YAKIMA RidgeBack Tilt-Away 4-Bike Hitch Rack Review: Is it Really The Best in the Business?

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Yakima RidgeBack Bike Rack is affordable. Especially if you have to carry more than 3 bikes. At this price, you won’t get a better deal. The rack itself is pretty solid and durable. It’s compact. The framing helps users in storing it efficiently.

Yes, the rack has a tilt-away feature that you can access using a lever on the main mast. Besides, doesn’t have any compatibility issues whatsoever.

The rack comes fully assembled and ready to be installed. It works with both 2 and 1.25-inch hitch receivers. People can carry any kind of bike they want with this rack.

My Yakima RidgeBack Tilt-Away Hitch-Mounted Bike Rack review will deal with this hanging rack’s essential aspects. For example, its features, compatibility, build quality, and shortcomings.

I’ve also tried my best to offer possible solutions to some common customer problems. If you’re in a hurry, you can still get a good idea of this rack by quickly going over the crash-course section below.

And for others, you’ll hopefully know a great deal about this rack because I’ll thoroughly discuss things one by one. In the end, you’ll also find a short section where I go over some possible alternatives if this bike rack fails to meet your standards. With that said, let’s begin.

Yakima RidgeBack Review: At a Glance

YAKIMA RidgeBack 4 Review

Assuming you don’t have much time for an elaborate discussion on the Yakima RidgeBack bike rack, I’ll only try to highlight the important things here.

Firstly, if you’re not a fan of assembling by yourself, this will bring a smile to your face since it comes fully assembled.

You can attach it straight out of the box to your vehicle, and you won’t need any tools. In addition, you don’t have to worry about hitch receiver compatibility, for it works with both class 2 and class 3 receivers.

Next up: The build. Yakima RidgeBack has a solid aluminum construction. The 4-bike carrier and 5-bike carrier models weigh 40 pounds and 35 pounds. They both have the same carrying capacity, though, which is 150 pounds (40 pounds per bike).

The rack has a brilliant compact design that folds up quite nicely when you’re not using it. Both the mast and the resting arm can be folded to store them anywhere you want. Different levers are placed conveniently on the top of the mast to tilt this rack. They are easily accessible and work smoothly.

Loading the bikes could initially give you a hard time, but if you are ready to give it some time, you’ll figure out the solutions quickly. Speaking of bikes, you can haul pretty much anything with this rack. And by anything, I mean ‘anything.’

Even bikes with unique frame styles or no top tube. But to carry them, you do have to purchase an extra TopTube Adopter.

Moving on, Yakima RidgeBack Bike Rack has a unique zip-strip system for securing your bikes. For each bike, there are three zip strips. Yes, they are plastic-made, but the quality is top-notch. You can also move them side by side to adjust the bikes better. However, you can’t rotate them.

Diving Deep into Review

So, those are the main talking points of this hanging bike rack. But if you’re itching to know more about this product, you don’t have to go elsewhere. Because below, you’ll find an in-depth review of the Yakima RidgeBack bike rack that will hopefully answer all the questions that you may have.

Yakima RidgeBack bike rack

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Solid Aluminum Build

Yakima Ridgeback is a capable bike rack with a rugged build to withstand the harshest conditions. The whole body feels solid and sturdy. To be fair, there are no weak spots whatsoever.

The main “Aluminum” tube gives the rack the necessary core strength to carry 4 to 5 bikes, depending on the model you prefer to go with.

Even looking at this rack for the first time will give you a good idea of its sturdiness. The main backbone is not lean but rather bulky (which is good). The U-shaped aluminum arm upon which the bikes will rest is also alright. It bends pretty elegantly and is relatively smooth as well.

On the arm resides the plastic ZipStrips. These are the main party pieces of the Yakima RidgeBack bike rack. These plastic straps will securely hold your bikes in place and ensure they don’t sway much while driving to your destination.

And for this reason alone, Yakima didn’t comprise the quality of the plastics. The ZipStrips are made from good-quality plastic and are neither rigid nor cheap. This goes the same for the rubber parts as well. They will ensure your bike’s top tube stays scratch-free throughout the ride.

Also, if you look closely, you’ll see some subtle bumps on the rubber parts. They are there for a reason. These little bumps will ensure enough space for the bikes’ brake and gear cables to pass through.

In short, Yakima did an excellent job with the entire build of this model. It gives you the mental satisfaction that your bikes will be entirely safe while you’re on the road.

From things that matter the most to the things that you won’t even notice in this rack, are all have the same premium craftsmanship as you’d expect from a Yakima product.

Moderately Heavy but has a Decent Weight Capacity

Given how many bikes it can carry (4-5), the Yakima RidgeBack doesn’t weigh that much at all. The whole thing weighs only 40 (4-bike carrier) pounds, making it relatively easy to maneuver around your vehicle.

Considering how easy it is to attach it to your vehicle, you won’t feel it even weighs 40 pounds.

However, to some customers, this can still be considered heavy. I understand that because there are bike racks that weigh less than this.

For example, Allen Bike Rack. But this 40-pound aluminum rack is heavy for a good reason. With your bikes loaded on, you will feel a bit of drag while driving. But know this, the extra weight makes the rack more stable with bikes loaded on it.

As for the weight capacity, it has a decent score. The overall weight capacity of Yakima RidgeBack is 150 pounds. For each bike, you have to work within the 40 pounds limit. So, if you intend to carry 4 bikes with this rack, you can take at least 2 adult and 2 kid bikes without any issues.

Just make sure you don’t exceed the rack’s weight capacity, and you’ll be fine. Now, what can you carry within this weight limit? Well, pretty much anything except giant E-bikes. Just be a little more calculative while loading your bikes onto this rack, and that’s it.

Tools Free Installation Process

Yakima RidgeBack comes fully assembled to make things easier for the customers. Yes, you don’t have to put things together all by yourself. Just get it out of the box, attach it to your vehicle, and you’re good to go. Easy!

Now, attaching the rack to the vehicle isn’t complicated at all. But before doing that, you have to check the hitch compatibility first. Looking at the stinger, you’ll see that the rack is, by default, ready for a 2-inch hitch receiver. So, if your vehicle has a 2-inch hitch, then you can go ahead and attach the rack to your car.

The rack is also compatible with a class 2 hitch receiver. Just remove the small piece on the stinger, and voila! The rack smoothly fits into the 1.25-inch hitch. This means you can use the same rack with multiple vehicles with different hitch sizes without any problem.

Coming back to the installation process, lift the rack and position it roughly to match the height of your car’s hitch receiver. After that, slowly push the tongue of the rack into the hitch receiver. Next, use your safety pin to line up the receiver pinhole to the bike rack’s hole. It’s easier that way. When you’re done lining them up, simply insert the safety pin.

Finally, tighten up the SpeedKnob that’s placed on the bottom of the rack. Make sure you tighten it firmly to secure the tongue in the hitch receiver. Once you’re happy with the knob, insert the key into the knob and turn it to the locked position. And you’re done.

In some cases, the rack may come with this knob locked. In that case, you have to unlock it first and then install the rack. You can’t do it otherwise.

Mixed Feelings about the Loading Process

I’m not about to sugarcoat things in my Yakima RidgeBack Tilt-Away Bike Rack Review. It has issues. The loading process is a bit dodgy. When you’re ready to load your bikes on the rack, first pull the gray lever on the top of the product.

It’s a big plastic button…you can’t miss it. Also, just like all the levers in the rack, it’s spring-loaded and oddly satisfying to use.

Anyway, after pulling the lever, you can fold the resting arms to the designated loading position. Now, you’re finally ready. Just remember to load your heaviest bikes first and work your way to the lighter ones. This is necessary to have a more stable and safer transporting experience.

Okay…so hold your bike on the top tube (if it has any) and lift it from the bottom. Then place it on the carrying arm and install the Yakima ZipStrips on the top tube and the seat post. Lastly, strap down the wheels of your bike using the straps that come with the package. And that’s it!

Rinse and repeat the process for other bikes as well until you face any anomalies. For example, your bike might have a shocker or water bottle underneath the seat post. And these two things could interfere with installing the ZipStrips. Don’t worry. There’s an easy way to solve this problem.

Simply flip your bike the other way around and use the anti-sway ZipStrip to wrap around the Seat post. It has the same function as the ZipStrips and will keep your precious bikes safe nonetheless.

Loading the step-through bikes could become an issue with this rack. But that shouldn’t stop you from going out with your friends, right? So, what can you do?

Well, just buy a TopTube Adaptor for 49 bucks, and your problems will be solved. This adaptor will help you carry bikes with the most unique frame design there is. Also, it lets you load and take any kids’ bikes easily. So why should adults have all the fun?

Further Discussion on the Matter

Yakima RidgeBack Rack has several models with different carrier capacities, such as 2, 4, and 5. Interestingly, both weight capacity per bike and total weight capacity remains the same. That is 40 pounds per bike and 150 pounds in total.

Why is this relevant? If you want to carry 5 bikes in this rack, here’s the kicker: You can’t carry 5 bikes. At least not without some fight. Ironic, isn’t it? In most cases, it might be impossible to do so. The reason is there’s really not much spacing between the cradles on the 5-bikes capacity model.

In the center, from one cradle to another, the spacing is only 4.88 inches. However, the 4-bike capacity model increases up to 5.5 inches. This should clearly depict how hard it can get if you try and load 5 bikes.

Well, the smarter solution is to get one with more bike capacity than you need. Sounds weird, but it’s an effective solution. Once you look at the rack, you’ll instantly understand it. So, if you want to transport 3 bikes, get a 4-bikes carrier. If the former number jumps to 4, get the one that has a 5-bike capacity.

In this way, you’ll have more space between your bikes. It also lets you adjust them easily. But, on the other hand, spending hours trying to figure out how to load all of your bikes on the rack can kill the mood.

Another important thing is that opting for a hanging hitch rack means you don’t mind the occasional contact between your bikes. This is normal for the rack. You have to make your peace.

If you can’t, it’s better to look at other bike rack genres, like platform hitch rack. They are kinder to bikes than any kind of bike rack out there.

Working with the Zip Strips

I think the Zip-strips deserve some of our attention too. And these strips are better than most of its competitor racks in terms of durability, adjustability, and practicality. If the spacing distance of the cradleshasbummed you out then these will surely bring some of the joy back.

Many manufacturers just use simple plastic straps and soft rubber as a cradle and call it a day. But Yakima made sure they did this one right. The strips are basically U-shaped parts that you can slide horizontally to adjust your bikes on the rack. For each bike, there are three ZipStrips. Two of them secure the bike’s top tube and the other one works as an anti-sway cradle.

Tip: Suppose you’re having a tough time adjusting your bikes on the rack, given the tight spacing distance issue. You can remove the ZipStrips and load all your bikes on the arm of the rack. Once you’re happy with the bikes’ placement, you can use them to secure them on the rack.

Moving on, let’s address some difficulties working with Zip Strips. Don’t get me wrong, but primarily, these strips work fine with standard bikes with a generic frame design. However, the problems surface when you carry step-through or kids’ bikes.

If you remember, I’ve already mentioned that you can use a TopTube Adaptor to work around this issue. However, with these cradles, things can still become quite problematic.

For example, it’s pretty challenging to use the ZipStrips to secure your bikes if you use a TopTube Adaptor since it resides right underneath the seat. So, the chances are you’ll have a hard time trying to fit the ZipStrips into your bikes. Besides, if your bike’s seat is closer to the top tube, you may have to raise it for better accommodation.

Using the zip strips with bikes with unique frame-style could be a bit difficult. However, there are also ways to deal with them. So my humble advice would be, don’t get frustrated immediately and spend some time working with the rack.

Yes, It Tilts

Yakima RidgeBack has a pretty decent tilt-away feature. There’s a lever on the top of the mast that you can easily pull to tilt the rack. Trust me. This will give you enough clearance to access the back of your vehicle.

Interestingly enough, you can also fold the mast. Therefore, the rack not only becomes more compact to store but also takes up less storage in the garage if you intend to keep it installed. You’ll have plenty of room to roam around behind your vehicle.

Last but not least, you can also fold the resting arm. To access this feature, you’ll have to maneuver a different lever this time which is placed on the top of the mast.

It works just like the other lever. However, you’ll hear a distinctive click sound while pulling it up or down. It means now you can either fold the arm up or down.


Yakima RidgeBack bike rack reviews will tell you it(2, 4, and 5 bike carriers) works flawlessly with both 1.25 and 2-inch hitch receivers. Mind you, the rack comes prepared for a 2-inch receiver.

So, if your vehicle has a 1.25-inch receiver, you must remove the outer portion using a wrench, and you’ll be all set.

Using it with class 2 and 3 hitch receivers allows you to use it with multiple vehicles. And as for vehicle compatibility, you can’t use it on trailers and RVs. But, besides them, you’re all good. The next question is, what kind of bikes can this rack transport?

From earlier arguments that we’ve gone over so far, you can guess the answer, right? This rack will house ‘almost’ any kind of bike… no problem.

The only issue is that it can be a bit tough in the beginning to adjust them on the rack. And if you want to transport step-through or kids’ bikes, you must purchase an extra TopTube Adopter.

It Never Hurts to Look at Other Options

The Yakima RidgeBack Bike Rack review was a bit cutthroat. I admit. The product is tough to love at first.

It has some natural flaws that are present in almost every single hanging hitch rack. If you can’t accept that, then it’s okay. In that case, you must consider looking at other possible options for safely and securely carrying your precious bikes.

Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack

Let’s not venture very far for the first alternative to Yakima RidgeBack. Let’s look within the hanging hitch rack genre first. Take Thule Apex XT, for example.

It’s a fantastic hanging bike rack with a solid construction, comes with a reasonable price point, and provides more spacing between the cradles than Yakima RidgeBack.

It has 3 models for carrying 2, 4, and 5 bikes. And despite having a solid steel body, this one still weighs (35 pounds) the same as the Yakima model.

The rack is strong and comes fully assembled. All you have to do is take it out of the box and install it in your vehicle. And nope, you don’t need any tools to do that either.

Like the Yakima RidgeBack, this one is also compatible with class 2 and class 3 hitch receivers. So you don’t have to buy any hitch adopter to use it with vehicles with different size receivers. On top of everything else, Thule Apex XT has a resounding 150 pounds weight capacity.

It does everything an excellent hanging hitch rack should do. But it stands out because Thule provides a whooping 7-inch spacing between each cradle. As a result, it makes loading and adjusting the bikes on the rack a lot less annoying than the other bike racks on the market.

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

Allen Hitch Bike Rack

Allen might be the safest option for you if you’re not willing to spend much money on a hanging hitch rack. This is almost 3 times cheaper than the Yakima RidgeBack.

It’s more than capable of getting the job done. Like any decent bike rack out there, it’s super easy to install and has a very compact design.

Depending on the model, it can carry from 2 to 5 bikes. So, if you like to go on bike trips with your friends and family, you can definitely check this out. The 4-bike capacity model weighs only 22 pounds and has a carrying capacity of 140 pounds. Given its price tag, I would say the numbers are more than ‘okay.’

It has a solid Alloy steel construction and can carry a wide range of bikes without fuss. Besides you can also use this rack with 2 and 1.25-inch hitch receivers. The rack doesn’t take up much space, and you can fold the arms to simplify things.

Yes, you can tilt it, and the clearance is moderate enough to access the back of your vehicle.

With these two out of the way, let’s look at some gorgeous platform-style bike racks starting with the Thule Pro XTR.

Thule Pro XTR

This bike rack is for people who want the best for their bikes. Thule Pro XTR is a platform-styled heavy-duty bike rack that weighs about 52 pounds. With the standard model, you can carry 2 bikes on this rack. If you want to carry more, you have to purchase an extra add-on that’s sold separately.

For each bike, the carrying capacity is 60 pounds. This lets you carry a wide range of bikes without worrying too much. Speaking of bikes, the rack is widely compatible with different kinds of bikes. Thule Pro XTR can fit 20 to 29-inch wheels and up to 5-inch tires. And you won’t have to use any type of adapter at all.

The rack makes zero contact with your bike’s frame, which is somewhat impossible for a hanging hitch rack. Adjusting the bikes is even easier. You don’t have to spend much time trying to figure out the best possible formation to fit all your bikes on the rack.

In one case, Yakima RidgeBack triumphs over the Thule Pro XTR, which is hitch compatibility. The former works with both 1.25 and 2-inch hitch receivers, right?

The latter does not. It has two different models based solely on the hitch sizes. Besides, you can’t use the add-on to carry more bikes with the 1.25-inch hitch model.

RockyMounts MonoRail

Thule Pro XTR is an insanely expensive bike rack. Yes, it’s solid and compatible with many bikes, but what if you don’t want to spend that much money on a single bike rack? Enters RockyMounts Monorail bike rack. Its solid steel body weighs less than the Yakima RidgeBack and Thule Pro XTR.

As for carrying capacity, this rack can haul up to 120 pounds of weight without breaking a sweat. And with a simple adapter, you can use this rack for both 1.25 and 2-inch hitch receivers. This useful feature is absent in Thule Pro XTR.

But can it transport more than 2 bikes? Yes, absolutely. You can use the add-on to increase the carrying capacity from 2 to 4 bikes. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about the hitch size at all. You can use the add-on with either the 1.25 or 2-inch hitch model.

In short, RockyMounts MonoRail is an affordable platform-style bike rack that makes carrying bikes to your destination a fun and easy job. It has a low-loading height, the bikes can be adjusted easily, and it tilts away quite smoothly.

For more Details: RockyMounts SplitRail vs. MonoRail Comparison: Which One Tops the Other?

Wrapping it all Up

Now that my Yakima RidgeBack Bike Rack Review is done, where does the Yakima RidgeBack bike rack stand? Build-wise, this rack has literally no weakness. It’s made with care, and the materials used are good quality. The rack is a bit heavy compared to other products on the market, but this is for a good cause.

The extra bit of weight transcends into being more stable when cruising along the road with your bikes on the rack. Therefore, it’s a good thing. The exclusive ZipStrips make loading the bikes easier and more fun.

However, the short distance between the cradles can be annoying while adjusting the bikes. And since the bikes will be placed closely together, you have to make peace with the occasional contact. Other than that everything else is fine. Speaking of which, the bike and hitch compatibility of this rack deserves high praise. Besides, it has a very compact design and folds away nicely when not in use. In the end, if you’re a family person who needs to carry a lot of bikes without having to spend much, then this can be a decent choice for you.

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Jeff Phillips Racktutor
About the author

Jeff Phillips is the able founder of RackTutor.com. 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.

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