The SplitRail is RockyMounts‘ latest — and greatest — hitch rack. Ringing in at $720 as tested ($500 for the two-bike base + $220 for the additional tray), the SplitRail certainly has a premium price tag. But does it offer the features and build-quality to go toe-to-toe with the best racks on the market?
RockyMounts claims the SplitRail is the lightest expandable hitch rack available, although Yakima says the same of their even newer Dr. Tray rack. The two-bike SplitRail base weighs in at 45 lb. while Yakima claims the Dr. Tray comes in at just 34 lb. One important distinction between the two: the SplitRail is expandable to carry four bikes, but the Dr. Tray can only handle three. Regardless, the SplitRail is quite light, especially considering its robust construction.
In the two-bike configuration, the SplitRail will handle up to 60 lb. per tray; with the third tray that figure drops to 40 lb. However, unless you’re carrying heavy DH bikes or e-bikes, you should be well under the weight limit of the trays. Most bikes with tires under 3″ wide will work with the SplitRail, as long as the wheelbase is less than 48″ long. Some XL frames, DH bikes, or really long enduro bikes may be too long.
Assembling the SplitRail took substantially longer than other racks I’ve tested. The instructions were clear and there wasn’t anything particularly tricky about it, there were just lots of parts to put together, especially with the additional tray. The good news is all those pieces are well made, and went together without issue. None of the bits worked loose during several months of use.
The trays themselves are aluminum capped with heavy duty plastic, and the base is chromoly steel. Loosening the tray bolts allows 4″ of side-to-side adjustment. In practice, I never needed to move the trays from their initial positions, but it’s nice to know the option is there to resolve interference issues. This feature could be especially handy when transporting mountain bikes without dropper posts or road/gravel bikes.
Loading a bike onto the SplitRail is simple: rotate the swing arm outward, undo the wheel strap, place the bike in the tray, push the swing arm tightly onto the front wheel, and strap in the rear wheel. Tray-style hitch racks like the SplitRail are my favorite precisely because they’re so easy to load and unload, and they don’t make contact with the frame.
A handle on the end of the rack allows you to lift or lower the SplitRail. It tilts a full 90° upward when not in use. and it sits nice and close to the rear of your vehicle. It also tilts 30° downward to allow access to your rear hatch. Most premium hitch racks tilt, but the SplitRail is the easiest I’ve used to date. A large handle sits at the end of the second tray; pull it and tilt the rack up or down as needed. That’s the only step. Other racks like the Yakima HoldUp I tested last year require the removal of a pin before lifting the rack. It’s a little thing, but the SplitRail simplifies the process.
The SplitRail uses a unique “anti-wobble wedge” to make the rack rock solid. The wedge slides onto the hitch tube before installing the rack onto your car. I had to break out a mallet to get the wedge into my vehicle’s hitch because the fit was so tight. Once the wedge is in place, you turn a large plastic knob on the base of the rack to eliminate any side-to-side play. Some slight play developed over the first few trips as everything settled, but a couple turns of the knob was all it took to tighten things back up. Overall, I was very impressed with the stability of the SplitRail.
Bikes, like the rack itself, were wiggle-free. With all racks of this type, proper swing arm placement is vital. The arm needs to butt right up against the fork for maximum security. Larger fenders will interfere with the arm placement, but I had good luck with small mud guards.
So, the SplitRail may not be able to claim it’s the lightest tray-style hitch rack on the market, but it’s certainly one of the nicest. From construction to fit to operation, all of the components are top-notch. Loading and unloading the bikes is a straightforward process, raising and lowering the rack is a breeze, and the whole setup is sturdy despite its relative lack of heft.
Durability appears first-class as well: the arms and wheel hooks still operate smoothly, the wheel straps have handled months of exposure unscathed, and the pivot and trays remain wiggle-free.
There are some limitations to the SplitRail — namely it won’t fit fat bikes or some bikes with fenders — but competing racks generally face these same issues too. On the whole though, the RockyMounts SplitRail can compete with the best offerings from the likes of Yakima, Thule, and 1Up.
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Thanks to RockyMounts for sending the SplitRail for review.