Yakima vs Thule Bike Racks Comparison: Which Brand Is Right for You?

Can't decide between YAKIMA and Thule? We compared them for you.
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Last updated: September 27, 2022
YAKIMA
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Can't decide between YAKIMA and Thule? We compared them for you.
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Yakima vs Thule – it’s one of the age-old debates that bikers have, especially if you want to take your bike out and about strapped to your car. These rack brands are both impressive, and have a few different models that can suit your needs. In this guide, we delve into what the different racks can offer, and which might be compatible with both your car and with your bikes. Whether you’re a solo traveler or a whole family of cyclists, there are options for you in these brands.

As well as comparing the models of Yakima vs Thule bike racks, we delve into their watersports ranges, comparing kayak racks for your cars, too.

Brands Comparison

The Thule Group has a long and rich history which actually started in the 1940s, when the Thulin family started selling fishing traps, which quickly became a range of outer outdoor gear including car-related items and eventually, bike carriers and racks. In the 1990s the brand launched a towbar-mounted rack and this has grown into a full range.

Thule became a global brand around 50 years ago, selling a variety of products on a number of continents. You can read more about this fascinating Swedish company here Trusted Source History of Thule Group | Thule Group In 1942, Thule Group was founded by the Thulin family, when Erik Thulin, a true lover of the outdoors, put the Thule name on a so called pike fishing trap (a fishing gear) that he designed and began to sell to the fisherman of Scandinavia. www.thulegroup.com , as the brand has a full overview of their history on their site.

The bike racks in the Thule range, like many of the other products they make, are subject to a two-year warranty by default, but this can be extended and a further three years added when you register for it. Some of their products also have a limited lifetime warranty, and this seems to apply to the majority of their racks including the bike racks in this guide.

Yakima are all about the active life, too, and encourages people to build connections while having a busy life out in nature. The brand started as a shop in Washington, and grew from there, growing a range of outdoor products including bike racks, and that’s what they’re most famous for today.

Yakima has even been an official supplier for the olympics, so if the racks are good enough to take care of olympic bikes, they can surely handle your family’s. In the brand’s own words Trusted Source Our Story | Yakima For nearly four decades, our trusted solutions have transformed the way people travel. We’re leaders in our category, packing heritage, safety, design sensibility, and street smarts into every product. Based in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve got the great outdoors at our doorstep. explore.yakima.com : “ in 1979, Steve Cole and Don Banducci, hardcore kayakers and cyclists, acquired the company. By 1984, they put Yakima on the map at the Summer Olympics, decking out every race vehicle with original aerodynamic fairings.”

That olympic quality is backed up by the fact that when you get a Yakima bike rack or mount you can also enjoy an incredible limited lifetime warranty.

Yakima vs Thule: Comparing Popular Models

Let’s dive into some of the most popular models from each of these brands. The models below are comparable in terms of their capacity and of course, the price. You could think of them as rough equivalents within each brand.

We’ve compared two bike racks (a four-bike and two-bike model) to help you to understand the what each of these brands has on offer.

YAKIMA FullSwing  vs Thule Apex XT Swing 4

YAKIMA FullSwing Thule Apex XT Swing 4
Load capacity 4 bikes, 40 lbs. per bike 4 bikes, 37.5 lbs. per bike
Dimensions 43.5” x 26” x 17.5” 42.2” x 11” x 40.2”
Receiver 2” 2”
Distance between bikes 7”
Weight 56 lbs. 42 lbs.
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW ON AMAZON

As you can see from the above, these racks have more in common than separates them. Both of these racks are great for use on a standard passenger car, and the fact that they can hold four relatively heavyweight bikes make them a good family option.

As you can see, the Thule Apex is a little lighter in weight, but not so much as to impact upon the durability that is on offer. The bikes on this are kept up to 7 inches apart to avoid them contacting each other and damaging in transit.

Yakima vs Thule Bike Racks Comparison: Which Brand Is Right for You?

There is a 7-inch space between the bikes on the Thule Apex; thus, your car or the bikes won’t be damaged during transportation

In terms of the Yakima rack, you can fit four different bikes up to 40lbs in weight each on the rack. It has a TubeTop adapter if you want to use a bike that doesn’t have a standard design so keep this in mind if you plan to use something with an unusual frame, or a kids bike.

The FullSwing gets its name from the fact that it swings out, which means you can still access the trunk of your car while the bikes are on the back. Otherwise, you could be in for a whole lot of hassle accessing your stuff. “ZipStrips” are a really simple and hassle-free method of getting the bikes securely fastened on the rack, and you don’t have to use any tools on this rack at all.

Yakima vs Thule Bike Racks Comparison: Which Brand Is Right for You?

ZipStrips on the Yakima Fullswing allow you to securely fasten your bikes without using any tools

To attach to the hitch, you can use the SpeedKnob to secure the bikes. There’s also a key system to allow all of the bikes to sit securely in place, and reduce the risk of theft, something that is a very real problem if you’re having to park up and leave the bikes at any point.

The Thule works in a similar way, allowing you to access the vehicle even when the bikes are in place, and securing the bikes with cradle straps. It’s a really convenient way to get your bikes in place. There’s space for four bikes, and all four of them can be different designs and still fit.

This is quite a pricey model, but it is great for those with expensive bikes as it keeps them apart, and prevents contact between the bikes that are stored in place.

Keep in mind that the Thule Apex XT Swing 4 is about 14 lbs lighter. That’s not a massive amount, but if you are already loading up your vehicle to the max and want to cut down on any added weight, this can make a difference. It’s worth considering, especially if you’re not fitting it to a huge SUV or truck.

In terms of the warranties, they are some of the very best things that these racks have to offer. Both of the brands have backed up their products with limited lifetime warranties, which protects you if something goes wrong but also shows you how much confidence they actually have in the bike racks.

You don’t need any tools to install either rack, and neither of them get in your way when you are trying to get into the trunk of your car.

Even though both of these racks simply hitch onto the back of the car, and can swing away if needed, they’re very secure, so even if you have an expensive set of bikes you should be able to stay confident that they are going to keep all of the precious wheels safe and secure, even on long journeys.

There’s not much to split the two models. The Thule Apex just gives a little bit more security that the bikes installed aren’t going to come into contact.

YAKIMA HoldUp EVO  vs Thule T2 Pro

YAKIMA HoldUp EVO Thule T2 Pro
Material powder-coated steel aluminum
Load capacity 2 bikes, 50 lbs. each 2 bikes, 60 lbs. each
Dimensions 38.75” x 21.37” x 15.12” 54” x 43” x 15”
Receiver 1.25”, 2” 1.25”, 2”
Max. tire width 4.8” 5”
Max. wheel size 20 – 29” 20 – 29”
Weight 50.9 lbs. 52.04 lbs.
Warranty Lifetime Lifetime
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW ON AMAZON

Next up, we compare the YAKIMA HoldUp EVO vs Thule T2 Pro. These are another two racks that share a lot of functionality. At first glance, you would say that the Yakima Holdup Evo would have more in the way of durability due to the fact that it has a powder-coated steel design, as opposed to aluminum, but these are both durable enough to deal with whatever is thrown at them, and keep your bikes secure.

Both have room for two bikes. This is perfect for a couples’ trip, or even for solo travelers who want to take a couple of different bikes on their travels with them.

The Thule T2 is a hard-wearing piece of kit. It allows you to hold two bikes up to 60 lbs in weight, so you can fit fat tires, and unusual bike designs, even those with unusual frames. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a carbon frame, this can handle it.

Yakima vs Thule Bike Racks Comparison: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The Thule T2 is a heavy-duty rack that can accommodate up to 2 bikes of different frame designs

With the HitchSwitch lever, you can tilt the rack downwards and still get to your car when it isn’t in use. It fits to any car with a hitch receiver and while it isn’t as convenient as the models that swing away from the car altogether, it’s easier to get your stuff from the trunk than it would be if you had to dismount the bikes.

Cable locks are in place to help to lock everything in place securely, and the bikes are designed to be either side of the rack so there is no contact at all between the frames.

In terms of dimensions, the Yakima HoldUp Evo is very similar, as is the capacity. Two bikes, both of which can be fairly hefty.

Yakima vs Thule Bike Racks Comparison: Which Brand Is Right for You?

The Yakima HoldUp Evo is pretty similar to The Thule T2 regarding the size and bike capacity

Unlike the models for four bikes, this can handle kids bikes, e-bikes up to 50lbs and more. You can use a SpeedKnob to install and remove with no tools, and the same security features we’ve come to expect from Yakima are in place.

The clever “StrongArm” design means that the bikes are attached at the wheel and protect the frames, so you don’t have to worry about the bikes coming into contact and rubbing off your cool custom frames or artwork.

Bikes with wheels up to 29” and 4.8” wide can be installed easily, and disc brakes, as well as thru-axles and other suspension systems, can all be accommodated.

Prepare to be impressed by these brands again. The two both offer a limited lifetime warranty on both of these racks, so there’s not a great deal to choose between them. Some people do opt for the steel model by Yakima for the peace of mind that there won’t be any issues with durability, but we don’t think Thule would be offering that lifetime warranty if it weren’t up to scratch.

Both of these racks fit a majority of cars and SUVs, and you can enjoy the benefits of being able to take a couple of bikes on your journey. If you’re looking for a rack that is suitable for handling bigger, chunkier bikes such as ebikes then you might find it difficult, but your prayers may be answered by either of these bike racks from Thule and Yakima.

They’re not the cheapest racks on the market, but most users know that they are paying for the extra level of quality and security. Of course, the lifetime warranty is a real bonus, too.

Final Thoughts

Thule and Yakima are two fantastic brands. It is worth saying that in the world of racks, a lot of people tend to be quite brand-loyal due to the compatibility this can bring, for instance, their racks might fit better with crossbars made by the same brand.

For the outdoor types, and people who love to spend a lot of time on the road, taking their bikes and watersport equipment with them, Thule and Yakima are two of the most prestigious brands. They aren’t the cheapest products on the market, but nobody wants to take chances with their precious bikes, and rightly so.

If we are to directly make a Thule vs Yakima bike rack comparison, it is impossible to separate the brands overall. If we had to make a decision one way or the other, the Yakima bike racks probably win in a direct competition. The main thing to say is that both of these brands put a lot of care and attention into their products, and durability is rarely in doubt. Plus, you can benefit from the limited lifetime warranty on every product on this list.

References

1.
History of Thule Group | Thule Group
In 1942, Thule Group was founded by the Thulin family, when Erik Thulin, a true lover of the outdoors, put the Thule name on a so called pike fishing trap (a fishing gear) that he designed and began to sell to the fisherman of Scandinavia.
2.
Our Story | Yakima
For nearly four decades, our trusted solutions have transformed the way people travel. We’re leaders in our category, packing heritage, safety, design sensibility, and street smarts into every product. Based in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve got the great outdoors at our doorstep.
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