Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

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groberts
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Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby groberts » 9 Jan 2020, 12:43pm

I'm about to change my car and this time am interested in using a towbar mounted bike rack - I've previously used a roof rack and a rear mounted bike rack but as I get older find them too much like hard work. I would appreciate any advice regarding:

Towbar

For reasons of space I need to fit a detachable towbar. Will these work with a bike rack / take the weight?
Will they interfere with the parking sensors & if so is there a work around?
Is there anything else I should consider?

Bike Rack

Recommendations for a towbar mounted bike rack - I presume they'll work with any towbar?
I have seen and like the idea of those that either swing out or down to allow access to the rear of the car.

Thanks, Graham

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Mick F
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2020, 1:02pm

We had a Thule on our car when we had a tow hitch. Fitted two bikes.
Highly un-recommended.

Not because of Thule or any other manufacturer, but if you get even gently shunted by the car behind ............. like we had ........ your bike is in danger of squidging.

Luckily, my Mercian was the only bike on the rack and it was mounted at the front of the rack. The rack was damaged, so a bike on the rear position would have been damaged too.

We were doing about ten or fifteen miles an hour in dense traffic. The car in front of us stopped for a zebra crossing, I pulled up sharp behind him, but the car behind us hit us ........... gently ......... but their radiator grille was damaged, as was our rack.

This was ours some years before it was hit.
Bike Rack2.jpg
Mick F. Cornwall

wirral_cyclist
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby wirral_cyclist » 9 Jan 2020, 1:33pm

Detachable is strong I tow a caravan of 1.5T, it was installed by a specialist, the same one the dealer uses, as my car was still in warranty second-hand. BUT be aware some BRAND NEW cars need towbar preparation for a proper/easier after market fit, fitted as an extra before/after delivery they are eye-wateringly expensive. If a towbar is installed by a specialist they will 'code the car' this sorts out the reverse sensor issue (by either disabling, or telling the car to ignore the initial 'object found') they will also ensure the trailer lights warning is setup correctly, this last adds a trailer turn of some sort (audio/visual) and modifies/extends bulb failure monitoring. £800 fitted for Westfalia on a Skoda Superb - invisible detached.

Thule are the rack of choice, I too have one like Mick and it is great, very easy to mount with a big bolt, and it tilts after a fashion, the fancier plastic moulded models from Thule are slightly nicer to fit with a lever clamp, and they tilt far more easily (but do cost more).
Rear end impact used to worry me a bit, but I've been actively using it without even a near miss in 15-20 years (that's done it).

fastpedaller
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby fastpedaller » 9 Jan 2020, 2:04pm

For many years towbars have needed to be type-approved (so no fabricating your own), and now if you have a recent car with canbus for lights etc you are compelled to having it fitted by an 'expert' unless you have the necessary electronic/computer knowledge and/or software. With a more simple (cheaper?) modern car with incandescent bulbs (rather than LED) you may stand a chance of DIY fitting a 'package of parts'.

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robgul
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby robgul » 9 Jan 2020, 2:22pm

No issues whatsover from a 20 year towbar rack user - 4 different racks, all Thule of varying sorts - all with bikes standing on the wheels (i.e. not suspended from the toptube).

Current one is a 2 bike with an extra bike attachment to make 3 . . . I seldom have more than 2 on it and the extra space using the inner and outer rails makes loading a doddle - getting 3 bikes on is tight (my bikes are BIG, 60cm frames, road or touring)

The rack does confuse the rear sensors/camera but not to any significant extent. Towbar on its own has no effect on sensors and you can just about see it at the foot of the TV screen.

I got a mobile towbar fitter to do mine with electrics etc - less than 50% of the dealer fitted price for the same kit. Man came and did the work outside.

Thule, to me, is the ONLY brand to consider - looked at all the others and they all have shortcomings.

Rob

groberts
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby groberts » 9 Jan 2020, 3:12pm

Thanks everyone, very helpful.

Which versions of the Thule do you have / recommend for x2 bikes (intrigued to know which one you have Rob that converts from x2 to x3 bike)?

I'm drawn to the current Easy Fold, though they are expensive.

Graham

Bsteel
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby Bsteel » 9 Jan 2020, 3:25pm

It may be worth checking the nose weight limit of any towbar ( vertical load limit ) to ensure it is adequate to take the total weight of the carrier + bikes.

groberts
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby groberts » 9 Jan 2020, 3:30pm

Bsteel wrote:It may be worth checking the nose weight limit of any towbar ( vertical load limit ) to ensure it is enough to take the total weight of the carrier + bikes.


Yes I had considered that and luckily have a shop just round the corner I've just visited, who showed me a detachable tow bar which has a 100kg verticle load which should be OK? The Thule Easy Fold takes 60Kg and weighs 17.6kg itself.

Still a little concerned with warranty issues and parking sensors but they assure me they're OK and already do dealeship vehicles for Skoda.

Graham
Last edited by groberts on 9 Jan 2020, 4:10pm, edited 1 time in total.

De Sisti
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby De Sisti » 9 Jan 2020, 3:32pm

Mick F wrote:We had a Thule on our car when we had a tow hitch. Fitted two bikes.
Highly un-recommended.

Not because of Thule or any other manufacturer, but if you get even gently shunted by the car behind ............. like we had ........ your bike is in danger of squidging.

Luckily, my Mercian was the only bike on the rack and it was mounted at the front of the rack. The rack was damaged, so a bike on the rear position would have been damaged too.

We were doing about ten or fifteen miles an hour in dense traffic. The car in front of us stopped for a zebra crossing, I pulled up sharp behind him, but the car behind us hit us ........... gently ......... but their radiator grille was damaged, as was our rack.

This was ours some years before it was hit.Bike Rack2.jpg

Bit of a scare story I suppose. If you didn't pull up sharpe behind the car in front maybe the car
behind you wouldn't have done the same. Anyhow, I had the same towbar bike rack as you (Thule 7402)
and never had any issues mounting two bikes on it, or cars driving into the back of my vehicle :wink: .

Bsteel
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby Bsteel » 9 Jan 2020, 3:52pm

groberts wrote:Yes I had considered that and luckily have a shop just round the corner I've just visited, who showed be a detachable tow bar which has a 100kg verticle load which should be OK? The Thule Easy Fold takes 60Kg and weighs 17.6kg itself.


I have a feeling that the vehicle will also have an maximum nose weight for towing, but hopefully someone else can confirm if that is correct.

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Mick F
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby Mick F » 9 Jan 2020, 4:06pm

De Sisti wrote:Bit of a scare story I suppose. If you didn't pull up sharpe behind the car in front maybe the car
behind you wouldn't have done the same.
Obviously correct of course.

Driving in a long queue of traffic, with an equally long queue coming the other way, on an unfamiliar road, and not knowing that a zebra crossing was there, it was a quick stop as the pedestrian beginning crossing was over on our left crossing right to left as we looked at it. Narrow road and congested.

I was far enough back to stop ok, but the car behind us was too close maybe. If they'd have been as far back as we were from the car in our front, none of this conversation would be happening.

You cannot control the other road users and you never know when you may get rear-ended. You'd be better off with a trailer to take bikes rather than a towbar rack.

Personally, bikes go inside the car now ........... and I've fitted two in there .......... 2014 Toyota Yaris.
If I wanted to fit bikes outside the car due to luggage or more people inside, I'd use a roof rack system.

Once bitten, twice shy.
Mick F. Cornwall

groberts
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby groberts » 9 Jan 2020, 4:11pm

Bsteel wrote:
groberts wrote:Yes I had considered that and luckily have a shop just round the corner I've just visited, who showed be a detachable tow bar which has a 100kg verticle load which should be OK? The Thule Easy Fold takes 60Kg and weighs 17.6kg itself.


I have a feeling that the vehicle will also have an maximum nose weight for towing, but hopefully someone else can confirm if that is correct.


But as I'm not actually towing is that something I need to be aware of?

Nigel
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby Nigel » 9 Jan 2020, 5:12pm

Bsteel wrote:
groberts wrote:Yes I had considered that and luckily have a shop just round the corner I've just visited, who showed be a detachable tow bar which has a 100kg verticle load which should be OK? The Thule Easy Fold takes 60Kg and weighs 17.6kg itself.


I have a feeling that the vehicle will also have an maximum nose weight for towing, but hopefully someone else can confirm if that is correct.


It will, and that will be the limiting factor, not what the "tow bar" might say.
Yes, its important because it determines how far down the back of the car goes, and thus how much the nose is pushed into the air. Go above this figure and the steering and front brakes are considered compromised, and possibly the vehicle structure isn't designed to handle it either.
You can hit this figure very quickly for many vehicles. Its likely to be 50-70kg for many cars. A rack can be anything up to 20kg, though some are a lot less. Light race bikes are one thing at under 10kg each, but hefty tourer/hybrid bikes are often 15kg, or even heavier electrics can be 20kg+. A couple of tourers and a 20kg rack is "on the limit" for a 50kg nose-weight car.
So, I'd recommend trying to keep the rack weight down, and be sure you know how heavy the bikes are that are carried on it.



A tow bar is legally meant to be approved for the specific vehicle it is fitted to, unless the car is pre-1998 when the rules were less strict. So, first check is whether your car can have a tow bar fitted (some are not approved for it, so may be "no chance"). There are some models in a "middle ground" where they are not approved for towing, but are OK to have a load carrying ball fitted, so suitable for a tow-bar bike rack.
As others have said, if its all installed correctly according to legislation that goes back for cars registered from 1998 onwards, then the electrics will be sorted as well - when the "trailer" lights on the rack are connected, that should tell the car to disable the rear parking sensors, sort out the lights, etc..


As to racks, depends on budget and what you expect from it. A couple of friends have the "cheap but reasonably effective" Buzz racks. I have the somewhat posh and expensive Atera Strada DL 3, which slides away from the back of the car, allowing boot access. There is a massive difference between the two; the straps and fittings on the Strada are much simpler and easier to use than the various bungie and tie-downs my friends need on the Buzz to keep bikes from getting scratched, and be sure they stay attached. The Strada reasonably light, packs to a flat object for storage. But, it cost nearly twice as much as the Buzz. If looking at Thule, then consider Atera.


- Nigel

pete75
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby pete75 » 9 Jan 2020, 5:23pm

groberts wrote:I'm about to change my car and this time am interested in using a towbar mounted bike rack - I've previously used a roof rack and a rear mounted bike rack but as I get older find them too much like hard work. I would appreciate any advice regarding:

Towbar

For reasons of space I need to fit a detachable towbar. Will these work with a bike rack / take the weight?
Will they interfere with the parking sensors & if so is there a work around?
Is there anything else I should consider?

Bike Rack

Recommendations for a towbar mounted bike rack - I presume they'll work with any towbar?
I have seen and like the idea of those that either swing out or down to allow access to the rear of the car.

Thanks, Graham


I use a Thule three bike rack. Thule racks have rear lights and a connector like a trailer. A modern car knows you have something on the back when you plug this in and adjusts parking sensors, reversing camera etc as appropriate. They also monitor the tow bar electrics and tell you if a brake light, rear light or indicator isn't working.

wirral_cyclist
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Re: Towbar Mounted Bike Rack

Postby wirral_cyclist » 9 Jan 2020, 6:26pm

All cars have a noseweight limit and it mustn't be exceeded, most cars are 60-80Kg but planet killing chelsea tractors will be higher, other small cars will be lower, and some cars aren't approved for any towing equipment.