Hitch tray bike racks offer a secure and simple way to transport bikes without any contact points between the rack and your bike frame. The Yakima StageTwo is marketed as a premium tray hitch bike rack and offers a variety of convenient safety and usability features. Yakima offers the rack in both a 1.25” and 2” hitch receiver in either a dark anthracite finish or the white vapor finish shown in this review. The StageTwo has a premium $849 retail price and can be extended to a four bike configuration with a $549 add-on. Constructed from a steel main spine portion and aluminum trays, the StageTwo offers a number of safety features to ensure your bikes and entire rack are not stolen. This includes Yakima’s clever locking SpeedKnob which controls an expanding plug in the hitch receiver which prevents the rack from being removed and eliminates any play.
The Yakima StageTwo tray hitch mount is a well built bike rack with a number of safety features integrated into it.
|9.2 / 10
|+ Tiered tray setup
+ Tilting feature makes it easy to access vehicle
+ Clever security details such as SpeedKnob and SKS cable locks
|– Plastic tilt lever feels cheap
|Where to Buy (US)
The Yakima StageTwo rack comes in a large cardboard box with Yakima branding printed on it. It’s very well packed with styrofoam dividers and a liberal amount of tape to secure everything together. Inside the box you should expect to find:
- StageTwo rack
- Instruction manual
- Two sets of keys + Yakima branded keychain / bottle opener
- 6mm wrench
Note the 6mm wrench is anti-theft style with a hollow center. We’d recommend purchasing the bit and using a torque wrench to ensure the trays are properly secured to the specified torque values.
Putting the Yakima StageTwo rack together involves about 5-20 minutes of installation depending on how quickly you can unpack the box. It’s also a fairly heavy rack at almost 66lbs which is why we’d recommend doing the assembly with the main hitch rack inserted onto your vehicle with the hitch lock pin inserted. Each of the trays come in three pieces, the left/right pieces and the wheel hook. After sliding each of the tray pieces together they need to be placed on the corresponding slot on the rack. Yakima recommends installing the trays offset from each other for improved clearance between bikes, but they can be installed centered if desired. Four bolts secure the trays on the mount, and you should only finger tighten them until all the bolts are installed. Some wiggling may be required to get the bolts slots to all line up which is why you should only hand tighten them initially.
The next step is to install the wheel hooks pivot arms onto the bike tray with the provided cones and bolt parts. Ensure the notch is properly aligned and that the arm is fully seated. The arms should be tight enough to eliminate any side-to-side play but still allow the arms to rotate. After this you simply repeat the tray / pivot arm installation on the outer bike tray ensuring the Yakima logo is properly orientated. With that, the StageTwo rack is ready to use. Yakima doesn’t include a torque wrench out of the box so you can either estimate the torque values for the bolts or use your own wrench with the proper bit to finalize the assembly.
FIT & FINISH
Yakima is no stranger to bike racks, so it’s not surprising that the StageTwo is carefully engineered and full of features. The StageTwo is constructed using a thick steel spline that extends from the hitch receiver insert to the tilt handle. It’s a two piece design with a hitch receiver piece and a tray attachment portion that are connected via a pivoting mechanism near the hitch exit. The StageTwo supports three angles: downward tilt, slightly upward or fully vertical for storage. With the rack in the downward angle you can easily access pickup beds or hatchbacks with the bikes still installed on the rack. The standard position of the rack is angled slightly upward to improve ground clearance and is easy to access when loading or unloading bikes.
Where the StageTwo really shines are the builtin security features. Yakima has incorporated their SpeedKnob 2.0 which is a knurled dial at the hitch insertion location. Rotating the knob expands or contracts a rubber wedge inside the hitch receiver to eliminate any play and prevent the rack from being removed. The SpeedKnob can be locked, the knob rotates freely when locked, using the provided key and acts as a secondary security feature. There are also cable locks integrated into the front wheel holders that use the same keys. This is part of the SKS system (same key system) which shouldn’t be confused with the SKS Germany brand. The cable locks are not particularly thick but are well integrated into the rack. There is also a welded pass through between the two trays which can be used to secure your own chain or cable locks. Finally, the tray bolts use theft-resistant hex bolts, note these are readily available though, to prevent people from removing the trays.
We found the Yakima StageTwo bike rack to be intuitive to use and easy to load. The tiered design of the bike trays improves clearance between bikes and prevents any contact between wide handlebars or seats. Unless you have front fenders installed (i.e. front fenders need to be removed), the StrongArm front wheel holder is easy to position and lock in place and works with any style bike. Yakima has designed the front wheel block to be wide with various cutouts to accommodate skinny road cycling tires or wide gravel tires. Loading bikes onto the rack can easily be done alone as the front wheel block and pivot arm keep the bike balanced while you tighten the hook down and secure the rear wheel. Yakima even offers optional accessories such as a loading ramp which can be useful if you have a heavy Ebike or touring bike.
Although the integrated cable locks at the ends of the pivot arms aren’t particularly thick, we imagine bolt cutters could slice them easily, they provide some peace of mind when making short stops with bikes loaded. We also found the SpeedKnob to be a clever feature, as it not only eliminates any side-to-side play in the rack but it also acts as a secondary security feature when locked. For those planning to do any overnight or longer stops with bikes loaded, the integrated lock pass-through is a thoughtful detail that allows you to install larger locks through either bike and has a thick welded plate design.
Overall, we found the Yakima StageTwo tray hitch rack to be intuitive to use and well constructed. The tiered tray design improves clearance between bikes as well as ground clearance. Aside from a few plastic parts the rack has a heavy duty steel and aluminum construction feels and looks well made. The premium price of the rack means the StageTwo has premium features such as tilting, integrated cable locks and their clever SpeedKnob. We found the StrongArm pivoting front wheel holders easy to adjust and have a secure grip on the front wheel. The only thing we didn’t like about the rack was the plastic tilt knob which felt cheap. That said, if you’re looking for a well made hitch tray rack to carry your bikes the StageTwo is a great option.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Yakima. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.