Yakima Ridgeback and Thule Helium 3 Hitch Mounted Racks


A secure, well-made hitch mounted bike rack is a must for any cyclist that wants to travel out to the country for a long ride and the best models are those that are able to provide the ideal balance in high-end features and security and a user-friendly nature. There are many racks on the market claiming to be this ideal model and the Yule Ridgeback Hitch Rack is immediately appealing. How does it compare to the competition and why are so many buyers singing its praises?0

A comparison review of the Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack with the Thule Helium Aero 3 Bike Aluminum Bicycle Rack.
Not all bike racks are the same as they all have little differences in their features to make them stand out; some are more secure than others and some are simply more user-friendly. Thule is a well-known name in bike equipment, so they have that in their favor, but how does the Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch compare with the Thule Helium Aero 3 Bike Aluminum Bicycle Rack? To see which model really has the consumer’s interests at heart, there are some important questions to ask.

Will the rack keep my bike safe while I am driving?

This is surely the priority for any consumer looking for a suitable bike rack because the last thing that we want is for our bike to be damaged in any way while it is being transported or worse, to fall off. The lock on the Yakima is a sign that they have considered the safety and security of the four bikes and this is also seen in the use of ZipStrips to secure the bikes further and the Anti-Sway cradles that ensure the bikes do not come into contact with each other. While the latter sounds a little gimmicky at first, there are positive comments from buyers that say it works pretty well and it has also been included on the Thule Helium Aero. In fact this model uses Road Dampening Technology as well for shock absorption and extra protection. Both models go in for the safety features in a big way but there is something about the RidgeBack that makes it look a little more substantial and some have criticized the Thule’s lack of stability with multiple bikes on-board.

Is the rack easy to use and install?

If the security and safety features of a bike rack are the number one priority than the ease of use has to come second because buyers looking for a relaxing trip to the country with their family or friends do not want the hassle of setting up a fiddly rack for half an hour or more. The idea of the Yakima being tool-less is what has attracted many consumers to it, for example the tool-free locking speed-knob that is designed to decrease the installation time and make it more user-friendly. In addition to this, there is a lever to tilt the rack and make the bikes more accessible, it can be flattened for storage – which some users say is a bonus because of its large size – and it is also fully assembled out of the box and is ready to go. Buyers says that it is both quick to put up and quick to take down and pretty much a hassle free device, which is just as well as the instructions that come with it are not very well written. The Thule rack is also praised pretty highly by buyers for its ease of installation but it does not seem to have as many tricks and tools to aid the process.

What other important features does this rack have to make it advantageous?

It is important to look at the full specification of any bike rack to see the basic recommendation, bonus features or any obvious limitations that may affect its suitability for your needs. The key difference between the two is the fact that this Yakima RidgeBack is a 4 bike model while the Thule is just a three bike one – which immediately gives the former an advantage if the whole family wants to go for a ride. The hitch size for the RidgeBack 4 is 1.5” or 2” hitch whereas the Thule is 1-1/4” and 2”. For certain users, the small bonus feature of the bottle opener will also put the Yakima ahead of the Thule model slightly. Another important factor is that the Yakima Ridgeback is considerably less expensive than the Thule
What is the construction of this rack like and how does this affect its appeal?
The Yakima automatically looks like a capable, high-end model with its simple shape, mechanisms and safety features and this heavy-duty feel does lead to a heavy weight that has caught some buyers off-guard. In fact, this is one of the most common reasons in Amazon reviews for buyers giving it 4 stars rather than 5. Thule have avoided this issue by using an ultralight aluminum, apparently to the extent that it is half the weight of most hitch racks, and this means it is much easier to lift and old in place. In addition to this, the Helium Aero has a sleek design that also increases the distance between the three bikes.

Why the Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack comes out on top.

It is easy to see why both of these models have been so well rated on Amazon when they are able to fulfil all the key criteria of a desirable bike rack with relative ease; however, the performance of each of these products across the board means that the RidgeBack 4-Bike edges ahead and is the more highly recommendable purchase. The Thule Helium Aero 3 Bike Aluminum Bicycle Rack has some great design features and the weight issue is certainly in its favor in some respects but this light weight coupled with concerns over stability means that the Yakima is seen as the more secure model and this is a crucial factor that widens the gap between them. Add to this the additional features for the ease of use and general sense of reliability and it is easy to place this model on top.

Who is this Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack best recommended for?

The extra capacity means that this is more of a family bike rack than the Thule and the speed in setting it up means that it can satisfy those in a hurry too – again perfect for those families looking to get packed up and head out to the country with minimal fuss. Where the beer bottle opener fits in with this family friendly vibe is uncertain and this is why there are actually two potential target markets for this rack – the family of four looking for effortless installation and the group of friends out for a weekend ride who are serious about cycling and the security of their bikes. This also explains the focus on the anti-sway and ZipStrips. In addition, the fact that the Yakima is considerably cheaper adds icing to the Yakima cake. Either way, there is no denying that this Yakima 4-Bike Hitch Rack is a capable, reliable product with great appeal and some interesting features. With this in mind and the way that model shines in comparison to the Thule 3-Bike Rack, it is impossible not to recommend this product to any family or cycling enthusiast looking for quality, simplicity and security for their bikes.

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