Yakima is no stranger to hitch racks with the HoldUp remaining one of my favorite hitch racks of all time. But, with the new Dr. Tray, Yakima added all the bells-and-whistles while cutting overall weight. That’s not always an easy task, but the Dr. Tray accomplishes it with panache.

Yakima Dr. Tray 2″ Features:

  • Carries two bikes (40 lbs each) or three with EZ+1
  • RemoteControl lever allows rack pivoting up or down
  • Lightweight aluminum tray design
  • Integrated cable locks (cores included)
  • Carries 26-29″ bikes
  • Fits up to 4.8″ tires
  • Up to 18″ between bikes (with tool-free spacing adjustment)
  • Locking SpeedKnob secures the rack to vehicle
  • Weight: 34 lbs
  • MSRP: $649
Yakima Dr Tray Bike Rack Review

It’s light, can carry narrow or fat tires and functions well (with a few quirks).

Doctor, your rack has arrived

Hitch racks can get quite heavy. With all that heft, removal and re-install becomes prohibitive for many. While I roll with the rack on the back nearly 100% of the time, others may not wish to do so. Well, the Yakima Dr Tray is here to deliver a sturdy, 2-bike (3 with extender) and lightweight bike rack that will carry almost any bike you can throw its way.

Out of the box, the rack is a breeze to install and configure. And, the unique SpeedKnob secures the rack to the vehicle without tools. A small pin adds a touch of security in the unlikely event that things go haywire. Throughout several months of testing, the rack hasn’t worked its way loose with use, so rack security gets two thumbs up from me. It’s going to stay put.

Yakima Dr Tray // SpeedKnob

The SpeedKnob makes install/uninstall a tool-free affair.

After having hefted many hitch racks over the years, the Yakima Dr Tray feels very light when moving it from vehicle-to-vehicle.  I’ve had it installed on a 2006 Nissan Pathfinder and it, obviously, has plenty of ground clearance to confidently use the rack on any terrain. However, installation on our 2012 Toyota Sienna AWD wasn’t so good. I loaded it up in preparation for a trip to the Midwest and ground clearance wasn’t generous enough for comfort. So, even though the trays angle upward, vehicles with lower ground clearance or low hitch placement might have issues on steep driveway entrances. And, tilting backwards, the rack might actually sit on the ground and get all scratched up.

Placing bikes on the rack is a straightforward affair — much like the best racks of the day. Uniquely, the Dr Tray’s bike trays don’t fold inward at all, but instead are a fixed width. This undoubtedly reduces weight and simplifies the bike placement procedure, but does require care when walking around the rear of the vehicle. I’ve hip-checked the rack more times than I can count (yeowch).

Since the front wheel tray is wide-open, there’s no need for adjusting to fit larger tires. I’ve fit 25mm road tires to 3.0″ 27.5+ mountain bike tires with ease. The Dr Tray’s extra-long rear wheel straps will fit fat bike tires out-of-the-box, but they are really, really long if all you do is carry road bikes. Perhaps Yakima could include a set of shorter straps for those only hauling skinny-tire bikes?

Yakima Dr Tray Review // Open Wide

Tool-free adjustments allow trays to move back/forth with ease.

Dr Tray eliminates bike-on-bike contact

Aside from the lightweight and simple design, the Dr Tray is built specifically to eliminate bike-on-bike contact. We’ve all gotten bikes installed only to have a brake lever or pedal or handlebars touch the other bike. Sometimes, I’ve resorted to seatpost removal or brake lever re-positioning. Dropper posts have made this process easier, but some racks still suffer from this. I can confidently say that the Dr Tray will allow you to eliminate any bike-on-bike contact, tool-free, even with the bikes installed. It’s a really great feature that I’ve used when carrying both the 2020 Specialized Stumpjumper EVO and Giant XTC Advanced 27.5+.

With regular use sitting on the back of the vehicle now for almost 6 months, the rack has shown how road grime will affect its performance over time. I’ll start with the locking wheel arms. Brand new, they move up/down with ease, but the ratcheting mechanism lacks positive click action (audible and physical). You can feel each notch, but a little more audible noise would help. The usual push-down procedure easily secures all wheels for long-distance hauling.

Yakima Dr Tray Clearance

Open wide — the Dr Tray allows unblocked rear vehicle access.

As evidence to the clamping reliability of the locking arms, they are sometimes difficult to release. That’s great news for bike security but can be frustrating when trying to remove them from the rack. Here’s the trick: Push down on the front wheel arm (very hard), while depressing the release button. When I’ve had the arm ratcheted down as tight as possible, it has honestly been hard to get it to release. I’ve heard that some users have had to resort to letting air out of their front tires to get it to release it’s death grip. Also, in time the telescoping lever has become a little more difficult to move up/down. Some silicone spray has helped return it to a nearly-new state.

Rotating the rack up/down is just as you’d expect. It locks upward, flat or tilted downward. The extra-large RemoteControl lever is key here. It sits at the end of the rack for easy access (great placement). It does, however, require some strength to depress — even with both hands.

Yakima Dr Tray Rack Review

Locking cables can be thread through the front triangle.

Locking bikes to the rack is straightforward with the extra-long locking cable. The diameter of the cable is larger than those found on other racks and it’s long enough to place the cable through any frame I’ve carried to secure it. And, when carrying just one bike, you can criss-cross both cables for added security. It does take a little bit of patience to re-insert a cable of this length back into the tray, but it’s worth it for the security they provide. Oh, and be sure to pull the cable out before you set your bike on as it’s almost impossible to pull out due to placement right behind the tire.

Carrying the bikes at all speeds and over all terrain is secure and confident. As with all racks, it can develop a little bit of a bounce on the road. But, rest-assured, Yakima has built the Dr Tray to endure all that typical roads will inflict. Keep in mind that it does have a 40-lb. max capacity per tray, so many e-bikes will exceed this capacity.

The Good

  • Considerably lighter than the competition
  • Fits all tire sizes without adapters
  • SpeedKnob secures the rack without tools (love this)
  • Locks are included
  • Large-diameter cable feels substantial
  • Class-leading tray spacing adjustment (without tools)
  • Tilt-down allows for unmatched rear vehicle access (even with 800mm bars)
  • Extended fin protects underside in case of road impact

The Bad

  • Ratcheting arms could have more tactile and audible feedback
  • Can be difficult to get the arms to release
  • RemoteControl requires significant strength to depress
  • Rear wheel strap is really long for skinny tire use
  • Trays are wide — watch yourself as you walk around your vehicle
  • Low-clearance vehicles may want to look elsewhere
  • Won’t fit kids bikes

The Bottom Line: Yakima Dr Tray Bike Rack

While the standard operating procedure of the best hitch-mounted bike racks hasn’t changed much over the years, each rack has their own personality. The Dr Tray is built to be lightweight and eliminate bike-on-bike contact. It handles that two-pronged focus with flying colors. I do wish for a little more positive click action on the front wheel arms, but overall, the Dr Tray has been great to live with hauling a variety of bikes over many months of real-world use.

Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com

 

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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