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You’ve got your mates, you’ve got your ute and you’ve got your bikes. Now you just need a way to transform your truck bed into a bike-hauling machine that’s going to get you to and from the trailhead with everything still intact—and the Yakima GateKeeper tailgate pad does a good job of it.
While most ute tray bike racks will accommodate up to two (or maybe three) bikes at a time, tailgate pads are always the way to go if you like to head out with a larger group—and the Yakima GateKeeper definitely meets the brief.
Compatible with most full-size utes, it’s able to comfortably hold up to five mountain bikes in the ute tray while still leaving enough room to chuck a decent amount of gear in with them. You can still access the tray handle with the pad on, and it also includes a nifty tuck-away cover which you can open to make sure your reversing camera isn’t blocked.
The obvious benefit of opting for a tailgate pad set-up is the added protection it offers for your ute. The nylon outer is easy to clean and robust enough to resist abrasion and withstand the full spectrum of weather conditions, while thick padding and a super-soft felt backing makes sure your ute will be completely protected from any scratches and dents.
Holding your bikes low in the ute tray also minimises wind resistance, so the ute won’t consume any more fuel than it normally would.
Installing the GateKeeper is really simple and should only take a few minutes. All you need to do is hang the pad over the tailgate, pull the three straps through the gap between the tray and the open tailgate, and secure them tightly in the buckles—there’s no drilling or tools required to attach the pad which is always a bonus.
There’s also no need to take off a wheel to load the bikes. When loaded, the bikes rest side-by-side, with the downtube resting on the bike cradle and the front wheel hanging over the tailgate. The padded velcro straps on the cushion cradles also do a great job holding the bikes tightly in position, preventing any movement which could cause damage.
If you’re loading a few different bikes with down tubes at varying angles, pay some extra attention to making sure you properly align the bike cradles with the downtube on each bike to prevent any rubbing or scratches. The bikes will sit quite snug in the tray if you’re carrying a full five-bike load, so it’s also worth doing a quick once-over any contact points to check everything is nice and secure.
While it doesn’t include a locking system, it’s an easy work-around—you can just use a standard cable lock to connect the bikes together to make it hard for any would-be thieves.
All-in-all, the Yakima GateKeeper is a no-fuss multi-bike solution that doesn’t cost a fortune but will get the job done well.
Last updated: 12th October 2020