formal teaching lesson, but for purposes of this test I went step by step to ensure a proper, secure, and stable connection.

Make sure you follow their “sizing guide” to ensure that this rack will fit your car. A 2” minimum hitch is required, so that is something you will want to verify as well.  Most trucks and SUV’s do have that, or installing one is certainly an option.

Pretty straight forward: A hitch connector with swing, the upright bike holder, tools, keys, nylon strap, and plastic zip-like straps to secure the bikes.

Out of the box: Fairly simple and straightforward with the hitch connector and swing element, the upright and bike holder piece, the ratchet straps, some keys, one tightening tool, a nylon fastening strap, and the extensive directions.

The below metallic notch piece is probably the most critical piece on the Yakima Full Swing as it will ensure that the rack along with your bikes will stay securely fastened. It is connected to the large red triangular knob at the end (see 2 photos down), and will easily tighten to lock the FullSwing in place.

This piece is probably the most important little piece on the rack. It gets tightened by the big red knob (2 photos down), and ensures that the rack will not move!

In the photo below, the smaller silver knob is what locks the attachment into place, and the grey plastic button when pushed will release it, so you can remove the entire rack system

The small silver button prevents your rack from sliding out as well. The grey button unlocks or releases it when you want to remove the FullSwing.

Notice the key on the red knob.  That ensures that someone doesn’t take your bikes and rack completely off. The interesting thing is that when it is locked, the knob just spins. Basically, it cannot get traction to remove the screw from the wedge that keeps the rack in place.

The knob to tighten securely. When “locked” the knob merely spins around frustrating any would-be thieves

Now we have the connection from the hitch part to the upright part.  The silver screw is probably 8 inches long and gets fastened with the provided tool. Fairly easy, just make sure to tighten securely without really cranking away at it.  Notice the handy dandy bottle opener on this tool.  Why not enjoy a cold one post ride?!? 

Once attached, the red button in photo below will release the swing, so you can move the bikes out of the way of the hitch. The long handle is what you will be using the most as it locks and unlocks the Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack.  It will never completely come off, so you just need to line it up when fastening the swing part.

The big knob is the one you’ll use the most as it releases the FullSwing to swing.

Simply lift up on the upper red handle to release the locking mechanism to allow you to put the arms down when not in use on the car, or when storing.  Are you noticing a trend here?  Anything in red is something that is easily pushed, pulled, turned, or manipulated to move a piece of the bike rack out of the way or into place.

Red knob lifted will release the arms to put down when no bikes are being transported.

The zip tie-like straps are new to me, and they have worked well for me so far.  The strap holders can slide along the bar to adjust for different sized bikes.  There are 3 for each bike which is nice: 2 for the top tube, and one for the seat tube. The seat tube mechanism adjust as well to be able to really dial in a tight fit.

The moveable connections are where your bikes are nestled into. The straps ratchet into place with flexibility based on varying bike frame widths.

 

Road Bike, Hard Tail Mountain Bike with standard frame, and a pink princess strider.

You will need a special attachment to put the step-through bikes on as well as any non-traditional triangle style frames.  See my 2.5 year old strider that I was able to mount with all three straps: 2 on the downtube, and one of the front fork.  It was nice and secure, so I went with it.  Probably not per Yakima’s specifications, but that thing wasn’t going anywhere.

Ample space with 3 bikes.

Check out the spacing with 3 bikes.  Plenty of room here, and you could easily move the bikes over one notch for a tighter squeeze.

Bike lock rope stores in the back of the upright swing post.

The built in chain lock stores away on the back of the vertical post, and can be strung through the bikes to connect to the built in lock on one of the ends.  This is good for quickly locking up to avoid a quick take-off/walk away. It works, but is not completely steal proof.  I have another lock I will definitely put on if I intend to leave my precious cargo for longer than a few minutes.

“FullSwing” mode. I was able to complete loading my camping gear and get my 70 pound dog in without a hitch….

It will be tempting to stand on the cross bar to reach any items you may have up on top of the roof, but don’t! It can torque, wrench, bend, or ruin a multitude of parts on your rack and/or vehicle.

Features (from Yakima’s website):

  • Swings away with bikes loaded to provide ultimate access to vehicle.
  • No garage required with the single bolt assembly. We’ve made it really easy and even included the wrench.
  • Tool-free SpeedKnob™ quickly tightens and locks the rack to your car.
  • New AutoPin™ automatically positions and secures the rack into the hitch receiver.
  • New zero-hassle ZipStrips™ secure your bike to the rack (we’ve thrown in a few extras for the glove compartment).
  • Anti-sway cradles eliminate bike-to-bike contact.
  • Fully padded arms for the ultimate in bike protection.
  • Unique 3D mast design with glossy black finish.
  • Comes with fully integrated security. Locks bike to rack and rack to vehicle with included Same Key System Lock (SKS).
  • Enjoy a cold one with the Yakima signature bottle opener.
  • Carries up to 4 bikes.

Specifications

  • Weight: 56.00 lbs.
  • Dimensions: L 43.50″ X W 26.00″ X H 17.50″
  • Capacity: 4

Even though I have a heavy duty trail worthy SUV, the later models come equipped with a back up camera. A handy guide for when you are backing up and you need that extra reminder that you have valuable cargo back there.

Who The Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack is For?

That seems to be the question of the day. Some folks only need a rack for a bike or two. Bike enthusiasts who like to ride with friends could always use an extra spot for another bike. Carpooling it to a trailhead or meetup spot will save on gas, and can be a lot of fun as the pre-ride comraderie gets a headstart. Families! Oh yeah, families can definitely put this Yakima FullSwing bike rack to use.

View looking back. Obviously, not a clear view, but not completely blocked either.

How Many bikes Can Fit On The FullSwing?

Silly question, I suppose…  It does depend on your level of bike ownership, fanaticism, and combined $ value of ones bikes.  Once I started putting a variety of bikes on, the jumbled mess of carbon, steel, aluminum, and titanium frames, pedals, cranks, and handlebars becomes a bit challenging to manage. Add in different sizes and frame compositions, and you may want to add in some protective measures or go with only 3 bikes.

I have always had a sedan, and used a roof mounted bike carrying system going on 15+ years.  Not that I’m drinking the Yakima cool aid, but I have always sported one of their racks on my roof. Hence, I have been familiar with their offerings, but more so the durability and longevity of the systems.  A few additions to the family (Dog, kids, bikes) have bumped us into that SUV category.  I suppose a roof system would still work, but now access is becoming a little more challenging.  Add in that larger dog factor who gets a seat in the back, and the camping gear has to go somewhere.  It is ending up on the roof (yes, Yakima SkyBox to the rescue).  So, I suppose the dog is the main reason why this Yakima FullSwing Bike Hitch Rack has become a vital part of our family expeditions. He does need a way to get in and out, so the swinging aspect was a no-brainer.

Obviously, a bit of overkill for when I’m flying solo, but nonetheless, I was able to transport my bike to shred some single track.

Final Thoughts On The Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack

If you are a bike nut with lots of bikes, have bike nut friends that need a ride, or a family with bike riding aspirations, then the Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack is some thing to consider for safely transporting your precious cargo. This system installs rather easily, stays in place quite securely, quickly loads up to 4 bikes, and gives you peace of mind that your cargo will arrive safely. There are a multitude of options from Yakima, but the Yakima FullSwing should definitely be one to consider.

MSRP: $499

For more information and purchase please visit: www.yakima.com

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.

View Comments (1)

  • Good afternoon.

    Can you please share which lock you'll be using to lock your bikes onto the rack in addition to the one already installed in the FullSwing?

    Also, please share any suggestions you might have on how to make this hitch more theft resistant. I live in an urban area and would like to hold onto my rack for quite some time.

    Thanks.

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