While they may look almost the same and have a lot of similarities in terms of design, there are a lot of differences between them in terms of their individual features, even though they look almost the same.
A lot of people have been arguing about which is the better rack between the Thule Apex XT Swing 4 vs. the Yakima FullSwing over the past few months. As I have used both racks individually, I thought it would be helpful to show you the differences between the two.
It is important to know how the carriers work, what their features are, and what their similarities and differences are in order to make the right decision. Therefore, I am going to walk you through every aspect of each carrier so you can make the best choice.
As I have already done most of the work, it is all up to you now to scroll down and choose the option that is most appropriate for you from the options presented.
The Two Arm-Style Hitch-Mounted Racks
The best way to understand what a product does is to know what its capabilities and limitations are. Some of you might be tempted to jump into the differences or similarities, but you may miss out on some essential details if you do. The best way to understand a product in depth is to know its capabilities and limitations.
As a result, I would recommend that you first read the detailed reviews of each of the carriers, and then compare the similarities and differences between them before making your final decision.
Thule Apex XT Swing 4 Hitch Bike Rack
Several months ago, I decided to invest in a Thule Apex XT Swing since I needed something that could carry at least three to four different types of bicycles at once. We were planning a family trip to the mountains, thus the need for this rack.
I had been using Thule racks for a couple of years before I used the Apex XT Swing rack. I had also tried out the Pro XT and XTR racks. Both racks were hitch-mounted racks, but they were a little different from the Apex XT Swing rack. I was pretty sure this carrier wouldn’t fail me as well, and I was right.
As a starting point, I would like to mention that the rack comes with a receiver for 2-inch hitches, and I already had a receiver installed before I purchased the carrier. Usually, an SUV or sedan comes with a 2-inch receiver, but, if you don’t have one, then you’ll have to install one yourself.
It was not difficult at all to attach the rack, and it only took a few seconds to do so. You don’t need any tools for the job. You can just lift the rack and insert the hitch into the receiver and then use the lock pin to secure it to your car once it has been in there. You can use the knob at the back of the carrier to prevent it from wobbling in any way.
You should keep in mind that there is always a risk of someone stealing your carrier, but you don’t have to worry too much because the knob has a keyhole, which you can use to lock the carrier to your vehicle and keep it safe from theft.
I was surprised by how much weight it could lift, but I never actually attempted to test it because I never had the courage to actually lift the weight it was capable of lifting. Although the rack weighs only 42 pounds, it can support 150 pounds of weight.
As for the bikes I took with me, they were Yeti SB130s (29lbs), REI Electra Cruisers (36lbs), Giant Contend SL 1s (19.9lbs), and Frog 44s (14lbs).
The first bike I placed on the rack was the REI Electra Cruiser, because it was the most heaviest, then I placed the SB130, SL 1, and finally the Frog 44 on the rack. I needed to install adapters for both the SB130 and Electra Cruiser before placing them on the rack.
There was a bit of difficulty in setting up the Frog 44 because of its size. I had to put the front handle on one arm and the seat on the other to fit it.
It seems that there are two bike arms with two cradles. One of the cradles has an anti-sway feature, which prevents the bikes from colliding with one another when these two arms are used. I was able to accomplish the task of attaching the ratcheting straps to the cradle in a matter of seconds.
Despite the fact that there is a 7-inch gap between the cradles, it is best to mount your bicycles in the opposite direction of each other to get a better grip on the rack. I was able to mount my bicycles rather easily, and there was less to no wobbling during the long drives.
I don’t think anyone could argue that the carrier’s best feature is its ability to swing away for easy vehicle access at the back. Despite the fact that the carrier can be stacked up with four bikes, it can easily be slid away from the back even when it is full of bikes.
Lastly, the carrier comes with a cable lock, and the cable lock does a decent job of locking the bicycles to the rack. Despite this, if you drive slowly or are stuck in a traffic jam, it will still keep your bikes safe from theft. So, it is not completely useless in that respect. A professional thief can easily cut open the cable with a little force, but I wouldn’t trust it too much.
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
I believe that the best battle can be fought when both competitors are equally strong, and what would be a greater challenger than the Yakima FullSwing hitch-mounted rack for the Thule Apex XT Swing?
I recently had the opportunity to check out a Yakima carrier similar to the one I mentioned a while back. Before taking the FullSwing for a spin, I tested out the Yakima HighRoad and FrontLoader to see what they were like, and both came with nice surprises.
In today’s review, we will discuss the FullSwing arm-style hitch-mounted rack, which will be discussed in more detail on another day.
Approximately 56 pounds is the weight of the carrier, and the total weight capacity of the carrier is 150 pounds (40 pounds maximum for one bike). I’m unsure if the rack is actually able to lift 150 pounds because I never tried it. The Yakima FullSwing did not have any issues holding the four bicycles I mounted on the carrier that totaled around 100 pounds. I mounted four bicycles on the carrier, which totaled about 100 pounds each.
Similarly to the Apex XT Swing, this one also comes with two arms and eight cradles (four for each arm). I liked the fact that the cradles were adjustable, and that you were able to move them along the arms, so that they would not contact each other during your trip. The anti-sway cradles make sure that the bicycles won’t come into contact with each other during your trips.
As a result, you will be able to adjust the gap between the bikes, but when you plan on carrying four bicycles, it can be a bit difficult to find the perfect spacing when you can adjust the gap between the bikes.
On the contrary, I had a lot of trouble setting up the kid’s bike (Frog 44) to go on the car rack and somehow, I managed to attach it to only one of the cradles. It didn’t feel secure, so I ended up removing it from the carrier and placing it inside the vehicle.
In spite of this, it is not difficult to setup a standard bike on the rack thanks to the zip strips. After placing a bicycle on the arm, I just had to pull down the zip strips from each side of the cradles in order to secure it to the rack.
There is no doubt that the installation of the carrier on the back of my vehicle was painless. The AutoPin and the hitch switch made the process a breeze, and there was also a SpeedKnob on the rear of the rack that had to be rotated in order to stop the rack from wobbling.
In order to lock the SpeedKnob, a keyhole is located on the back of the knob.
In similar fashion to the Apex XT Swing rack, this rack can also be swung away for rear vehicle access. Although, the method of swung away differs slightly and is more effortless than the Apex XT Swing rack.
There is a security cable that comes with the Yakima FullSwing, which can be used to lock the bicycles to the carrier. Overall, the Yakima FullSwing seems to have kept its best qualities on its own, and I had a smooth experience with it.
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
As a final step, let’s take a look at some of the similar features between the two carriers. We have so far been able to find only a handful of features on both carriers that are similar.
There are two main differences between these hitch racks. The first is the design of both of them. Both of them are arm-style hitch-mount racks, so they pretty much look the same. They both attach to 2-inch hitch receivers, so if you have a 2-inch receiver, you can use the racks too.
The second thing I found familiar between them was the number of arms and the number of bikes they are capable of carrying. There are two arms, which is a little obvious, and there are eight cradles (four on each arm) that can accommodate four bicycles at once.
It is important to remember that both racks are equipped with integrated anti-sway cradles, however their overall design differs. These racks can swing away, so you can have access to the rear of your vehicle. However, the way you access the rear of your vehicle is different for each rack.
As a final note, both the Apex XT Swing and the FullSwing have similar locking cables and a lock located on the tightening knob that are designed to keep your bikes securely attached to the rack and the carrier securely attached to the vehicle.
Differences Between the Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing Hitch Bike Racks
Now that we have gone over the reviews and the similarities between the carriers, we’d like to look at the differences between them. They have a lot of minor and major features that set them apart from each other, so hold tight because I’m about to drop some serious knowledge bombs.
Weight is a Big Deal
The Apex XT Swing weighs 42lbs, whereas the FullSwing weighs 56lbs. As you can see, the latter rack weighs 14lbs more than the former. Clearly, there is a significant weight difference between the two racks.
For some people, who own top-of-the-line SUVs or don’t have a problem managing a heavy rack, this may not be a major problem, but for many others it can certainly be a deal breaker.
As a result, it is up to you to decide whether you want a heavy, yet sturdier carrier or a light, but not as rugged rack, as it is your choice.
Arms and Cradle Design
In my previous article, I have mentioned how both racks have the same number of arms and cradles, but the arms on the Apex XT differ a lot from the ones on the FullSwing rack. The former has padded arms, and the bike’s frame remains on the arms of the latter. It is not the same with the former as the cradles are placed on top of the arms there.
The next thing that you need to consider is how you are going to secure your bicycle to the cradle. With Yakima FullSwing, you are provided with Zip Strips that are very strong and easy to attach to the cradle.
Apex XT has ratcheting straps that are quite strong and are able to hold the bikes down nicely; however, connecting the straps to the Zip Strips is more time consuming than connecting the straps to the Apex XT.
Adjustable Vs. Non-Adjustable Cradles
A total of four cradles are included with the Thule Apex XT Swing, and the gap between each of them is seven inches. The slots cannot be adjusted, and you cannot move them along the arms.
In contrast, the FullSwing has adjustable cradles that can be moved along the rack arms, so you are able to choose the amount of space between each bike by moving the cradles.
You can move the slots that you don’t want to use at the corner, giving you more space for your remaining bicycles if you need to carry three or fewer bikes. You will benefit from having the ability to adjust the cradles when you are carrying three or fewer bicycles.
Alternatively, if your plan is to fill all four slots of the cradle with cradles, then the non-adjustable cradles will be very helpful for you.
The Installation Process
It is important to take note of the fact that you have to install or attach the racks to a vehicle in a similar manner and in a different manner at the same time. The first thing to keep in mind is that in both situations, the racks must be raised, the hitch must be inserted into the receiver, and finally the rear knob must be rotated so that the carriers do not wobble.
The main difference between the Apex XT and the Apex XT is in the way they install their carriers. The Apex XT utilizes a locking pin or hook that is inserted into the receiver’s hole in order to secure the carrier.
There is however, an AutoPin on the FullSwing and a button that allow you to push the hitch into the receiver by pressing the switch. When you press the switch, the pin goes inside, so that you can push the hitch inside the receiver. The pin should pop out of the hole at the side of the receiver once the hitch is in the correct position, and the button should pop out as well.
Swing Away and Swing In
This is just to let you know that both carriers come with the capability to swing away from the rear of your vehicle to allow access to the rear of your vehicle. The steps that need to be followed to achieve this are pretty much the same.
First of all, you’ll need to rotate the knob, which is probably facing towards your car. It is likely that the one on the Apex will look like a knob, while the one on FullSwing will look like a lever. To make the racks swing away, you’ll need to pull the bar beside the knob and push the arms. It is very much the same process to make the racks swing away.
There is a difference between the two when you are swinging in the arms. When the racks are fully opened, you will see a button that is located right in the middle of the horizontal bar. The switch on the Apex is a little more difficult to press or maneuver, as you need to use your hands to do so.
Nevertheless, the one on the FullSwing can be pressed with your legs, allowing you to easily swing in the rack when you want to do so.
This is pretty much all there is to know about the differences between Thule Apex XT Swing and Yakima FullSwing.
Clearly, both swing-away hitch-mounted racks have a lot of differences between them – if you think that any one of these carriers are similar in any way, then I can tell you that you are profoundly mistaken.
It is unlikely that the other will be a better fit for someone else if one of them is more suited to your personal needs. As such, I will not declare one rack as the champion between the Thule Apex XT Swing 4 and Yakima FullSwing, so I will not announce a winner between them. There’s no denying that both carriers are up to the mark and are capable of meeting your needs. Although I may sound diplomatic in my reply, it’s the truth.