The Yakima HoldUp EVO Bike Rack Can Carry Pretty Much Any Bike, is Expandable [Review]

No-touch and light-touch designs are the holy grail for bike racks, and today there are more options to choose from than ever before. Recently a few brands have been accused of appropriating the minimalist design of one of the first no-touch racks on the market, but Yakima has found their own way to scratch-free frames with the refined HoldUp Evo.

  • 2 trays standard. Can purchase 2-tray add on for $399.
  • Hitch-mounted rack with models for either 1.25- or 2-inch receivers.
  • Built-in locks for securing the rack to the car, and bikes to the rack
  • Weight limit: 50lbs. per bike
  • Designed to fit most bikes, from kids’ bikes to fat bikes
  • $549 MSRP (Available from JensonUSA, REI, Competitive Cyclist, and others.)

Installation

The Yakima HoldUp Evo rack requires a good bit of assembly out of the box, but the instructions are easy to follow and based on my experience, everything goes together smoothly and logically. It’s best to assemble the rack on your vehicle as instructed, using the hitch mount to hold everything in place.

A large knob is used to tighten the rack’s tongue inside the receiver on your vehicle. I found the fit to be incredibly snug and stable using a modest amount of force, providing a solid connection with little to no side-to-side wobble. A safety pin ensures the rack stays in place in case the tongue ever becomes loose in transit.

The knob features a simple lock to deter rack thieves at the trailhead. Essentially when locked, the knob spins in place without actually loosening the tongue. Two locking security cables — one for each bike — use the same key and are recommended for use when transporting bikes for added security, both from theft and in the unlikely event that a bike isn’t held securely in the rack.

Bike loading

Chances are if you already have a tray style hitch rack, or just want one, it’s because this style of rack is the easiest and most convenient to load. With few if any adjustments necessary, the HoldUp Evo can accommodate bikes running most wheel sizes. Just fold the hook arms all the way down, open the ratchet strap and tuck the free end in the holder to keep it out of the way, and lift the bike up.

Rotate the ratcheting hook on the front wheel arm up and over the top of the wheel until it almost touches the fork. Cinch it down, use the ratchet strap to secure the rear wheel, and you’re done.

One of the first things I noticed using the HoldUp Evo are the long rear wheel ratcheting straps. With standard 29er tires, there’s a lot of excess strap (and even more so I imagine with road bikes) but the upshot is there’s plenty of room for a fat bike tire (Yakima says up to 4.8-inchers).

Perhaps the feature that readers who are looking to upgrade want to know about the most is the “no touch” claim for this rack. Yakima doesn’t actually use the phrase “no touch” in their marketing materials, only saying the rack avoids frame contact which is a safe and low bar. I found that it’s entirely possible to securely hold the front of the bike by contacting the tire only — and not the fork — using the arm hook. Unlike other racks I’ve used with similar arms, Yakima says users only need to ensure the arm is within an inch of the bike’s fork or cantilever brake. That gives forks just enough breathing room to avoid any rubbing or scratches.

Some buyers may worry the rear wheel strap could damage expensive rims, particularly carbon fiber rims. I’m not particularly concerned, but if I were I would probably wrap a thick piece of cloth between the strap and rim just to be safe.

After one too many bike transport mishaps, I’m extra vigilant about securing my bike before hitting the road. As an added precaution I lean on the arm hook with most of my weight to get a couple of extra ratchet clicks until my front tire is deformed just a bit.

The bike closest to the car seems to lean for some reason but it’s proven secure and isn’t in danger of contacting the other bike or the vehicle.

Yakima recommends placing the heaviest bike closest to the vehicle to minimize the force at the tongue and pivot. I notice one of my bikes tends to load at a bit of an angle on the inside tray, and I’m not sure why. The upshot is it’s been helpful in avoiding bike-on-bike contact and doesn’t place the bike too close to the vehicle. Otherwise the bike feels very secure.

In case there is bike-on-bike contact, it’s possible to adjust the tray placement side-to-side by an inch or two using a hex wrench.

Cool features

See that dent at the upper left on our Subaru? A handlebar did that the first time a car ran into the back of us. Yes, this has happened to us more than once, though not with this rack (yet).

For those who tend to keep a bike rack on their vehicle at most (or all) times, the HoldUp Evo folds up and out of the way.

The rack features a sweet hand lever on the top and also a foot lever that’s easy to access when you want to tilt the loaded rack down to access the rear vehicle hatch. Believe me, I’ve hit myself in the head with handlebars many times by bending down to release the pivot on other hitch racks, so the foot lever is pretty great. Older versions of the HoldUp featured a slightly more cumbersome pivot release which makes the new latch a welcome improvement.

While folding the rack up and down is fairly quick and easy, I prefer to take the rack off when I’m not using it. Keeping it in the garage and out of the elements for extended periods should make it last even longer. The only drawback is that this rack, like most others, is heavy: 51lbs. Looking at the rack I assumed it would be lightweight, but the airy design belies its true bulk and strength.

Naturally Yakima included a bottle opener and helpfully labels it as such. Seriously, I’ve owned bike racks with bottle openers before, but I always forget where the thing is supposed to be hidden. I prefer my Mountain Dew and beer in cans anyway, but it’s nice to know I can accommodate those in need when it comes to trailhead celebrations.

One of the features I haven’t used yet but that has me stoked is the ability to add two more trays. Bike racks, including this one, are expensive. Four-bike racks are even more so. Most of us can’t afford to drop $1,000 or more on a rack all at once. It’s nice to know buyers can start with a 2-bike rack, and in the future, they can upgrade to a four-bike capacity. This $399 add-on is something I will definitely be considering.

Summary

To be totally honest I wasn’t sold on the HoldUp Evo at first sight. The swoopy, thin lines are pretty unconventional when it comes to premium bike rack designs that are often dominated by thick, continuous rectangular bars. It turns out the HoldUp Evo is easier to use, more compatible, and feature-packed than most of the other premium racks I’ve considered or tested. This is a bike rack I can see myself using for a very long time and upgrading down the road.

⭐️ Find the Yakima HoldUp bike rack at JensonUSA, REI, Competitive Cyclist, and other online retailers.

Thank to Yakima for providing the HoldUp Evo for testing and review.

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