This summer my wife and I undertook a road trip of epic proportions. Traveling from Georgia to California and stopping at many places along the way, our travels lasted for almost two months and involved about 600 miles of dirty singletrack under my mountain bike tires and about 7,000 miles of pavement under the tires of my Toyota T100 pickup truck. Such an epic journey called for a reliable bike rack, and the Yakima Doubledown Ace 4 proved to be just such a rack.
Yakima Doubledown Ace 4 comfortably loaded with three bikes of radically different frame styles.
The Doubledown Ace is available in 3 configurations: the 2, 4, or 5 (denoting the number of bikes it is designed to carry). Since the five-bike carrier is only rated to 125 pounds and the 4 is rated to 120 pounds, I went with the 4 as none of my bikes weigh as little as 25 pounds.
The rack is compatible with 2″ and 1¼” (class 1, 2, or 3) hitch receivers right out of the box, and fits tightly into the hitch thanks to an adjustable SpeedKnob. When not in use, the arms flip down and out of the way easily thanks to a handy lever, and if you need to access the back of your vehicle the rack can be leaned out of the way without removing the whole assembly from the vehicle.
Affixing the bikes to the rack are “sliding SWITCHBLADE™ anti-sway cradles [that] eliminate bike-to-bike contact and improve ease of loading,” according to Yakima.
On the Way to the Trail
As I mentioned in the introduction, the Doubledown Ace 4 proved to be a very capable rack! It has literally traveled to the other side of the country and back on my truck with very little complaint! In fact, the only major issue I had was that the bumper/hitch on my old pickup wasn’t up to the strain of such a long road trip and buckled under the pressure:
Again, it’s important to note that the rack didn’t give way: my bumper did! The rack is still in superb condition, despite having been ratchet strapped in place for the rest of the summer.
I was very impressed with the stabilizing knob. The knob made rack installation and removal an absolute cinch, and when tightened down everything was very secure. Some racks have a tendency to sway a lot on the back of the vehicle but, while the bikes did sway a bit due to the hanging design, the Doubledown Ace itself was absolutely bomber.
I did notice that the “anti-sway cradles,” which are designed to slide into position and then lock in place, wouldn’t stay locked in place. When under load, they tended to slide along the rack bars a bit. This wasn’t too big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it did get annoying at times.
One other item of note: unless you have a perfectly horizontal top tube, Yakima recommends that you use a virtual top tube bar (sold separately). But at $35 a pop, or $140 if you want to carry four bikes that way, they seem a little cost-prohibitive. In actual practice, I found that I could fit a bike of almost any frame design on my rack if I was willing to get a little creative.
There are plenty of creative mounting options if you’re willing to experiment.
Finally, this rack is supposed to hold four bikes, but in real-world use it is almost impossible to fit four bikes on there. The rack will hold two with ease, three comfortably, but four is a stretch:
Yakima Doubledown Ace 4 heavily loaded with four bikes.
But with the Doubledown Ace 5 retailing for only $30 more, you could easily purchase the 5 with the intention of only carrying four bikes.
The Yakima Doubledown Ace 4 is a solid hanging-style bike rack. While a tray-style rack would be even more secure, most tray racks only come with two trays, and addtional trays cost extra (if the rack even has the option of being expanded). The basic 2-tray hitch racks by themselves often cost significantly more than the $269 that Yakima asks for this sturdy 4-bike hauler. (MSRP is $299 for the Doubledown Ace 5, but remember to subtract one bike off the number for each of these racks.) As a comparison, Yakima’s 2-tray Holdup hitch rack retails for $419.
If you want to haul three or four bikes economically and securely, the Yakima Doubledown Ace is a great way to do it!
Many thanks to Yakima for sending over the Doubledown Ace 4 for review.