Mountain biking is booming, vehicles are getting bigger, and while eMTBs are getting lighter – they're still heavy. The move from roof mounted bike racks to those on the back of your car continues, and the increased popularity of eMTBs and big gravity rigs can make vertical racks a little bit of hard work when mounted to a 4WD with a lift kit. The smart cats at Yakima have been working on options that suit what we ride and what we drive, and their new OnRamp bike rack isn't searching to set a new high watermark on price, but it is setting new ground on functionality.

The Yakima OnRamp was designed to work for riders with heavy bikes, like an eMTB or big gravity rig, and for those who take their bikes on a 4WD – off road. The onRamp is a tray style rack, supporting the bikes on a try with a vertical support to secure the frames in place – a little different to some of Yakima's other racks which clamp the wheel. It fits a 50mm hitch, and has a total load rating of 60kg, or 36kg if being used off road. The rack may look a little basic compared to some of Yakima's other racks, but the tray style hitch mounted rack is all about functionality, strength and being great value.

For function, the rack can take two bikes up to 30kg each, and there is a ramp that can be attached to either tray at each end, to wheel the bike up. Even if you have a huge lift kit on your 4WD war rig, this will make getting any bike loaded a lot easier. The ramp clips into place and needs to be lifted to horizontal to be removed, so it won't slip out when you're using it. When not in use, it just attaches to the rack via a hand adjustable screw mount. This same style of mount lets you move the wheel trays left and right, so you can get the spacing just right no matter what bike you're mounting.

The bikes are held in place with the standard Yakima ratcheting straps and wheel cradles, and if you're still in the fat bike craze of 2014, you can get an extender kit to suit. You can move these cradles along the individual tray so they're in just the right position, it just needs a small spanner to make the adjustment. Getting them in the right spot really does make the bike planted to the tray, which is what you want.

Keeping the bikes in place is taken care of via a vertical pole, with similar mounts to the wheel cradles to secure the bike frames. They have protection on them, but I found using a microfibre cloth meant the chance of scuffing was zero. You do need to play around to see where the best fit will be, and this will depend on bike size, frame type and frame material. Chances are, you'll be securing one bike's top tube, and another bike's seat tube – or something like that. Everything is really solid when fitted up, and thanks to the hinged mount, you can still tip the rack out a little to gain access to the rear of your car. The whole rack can fold up when unloaded, as the vertical pole folds down.

There isn't a lights and plate board, but Yakima's LightMate accessory board is $99, and keeps you 100% legal on the road. It would be easy to take off when heading off road, so the chance of damaging lights is zero. Yakima do include a lock with the rack, which skirts around having a locking mechanism like they do on the roof racks and wheel clamping racks. It adds an extra layer of security, but I'd still be mindful of where I was parking if my car and bikes were out of sight.

On the road – and trail

In use, the rack was astoundingly solid. At a glance, it just doesn't look as tough as the bulky aluminium racks that Yakima make, and those from other brands. But in use it was Tonka Tuff. With the 50mm hitch mount fastened, there was no real rock in the rear vision mirror even at freeway speeds, and the rack rides high enough to have good ground clearance when reversing and on steeper terrain.While I didn't do any 4WDing while testing the rack, I did drive on a few bad dirt roads, and everything was as stable as can be expected. A lot of racks aren't rated for 4WD use, and it's great to see Yakima catering for riders who head a bit further out before getting on their bikes.

While ease of loading is a big bonus when compared to most vertical bike racks, another is size and weight. At around 20kg, you'd know about it if the OnRamp fell on your foot, but it doesn't need it's own trolley for mounting and storage. If your shed is already full of off-road and outdoors toys, you'll likely appreciate that the rack is reasonably small when not mounted. It sure packs in close to your car when folded up and not in use.

One downside is overall capacity. The OnRamp is a two bike rack – that's it. Some of Yakima's other racks have the option of adding a further two bike mounts, and of course vertical bike racks can even take 4, 5 or 6 bikes! If that's the capacity you're after, then you probably won't be looking at the Yakima OnRamp.

Where the OnRamp fits is serving riders who's outdoor adventures go off the beaten track. The rack is 4WD rated and can carry quite a lot of bike with a total 60kg limit. While that drops to 36kg (or two 18kg bikes) when 4WDing, that could still carry around a couple of Specialized Turbo Levo SLs, or Orbea Rise eMTBs. While the OnRamp doesn't have the flash look of the Dr. Tray, it doesn't have anything fiddly either. Mud, dust and trail grime won't render anything unusable, and this is likely to be an easy to use, reliable rack for many, many years to come.


Hits:

Straight-forward, easy to use rack

Easy mounting for heavy bikes and high vehicles

Good value

High load rating

Not fancy

Misses:

Not fancy

Does clamp the frame

RRP: $799

From: yakima.com.au