FIGURING out how the hell I am going to take the family bikes on a camping trip is this writer’s most dreaded moment. Bicycles are, without doubt, one of the most awkward things to store and carry on a vehicle. Methods differ – up top on the roof or via a hitch/tow-mounted carrier – each of which has its positives and negatives. And, although I don’t mind a single bike up on the roof, when you get to more than two a hitch/tow-mount carrier is the better option. They carry more bikes and are positioned down low behind your vehicle, thus having less effect on fuel consumption. It also means there’s less chance of wiping out your precious two-wheeler on a garage door.
One of the main issues with the Disco 2 in regards to transporting bikes using a hitchmount rack is the side-opening rear door. Hitch/tow-mount bike carriers don’t mesh well with this door type; a large number of carriers are ‘fold-down’ only, allowing only a modicum of cargo area access. The Yakima FullSwing is the solution, as it includes a clever dual-articulated hinged arm (located underneath the rack’s vertical arm) that folds out horizontally and allows me to open the rear door all the way out – even with four bikes attached.
The FullSwing is heavy (25.4kg), but this weight is a necessity; when you think of the average weight of a mountain bike (11-14kg) you realise that all that weight swung out wide away from the central pivot point adds plenty of leverage weight to the FullSwing.
Once you’ve put it together – it’ll take five to 10 minutes to join the top and base of the unit – fitment is straightforward. The FullSwing utilises what Yakima dubs an ‘AutoPin’ which slots into the hitch ‘hole’ as you slide the base section into the hitch. You then simply tighten the SpeedKnob, which in turn tightens an expander nut in the bottom arm and locks itself to the hitch. Once that’s done you can lock the SpeedKnob with the SKS (Same Key System) key supplied (this also locks the inbuilt cable lock that runs around your bikes, securing them to the rack) and not worry about theft of your bikes or the rack.
The FullSwing is easily operated. To swing it out you unscrew the large T-handle at the rear (closest to vehicle) of the rack then pull the red button near that (to release a slotpin) and the dual-articulated hinge does the rest, with the rack arms (and bikes) locking out to 90 degrees from the closed position. Reversing this is just as easy: pull the red pin at the outer end of the base arm, push the red lever in the centre, and away you go. Always remember to ensure the lock-pin is locked and that the T-handle is retightened.
The bike arms are padded and feature Yakima’s AntiSway cradles that, as the name suggests, assist in minimising bike sway during transportation. They do this to a certain extent – there’s still some movement, of course – but a tip to reduce the chances of bikes banging up against each other is to also strap the front wheel to the downtube, so the wheel doesn’t swing around.
There are few negatives with the FullSwing. The weight is a bit of an issue (when fitting) but it is understandable with all that load/leverage. The carrier also has no provision for an auxiliary number plate. In most states, if your bikes obscure the number plate and/or rear lights you cop a big fine. I usually tie my number plate to the rack and the rear lights are still visible, so I haven’t had to buy a separate light board.
For those looking to transport two to four bikes (at four, it will take a bit of careful loading/wrangling) the FullSwing is a top option. It is built very tough, is simple to operate, and offers that unique feature of full access to the cargo area without having to remove bikes or the carrier. It ain’t cheap, but once you’ve had to open the rear door with the bikes loaded up for the first time, looking for that lost kids’ toy or forgotten travel item, you will know it forever-more as top bang for your bucks.