A hitch mount rack is a nice solution for transporting bikes easily. Just put the bikes on the back of your car, and go. However, choosing the right bike rack is not that easy – you want it to be secure and durable. Below, we have two best-selling bike racks that you may want to consider, Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack.
Continue reading to learn further about:
– Which model that is easier to set up and use
– Which model that is more versatile and compatible with most bikes
– The comparison of their security features and durability
– The warranty of Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack
– Which bike rack that provides a better value for the money
First of all, nobody wants to deal with a complicated assembly process. We want a bike rack that can be installed easily, quickly, yet securely. Interestingly, Thule Apex and Yakima RidgeBack immediately show a difference here. See also: Giro Foray vs Synthe.
Thule Apex requires some manual assembly. On the good side, all the necessary tools for the assembly are included in the box, so you won’t need to prepare anything separately. In addition, the instructions are easy to understand.
The problem is, some of the pieces are difficult to handle. Some pieces will need to be held at awkward angles while the bolts are inserted. However, some bolts are almost impossible to tighten while you are holding the pieces. Having two people to take care of the job will make the process much quicker and easier.
Yakima RidgeBack brings a new definition to convenience by coming completely assembled right out of the box. You just need to install it on the back of your card, and you won’t need any special tool for that. Simply attach the hitch receiver, slide the tongue of the bike rack into the hitch receiver, and insert the red safety pin.
You can do the installation process all by yourself. In order to lock the bike rack to the back of your car, you just need to turn the “SpeedKnob” on the front end of the bike rack’s tongue. So, this model is an excellent choice if you don’t want to deal with a difficult technical work.
Ease of Use
We have discussed how Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack are installed. However, in the day-to-day use, which one is more practical and user-friendly? You want to be able to load and unload your bikes easily, yet without compromising the safety.
Thule Apex has a simple attachment mechanism. You can put a bike on the rack without much effort, thanks to the low loading height. You won’t need to remove the front wheel of the bike. The bikes’ top tubes will rest on anti-sway cradles with rubber straps to secure them. The anti-sway cradles ensure that the bikes won’t rock back and forth too much. The company does recommend using additional nylon straps to prevent the bikes from bumping each other when passing on rough roads.
One huge advantage that Thule Apex offers is the easy access to the vehicle’s rear compartment. Even when the bike rack is fully loaded, you can still open your vehicle’s rear compartment unhindered. This is because the bike rack has a pivoting arm which will allow it to rotate away. The pivoting arm is also equipped with a solid lock that will prevent the bike rack from swinging while on the road. Even the more expensive models can’t provide easy access like this.
Yakima RidgeBack, on the other hand, features a ratcheting strap system to secure all your bikes in place. Loading bikes is mostly a straightforward process, and there is also an anti-swap clamp for each bike to prevent bumping. The plastic straps are grooved to fit the bikes perfectly and are easy to tighten. Unfortunately, while the plastic straps are quite durable, they are not replaceable.
Like Thule Apex, Yakima RidgeBack allows you to lower the profile for loading and unloading. It can also fold away to allow access to the vehicle’s rear compartment. The levers for these movements are located on the front for easy access. However, the levers are not as easy to operate.
Both Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack are compatible with 1.25″ and 2″ hitch receivers. They both are available in 2-bike, 4-bike, and 5-bike variants.
The 5-bike version of Thule Apex has a total weight capacity of 150lbs. However, the company wants to be safe by setting the weight limit per bike to 37.5lbs. The cradles can be moved to allow the bikes to be positioned in a way that can prevent or minimize bike-to-bike contact. However, getting zero bike-to-bike contact is only possible with three bikes; it seems to be impossible with four or five bikes.
Furthermore, Thule Apex is best for regular road bikes. Getting a full suspension bike that has a unique front triangle to fit properly on the rack can be quite difficult. Small bikes are also tricky to fit.
The 5-bike version of Yakima RidgeBack also has a total weight capacity of 150lbs. The weight limit per bike is 40lbs. This is only a little bit higher than Thule Apex. One problem is that the cradles can’t be re-positioned, so it will be very difficult to fit bikes of different sizes and to prevent bike-to-bike contact.
Nevertheless, Yakima RidgeBack is said to be able to accommodate a wide range of bike frames. Road bikes, mountain bikes, and children’s bikes can fit on the rack. The ratcheting strap system will ensure that the bikes are kept in place.
Security and Durability
So, how is the durability of Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack? Are they truly able to secure your bikes without breaking? After a careful test and analysis, we can conclude that Thule Apex is better than Yakima RidgeBack.
Thule Apex has a lock mechanism to prevent theft. When the lock is set, you need to have the key in order to unload the bikes. There is also a cable that comes out from the main mast to secure the bikes to the rack. However, the cable is only long enough to go around the top tubes, so the wheels are still vulnerable unless you chain them to the bikes’ frames. Nevertheless, these security features are already very good.
The durability of Thule Apex is excellent. Despite having many moving parts, the pivots are all well-built and durable. The construction is also very robust. The cradles and straps are subject to wear, but these parts can be replaced.
Yakima RidgeBack has a unique lock mechanism. When the lock is set, the SpeedKnob will just spin in its place without loosening, so the bikes can’t be unloaded. However, this is the only anti-theft feature. You may want to use additional chains to secure the bikes’ wheels.
The main mast of Yakima RidgeBack is slightly curved, and this particular design is beneficial for keeping the sprockets and pedals away from the frames. The bike rack is also resistant to rust and corrosion. However, there are two potential issues. First, the decal on the bike rack will peel over time. Second, some joints do not look very strong and seem to be prone to breaking if you load heavy bikes.
Finally, when buying a bike rack, it is very important to check the warranty terms. You want to be able to make a warranty claim if you get a defective product. Both Thule Apex and Yakima RidgeBack are backed by limited lifetime warranty terms. As usual, the warranty terms only cover manufacturing defects and exclude normal wear. But the requirements are slightly different.
In the case of Thule Apex, if you get a defective bike rack, you need to contact the retailer from which you buy the product. Then, the retailer will try to fix the problem. Only when the retailer is unable to fix the problem that the retailer will contact the company. You don’t need to register your product, although it is recommended.
You won’t find much of an issue when making a warranty claim for an easily replaceable component. You can even get the bike rack repaired within a day. However, for more extreme cases, the process will be more time-consuming as you will need to go through the retailer before the company can give a further repair or a replacement.
In the case of Yakima RidgeBack, you need to register your product in order to be eligible for the warranty. By registering your product, it will be easier to make a warranty claim later as your purchase information is kept in the company’s database. You will be also notified if the company finds an issue in your product.
Thule Apex vs Yakima RidgeBack
In general, Thule Apex is more recommended. It has a better design with cradles that can be re-positioned to accommodate different bike sizes. It also allows easy loading and easy access to the vehicle’s rear compartment. This model has more anti-theft features and a better build quality.