Yakima FourTimer ReviewJanuary 28, 2017
- Very adjustable
- Good price (per bike carried)
- Good for fender bikes
- Poor tip-back range
- Difficult to manipulate rack tipping
The Yakima FourTimer is very adjustable to easily accommodates a number of bike types between one trip and another. It easily converts down to a two-bike carrier and is the only rack to clamp down on the top tube of the bikes instead of the front tire, which is good for fender bikes but not for sensitive carbon frames. It’s a fairly rickety rack because of so many adjustment points and is a touch more difficult to tip back once the bikes are loaded.
The Yakima FourTimer is one of the more involved racks to assemble out of the box, mostly because of how many separate pieces are included. It only requires two wrenches, either a 15/16” and a 9/16” or comparable spanner wrenches. None of which are included with the kit. It does start off by connecting the base to the vehicle hitch for continued assembly. The website claims a 25 minute install process and that’s a pretty fair estimate.
Yakima uses a beefy threaded bolt as the hitch pin to secure the rack spine to the hitch. Despite being a little larger than most, this is the most common method used by these rack systems. Like the others that use this system in this test the lateral movement is very secure, but there is still some up/down movement as the rack pivots around the bolt in the hitch. The rest of the hinges and adjustment points on the rack all have a little give and that all adds up to a significant amount of jiggle while the vehicle is in motion, though the bikes and the rack are secure.
Ease of Use
The FourTimer is easy to load once everything is dialed in. Meaning, it may take some experimenting to know what the best order to load your bikes is, especially if you’re using all four positions, given the bikes are roughly the same size. There is a little gap by the ratchet straps to hold them out of the way while loading. The rack does drop back away from the vehicle, but only a very small amount, so little in fact, I could only open the rear hatch of my 4Runner just a few inches, essentially making this feature useless to me. It did however make it a little easier to get into the rear hatch window. Even for vehicles that don’t need much clearance here, it’s rather difficult to get the FourTimer to tip back. First, remove the safety pin from the passenger side of the rack, then lift the weight of the rack (bikes et all) off the release pin and pull the release knob out which is on the driver side. Then ease the weight of the rack and bikes down. While this is relatively easy for one person to do with just two bikes on the rack, it’s very difficult for one person to tip back the rack with four bikes on it. Again, that is if tipping back the rack is even useful depending on the vehicle being used. Putting the rack back in transport mode is easy, just lift it up until the release knob pops back into its locked position and replace the safety pin. Folding the rack up on the vehicle when not in use is the same process but is easy for one person to do since the rack is empty: collapse the arms, remove the safety pin, pull the release knob and fold up until it clicks. Then replace the safety pin.
The ratchet arms are standard for these sorts of racks, except instead of moving totally out of the way to load the bikes and clamping on the front tire, these ratchet arms clamp down onto the top tube. To do so, while the arms do fold up and down for storage, they don’t get out of the way to load bikes. Only the ratchet hooks themselves rotate to facilitate loading. So bikes must either be lifted over the vertical arm, slid in from the side or some combination of putting the bike on while the arm is down in stowed position, then hold the bike in place while the arm is raised and the hook is twisted back, avoiding bumping into the bike in the process and then once in place the ratchet hook can be lowered. Since the forward hooks (closest to vehicle) are above the aft hooks, this usually means taller bikes (and as recommended, the heavier bikes) must be loaded first for the ratchet hook to fit down onto the frame. This is a great system for bikes with fenders.
The FourTimer is versatile in similar ways to other racks in this test, except instead of needing to buy an add-on kit to carry more bikes, the FourTimer is a 4-bike carrier that pairs down to a 2-bike carrier as needed. The conversion is as easy as removing a single bolt and nut. For that reason, it only comes in a 2” hitch mount. It is also a great rack for bikes with and without fenders on the wheels since the ratchet hook clamps down on the top tube not the wheel. The downside here is for riders who have carbon bikes or other bikes that have a “do not clamp” warning label on the top tube. The FourTimer wheel cups are easy to adjust to accommodate various wheelbase distances and since there is no defined front wheel or rear wheel cup, bikes can be loaded however they fit. The cups also have ratchet buckle straps to easily tighten down on the wheel in the cup. The rack bars do not adjust fore and aft to better fit bikes like some others in this test. It will take fat bikes with the sold separately FatStraps from Yakima.
The FourTimer has a basic set of features, with the stand out being how the hook clamps on the top tube. It does come with a hitch lock and a lock cable to keep the bikes locked to the rack is sold separately. The adjustability of the wheelbase cups is nice when carrying friends’ bikes for a quick fit and it’s nice that it’s so easy to pair the 4-bike rack down to carry 2-bikes. Also, the wheel straps have a little slot to fold back into so they’re out of the way while loading. Finally, Yakima caters to the post ride tailgate party with a built in bottle opener.
Cameron Martindell- Test Director & Editor
Cameron Martindell is the Gear Institute's Gear Test Director, responsible for coordinating our gear testing team, recruiting new experts, and maintaining the Gear Institute's editorial standards for product testing.