Hitch racks are becoming the de facto standard for transporting bikes, and with good reason. As someone who carries dozens of different bikes on my car throughout the year, I am stoked to never need to deal with adaptors with different axle standards or wheel sizes.
I’ve also used almost a dozen hitch racks, and Yakima’s claim that “Dr.Tray is the ultimate bike tray rack for your hitch” might actually pass my hyperbole (read: bullshit) detector. It has been a rock solid companion for the last few months.
A locking knob tightens a wedge into the hitch to keep the rack sway-free and secure, and each tray has a cable lock stowed inside that is designed to loop through the frame and both wheels. There is tool free adjustment for side-to-side and fore-and-aft adjustment of the trays, so even the fattest of fat bikes, or smashy of downhill bikes, will fit fine with no seat-to-handlebar interference. Kids bikes fit fine too, assuming 24-inch wheels and up. Yakima only claims 26-29 inch wheels with tires up to five inches wide, but my son’s 24×2.1 tires did just fine. Bikes can be up to 18 inches apart, which is a huge amount compared to anything else I’ve ever used.
The Dr. Tray was super simple to assemble, and even the add-on EZ-1 bike tray was an easy four-bolt job. The EZ-1’s mounting bracket sits above the other two trays, which improves ground clearance, a good thing for those of us without lifestyle 4x4s. Installing the EZ-1 reduces the spacing of the other two trays, but it never created issues that a little adjustment couldn’t solve.
The rear wheel mount pivots instead of sliding. It seems like it shouldn’t work, but it handled everything from a 24-inch wheeled kid’s bike to a 48 inch wheelbase all-mountain 29er. The longer bikes’ back wheels end up hanging lower than the front, but in the end, it didn’t make a lick of difference to the functionality.
The biggest tires on the market fit fine, but I noticed both the wheel strap and wheel hook can be hard to release when firmly secured on low-pressure tires. The rear wheel straps fit any size tires, no need for an extender or accessory for skinnies or fatties. The release handle to pivot the rack up and down needs a firm pull to activate, but even with three bikes, it is easy to reach. The cable locks weren’t always long enough reach though frames and both wheels, but really, a cable this thin is more about appearances to keep the honest people honest than keep the professional thieves away. All the locks use the same key, and when not used they store neatly in the tray, so I was always glad they were around for a quick run into the store, but I always apply a bigger lock when sitting down to eat somewhere.
I have a specific set of needs for a hitch rack. It needs to fit a 1.25 inch hitch, it needs to carry three bikes, and it needs to fit just about any bike in production today without adaptors. The Dr. Tray is one of the few racks on the market that hits all those points, albeit with a $808 combined price tag. But after using a lot of less expensive racks, the fact that this is easy to assemble, easy to adjust, easy to add a third bike, easy to install and remove and easy to fold, I can see why it costs real money. No one needs this rack, but it has made my life a lot less frustrating, and that is worth some extra cash.
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