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Yakima Dr. Tray Review

An awesome lightweight hitch rack, with unrivaled adjustability.
Yakima Dr. Tray
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $599 List | Check Price at Amazon
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Pros:  Low loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removal
Cons:  High price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use
Manufacturer:   Yakima
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 1, 2017
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79
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 23
  • Ease of EveryDay Use - 20% 6
  • Ease of Removal and Storage - 20% 10
  • Versatility - 20% 10
  • Ease of Assembly - 10% 8
  • Security - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7

The Skinny

The Yakima Dr. Tray our Top Pick award winner for Versatility and Capacity brings a new design approach to the tray style hitch rack category. The innovative design allows for tool free tray adjustment and the option to add a third tray to the rack without drastically increasing the length. The Dr. Tray is in not an updated version of their classic Hold-Up, it is a radical redesign that completely does away with the standard single support bar for the trays. The new design features two support channels, with quick release clamps that allow the trays to be moved around to accommodate nearly any combination of bikes. You will be hard pressed to find a mix of bikes that will not fit on the Dr. Tray.

The Dr. Tray was a strong contender for our Editors' Choice Award and would have dethroned the T2 Pro XT, but it lost some ground due to a sticky hard to release tilt mechanism. We also dinged this model for a funky cable lock system that is not user-friendly. With a few design modifications, this could easily be the best rack on the market.

Product Updates

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.

November 2018


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Dr. Tray has earned our Top Pick Award as one of the most versatile racks available. It was a favorite amongst our testers for ease of adjustment; the quick release tray clamps made getting any combination of bikes fit on the rack a breeze. We never had issues with the bike to bike contact, and the trays easily handle plus sized tires up to 5 inches in width. As an bonus, this rack is one of the lightest hitch racks we tested at 34lbs making it easy to take on and off.

Performance Comparison


The Yakima Dr. Tray uses innovative design features to enhance adjustability.
The Yakima Dr. Tray uses innovative design features to enhance adjustability.

Ease of Everyday Use


The Dr. Tray has many of the same features of the T2 Pro XT. A handle at the end of the rack for tilt adjustment, and integrated cable locks. Unfortunately, Ease of Everyday Use is what prevented the Dr. Tray from claiming our Editors Choice Award. 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 requires a hex wrench and over twice as long to adjust.

The Yakima Dr. Tray has a remote tilt release handle but it is much harder to use than the similar design employed by its competitors.
The Yakima Dr. Tray has a remote tilt release handle but it is much harder to use than the similar design employed by its competitors.

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 relatively easy to load and unload, and carries the same low load height benefits of 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 the contender 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 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 pin found on the T2 Classic and the RockyMounts BackStage.


The quick lock and anti wobble system are excellent, but what sets the Dr.Tray apart from the similarly designed T2 Pro XT is an incredibly light weight 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 contender around.

The Yakima Dr Tray uses an expanding wedge system to both eliminate wobble and to lock the bike to your vehicle  this small pin is an added security feature.
The Yakima Dr Tray uses an expanding wedge system to both eliminate wobble and to lock the bike to your vehicle, this small pin is an added security feature.

The storage dimensions of the Dr. Tray are slightly more compact than the T2 Pro XT at L16.5"xW58"xH40.5". 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 does not 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 the competitor in your trunk when not in use.

Versatility


The Dr. Tray easily comes out on top in our Versatility test with perfect 10/10 score.


It is the only rack we tested other than the T2 Classic 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". The Kuat Sherpa is the closest competitor and it only offers 14.5" of spacing, and the trays are fixed with no available adjustment.

The Yakima Dr. Tray has more tray adjustability than any other rack on the market.
The Yakima Dr. Tray has more tray adjustability than any other rack on the market.

To add to the impressive bike clearance characteristics, the Dr. Tray can hold tires up to 5 inches in width, making it fat bike compatible. Also, this contender 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.


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 Yakima Dr. Tray arrived almost fully assembled with only a small amount of work necessary to attach the trays to the main frame.
The Yakima Dr. Tray arrived almost fully assembled with only a small amount of work necessary to attach the trays to the main frame.

Overall, this contender was one of the easiest racks we assembled. The T2 Pro XT is much harder to assemble and requires tools. Assembly of this contender can easily be accomplished by one person, and the light weight of the rack makes the process even easier. The 1Up USA was the highest scoring hitch rack we tested as it arrives fully assembled.

Security


The Dr. Tray is somewhat of a mixed bag when it comes to security.


On the 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. This system is almost identical to the T2 Pro XT design. We accomplished locking bikes to the rack with cables that retract into the trays when not in use. The cables are long, and it is possible to loop through both wheels and the frame of most bikes which is a big plus. We scored the Dr. Tray lower than the T2 Pro XT due to the difficulty we had manipulating the cable locks. 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.

The cable lock is visible just below the tire on the Yakima Dr. Tray.  The design left us frustrated and often unable to get the cable out due to its proximity to the tire tray.
The cable lock is visible just below the tire on the Yakima Dr. Tray. The design left us frustrated and often unable to get the cable out due to its proximity to the tire tray.

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.

Durability


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 racks like the T2 Pro XT 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 Yakima Dr. Tray is made of aluminum  but it is noticeably less burly than the high scoring Thule T2 Pro XT.
The Yakima Dr. Tray is made of aluminum, but it is noticeably less burly than the high scoring Thule T2 Pro XT.

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 did not experience this with other hitch racks we tested. Overall, not terrible but if you are looking for the most bomber rack available then the Dr. Tray may not suit your needs.

Best Applications


The Dr. Tray is well suited to most users who are looking for a hitch mount tray rack. It is particularly well suited to riders who find themselves carrying a different combination of bikes on a daily basis, or those who have issues with the bike to bike contact on other hitch racks. The range and ease of tray adjustability are unrivaled; this is also a great contender for those who frequently remove their rack, due to its light weight and tool free attachment system.

Value


At $579 the Yakima Dr. Tray is one of the most expensive racks we tested. It is the same price as the Thule T2 Pro XT, and $50 cheaper than the Kuat NV 2.0. Despite the high price, 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 solid value.

Conclusion


The Yakima Dr. Tray rack is a refreshing new take on the now classic tray style hitch rack. We are impressed with the adjustability and light weight of the rack. With a few minor tweaks to the tilt mechanism and a redesign of the locking system this would likely be our favorite model, and the winner of our Editors' Choice Award. Despite these minor flaws, the Dr. Tray is an excellent competitor and should be on your short list - if minimal weight and awesome tray adjustability are your primary concerns.

The Yakima Dr. Tray is an innovative approach to hitch rack design  and with a few small design changes could easily be a contender for our Editors Choice Award.
The Yakima Dr. Tray is an innovative approach to hitch rack design, and with a few small design changes could easily be a contender for our Editors Choice Award.


Curtis Smith