Yakima StageTwo Bike Hitch Rack Review

The Yakima StageTwo bike rack uses a tried and true design for a reliable, easy to use tray style hitch rack.
Yakima StageTwo bike rack
Photos: Matt Miller

In the world of bike racks, there are a lot of styles out there and a lot of them are new. Most notably, are the tray-style racks that lock the bike into place with tire cradles.

Yakima StageTwo bike rack key info

  • Capacity: two bikes, 42lb per bike (2″ hitch)
  • Weight: 66lb
  • Mount: hitch, 1.25″ and 2″ versions available
  • Price: $749
  • Buy from REI, Backcountry, and Amazon.

Yakima doesn’t make this style of rack yet, though given that just about every other brand is making one, we won’t be surprised when they do. But the Yakima StageTwo bike hitch rack has a tried and true design and our testing period has proved it to be nothing but reliable.

About the Yakima StageTwo bike rack

Yakima’s StageTwo bike rack uses two offset trays resting on a single pillar. Each tray has a big wheel scoop for the front wheel to rest in and a folding arm with ratcheting hook to clamp down on the front tire against the fork. Simple as that.

The rack also uses a locking “Speedknob” which adds tension between the rack and the hitch receiver by rotating it clockwise. The knob locks and it uses a small hitchpin for security.

The StageTwo also has two small integrated cable locks and a welded lock loop so you can easily attach your own much sturdier lock.

Out of the box, the rack will fit two bikes with 20-29″ wheels and tires up to 3.25″ wide; to fit fat bike tires, Yakima sells a separate kit. The rack fits bikes with wheelbases up to 52″/1,320mm long. Yakima also sells an add-on kit to fit two more bikes.

The StageTwo comes in two colors — Antracite and Vapor — which are basically a black and a silver. The hitch comes in two sizes, either 1.25″ or 2″. It’s rated for 42lb per bike on the 2″ hitch and the StageTwo weighs 66lb.

The suggested retail price for the StageTwo is $749.

On the road

The StageTwo showed up at my door disassembled in a fairly compact box. Lugging it into the garage, my first thoughts were, “dang, this is heavy.”

At 66lb, it is indeed one of the heavier hitch bike racks on the market. This can mean a few things: First, it’s a bit of a bear to install and remove from the hitch receiver. Yakima (and others) recommend installing the hitch and pillar into the receiver and then building the trays on to it, which makes a lot of sense. But still, if you remove your rack in the winter to stow it, you may want an extra set of hands.

A 29×2.5″ tire with plenty of room.

Second, if you have a smaller car, it may cause some squatting in the rear suspension with the bikes all loaded up. With two bikes, that’s easily an extra 120+lbs hanging off the rear end.

Third, in my experience, heavier racks have been more durable than lighter racks which combine a lot of plastics and metals. That is not my impression of the StageTwo. The rack feels like it’s built to last, compared to the lighter hitch rack I pulled off that was falling apart after only a few years of use.

The tray bolts took some patience to align with the main rack pillar, but I don’t think it took more than an hour to put the rack together. The Speedknob works as advertised and the rack is still drum tight. The “barely there” hitch pin did worry me at first, but it’s been fine.

The StageTwo is easy as pie to use. It folds up with a satisfying “clink” into position and folds down to transport mode just as confidently. The nice thing about the big front wheel scoops is that they help the bike balance as you pull the ratcheting “StrongArm” down, a term that brings the legendary insurance lawyer to mind if you’re from Colorado. The StrongArms are rubberized and I haven’t had any problems with them scuffing any gear.

The small cable locks are convenient to have if you need to make a quick run into the grocery store on the way home from a ride. I usually keep a beefy lock inside my vehicle for longer stops and I appreciate the lock loop too.

With two bikes on the back, the StageTwo has been stable, quiet, and shake free. I can’t recall a single issue I’ve had with the rack. It’s been flawless.

Our testing period took about three months, but I’m looking forward to seeing how the StageTwo holds up in the long run. All signs say that the durable and simple rack will likely last a long time.

Pros and cons of the Yakima StageTwo hitch rack


  • Easy to load and use
  • Stable and secure
  • Integrated locks and lock loop for added security


  • Pricey for this style of rack
  • Heavy

Bottom line

The Yakima StageTwo hitch rack is a tough and easy to use bike rack with everything necessary to keep it secure on the road or at the lunch spot after a ride.