Rugged and easy to use, the Yakima HoldUp EVO is a solid-quality rack for bikes with wheels 24″ or larger. The HoldUp EVO is Yakima’s high-end platform hitch rack offering. If you’re a fan of Yakima racks, you’ll be a fan of the EVO’s ease-of-use, ample spacing between bikes, built-in locking cables, and tool-free installation.
In this Yakima HoldUp EVO review, get the full skinny on what we loved, and what we didn’t.
Yakima HoldUo EVO Overview
RATING: Highly Recommended
BEST FOR: 24″ bikes and larger
CAPACITY: 2 or 4 with up to 4.8″ wide tires
HITCH SIZE: 1.25″ (2 bikes) and 2″ (2 or 4 bikes)
EXPANSION KIT: 2-tray for 2″ hitch only
- Fast and easy to load and unload bikes
- Can easily switch from 2 or 4 capacity with the +2 kit
- Provides 11.5″ of space between each bike!
- Can accommodate bike tires up to 4.8″ wide without adapters
- Trays shift side to side to offset bikes and prevent bike contact
- Tool-free installation and integrated hitch locking system (no separate bolt that can get lost)
- Very Heavy
- Not the best design for 20″ kids’ bikes
- Folding lever is at the base of the rack, making it difficult to access
Yakima HoldUp EVO Review – Results of our Tests
What makes the HoldUp stand out?
The Yakima HoldUp EVO is exceptionally easy to load and will hold just about any 24″+ bike you have in your arsenal. From road bikes to fat tire bikes (up to 4.8″ tires) to mountain bikes, the HoldUp EVO was designed to carry a wide range of bike styles – without the need for any adapters.
With generous spacing between the bikes on the rack, bikes have ample room between them, thereby eliminating potential damage due to contact while on the rack. And with a 50 lb. weight capacity per bike (but 160 lbs. total), the HoldUp EVO can even carry most e-bikes!
The anti-wobble hitch system keeps the loaded rack from swaying in the back, making transporting the bikes to your destination of choice a smooth experience. And with no tools needed to install or remove the rack from your hitch, you can forget your tools at home without a problem.
The Yakima HoldUp EVO 2-tray base rack is available for 1.25″ and 2″ hitch receivers, but the 2-tray expansion kit is only available for 2″ receivers.
Who is the HoldUp best for?
- Riders who need to transport two to four bikes with a variety of frame and wheel sizes
- Bike lovers who are passionate about keeping their bikes from hitting each other – spacing is plenty!
- Families with 24″ bikes and up
- Fat bike riders – fits tires up to 4.8″ wide without an adapter
- People who don’t want to worry about tools for installation or misplacing a hitch pin – no tools, no extra parts!
Who is the HoldUp not the best fit for?
- Those who plan on installing and removing the rack frequently or by themselves – it is heavy!
- Shorter adults – with the folding lever at the base, folding the rack is very awkward unless you have two people
- Families with small kids who will need the rack for a 20″ bike for years to come – it works, but not as great as other platform racks
How the Yakima HoldUp Evo Hitch Rack Works
The Yakima HoldUp EVO works like most high-end platform racks, using a tire tray and shepherd’s hook system to secure the bikes to the rack. The front tire is placed in the front tray, and then the rotating shepherd’s hook is ratcheted down to hold the bike in place (about 1″ from the bike’s fork). The ratcheting system is smooth and easily cinches down when pressure is placed on top of the shepherd’s hook.
While most other racks have rear tire trays that are identical to the front, the HoldUp EVO’s rear tire trays are actually smaller pivoting platforms. To keep the rear of the bike stable, the rear tire rests on this platform and is secured in place by a plastic ratcheting strap.
Yakima’s website states that the HoldUp EVO can carry bikes with wheels sizes from 20″ to 29″. Through our testing we found that while 24″ kids’ bikes easily fit on the rack, 20″ bikes are not the best fit.
While other high-end racks have tire trays that adjust in distance for shorter and longer wheelbase lengths, the HoldUp EVO uses a pivoting, but stationary, rear tire platform instead. The adjustable angle of the platform allows you to rest and secure the rear wheel of many different size bikes to the rack.
However, 20″ kids’ bikes are not long enough for the rear wheel to even reach that platform. In order to secure the rear wheel of a 20″ bike to the rack, the wheel has to rest on the rack base. The ratcheting strap is plenty long enough to reach to secure the wheel down though.
This set-up is not ideal, especially when similar racks like the Thule Pro XT and the Rockymounts SplitRail have tire trays that allow you to fit a 20″ bike as securely as a 24″ bike. That said, I would feel comfortable transporting a 20″ bike like this for shorter distances, although I personally would not take a bike like this on a road trip.
20″ Wheel vs. 24″ Wheel on Rear Platform
With front wheel trays that are wide enough to fit wheels up to 4.8″ wide, the HoldUp EVO can carry road bikes, kids’ bikes, and many styles of fat bikes without the need for an adapter.
With 11.5″ of spacing between bikes (from center of tire), the Yakima HoldUp EVO is one of the roomiest platform racks on the market. The similar Thule Pro XT has 12″ of spacing, while the Rockymounts SplitRail ranges from 9.5 to 11.5″.
11.5″ is enough space to easily load most 4-bike combinations without worrying about handlebar, pedal, and saddle interference.
Bike Spacing: Yakima vs RockyMounts
In the case you do encounter some bike interference, the rack trays can be offset side to side to help eliminate most situations of potential contact.
One feature we don’t love about the HoldUp EVO is its folding mechanism. The lever to fold the rack up against the back of your car is located at the base of the rack near the hitch.
When used as a 2-bike rack, this lever is easy to access. However, after adding on the +2 kit for 4-bike capacity, it is awkward and cumbersome to reach the lever because you have to reach over four bike trays to access it. At 5’10, I’m taller than most people and still have difficulty with it, especially because the rack is very heavy.
As you can see below, the Thule Pro XT has its folding lever at the very end of the rack for easy access.
Folding Lever Placement: Yakima vs. Thule
To make sure that the shepherd’s hooks don’t swing open when the rack is folded up against the car, you need to fold them down and tuck them under the rear wheel platform. Most other racks have shepherds hooks that have enough tension to keep them firmly in place when stored, so we did find it a little strange that we had to find a work around to secure them.
When lowering the rack for use, the HoldUp EVO has a clever foot press that makes unfolding the rack a breeze. It’s unfortunate that the design for folding the rack down is not as clever.
Storage and Weight
When not in use, the rack folds up on the car with a sleek and narrow profile, which makes it easy to park in the garage without any issue. However, like almost every platform hitch rack, it extends high enough to cover the entire rear window. Driving like this long-term is not practical and not recommended.
If you need a rack that you can keep on your car semi-permanently, check out the Saris SuperClamp EX which is the only 4-bike platform rack we know of that keeps your rear window view clear.
Rear Window View – Yakima vs Saris
At 87 lbs. with 4-bike capacity, the Yakima Hold-Up EVO is lighter than the Thule Pro XT (96 lbs.), but still very heavy. If you need to take the rack off your car frequently and can’t handle that weight on your own, that’s another reason to consider the Saris, which only weighs 63 lbs. Hanging racks like the Thule Apex 4, which usually weigh around 30 lbs., are also a good option. The Yakima Ridgeback is another lightweight hanging rack option.
Rear Hatch Access
If you load up your bikes and suddenly realize that you forgot to load something in your trunk, not to worry! The HoldUp EVO tilts down to provide easy access to the rear hatch of a car.
When fully loaded, that rack is pretty heavy, so it’s best to make tilting the rack down a 2-man job, with one person engaging the tilting lever, and the other supporting the front of the rack’s weight.
The tilt-down rear hatch access lever is the same lever used to fold the rack up when not in use. This means it’s located at the very base of the rack, near the hitch. While we’ve heard that this design is better than previous HoldUp models, this design is still not great.
The rear-access lever on the Thule T2 Pro XT is located at the end of the rack so that the same person can engage the lever while also supporting the weight of the rack. With Yakima’s design, it’s impossible for the person engaging the lever to also support the rack’s weight.
So while it’s nice that the HoldUp EVO can tilt-away while the bikes are loaded, make sure to always have a friend handy.
Locking cables come standard with the HoldUp EVO, with one cable for each bike. Be aware that if you buy the +2 expansion kit, the keys for the locks will be different than those for the first two bikes. You can, however, reset the locks with an uncut key so that all locks on the rack work with the same key.
Once assembled, installing the Yakima HoldUp EVO is fast, easy, and doesn’t require any tools! We love racks that don’t require tools to install. We use our bike racks a lot, so being able to quickly install it onto the car makes a big difference for us.
Simply insert the rack receiving arm into the hitch receiver, line up the holes, insert the installation pin, and tighten the red knob while moving the rack back and forth. (This movement helps ensure that everything inside the receiver is all lined up.)
Tightening the knob causes a small corner of the hitch arm to expand out against the inside of the receiver. This secures the rack and greatly minimizes wobbling.
Once the red knob is fully tightened, you lock the knob. The knob then spins freely so that it can’t be loosened by a potential thief.
One important note about installation. The installation pin is only intended to help you line up the holes in your hitch receiver and the rack’s receiver arm as you tighten the rack in place. It is not meant to go all the way through the holes and help secure the rack in place.
Yakima HoldUp EVO Bike Rack Bottom Line
Solidly designed and durably built, the Yakima HoldUp EVO is a great option for families with 24″ kids’ bikes and larger. With 11.5″ of space between bikes and the ability to offset the trays, you’ll easily be able to keep those bikes secure, safe, and scratch-free. Keep in mind that the HoldUp’s folding design is a bit awkward to use, and it’s not the best for hauling 20″ kids’ bikes.
For more options for family-friendly car bike racks, check out our list of 10 Best Family-Friendly Car Racks.