Bike racks come in many versions these days. There’s roof mounted or hitch mounted and some you have to take the front wheel off while others will take the bike with both wheels on. Every version has it’s pros and cons and the Yakima Hold Up is no different. This hitch mounted rack allows you to simply load the bike on with both wheels, lock it down and go.

UPDATED 11/4/2010: Tyler’s long-term review of 4-bike extension added.

Read our impressions of Yakima’s top-of-the-line hitch mount rack after the break…

The Yakima Hold Up is a hitch mounted carrier that can handle two bikes out of the bike or 4 with the optional 2 bike add on, and can handle any type of bike. It comes with a 1 1/4 inch or 2 inch hitch option. Putting the Hold Up together and getting it on the car took about 20 minutes and was straight forward. The two trays attach to the main support with simple bolts, then the rack simply slides into your hitch and uses a single large bolt to secure it to the vehicle. It can be folded up to save space behind the vehicle then flipped down when needed, making it possible to keep the rack on the car at all times. The Hold Up also has a built in cable lock system to secure your bikes to the rack.

There are two immediate pros for me using this rack. First, being hitch mounted means that I won’t ever run my bikes into my garage which happens to everyone eventually. Second, is the fact that because it’s low it’s easier to load the bikes and my wife who is all of 5’3″ can actually load bikes. It is impossible for her to put a bike on top of my SUV, and she struggles even when putting them on her small wagon. Other benefits are how  easy it is to use and that the bikes are more protected.

To put a bike on the Hold Up simply fold the wheel tray and hook out, set the front wheel in the tray, pull the hook up over the front wheel then slide it down to secure the front wheel. Then set the rear wheel in the pivoting tray, which allows for use for road, mountain or tri bikes, secure it with the basic ratcheting strap, and you’re off. The whole process takes less than a minute for any bike. I also like having the bikes behind the car as I feel they are better protected from stress, especially at highway speeds. The lower set up means the bikes are more visible and accessible to potential thieves, but Yakima does provide a stout cable lock which locks the bikes to the race support.

The downside is that, depending on your vehicle, you may have very limited access to the rear. With bikes on the rack you have no access to the rear, the same is true when the rack is folded up. I used this rack for three weeks before I realized I could angle the rack downward by about 45 degrees. This meant that I could open the rear gate of my car with the bike still on. The only catch is that my SUV has a clam shell rear tailgate, meaning that the bottom 18 inches or so goes downward while the rest of the tailgate goes upward. With the rack on, in any position, the small section of my tailgate that comes down would not clear.

Because of this access to the rear was awkward when the rack was down. The first tray sits close to the car so it’s difficult to slip between the rack and the car.  This meant that I had to lean into the back from the side while leaning over the tray. I was able to lift lighter items out without much effort, but I began to put my gear on the rear seats rather than the far back so it was easier to reach. When I was on my own this was simple, but if you are carrying more than two people and need those seats, this can be more of a problem. If your SUV has a tailgate that is one piece you will likely have better access than I experienced. (Tyler’s note: I can open the liftgate on our minivan without having to lower the rack, and if you tilt it down with bikes on it, you can usually open it enough to access smaller items in the back.)

The Hold Up carries up to four bikes and folds out of the way nicely. Photo: A. Johnson

For me the pros outweigh the negatives. I can live with having to put a bit more effort in getting me gear out if it means I can load and unload the bikes easier, my wife can do the same, and the bikes are protected from the wind and my forgetful mind.


I’ve had the Yakima Hold-Up with the 2-bike extension for a little over a year now, and it’s probably traveled more than 8,000 miles with anywhere from one to four bikes on it. We took it to Breck Epic from NC by way of FL, AL, AR and hit IN on the way home, among numerous other trips to Florida to visit family.

As you can see above, it’s not small. And it’s not light. But, no rack at this size and ability is, so whatever, but it’s worth mentioning that Sweetie can’t easily lift it by herself with the extension on it.

Here are some of the features, highlights and things that could be improved:

When you get the two-bike add-on, it comes with a secondary pin (bottom red thing) to bolster the spring loaded pin that comes with the standard unit. It uses a small spring-loaded ball bearing to hold it in, and on the first one, that ball came out and the pin wouldn’t stay in. I called to get replacement sent out and it was replaced quickly and freely, and it’s worth noting that I did NOT mention that I was with the press and that we were reviewing the rack for Bikerumor, so you can probably expect the same quality customer service. However, I’ve since lost this second one, too, when the cable that attaches it to the black mainframe broke somewhere on the highway and set it free. Two down. The good news seems to be that it’s really just an extra precaution. I’ve used the rack with a full load plenty of times without the secondary pin in place and had no problems.

The second red thing is the integrated cable lock, which is super handy and provides light duty security for all four bikes. It’s long enough to go through the frames and one side of wheels, but not all front and rear wheels on all bikes.

The rack slides into the hitch receiver, and a threaded bolt is provided to secure it into place.  Thread it in all the way and snug it good and it effectively prevents the hitch from wobbling too much, though there’s a bit of play where the gray tray area bolts/pivots on the black hitch bar.  We’d like to see a hitch pin lock included and an expanding wedge system to prevent wobble like on some other racks, which would make it more secure and allow for tool-free removal. A tool is included, but it wouldn’t fit in between the bolt head and the flat part on the bottom of my hitch (on a Toyota Sienna), so I had to bust out the socket set everytime I wanted to remove or install the rack.

This crack was present when we first received the rack, but in over a year’s time of heavy use, it hasn’t spread or worsened in anyway.

Like most (all?) of their racks, there’s an integrated beverage opener at the end of it. The two-bike extension comes with one, too, giving you an extra in case you lose one or want to get creative with a garage install. The other things you can see in this photo are a) the springy bottom to the flag pole that comes with the extension. It has a red flag that sits behind the rear bike to alert motorists that this thing sticks out pretty far from the rear of the car (see below for parts list). Unfortunately, the flag flew off at highway speeds on our second use.

The second thing to note is that the trays bolt to the underside of the main bar. Initially, this concerned me because gravity tends to pull things down, and it seems like mounting it to the top of the bar would be a better idea. Also, the threads that the bolt goes into are welded into the trays, so if you over tighten and break the nut that’s welded inside it, you’re looking at getting a new tray. So don’t overtighten it. As far as them mounting underneath, I haven’t had any problems with them getting loose or creaky, so I’d say it works just fine.

The extension also comes with two blinky lights that can mount to your rearmost bike, but I’ve never used them. The extension mounts to the base rack by sliding into the center column and bolting in.

Here’s where this rack starts to shine: The parts fold up and lock together nicely when not in use.

Most importantly, it holds any size bike quickly, easily and without any adapters…up to 240 lbs total for the four-bike version.  The sliding arms that go over the front wheel (which should actually be right up against the fork, not like shown above!) slide over the outside of the pivoting arm, so there’s nothing that protrudes below the rack and it’s not limited in movement by internal mechanisms. Trust me when I say the ability to load any size bike is a huge, huge bonus. After almost 18 months of use and basically leaving it outside on the car most of the time, everything still moves and works flawlessly, despite a bit of surface rust:

This happened after being left upright following a big rain, but everything still moves and pivots smoothly with no creaks or squeals.

And when I say any size wheel, I mean it…except for 10″ scoot bikes. I tried, they don’t reach the rear wheel tray. So, from this little 20″ wheel on the Giant Clip folding bike and my kid’s Specialized to 650b and 29er mountain bikes with fat 2.35 tires, the Hold Up holds ’em all. Quickly, easily and securely, which has made our ownership a pleasure.


Yes, this review probably took about a year longer than Yakima had hoped it would, but the good news is the rack has passed with flying colors. There were a couple little things that could be improved, but nothing that detracted from the performance of the rack. We’d love to see an alloy model to bring the weight down and eliminate any rusting, and the wedge based attachment at the receiver would be awesome, but those shouldn’t count against an otherwise fine rack. We think you’ll enjoy this one for a long time to come.

Find all the information and view other models at


  1. I have to say the Hold up is my favorite rack, and last year’s model fixed some major issues. The new horizontal stop keeps the arm from going past horizontal, meaning you can’t accidentally leave it down and have it drag on the ground the whole way home (I’ve seen it happen). Also the quick release for folding up the rack is brilliant, no more messing with a cotter pin and lining up the holes to flip it up or down. I would guess the clam shell doors are the only cars you have to worry about. I have a full sized wagon, and I can even open the trunk with one bike in the position farthest out. I probably had over 10,000 miles on my old one with no issues, before I upgraded to the new model.

  2. I’m surprised that you can’t lower the tailgate with the rack in the down position… that’s something I can do easily with my Thule T2. Not to mention, even with 2-bikes on my T2, I can drop it into the flip-down position and still access the rear. Lining up the holes for the cotter-pin isn’t an issue, since there are notches in the pivot mechanism that lock it in place (the cotter-pin is just there as a back-up to the notched pivot mechanism).

  3. I had a T2. It was by far the best rack that I have ever owned. Then i saw my bikes in my rear view mirror getting smaller. I realized that two Pivot Mach 4’s were on their way down the road. I was happy to see that my bikes did not get smoked by a car. Luckily Thule has a great warranty and they actually gave me my money back. I am currently running a Hold up and I have over come rack envy.

  4. The bottom of my tailgate just barely hits a small outward portion on the main support. If it weren’t for that 1/8 of an inch portion it wouldn’t be an issue. Also, I could probably lift the gate with one bike on if I placed the bike in the rack farther out. However, Yakima recommends that if you have only one bike that you place it closest to the vehicle.

  5. @Stan – How did you lose your bikes off the T2? Did the receiver part of the rack fail? Or was the issue where the screw at the end of the receiver extension falls out (or was never installed) and the bike mounts loosen and wiggle off? Sounds like the former if you lost both bikes simultaneously.

  6. P.S. I drove from Ohio to California and back with my Holdup loaded, with no issues. I even had the front tire of one of my bikes explode while driving over a pass in Utah, and the rack still kept the bike in place, score!

  7. I bought the hold up two model, it is tight and works although twice I have had the red pin knob come out and drop the rack in reverse. I had the black cable attached to the hitch receiver which stopped me from dragging the outside bike on the ground.

  8. What if I have a touring bike and it has a front fender and a headlight. Is this rack not going to work? If I put it on the fender and tighten it down, will the fender break? Is there a carrier rack that would work with touring bikes if this one doesn’t?

What do you think?