Yakima has been a key player in the bike rack market since 1979, and the Dr.Tray currently sits at the top of their platform hitch offerings. Fully featured and wrapped up in a class-leading lightweight package, the Dr.Tray was an exciting choice for testing this past fall. But while Yakima included everything we’ve come to expect in a premium rack, the Dr.Tray fell short in the durability department. Below we break down the Dr.Tray’s performance, set up and ease of use, bike capacity and wheel sizes, weight capacity, build quality, key features, and more. To see how it stacks up to the competition, see our article on the best hitch bike racks.
I’ve been eager to get my hands on the Yakima Dr.Tray hitch bike rack ever since its release in spring 2017. On the surface, the Dr.Tray seemed to have all the trimmings of my beloved and feature-rich Thule T2 Pro XT in a substantially lighter package (18 pounds lighter, to be exact). Moreover, the Dr.Tray boasts the ability to add a third bike tray to the rack without a bulky extension—a rarity among the competition. Coupled with my positive experience with the original Yakima HoldUp, I expected the Dr.Tray to give other premium hitch-mounted racks a run for their money.
However, after a season of heavy use, I came away with some fairly serious concerns. Most notably, the lightweight construction makes the Dr.Tray quite a bit less stout than its competitors. The bikes wobble a noticeable amount on the road, its 40-pound weight limit hurts its versatility for carrying heavier models (including e-bikes), and the release levers for the ratcheting arms aren’t made to last (more on this in the “Attachment System” section below). If you prioritize weight, want a platform-style design, and are willing to take extra care of it, the Dr.Tray has its merits. But considering the steep $649 price tag and compromises in toughness, I think Yakima took the weight trimming a little too far.
Unlike many other platform-style bike racks, the Dr.Tray comes mostly complete out of the box and doesn’t require any tools for assembly. Since there was no need to awkwardly balance heavy bike trays while matching pieces together, the process was extremely quick and easy. In the end, it took me less than 10 minutes to assemble from start to finish (by headlamp, no less), which was about half the time it took to put together the Thule T2 Pro XT.
Given the lack of complexity with set up, it’s no surprise that the Dr.Tray is similarly very easy to use. Once a bike is placed on the tray, simply swing the ratcheting arm over the front wheel and cinch it down. The tightening system is comparable to that on the Kuat NV Base 2.0, but I find the arm slightly smoother to operate on the Dr.Tray (I didn’t experience any “stickiness” while lowering the arm onto the tire like I did with the Kuat). The rear wheel attachment process is equally straightforward: loop the strap over the wheel and slide it through the locking mechanism. My only complaint is that lifting heavier bikes onto the innermost tray (closest to the vehicle) can be a bit challenging since Yakima extended the overall length of the rack to accommodate a third bike tray.
Most platform-style hitch racks can transport two bikes without any add-ons, and the Dr.Tray is no exception. However, unlike the competition, the Dr.Tray doesn’t require a bulky extension to boost its bike-carrying capacity. Instead, Yakima designed the rack to accept a much smaller third tray on the two-bike frame. The aptly named EZ+1 attaches to the top of the rack (both the 1.25 and 2-inch receiver models) with two bolts, adding just over 9 pounds to the set-up. And while $259 for this piece might sound pricey, other platform rack add-ons cost upwards of $400-$500. All that said, most other extensions double the bike capacity to four, while the Dr.Tray maxes out at three—a notable consideration for anyone who needs the extra carrying ability.
In terms of wheel sizes, the Dr.Tray can handle bikes with 26- to 29-inch tires, which is fairly limited compared to the competition. For comparison, the Thule T2 Pro XT can carry bikes with 20- to 29-inch wheels and the Kuat NV Base 2.0 can handle wheels 24 to 29 inches. Many companies also sell aftermarket kits to extend this capacity (Kuat offers a 20- to 24-inch wheel adapter for kids’ bikes), but Yakima chose to forego this option entirely. For the price, we’re a bit surprised the Dr.Tray can’t achieve the same versatility. With regard to tire width, the Dr.Tray accommodates fat bikes with tires up to 5 inches wide, comparable to the T2 Pro XT and notably more versatile than the NV Base 2.0, which maxes out at 3 inches.
Considering its lightweight construction, it’s no surprise that the Dr.Tray has a lower weight-carrying capacity than most other platform-style hitch racks. While its limit of 40 pounds per bike should be plenty for most, other racks like the Thule T2 Pro XT and Kuat NV 2.0—which can handle 60-pound bikes—are safer options for e-bike users. That said, it’s worth pointing out that the Dr.Tray can carry a third bike much more easily (and cheaply) than its counterparts—this bumps its weight capacity to 120 pounds, which is right in line with the competition.
Spending a small fortune on a rack comes with the expectation that it will last a long time, but I came away concerned about the Dr.Tray’s long-term durability. The metal frame feels noticeably flimsier and less stout than other premium platform racks, and the cheap-feeling plastic handles and levers don’t inspire much confidence. It’s also important to note that among the collection of bike racks that litters my garage, the Dr.Tray has started to show wear much quicker than my other racks. After less than a season of (admittedly rough) use, it has several scratches—something I can’t say for the Thule T2 Pro XT, which underwent two years and almost 20,000 miles of testing. While I applaud Yakima for the lightweight design, I can’t help but feel they went a bit overboard with the sacrifice in sturdiness.
Weighing in at 34 pounds, the Dr.Tray is a true standout among other platform-style hitch racks. Most in this category come in at around 50 pounds, including the Thule T2 Pro XT (52 pounds), Kuat NV Base 2.0 (51 pounds), and 1 Up USA Heavy Duty Double (46 pounds). Given it undercuts the competition significantly, it’s one of the easiest platform racks to move around my garage and attach to different vehicles—and doesn’t weigh down the back of smaller vehicles compared to burlier models. All things considered, if you plan to remove your rack with any regularity, the Dr.Tray is a great choice.
One of the big perks of platform hitch racks is that they typically offer a good deal more security than other options like hanging hitch racks and roof racks. However, I have a few concerns about the Dr.Tray. The arms that secure the front wheel are considerably wobbly, especially when compared to the robust ratcheting system on the Kuat NV Base 2.0. To illustrate this: I’ve been hauling around a heavy, 35-pound mountain bike lately and have consistently noticed a great deal of side-to-side movement while driving to and from the trailhead. Further, the release lever on the ratcheting arm feels cheap—I wouldn’t be surprised if it needs replacing after a season of heavy use. But on a positive note, the trays themselves offer more adjustment between bikes (up to 18 inches) than any other rack I’ve tested, limiting the possibility of any bike-to-bike clearance issues.
On the other side, the Dr.Tray has a simple pivoting cradle and strap for the bike’s back tire. While the rear wheel restraint works well on its own, the cradle system as a whole has fairly limited adjustability to accommodate wheelbases of different lengths (the maximum wheelbase is 48 inches). While my medium Santa Cruz Bronson is not a short bike by any standard at 47 inches, it’s far from the longest available and its rear tire sat at the very edge of the wheel cradle without making full contact with the rack. This didn’t cause any issues hauling my bike, but I expect larger all-mountain bikes with longer wheelbases will be more affected.
Like the Thule T2 Pro XT, the Dr.Tray has a very conveniently located tilt lever: mid-rack, farthest from the vehicle. Rather than having to awkwardly reach under or through your bikes to tilt them down (like on the Thule T2 Classic), the Dr.Tray makes it easy to access your trunk even with bikes loaded. That said, I found the handle on the lever feels sticky and generally requires more effort to disengage than Thule’s HitchSwitch—a small critique, but noticeable enough for the T2 Pro XT to retain its title as the easiest to use.
Like many other premium platform racks, the Dr.Tray includes integrated hitch and cable locks. The cable lock is well-concealed within the tray, keeping the design clean and sleek. When extended, it passes through both the front wheel and rear of the frame before locking to the rack itself—something we can’t say for the locks on the Thule T2 Pro XT, which were about six inches too short. And while cable locks alone won’t prevent theft, they’re a welcome addition nonetheless. I would have liked another inch or two as I was just barely able to make it work with my mountain bike, but overall, I was happy with the location and overall functionality of the locks.
What We Like
- Extremely light for a platform-style hitch rack at 34 pounds.
- Both the 1.25- and 2-inch receiver versions of the Dr.Tray can accommodate a third bike tray.
- Tilt lever is very user-friendly.
- Moveable tray platforms make it easy to prevent bike-to-bike clearance issues.
What We Don’t
- Lacks the overall durability and build quality we expect of a rack in this price range.
- Arms feel noticeably less secure than most other premium platform-style hitch racks.
- Release lever on the ratcheting arm feels cheap.
- Rear wheel cradle has limited adjustability, which could pose a problem for large bikes with long wheelbases.
|Rack||Price||Weight||Tire Width||Wheel Sizes||Capacity*||Locks|
|Yakima Dr.Tray||$649||34 lbs.||5 in. max||26-29 in.||40 lbs.||Yes|
|Thule T2 Pro XT||$600||52 lbs.||5 in. max||20-29 in.||60 lbs.||Yes|
|Kuat Racks NV Base 2.0||$589||51 lbs.||3 in. max||24-29 in.||60 lbs.||Yes|
|1Up USA Heavy Duty Double||$609||46 lbs.||3.1 in. max||16-29 in.||50 lbs.||No|
|Thule T2 Classic||$480||51 lbs.||5 in. max||20-29 in.||60 lbs.||No|
*Editor's Note: "Capacity" refers to weight capacity per bike.
We’ve referenced the Thule T2 Pro XT many times throughout this review, and that’s because we consider it the best on the market and a great baseline by which to judge other racks. Like the Yakima, the Thule features integrated cable and hitch locks and can haul bikes with up to 5-inch tires. However, the Thule wins out in both versatility and durability: the T2 Pro XT can accommodate bikes with longer wheelbases (50.5 inches compared the Yakima’s 48), the tilt lever operates more smoothly, and its ratcheting arms are substantially more robust—all at $49 less than the Dr.Tray. Despite the 18-pound weight difference, we give the edge to the T2 Pro XT for its superior craftsmanship and build quality (for more on the Thule, see our in-depth review here).
Another rack we’ve been testing this season is the Kuat NV Base 2.0. The NV offers a bit more versatility than the Dr.Tray with its ability to accommodate a wider range of wheel sizes (24 to 29 inches) and features a sturdier ratcheting system. However, the Yakima’s unique tray design allows more adjustment between bikes (something we noticed was lacking on the Kuat), its tilt lever is much easier to use when fully loaded, and it comes in at 17 pounds lighter. But as with the Thule above, unless you prioritize low weight and plan to carry lighter bikes, we give the nod to the more durable and $60 less expensive NV Base 2.0.
Finally, Wisconsin-based 1Up is popular among serious riders, and their Heavy Duty Double is one of our favorite designs. The most notable feature of the 1Up is its all-aluminum construction, which we found translates to impressive durability. But build quality aside, the Dr.Tray does offer a number of advantages over the Heavy Duty Double: it’s able to accommodate wider tires out of the box (the 1Up maxes out at 3.1 inches versus the Dr.Tray’s 5-inch maximum), the tilt mechanism is much easier to operate, and the Dr.Tray includes locks while the 1Up does not. But in the end, we think the Heavy Duty Double’s premium, long-lasting build quality wins out.
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