If you’re looking for accessories to add to your vehicle, specifically hitch bike racks, you must’ve come across various models from Thule and Yakima. The nearly endless options of hitch mount racks may leave you overwhelmed when having to choose one. But between Yakima Ridgeback VS Thule Apex, which is better?
In this article, we’ve put together everything that we researched on Yakima vs Thule hitch bike racks so you can make the right choice! Both brands are renowned for producing some of the best accessories, and they do have their differences. While Thule racks offer better functionality, the Yakima bike rack offers better bang for bucks.
Brief History of Yakima and Thule Brand
Both brands produce similar products, but they have different visions and goals. Thule always specialized in artistic designs with great functionality features.
Yakima, on the other hand, specializes in producing durable and affordable products. Below, we look into both brands’ history in brief.
Formed in 1979, Yakima started out with a small machine shop. It was founded by Jeanne Lagervall and Otto in Yakima, Washington. The company was later acquired by Don Banducci and Steve Cole, who shared enthusiasm in adventure and sports.
Their breakthrough was during the 1984 Summer Olympics when they decked out all participating race vehicles with aerodynamic fairings. In the past few decades, they have grown significantly as a company that produces various kinds of vehicle accessories, including –
● Roof racks
● Cargo carriers/baskets
● Rooftop tents
● Bike racks
● Water sports rack, and more.
This Swedish company was founded in 1942 by the Thulin family, located at Hillerstorp in Sweden. Thule has received its share of success as they specialize in various kinds of automobile accessories for car owners to carry their luggage and outdoor equipment.
In the next few years, the brand was acquired by multiple firms, but the company started growing significantly in 2004 when it was acquired by Candover. The turnover had grown to three times greater as they added new product lines, including snow chains, RV products, tow bars, car trailers, etc.
Comparison Between Yakima and Thule Bike Rack
|Accessories’ Style||Hitch Mount, Roof Rack Mount, Bike Wheel Carrier, Truck Bed, Spare Tire||Hitch Mount, Trunk-Mount, Roof Rack Mount, Spare Tire|
|No. of Models Available||17||11|
|Additional Accessories||None||Roof Rack Wind Fairing, Locks|
Which One Is Better: Yakima Ridgeback VS Thule Apex XT?
A major difference between Yakima and Thule bike carriers is their visual appearance. Thule racks look very well-finished with stylish designs and additional accessories, whereas Yakima rack flaunts simplicity. With that being said, let’s get into the in-depth overviews of Thule vs Yakima bike racks below.
Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack Review
The Thule Apex XT series of hitch bike racks is one of the favorites of adventure and wildlife enthusiasts. They are solidly built and don’t require any tools for installation. Moreover, the rack can hold most varieties of bikes with a specially designed 2-inch hitch receiver.
Thule Apex Bike Rack
If you are looking for a durable and easy-to-use hitch bike rack, the Thule Apex XT should serve all your purposes. With additional accessories for improved stability and safety, you can carry up to 4 bikes to your next adventure destination!
Appearance and Structure
With a sleek and visually appealing design, the Thule Apex XT is one of the most premium-looking hitch bike racks in its segment. It is made from metal and is a bit bulky considering its size. But it’s a good thing as it ensures that the frame is sturdy and durable.
Bike Storage and Features
On paper, the Thule Apex XT can hold up to 4 mountain bike or road bike. Thule hitch racks come with a knob mechanism that makes installation/uninstallation of the rack to/from the hitch very easy. The knob also allows it to be used with 1.25-inch and 2-inch hitches. Overall, the rack offers superior stability and minimal wobbling of the bikes.
With around 7-inches of free space between each bike, the thule rack also comes with additional straps that can hold down the bikes for reduced swaying and better stability. The best feature of this hanging rack is that it can be swayed to one side or be tilted for accessing the trunk of the vehicle.
Moreover, it comes with additional hitch locks and bike locks for the safety of the multiple bikes being held by the rack.
Fit and Installation
The Thule Apex XT is fairly simple to install. Although the procedure is easy, the manual that comes with it is complex to understand, and some users may have a hard time setting it up the first time. On average, it should take around 4-5 minutes to load and unload four bikes.
On the brighter side, it doesn’t require any tools for installation. When it comes to the fit of bikes, the Apex XT is compatible with most bikes as its hitch receiver is compatible with both 1.25-inch and 2-inch hitches.
Although it isn’t compatible with every bike out of the box, you can get adapters for non-traditional bikes such as Y-frame bikes.
- Very easy to install and uninstall
- Solid material build feels premium and durable
- Integrated hitch locks, bike locks, and cable locks offer safety for bikes
- Can be swayed or tilted for accessing vehicle’s trunk
- Additional straps for holding bikes increases stability
- Straps are difficult to use and tend to get loose during driving
- Users have reported loose locking bolts due to fragile clutch washer
Yakima Ridgeback Hitch Bike Rack Review
The Yakima Ridgeback is a fairly simple hitch mount bike rack without any bells or whistles. It has Yakima’s special ‘UpperHand’ design, with the levers being at the top of the frame. This also makes it easier to secure a bike to the rack. As the rack is fully-assembled out of the box, you can set it up for your vehicle in 5 minutes!
Yakima Ridgeback Rack
The Yakima Ridgeback is a great trailer hitch bike rack for its price. It can hold up to two bikes and has nifty features that make it easy to load and unload bikes. However, bikes have to be secured properly to prevent mishaps.
Appearance and Structure
Its frame comprises a hollow metal tube that has a cradle for holding up to two bikes. While hitch mount rack can fit most traditional bikes, additional adapters may be required for non-conventional bikes. The rack is relatively lighter than most of its rivals, which makes it easy to loading bikes from a vehicle.
However, the Yakima hitch rack definitely isn’t the best in terms of durability. While it can fit most bikes with ease, the tube tends to bend and, at worst, break in half when heavy bikes are being held. Furthermore, a lot of plastic components have been used throughout the frame, which makes it feel flimsy.
Bike Storage and Features
The Yakima Ridgeback can hold up to two bikes and offers around 5-inches of space between each bike. It also offers impressive stability for the bikes. However, if not secured properly, the bikes tend to bump into each other, which scratches and damages the paint.
Once you get the hang of securing the bikes properly, the bike rack serves its purpose just well. It is very easy to load and unload bikes from the rack, which can also be folded into a compact form when not in use.
As it misses out on locks and safety features, you would have to buy a cable lock or similar accessories separately.
Fit and Installation
The best feature of this Yakima bike carrier is its simple procedure of installation and uninstallation. This hitch rack comes fully assembled, and no additional tools are required for setting it up to a vehicle. When it comes to the fit of bikes, the Yakima bike rack can hold most conventional bikes, but an adapter may be required for certain bikes.
- Carrier can be tilted for accessing the trunk
- UpperHand’ design keeps levers at the top, meaning you won’t have to bend
- Simple procedure for attaching/detaching from vehicles
- Great stability and almost no wobble when bikes are secured properly
- This yakima bike Rack can be folded down into compact form when not in use
- Lacks basic safety protection
- Contains a lot of plastic in its build, making it feel flimsy
Key Differences Between Yakima Ridgeback VS Thule Apex XT
● The Thule Apex XT is bulkier and more durable than the Yakima Ridgeback
● It takes more time and effort to install and uninstall the Thule Apex XT
● Thule Apex XT offers better stability
|Thule Apex XT||Yakima Ridgeback|
|Locks Included||Bike lock, hitch lock, cable lock||None|
|Rear Access||Can be tilted or swayed away||Can be tilted|
|Bike Quantity||2-5 (depending on the model variant)||2|
|Distance Between Bikes||7-inches||5.5-inches|
|Compatibility||1.25-inch and 2-inch hitch receivers||1-inch, 1.25-inch, and 2-inch hitch receivers|
|Weight||42 lbs.||33.1 lbs.|
With all of that being said, the final choice depends on your preferences. While the Thule bike rack produces premium racks with great features and visually appealing designs, Yakima offers exceptional value for money without compromising too much in quality. However, in the long run, Thule racks should serve you better.
We hope to have helped you narrow down your choice with our take on Thule Apex vs Yakima Ridgeback bike racks. Best of luck!
I am Ryan Ford, a mountain biking enthusiast who loves to explore the outdoors. I also like to go on adventures with friends and anything else that involves being outside. I love my bike because it gets me out of the house and gives me an opportunity to enjoy nature.