Updated 07-01-2013.  Yakima has changed the Holdup in 2013 with the introduction of the Yakima 2443 Holdup.  

Lately we've been having lots of discussion about the differences between the Thule 916XTR T2 Bike Rack and the Yakima 2443 Holdup bike rack.  Both of these racks are tray-style, hitch-mounted bike racks that carry the bikes by hooking around the front wheel.  There are some several new features of the Yakima 2443 Holdup which are outlined below.  Of note, is the color change to a glossy black finish.

In the past year or two, we've really noticed a growing trend in the popularity of these types of bike racks.  With more and more people riding full-suspension mountain bikes,  "standard", hang-style,  hitch-mounted bike racks, like the Thule 9029 Vertex 4 or the Yakima 2451 DoubleDown Ace Bike racks racks don't work as efficiently without the use of a frame adapter.

Additionally, there has been a resurgence of popularity with upright bike carriers for the roof - the kind where you keep both wheels on the bike.  This is largely due to mountain bike forks being equipped with thru-axles and the Cannondale Lefty forks.  With both of these styles, you have to use an adapter to make your fork fit into a fork-mounted bike rack.

Back to the hotly debated topic of which bike rack is better.  There is no short answer to this question,  it depends on what is most important to you...so let's break down some of the design and functionality of both so you can make an educated decision.

First, both racks come in a 2" receiver hitch option and a 1 1/4" receiver option.  Only the 2" receiver option can utilize the 2 bike add-on.  If you have a 1 1/4" receiver hitch, and want a 4 bike rack, you may need to rethink the rack you purchase, because your capacity with these 2 racks is 2 bikes.

Both racks have many of the same features that, in the end, work exactly the same.  For example, both racks will fold up vertically when not in use, minimizing their footprint behind the vehicle.  Yakima intentionally uses red buttons at the touchpoints and on the Holdup this is done by pulling out a small, spring-loaded knob to release the rack.  The T2 achieves this foldup by pulling down on a gray lever and folding the rack up.  From experience, the Yakima rack pivots a little easier, while the Thule has some resistance.  Folding the rack up in storage mode is easier on the Yakima, but the weight of the rack could get away from you easier on the way down.  You would also find that each of the racks folds down, about 20 degrees, away from the vehicle, so that you can access the rear liftback of your suv, truck or car with bikes loaded.

Yakima 2433 Holdup Bike Rack
The Holdup tilts up and down by pulling the red spring lever
Thule 916XTR Tilt Lever For Hitch Bike Rack
The T2 folds up and down by pulling on a gray lever

That brings up the next point - both of the racks are heavy.  Not including the 2 bike-addon's that are available for both racks, the Yakima Holdup weighs 49lbs, and the Thule T2 weighs in at 56lbs.  You won't find those numbers on the manufacturer's sites because they're kind of daunting.  When you put on the 2 bike add-on, each of these racks weighs upwards of 80 lbs.  So if taking the rack on and off the car regularly is important, we might suggest a different rack, like a lighter, Kuat Sherpa.

From our experience , we haven't noticed any instability carrying bikes, or any instability of the racks themselves.  They are both well-made, solid racks and we would be comfortable mounting a $6000.00 mountain bike on either rack.  We are asked this question alot, and our answer is always the same, if the rack wasn't stable or solid, we wouldn't carry it in our store.

So what's the difference?  Surely it's gotta be more than just a Coke vs Pepsi dilemma...and it is.  The biggest differences - from a functional standpoint- are the adjustability and security.

The Yakima Holdup, while easier to assemble and install, does not offer the same adjustability as the T2.  The bike trays that are assembled to the horizontal mast on the Holdup are pre-drilled and threaded, making the spacing between the bikes,  and the front-to-back adjustability fixed.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The new Yakima 2443 Holdup provides side to side adjustability of the bike trays for better nesting of handlebars/saddles.  On the T2, the installer has some flexibility to adjust the "recommended" spacing between the bikes, as well as the front-to-back distance of the bike tray. Why is this important?  As an example, one of our customers who loves his T2 came in to have us adjust the spacing of the bike trays because some of his bikes (he has 4 downhill racing bikes) are larger than others and the handlebars and seats would interfere without moving them slightly farther apart and forward.

From a bike security standpoint, Yakima first identified that locking the hookarm over the front wheel of the bike won't prevent someone from stealing your bike.  One could simple remove the front wheel of the bike, slide the bike off the back, and the front wheel off of the front and walk away with the bike. That's why the Yakima Holdup comes with a cable lock that can go through all of your bike frames and attach to a security bolt on the rack.  We feel this is a really smart design and is included in the cost of the rack.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The New Yakima Holdup now comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike that stores neatly inside the top of the Ratchet Arm.

Previous versions of the T2, (916 and 916xt)  could only lock the bikes by inserting lock cylinders into the hookarm of the rack, leaving the bike vulnerable.  The newest version of the T2, the 916XTR, addressed the issue and now includes a built-in cable lock for each bike.  Even further, you can purchase 2 additional lock cylinders and also lock the hookarm simultaneously for added security.

Thule T2 Cable Lock Included with Hitch Bike Rack
In this brilliant photograhic exhibit, you see the cable lock that extends from the Thule T2, designed to wrap through the bike frame
The New Yakima 2443 Holdup comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike, eliminating the need for an external cable lock
The New Yakima 2443 Holdup comes with an integrated cable lock for each bike, eliminating the need for an external cable lock

Lastly, the T2 includes a lock that locks the rack to the hitch - The Thule STL2 lock, while the Yakima Holdup does not.  Although this is an inexpensive accessory - Yakima 7235 HitchLock, we feel a rack at this price point should include a complete security system.  EDIT 07-01-2013:  The Yakima 2443 Holdup now includes the Yakima 7235 HitchLock!

Another feature that should be noted is the rear wheel strap on the T2 has a tendency - a strong tendency - to detach itself when not engaged by the ratcheting buckle.  In fact, we have replaced this strap for more people than any other strap on any other bike rack, cause it's so easily lost.  The Yakima Holdup, on the other hand, has a really nice ratcheting strap that is consistent with the rear wheel strap we've seen on the Yakima Sprocket Rocket and the Yakima Forklift.

So at the end of the day, it's unfair to really say which rack is better because they are both high quality products and when you order and receive either one of these racks, you won't have any regrets.

The Yakima Holdup is a pretty tidy package when it's folded up in its storage mode on the hitch
The Yakima Holdup is a pretty tidy package when it's folded up in its storage mode on the hitch
The Thule T2 is a premium hitch mount bike rack
The Thule T2 is a premium hitch mount bike rack