What It Is: The Yakima Fourtimer is a two-bike hitch rack that easily converts to a four-bike rack when you're road tripping with friends or family, or when you and your riding partner can't decide on a type. The rack slips into a 2-inch hitch receiver. To convert it from two to four bikes requires just one bolt.
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Why We Like It: Hitch racks mean no more lifting heavy bikes overhead, saving our backs in the process. And, they're efficient. On a recent trip to New Hampshire, we were able to pile four friends into one car. Because the bikes were on the back, we could still use a roof box for gear overflow. And even after many miles on dirt roads, neither the bikes nor any of the rack bolts rattled loose. The FourTimer is solid and intuitive, and you can use a ratchet wrench (not included) to stabilize all the parts. The rack attaches to your hitch receiver with a 15/16-inch bolt, and locks. Then, each set of two mounts attaches to the frame with two bolts and locking nuts. Easy-to-handle knobs twist or pull to raise and lower the unit. The wheel trays offer maximum adjustability forwards and backwards so each can just as easily handle a kid's bike or dirt jumper as it can an XL men's road bike or mountain bike. The rack tilts away from the car, even fully loaded, so that you can get into your trunk. And there's no crawling around under the bikes to awkwardly remove a pin to tilt it. Pull two easy-to-grab knobs, and the rack releases. Likewise, the rack can be folded up and stored.
Nitpick: As with any multiple bike rack, you can expect to play a bit of Tetris to get all four bikes on, especially if they have funky geometry that's common in many mountain bikes. Tip: Load the bike with the shortest top tube first. In the end, we were able to fit any combination of mountain or road bikes. If you want to lock them, you need a cable — the mounts don't accept lock cores. And the padded rack does touch your bike's frame — J-shaped hooks close down onto the top tube. Though they never caused damage thanks to a spongy foam covering on the hooks, if you have an extremely delicate carbon fiber bike, this might not be the rack for you. And, you need a car that can take a 2-inch receiver.