Yakima has addressed some of our issues in an updated version of the Dr. Tray, namely the sticky release mechanism, which has been redesigned to be more user-friendly and easier to release with one hand. Yakima also told us they lengthened the tray itself on the updated model. Since we have yet to test the new version, this review only pertains to the version we tested.April 2019
Yakima Dr. Tray Review
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Yakima Dr. Tray
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|Pros||Low loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removal||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact||More security features than other trunk racks, comes in 2 and 3 bike versions, lightweight, folds small for transport or storage, more stable than other trunk racks||Very inexpensive, no assembly required, lightweight, folds small for storage|
|Cons||High price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use, questionable durability||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load||Some assembly required, 33 lbs per bike weight limit, may not be compatible with all frames styles and shapes||Not adjustable, support arms may not work with all frame shapes/styles, no security features|
|Bottom Line||A lightweight hitch rack with unrivaled adjustability||A versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratio||A roof-mount rack with an exceptionally sturdy and secure hold of your bicycle with no frame contact||A quality trunk mount rack that stands out for its security features, stability, and adjustability||A very affordable, bare-bones trunk rack for the infrequent rack user on a tight budget|
|Rating Categories||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Thule Outway Hanging 2||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Ease of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease of Removal and Storage (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide||Thule Outway Hanging 2||Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...|
|Style||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Roof||Trunk||Trunk|
|Lock?||Yes||Yes||Available but not included||Yes||No|
|Rack Weight||34 lbs||44 lbs 2 oz||17 lbs||17 lbs 1oz||7 lbs 9 oz|
|Max Weight Per Bike||40 lbs||60 lbs||44 lbs||33 lbs||35 lbs|
|Other Sizes Available?||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 1 additional bike||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||No||Yes, 3 bike||Yes, 3 and 4 bike versions|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dr. Tray has some unique design features that set it apart from the competition. It was a favorite amongst our testers for ease of adjustment; the quick release tray clamps make getting any combination of bikes to fit on the rack a breeze. We never had issues with bike-on-bike contact, and the trays easily handle plus-sized tires up to 5 inches in width. As a bonus, this rack is one of the lightest hitch racks we tested at 34lbs making it easy to remove and store.
Ease of Everyday Use
The Dr. Tray has many of the same features as the T2 Pro XT, like a handle at the end of the rack for tilt adjustment, and integrated cable locks. While these features are certainly nice, they don't function quite as well as we would have liked. We had difficulty releasing the tilt mechanism, and most of our testers were forced to use two hands to get the rack to release and tilt up or down. The T2 Pro XT is much easier to release and only requires one hand to operate even when the rack is loaded with bikes. We found the sticky release handle to be a huge drawback to the Dr. Tray.
One thing we love about this model is the quick release tray clamps that make on the fly adjustment to avoid bike-on-bike contact a fast and tool-free operation. This design feature is far superior to the four-bolt design used on the T2 Pro XT and the RockyMounts BackStage that require a hex wrench and over twice as long to adjust.
Like most of the tray-style hitch racks we tested, the Dr. Tray has front-wheel clamps that are pushed down onto the front tire. We found the release mechanism to be harder to operate, with more force required than the T2 Pro XT. Despite this, the Dr. Tray is still relatively easy to load and unload, and carries the same low loading height benefits as the other hitch racks we tested.
Ease of Removal and Storage
This model is the highest-scoring hitch rack we tested in this test. Securing it to a vehicle is simple, with an expanding wedge design operated by a hand knob on the lower support arm of the rack. Place the rack in your hitch receiver and turn the knob to remove the wobble. The knob is then disabled by setting the lock mechanism with the included key. This system is almost identical in function to the Thule T2 Pro XT and is far easier to use than the traditional threaded anti-wobble hitch pins found on some other racks.
The quick lock and anti-wobble system are excellent, but what sets the Dr.Tray apart from other similar racks is an incredibly lightweight of 34lbs. The Dr. Tray is one of the lightest racks we tested and can easily be carried with one hand to and from your vehicle to the garage. For comparison, the T2 Pro XT weighs in at 51 lbs, and the RockyMounts BackStage weighs over 60lbs. If you plan to remove your rack after every ride, the Dr. Tray is a great option that won't leave you with back pain from hefting an unwieldy rack around.
The storage dimensions of the Dr. Tray are slightly more compact than similar racks at 16.5" L x 58" W x 40.5" H. These measurements are taken with the rack in the folded position, and the trays placed at their maximum lateral adjustments. Even though the Dr. Tray is easy to carry, it does take up a fair amount of space in a garage. It also doesn't fold up nearly as small as the 1Up USA Heavy Duty Quick Rack which is the only model we tested that features folding trays, making it possible to put it in your trunk when not in use.
The Dr. Tray is an impressively versatile rack that can handle pretty much any wheel size, tire width, or style of bike. Its biggest drawback is its 40 lbs per bike weight limit. While this is fine for most road, cruiser, and mountain bikes, it won't work with most heavy electric bikes that are so popular these days.
It is one of the only racks we tested that features both fore and aft, and lateral tray adjustment. The trays on the T2 Classic have the same adjustability, but tools are required to move the trays, which makes adjusting much more labor-intensive. The fore and aft adjustability of the Dr. Tray allows for a maximum width between trays of 17", while the lateral adjustability ensures no unwanted bike-on-bike contact during transit.
To add to the impressive bike clearance characteristics, the Dr. Tray can hold tires up to 4.8-inches in width, making it fat bike compatible. Also, it can be equipped with the EZ+1 accessory that increases the capacity of the rack to 3 bikes, with a very minimal increase in the length of the rack. It also has a tilt feature that allows access to the rear of most vehicle types.
Ease of Assembly
When the Dr. Tray arrived for testing we were pleasantly surprised to find that the rack required minimal assembly. Assembly can easily be accomplished by one person, and the light weight of the rack makes the process even easier.
The main frame of the rack comes completely assembled. The trays simply slide into the pre-installed clamps on the frame. The only real assembly to speak of is attaching the rear wheel straps onto the trays after the trays are installed onto the main body of the rack. Non-threaded pins easily slide through the rear wheel clamps and the tray. Small E-clips are used to hold the pins in place. We did end up using a pair of needle-nose pliers to install the E-Clips, but the task could be accomplished without tools if you are patient enough.
The Dr. Tray is somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to security. On one hand, it is easy to securely lock the rack to a vehicle using the anti-wobble knob, which is disabled by the locking mechanism on the knob.The Dr. Tray locks bikes to the rack with cables that retract into the trays when not in use. The cables are long, and it's possible to loop through both wheels and the frame of most bikes which is a big plus. Unfortunately, manipulating the cables is far less user-friendly than on other racks. The placement of the cables on the tray is so close to the front wheel trays that getting the cables out and subsequently back in is nearly impossible with bikes loaded in the trays. The concept is solid, but the execution is poor.
We were so frustrated by the cable lock system that we eventually just used a standalone cable to accomplish the task. The bottom line is that the cables do a good job securing bikes once they are deployed, but deploying them is an issue. It is also worth mentioning that the integrated cable locks on the Dr. Tray are a great theft deterrent, but they will hardly even slow down a professional or determined bike thief. We would suggest adding a burly aftermarket lock to the equation to truly secure your bikes.
Being one of the lightest hitch racks on the market has its advantages and disadvantages. The Dr. Tray falls in the middle of our rankings for durability when compared to other hitch racks.
The bulk of the rack is made of aluminum, which is lightweight but lacks the burliness of tougher materials and is more prone to bending. Plastic parts are limited which is a plus, but we found the front wheel clamps to be lacking in durability compared to other racks we tested.
The outside tray front wheel clamp began to slip and release tension on the tire after several months of heavy use. It only slipped on 27.5 tires, and this was the size that we most frequently carried, so the frequent use of the same position likely caused wear on the ratcheting stops leading to the slippage we experienced. We didn't experience this with other hitch racks we tested. Overall, it's not terrible but if you are looking for the most bomber rack available then the Dr. Tray may not suit your needs. Our durability concerns are backed up by other user reviews we've read.
The Yakima Dr. Tray is among the most expensive racks we tested. It comes with a premium list of features and offers a range of tray adjustability that is not rivaled by anything else on the market. For these reasons, we feel that it is a decent value. That said, given its lower weight capacity and our durability concerns, we feel your money could be better spent elsewhere.
The Yakima Dr. Tray rack is a refreshing take on the now classic tray-style hitch rack. We are impressed with the adjustability and light weight of the rack. It fits a huge range of bikes and tire widths, although we have concerns about long-term durability and feel it could use a little refinement.
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