GEAR TEST // YAKIMA FULLBACK 3
THE ALL-NEW Yakima FullBack 3 is what is termed a strap rack, in that you use a number of straps (four) to secure the carrier to your vehicle. The FullBack 3 (the number obviously indicating the number of bikes carried) works with both sedans and hatchbacks, thanks to that simple but clever ratchet strap system. The FullBack 3 is – as with all Yakima gear – built tough. The steel frame features CNC-bent tubing that eliminates the need for welds, thus upping the strength factor. Steel does mean extra weight (the unit weighs in at 10.4kg; folded dimensions 63.5cm high and 76.2cm wide) but we’d take the additional strength and enhanced fatigue levels over aluminium any day for something like this.
Other features are new Zip Strips that include a padded section at the frame contact point. These are simple to fit as well; push them through from above to the clips underneath until it ratchets tight enough to hold your frame and you’re done. SuperCush anti-sway cradles do just that – minimise the swaying of loaded bikes in the carrier when you’re on the road. The two rollers on the top section of the rack – and corresponding padding at its base (both top and bottom are marked clearly) ensure your vehicle’s paintwork won’t be marked – as do the rubber coated hooks for the four straps.
Fitting the FullBack 3 to your vehicle is deadeasy; an interlocking hub setup ensures you can open up the rack to a suitable angle for the rear of your vehicle, whether it’s a sedan or hatchback. The dial hub for this adjustment is in the centre of the pivot section of the carrier and just needs you to push up with your thumb to unlock it, then you simply open it to the desired angle and then let the dial move back to its original position to lock the frame in place. Then you feed the top and bottom strap hooks through the hatch/boot lid, tighten them (and use the supplied bands to secure any excess strap length) and it’s on. The two carrier arms also feature the unique interlocking hub setup and operate the same way when it comes to positioning them at the correct angle (slightly upward). Once you’ve got the arms out in position, it’s just a matter of placing your bikes on the padded cradles, securing the Zip Strips and anti-sway cradles and you’re all good to go. The anti-sway cradles are more than a gimmick; during testing we compared the bike movement with and without these cradles secured and they do make a marked difference when it comes to minimising sway. (One last impressive feature is the locking setup, with a cable leading back through your hatch/boot lid, ensuring the rack cannot just be lifted off the vehicle.)
In the past, I have always been slightly dubious as to how secure and functional strap racks are; my preferred method of bike transport has always been either a hitch-based solution for multiple bikes, or a roof-based one for a single rig. However, this FullBack 3 has more than convinced me of its viability as an option for bike transport. The fact that it is very quick to set up and take off your vehicle, is versatile to fit either a sedan or hatch, doesn’t need roof-racks or a hitch for use, is built tough, and it packs down compact for storage in your garage, sees the Yakima FullBack 3 present a positive case for purchase.
The Yakima Fullback 3 is easy to fit to either a sedan or hatchback, and holds three bikes securely.