Yakima FullSwing Premium Locking Bike Hitch Rack
The Yakima SwingDaddy is the premium swing-away bike rack that carries up to 4 bikes. And swings away when fully loaded with bikes for rear-of-vehicle access. Installation is a breeze with the locking SpeedKnob. And ratcheting ZipStrips make loading and securing bikes simpler than ever.
After doing extensive research, I selected the FullSwing Premium Hitch-Mast Bike Rack because it was new and improved – a quick replacement to last year’s model which was called the Swing Daddy (looks a lot like this one, but in silver -offered for $100 less). Last year’s model received low ratings because they removed the integrated bike lock (included on the 2008 Swing Daddy) and charge $49 as an add-on. This was a big mistake (see reviews if you need proof).
I was debating over the 2008 Swing Daddy ($200 savings) and the 2014 which just came out and the main reason for my hesitation in buying the new one was price… So in order to make my decision I needed to proved to myself that Yakima’s 2014 model is worth the extra $100-200 over prior models? After two months of casual research, I’m happy to share my experience and am doing so because at the time of purchase, there were no reviews or videos out on this model. I went with the new model because the improvements proved to be worthwhile. It’s designed better and performs incredibly well. I’m writing this review one day after a 750 mile road trip. I’m 100% happy with my purchase and convinced I made the right decision. I hope you find my feedback helpful as you determine what’s best for you.
My research (before buying) was based on numerous online reviews, videos and a visit to my local bike shop (which carried both the 2013 and 2008 models). Here’s a synopsis of my findings:
I will start with the improvements over prior models:
1. installation is a breeze. The 2008 model requires a nut and bold installation to the hitch -this is what most of us are used to and it’s not exactly something you want to do often. The 2013 and 2014 models, have a slide and click autopin and knob(referred to as speedknob) and a push button release to retract the pin when removing the rack. The red handled twist knob gives you an easy means to tighten and secure your rack to the hitch. It take no time to do so (see video) and the built in key lock allows you to prevent removal by disengaging the twist to tighten/loosen handle control. It works incredibly well and is very convenient. Unlike most people who leave their bike rack attached because it’s inconvenient to remove, I have easily and quickly remove it after every outing. It’s one of the top advantages over the 2008 model and I’d say it’s the main reason to upgrade or go for the newer model.
2. The ratchet style bindings secure the bike to the rack extremely well. After trying out the 2008 model while in my local bike shop, I quickly recognized the advantage of the ratchet locking system over the older model’s rubber straps (that need to be tugged and stretched on). If you need proof, watch the videos for both this model and the swing daddy). This video was not out yet and so I decided it looked worth the convenience of the ratchet design (like ski bindings). My experience is the new design is hands down a worthwhile upgrade. It’s so quick and easy…
3. Integrated bike lock. There’s a quick and easy locking wire that pulls out of the mast and locks in the far end of the rack. Its as easy as push and click to lock and a simple key turn to release. I cannot believe they opted to exclude this from last year’s model (especially since the prior 2008 model included an integrated lock).
4. The all black with red accents is really a sharp looking design. I’m more about function and less about form, but this delivers on both. Note, I almost bought the 2008 model because it matches my silver SUV and had great reviews… I don’t need a hitch to look good and the 2008 model looks like the average hitch – you can see the welding points as well as the hinges (same as most bike racks). The new design is high gloss – looks well protected from the elements and hides the hinges and welds. It’s sharp and very attractive. This is a bonus as it was not a requirement for me.
Other benefits to this rack.
1. the red plastic parts clearly mark the user interaction points. They either lock or unlock the hitch.
2. The swing away design leave you direct access to the back trunk of your SUV, car or truck. Its a life saver. Our last trip left me opening and closing the back hitch about 20 times a day and that’s no exaggeration -comes with having a family.
3. The full swing has 2 pivot points – I didn’t realize this the first time as only one pivot/hinge is obvious and as a result of my not noticing, I was not able to clear the back gate of my SUV. Fortunately both the hinge and the mast swivel and lock so you can get your bikes out of the way and lock them in place. I had plenty of clearance and best of all, the fact that it locks is a huge benefit when parked on a hill.
4. Shipping was a blessing. Nothing beats delivery. This rack is big and heavy – it’s solid and strong. My box arrived damaged, but the unit inside was in perfect condition (there’s a 2 inch buffer to protect the rack).
5. Assembly is simple. The unit arrives in two parts. The mast and the base. The mast drops in place and is secured with a long nut and bolt. It took me a while to screw it in because I attached it to the car to assemble. I’m not sure, but I’d try to attach the mast before attaching it to the car if I were to do it again (although Yakima recommends installing it while attached to the hitch).
6. This bike rack is solid. We drove 750 miles and regardless of bumps or rain, these bikes did not move or sway. I am very impressed.
7. Integrated bottle opener – have not used it, but its there…
8. The FullSwing only works with 2″ (cass III & IV) hitches.
9. We can access our trunk (back lift-gate) without removing the bikes – the “swing away” feature is priceless for us and easy to use. I think I would have lost it if I had purchase anything else (cannot imagine removing the bikes every time I need to get into the trunk!).
10. Built to last. This rack is solid and I bought it for a lifetime of use. I look forward to using it often and for many years to come.
11. Purchase is protected by a Lifetime warranty.
What I did not like:
1. The Yakima label on the mast arrived with wrinkles in the decal. It didn’t look right -so I removed the decal.
2. The idea of random people using my bike rack to open their beer bottle is not appealing to me, but I suppose they would be have to be Yakima hitch owners to know about it.
3. The integrated lock is short… it’s just long enough to lock the bike frames to the rack (not the bike wheels).
4. Warranty is not transferrable and does not cover oxidation (rust).
1. Fortunately when I bought this rack I knew I would need the tube top frame adapter for my wife’s bike. It’s important to know that a woman’s bike or child’s bike needs an adapter to use this rack. it’s an additional item and it’s required (currently $35-40 on Amazon).
Add on items:
2. Hook and loop straps are also available for securing the bikes together. I bought a 4 pack and use them to reduce the movement of bike wheels and pedals. I’m glad I bought these.
3. Bike lock. I use my bike lock to lock my wheels. It’s not required, but it’s peace of mind for me knowing that the wheels are locked to the frame. I also remove valuables from the bike if they are left on the rack overnight.
In conclusion. The 2014 model is a cut above the rest. I have yet to see any other bike rack with the form and function of Yakima’s 2014 model. The top three reasons to consider this model is the easy install hitch, easy to use ratchet system for “strapping” bikes and superior design (no visible welds or hinges). My family and I am very happy with our purchase. We justified the price difference because of all the improvements and knowing we wanted something that would last a lifetime. We are excited to be able to enjoy our bikes wherever we go!