Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. Yakima FullSwing: Two Competent Hitch Racks Compared!

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Some of you may think the Apex XT is the same as the Yakima FullSwing just because they look similar. Well, let me tell you, they are not.

Even though they look almost the same and have pretty much the same design, there are many differences between them in terms of individual features.

Recently, there has been an enormous fuss about which one is better between the Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. Yakima FullSwing. As I’ve used both racks individually, I thought it would be nice to show you guys the differences between the two.

So, if you want to know how the carriers work, what their features are, and what are their similarities and differences, then look no more because I’ve got it all covered for you.

I’ve done most of the heavy-lifting, so the only task remaining for you guys is to scroll down and see which one is a more suitable option for you.

Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. Yakima FullSwing: Comparison Table

Thule Apex XT SwingYakima FullSwing
TypeSwing-away RackSwing-away Rack
Item Weight42 Pounds56 Pounds
Bike Capacity44
Load Capacity150 Pounds150 Pounds
Hitch Sizes2″ hitches2″ hitches
Bike LockYesYes
Swing AwayYesYes
Anti-sway CradlesYesYes
PriceBuy From AmazonBuy From Amazon

Observing the Two Arm-Style Hitch-Mounted Racks

Many of you would prefer to jump into the differences or similarities, but you may miss out on some crucial details about the racks if you do so. The best way to understand the ins and outs of a product is to know its capabilities or limits.

So, I would suggest you first check out the detailed reviews of the carriers, then look into the similarities and differences between them.

Thule Apex XT Swing 4 Hitch Bike Rack

thule apex xt swing rack

I decided to get the Thule Apex XT Swing a couple of months ago because I needed something that could carry at least 3 to 4 different types of bikes simultaneously. We were planning for a family trip, hence the rack.

But why Thule? Well, before using the Apex, I had already tried out a few Thule racks, such as the Pro XT and XTR. Those were also hitch-mounted racks but a little different from the Apex XT Swing. Both racks served me well, so I was pretty sure this carrier won’t fail me as well, and I was right.

So, let’s start from the beginning. The rack supports 2-inch hitch receivers, and I had already installed a receiver long before getting the carrier. Usually, an SUV or a sedan comes with a 2-inch receiver, but if you don’t have one, then you’ll need to install it.

Attaching the rack was not a challenging task, and it took about a couple of seconds. You don’t need any tools for the job. You can simply lift the rack and insert the hitch into the receiver. Once it is inside, use the lock pin to secure the rack to your car. There is a knob at the rear, which you can use to stop the carrier from wobbling.

The risk of someone stealing your rack always remains. However, you don’t have to worry because there is a keyhole on the knob, and you can lock it to keep your carrier safe and secured to the vehicle.

The rack weighs only 42 pounds, yet it is able to carry 150lbs of weight. I was surprised by how much it could lift but never had the courage to actually test its maximum weight capacity.

The bikes I took with me were Yeti SB130 (29lbs), REI Electra Cruiser (36lbs), Giant Contend SL 1(19.9lbs), and Frog 44(14lbs).

I started with the REI Electra Cruiser as it weighed the most, then the SB130, SL 1, and finally the Frog 44. The SB130 and Electra Cruiser are 1-step thru bikes; thus, I needed to install adapters before placing them on the rack.

Setting up the Frog 44 was a little tricky as the bicycle is too small. I had to put the front handle on one arm and the seat on the other.

So, there are two bike arms with two cradles, and one of them features an anti-sway to keep the bikes from coming into contact with one another. It is not much of a challenge to attach the ratcheting straps to the cradle, and I was able to do it in a few seconds.

There is a 7-inch gap between the cradles; however, it would be best if you mount the bikes facing each in the opposite direction of the other. The rack was able to hold my bicycles rather easily, and there was less to no wobbling during my long drives.

Nevertheless, the best feature of the carrier is its ability to swing away for rear vehicle access. You can easily slide the rack away from the rear even when it is stacked up with four bikes.

Finally, the carrier comes with a cable lock, and it does a decent job of locking the bicycles to the rack. I wouldn’t trust it too much as any professional thief can slice open the cable with a little effort. However, it can still keep your bikes safe from theft when you’re driving slowly or stuck in a traffic jam. So, it is not entirely useless.

Things I Like About the Rack

  • It weighs only 42 pounds yet has a maximum weight capacity of 150lbs
  • Usually, I have to buy a locking cable separately, but this time it was integrated with the carrier
  • The 7-inch gap from one bicycle to another made sure there wasn’t any bike-to-bike contact
  • The anti-sway cradles kept the bikes from swinging and hitting each other
  • I was able to access my vehicle’s rear without any hassle

Things that Can be Better

  • I had to use adapters to mount the women’s and Y-frame bikes on the rack

Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Rack

yakima fullswing rack

The battle is fought the best when both contestants are equally strong, and what can be a better challenger for the Thule Apex XT Swing than the Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted rack.

My story of checking out a Yakima carrier is similar to the one I mentioned a while ago. Before taking the FullSwing out for a spin, I tested out the Yakima HighRoad and FrontLoader, and both of them came with pleasant surprises.

However, that is a story for another day. Today, it’s all about the FullSwing arm-style hitch-mounted rack.

So, the carrier is about 56 pounds, and its total weight capacity is 150lbs (40lbs maximum for one bike). I’m not sure if it can actually lift 150lbs because I never tried making the rack carry this much. I mounted four bicycles on the carrier, and their total weight was around 100lbs. The Yakima FullSwing didn’t have any issue holding the bikes.

Similar to the Apex XT Swing, this one also comes with two arms and eight cradles (four on each arm). The cradles feature anti-sway, so the bicycles don’t come in contact with each other during your trips. I really liked the fact that the cradles are adjustable, and you can move them along the arms.

This way, you can adjust the gap between the bikes, but it is a little tough to find the perfect spacing when you plan on carrying four bicycles.

Honestly, I had a tough time setting up the kid’s bike (Frog 44) on the rack, and somehow, I managed to attach it to one of the cradles only. It didn’t feel secure, so I ended up removing it from the carrier and putting it inside the car.

Nonetheless, it is easy to set up a standard bike on the rack because of the zip strips. After placing a bicycle on the arm, I only had to pull down the zip strips from each side of the cradles to secure it.

Installing the carrier to my vehicle was an effortless task. The AutoPin, along with the hitch switch, makes the process a piece of cake. There is also a SpeedKnob at the rear of the hitch, which I had to rotate to stop the rack from wobbling.

The SpeedKnob features a keyhole that can be used to lock the carrier.

Similar to the Apex XT Swing, this rack can also be swung away for rear vehicle access. The method, however, is a little different and more effortless.

The Yakima FullSwing comes with a security cable, which you can use to lock the bicycles to the carrier. Overall, it was held up great on its own, and I had a smooth experience using the rack.

Things I Like About the Rack

  • It came with padded arms, which kept the frames safe from scratches
  • The cradles are adjustable, and I was able to maneuver them
  • Using the Zip Strips is easier than using the ratcheting straps
  • I didn’t have to put much effort into swinging away the carrier
  • It took me a few seconds to attach the rack to my vehicle

Things that Can be Better

  • It is not at all suitable for kid’s bikes or bicycles with a small frame

Similar Aspects Between the Two Swing-away Hitch Racks

Finally, it’s time to have a glimpse at the similarities. So far, we have found only a few similar features between the carriers.

The first one is their design. Both of them are arm-style hitch-mounted racks; hence, they practically look almost the same. They both attach to 2-inch hitch receivers, so if you have a 2-inch receiver, you should be able to use the carriers.

The second thing I found familiar between them is the number of arms and the number of bikes they can carry. There are two arms, which is kind of obvious, and there are a total of eight cradles (four on each arm) to support four bicycles.

Both racks come with integrated anti-sway cradles, but the overall design is a little different. These racks are able to swing away for you to access the rear of your vehicle. Even if both racks can swing away, the way you have to do it is not the same.

Finally, the Apex XT Swing and FullSwing have similar locking cables and a lock located on the tightening knob to keep your bikes secured to the rack and the carrier to the vehicle, respectively.

The Differences Between the Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Racks

Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. Yakima FullSwing

With the reviews and the similarities out of the way, it is time we check out the differences between the carriers. They have a lot of minor and major features that make them differ from each other, so hold on tight because I’m about to drop some serious knowledge bombs.

Weight is a Big Deal

There is a significant weight difference between the two racks. The Apex XT Swing weighs 42lbs, and the FullSwing weighs 56lbs. As you can see, the latter weighs 14lbs more than the former.

This may not be an issue for some people who own a top-notch SUV or don’t have a problem managing a heavy rack, but it will certainly be a deal-breaker for many people.

So, it’s actually up to you to decide whether you want a heavy yet sturdier carrier or a lightweight but not as rugged rack.

Arms and Cradle Design

I’ve already mentioned that both racks come with the same number of arms and cradles. However, the arms on the Apex XT differ quite a lot from the ones on FullSwing. The latter has padded arms, and the bike’s frame remains on the arms. It is not the same with the former as the cradles are situated on top of the arms there.

The Apex XT includes ratcheting straps
The Thule Apex XT Swing-away includes ratcheting straps

Next is the way you secure your bicycle with the cradles. The Yakima FullSwing comes with Zip Strips that are sturdy and very easy to attach to the cradle.

The Apex XT includes ratcheting straps, which are very strong and does a fine job of holding the bikes down. However, it takes more time to connect the straps than the Zip Strips.

Adjustable Vs. Non-Adjustable Cradles

The Thule Apex XT Swing comes with four cradles, and there is a 7-inch gap between each of them. The slots are not adjustable, and you can’t move them along the arms.

On the other hand, the FullSwing comes with adjustable cradles, which can be moved along the rack arms. So, you get to decide how much space you want between each bike.

FullSwing comes with adjustable cradles
FullSwing comes with adjustable cradles

The ability to adjust the cradles comes in handy when you’re planning to carry three or fewer bikes. You can move the slots that you don’t want to use at the corner, giving you more space for your remaining bicycles.

On the other hand, the non-adjustable cradles are helpful if your plan is to fill all four slots.

The Installation Process

Thule XT Swing-away rack hitch locking pin

The way you have to install or attach the racks to a vehicle is similar and different at the same time. First, let’s look at the identical aspect. In both situations, you have to lift the rack, put the hitch inside the receiver, and finally rotate the rear knob to stop the carriers from wobbling.

The difference comes in the middle of their installation methods. The Apex XT features a locking pin or a hook that you need to put inside the hole of the receiver to secure the carrier.

On the contrary, the FullSwing comes with an AutoPin and a button. When you press the switch, the pin goes inside, allowing you to push the hitch inside the receiver. Once the hitch is in the right place, the pin comes out of the hole located at the side of the receiver, and the button should also pop out at the exact moment.

Swing Away and Swing In

As you already know, both carriers come with the ability to swing away for rear vehicle access. The steps you need to go through to make them move away from the rear are pretty much the same.

First, you’ll need to rotate a knob, which will probably be facing towards your car. The one on the Apex looks like an ordinary knob, while the one on FullSwing is similar to a lever. Afterward, you’ll have to pull the bar beside the knob and push the arms to make them swing away. So, the process of making the racks swing away is almost the same.

The difference lies when you are swinging in the arms. When the racks are opened completely, you’ll see a button at the center of the horizontal bar. The switch on the Apex is a little tough to press or maneuver, as you need to use your hands to do the task.

However, the one on the FullSwing can be pressed with your legs, making it easier for you to swing in the rack.

These are pretty much all the differences between Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing.

Choose Wisely!

As you can see that there are an awful lot of differences between the two swing-away hitch-mounted racks – if any one of you thinks that both carriers are similar, then you’re gravely mistaken.

If one of them is better suited to your personal needs, the other will probably be a better fit for someone else. Therefore, it is impossible to decide a winner between the two. So, I will not announce one of the racks as the champion between the Thule Apex XT Swing 4 and Yakima FullSwing. My answer may sound diplomatic, but it’s the truth— both carriers are up to the mark and capable of fulfilling your demands.


Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of In his professional life, he has been offering Paintless Dent Repair and Hail Repair services in North Texas since 1990. He is the owner of DentMasters. He is still passionate about outdoor adventures with his family, bikes and cars. So he has first-hand experience on bike racks. He is regularly testing suitable racks for his upcoming trip. His aim is to create a user-friendly free website where bikers can easily read bike rack informations without any hassle.

2 thoughts on “Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. Yakima FullSwing: Two Competent Hitch Racks Compared!”

  1. This was and awesome review of the exact 2 racks I am looking at. I am going to purchase the Yakima. Thanks for taking the time to do this.


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