There is no doubt that the RidgeBack and the FullTilt hitch racks by Yakima are two of the most popular hitch racks in the world. Despite their reputation for being pricey, these racks boast a lot of impressive features, which were what I was searching for.
It wasn’t easy to come to a conclusion on the Yakima FullTilt vs Ridgeback due to the minute differences between the two products. This article is intended to make that process a little easier for anyone stuck in the same spot as I am.
I would like to begin by introducing you to some of the options available to you.
Yakima FullTilt Hitch Mount Hanging Rack
As a starting point, I would like to discuss the Yakima FullTilt product. It was the tilt feature that attracted me to this rack. Since typical hitch racks always obstruct my access to my trunk, it has always been a problem for me. With only a push, the mast on this rack will tilt down.
With Yakima’s AutoPin technology, this rack attaches directly to the vehicle’s hitch without being necessary to use any installation tools. It even comes pre-assembled out of the box, saving me a great deal of time and effort.
This bike carrier comes in two variants – four and five bikes – the latter of which is costlier than the former, but given that it can carry that many bikes, it is a good pick for families who want to take multiple bikes for a trip.
This hitch rack can be used on both 1.25 inch and 2 inch hitch receivers, with the maximum weight for each bike being 40 pounds. However, I did have some difficulty getting all four bikes onto the four-track version of this hitch rack, especially if they are all large bikes.
There is no doubt that Yakima takes security very seriously, which is evident from the fact that they include an inbuilt safety lock that uses the SKS or Same Key System for locking everything with a single key, as well as a thick metal cable that is stored inside the mast and can be stored away when it is not in use.
When people own bikes with unusual frames, they have to buy separate adapter bars for their bicycles. It’s possible to carry them in eerie positions, but that is far from a viable solution. This is an inherent drawback with hanging hitch racks, so there’s really nothing that can be done about it.
Apart from that, the FullTilt Poker app has a lot to offer. Here is a complete look at what it has to offer:
- Total weight capacity of 150 lbs. (4-rack version).
- ZipStrips to secure the bikes and prevent swaying.
- SpeedKnob offers a tool-free installation.
- Assembled out of the box.
- Entirely padded arms with TPE.
- Ability to tilt the rack down if needed.
- Arms can fold down when they’re not in use.
Yakima RidgeBack Tilt Away Hitch Bike Rack
Aside from the SpeedKnob, the RidgeBack also comes fully assembled out of the box and uses the SpeedKnob to make assembling it easier. As far as compatibility goes, it works well with both 1.25′′ and 2′′ hitch receivers – all I had to do was remove the extension for it to work.
I also found that this one comes in a variety of variations regarding how many bikes it can hold (we will get into this further during the comparison). The highest capacity is five bikes, but I did encounter some problems if the bikes I was transporting were particularly large or hybrid in nature.
There are a few features that make this bike rack more secure, for instance, the HandCuff locking cable, but users have to buy it separately. Of course, some bike racks need something like Yakima’s TubeTop to ensure compatibility, but that’s a given.
Once you have a tube, carrying step-throughs or BMX bikes will be possible for you to do.
In my opinion, one of the most enjoyable things about using the rack is the fact that it is incredibly stable. I did not have to worry about the bikes swaying or accidentally scratching the rack since the anti-sway cradles kept the bikes in place.
Additionally, Yakima uses the UpperHand lever to tilt the rack down whenever users need to access their trunk. This would otherwise be an issue with hitch racks, as the rear clearance is not as good as with Yakima racks.
On the other hand, if the rear door goes too low, then there is a good chance that the rack will not tilt far enough if it goes too far down.
The RidgeBack is also equipped with a bottle opener, which is a nice touch. Here is a short list of everything you need to know about the RidgeBack:
- UpperHand lever for easier access to the rear.
- Lower risk of contact between bikes with the anti-sway cradle.
- Available carrying capacities are 2, 4, or 5 bikes.
- Fully assembled, tool-less installation.
- ZipStrips feature to keep the bikes in place and reduce movement.
- Support for HandCuff locking cable for security, no inbuilt option.
- TubeTop adds further compatibility with unconventional bike designs.
We have covered a lot of information regarding the basic features of both products. Now we will be able to move on to more specific comparisons between the various aspects of both products.
Yakima FullTilt vs. RidgeBack
I will be dividing the key elements into a number of categories and contrasting them clearly in order to highlight the importance of each element.
Firstly, let’s see how many bikes you are capable of carrying at once with either of these two types of carriers.
There are two options available with the FullTilt, either four or five bikes. For users who want to carry more than one bike for their family or friends, this is a very useful feature. You won’t lose any space in your back either. The maximum weight for each bike is 40 pounds, and the total weight for each bike is 150 pounds.
Unfortunately, this hitch rack does not come with any options for lower requirements, so you’ll have to decide whether you can live with one or two bikes, or if it is too overkill. Unfortunately, the hitch rack does not come with any other options for lower requirements. However, getting a slightly larger rack is not a bad deal if you are not concerned about a little price hike, and after all, this product is quite compact in the first place.
Yakima RidgeBack: The RidgeBack comes with three options instead – 2, 4, and five bikes, respectively. It is important to note that there are several options here for people who may only want to carry one bike or two. In this way, you can only pay for what you need and choose a more compact rack if necessary. For the higher capacity racks here, the maximum weight for each bike is also 40 lbs. (for the two-bike rack, it is 35 lbs.).
It is important to keep in mind that while the racks say they are capable of holding four to five bikes, they might not be able to hold them all. The FullTilt is a particular example of this. For instance, you would not be able to push in more than four bicycles in the five-bike version of the rack. Additionally, the spacing between them may not always be adequate either.
Although the RidgeBack does a comparatively better job of handling smaller mountain bikes, it didn’t do well with larger mountain bikes as well, which is something to keep in mind if you own larger mountain bikes.
Similarities in Design and Construction
There are many similarities in terms of the design of these dual-arm racks when it comes to their functionality.
It is worth noting that from the outside, there are two different aesthetics for the FullTilt. The first is the black powder coating while the second has a metallic finish. Both of these are rust-resistant and the materials are very robust. I did not find anything that did not inspire confidence as well.
I am glad that there is a SpeedKnob on both racks, and I am glad this feature exists, as locking the hitch was quick and painless.
With the racks, users have the ability to fold their arms very easily using the trigger finger control, while they can fold the shank using the lever on the upper hand. The trigger finger control allows users to easily fold their arms.
There are also arced masts on each side of the arm that play an important role in preventing unwanted contact between the user and the vehicle’s rear. Users are able to reach the vehicle’s rear without having to take the arm off.
Weight and Dimensions
- A FullTilt cradle measures around 1.75 inches in width, with arms that are 29 inches long, and arms which are 1.75 inches wide. This is a five-bike rack, and it weighs around 43 pounds. It has dimensions of 44.25′′ x 12.50′′ x 16.50′′ (L x W x H). There are just over 12 inches between each arm between one cradle. All of these measurements are for a five-bike rack.
- With the RidgeBack, the product weights about 35.6 pounds. The size of the product is 44′′ x 12′′ x 16′′, and the dimensions are 44′′ x 12′′ x 16′′. The width of the cradle is 1-3/4′′, and the useable arm extends to 25 inches. These are the measurements for the four-bike option, and the rest of the measurements will differ slightly.
In my opinion, a wider gap between the bikes would have been beneficial, since many users have been complaining about not being able to carry four bikes on racks despite racks having a capacity for four bikes. Of course, this would not always be the case, but it is possible based on the bikes you use.
Pricing and Accessories
There is one thing you should know about these two racks – neither of them are cheap, and Yakima can justify this price with the quality it offers.
- In comparison to the RidgeBack, the Yakima FullTilt is a bit more expensive. Even though there is a price difference between the two, it isn’t huge. Also, the RidgeBack has the advantage of being cheaper when you buy the capacity to carry two bikes, which is understandable since it reduces production costs. There are many similarities between the two racks — they both come with tool-less SpeedKnob technology for easy installation, ZipStrips to keep your bikes in place, and so on.
- With the FullTilt, however, you don’t have to worry about paying any extra money for security since the SKS locks are included. The RidgeBack uses Yakima’s HandCuff locking cable instead, but it does not come in the box. I had to purchase it separately, which caused the price to increase a little. The bottle opener is also a nice bonus, but no matter how much a drinker you are, it won’t be a big deal.
There is a large difference between these racks in terms of accessories, but other than these few aspects, these racks are very similar in terms of accessories. With the exception of the HandCuff for the RidgeBack, the difference is quite small.
Assembly and Installation
There are not a lot of differences in this section since both of these racks are compatible with 1.25″ and 2″ hitch receivers and they also come completely assembled from the manufacturer, which is convenient for most people.
Although Yakima’s racks are connected to the hitch using similar designs, the receivers attached to the racks are quite different from Yakima’s models.
At the same time, the FullTilt uses something that is more convenient and easier to use – the AutoPin, which is easy to operate with its thumb release. At the same time, the RidgeBack uses a typical hitch pin to ensure connection. While the FullTilt uses something more convenient – the AutoPin.
There is no doubt that FullTilt’s receiver seemed to be a bit more robust to me when it comes to the five-bike models. Unfortunately, for some users, the RidgeBack’s receiver was unable to keep its shape for too long after a few years. This does not mean that the rack is unusable by any means, but it is something to be aware of.
In this aspect, they perform very well, since you can remove the wedge extension from both racks so that they will work with 1.25″ hitches as well.
Security and Padding
In order to ensure the safety of both the bikes and the racks, there are some significant distinctions that can be made between the two.
The Locking System
A rack with an integrated locking system is always useful. The integrated cable lock can be threaded through the bike frame and locked at the end of the rack’s arm easily, and that is what the FullTilt rack does. Its locking cable is made of braided steel, so there are no worries about it breaking.
Due to this, you don’t need to buy more locks. The FullTilt also offers its own SKS (Same Key System) locking mechanism, so you don’t have to worry about spending extra on locks.
There was only one key that I could use to operate them all, from the bike lock to the SpeedKnob, as the name implies. However, third-party options are not always as convenient as this one. In my opinion, the only problem I have with this product is that when I attempted to secure five bicycles, the locking cable sometimes fell short.
However, on the other hand, the RidgeBack does not feature such a locking system. It supports integration with Yakima’s HandCuff locking cable, but you’d have to spend an additional fee and set it up, which makes it a bit more difficult to use it.
As soon as you have set it up, this locking system should be very secure, so you should not have any problems.
There are anti-sway mechanisms fitted to both bikes so as to prevent them from moving around too much during transport.
Despite having a strong anti-sway cradle, FullTilt’s anti-sway cradle seemed to fall short. When there were four or five bikes on the rack, the weight was a bit too much for it to keep things completely steady, but heavier bikes managed to move quite a bit whenever I hit a bump.
It was noticeable that the RidgeBack’s anti-sway cradle kept things a little more stable. There was no contact between the bikes even when I drove fast over rough terrain. It was somewhat easier to drive the two-bike version over rough terrain.
Given the prices associated with these anti-sway cradles, I think that they could do a better job of stabilizing than they do.
Yakima also uses a technology known as ZipStrips in order to keep their bikes stabilized. ZipStrips can be placed at three points along the bike frame in order to keep the bike in place.
Despite the fact that the strips work similarly for both racks, there is no significant difference in the performance between the two racks. There were three points where I was able to make use of these strips.
I found that one problem with these is that they are fairly rigid and short. Therefore, you may be in for a little bit of trouble if you plan to buy an unconventional bike such as one for women or kids.
Besides protecting the rack from dents and scratches, padding also absorbs and minimizes the shock during travel, which is one of the key advantages of padding.
With the FullTilt, there is a layer of TPE padding throughout the arm, which plays an important role in reducing movement upon shock and keeping the top tubes free of scratches. Along with this, the ridges created on the arm provide a more stable resting place for the bikes.
It is true that the RidgeBack is also provided with TPE padding, but the padding does not extend throughout the whole arm, which I do not like at all. I would prefer a similar design to the FullTilt, but it’s not too bad either.
The final feature of these racks is the use of another safety strap with a buckle that secures the bike even further. With all these features working together, the racks are a good way to keep bikes safe from damage.
In this way, we can see that the processes of mounting the bikes are similar once again.
As soon as the racks were installed, I had to pull the lever to get it up and into position to hold the bikes, and there is an audible click when it is positioned to hold the bikes.
As soon as you have completed that, it will be time to mount the bikes on the rack. Once again, be sure to place the ZipStrips down to prevent contact with the bike’s tube, then place the bikes on the grooves.
In order to lock the bikes to the mast once they have been placed in place and secured with the strips and straps, you will need to use the integrated locking cable from the FullTilt’s mast to do so.
There is, however, a slight difference with the RidgeBack because it does not come with any locking cable built-in, so you will need to follow this process based on the locking cable you have purchased for your rack.
Ultimately, I think that the FullTilt is a little more convenient to use with its mounting mechanism. However, the difference isn’t particularly drastic so I wouldn’t say that it is the clear winner.
In the case of both of these racks, compatibility is going to be an issue due to the fact that each of them is a hanging hitch rack, which makes them incompatible with unusual frames, such as those found on mountain bikes.
It is because of this reason that users could be required to get Yakima’s TubeTop if they are riding BMX, children’s, or step-through bikes. In addition, many full suspension bikes might require one as well, so keep this in mind.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a winner from the Yakima FullTilt vs RidgeBack battle is not an easy task, since they both offer a lot of similarities, although I feel that the RidgeBack offers more features, such as the locking cable, load capacity, and other features.
I have to say, however, that’s only according to my preference, so feel free to settle on whatever hitch rack you feel is most appropriate for your needs.