Recreational & Family - Your advice sought on Rear Hitch Bike Carriers, Adapters, Wobble..
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10-23-10, 05:43 AM
I have a family of 5, with young children, but my oldest son rides with me, and I am anticipating at some point all 5 of us will ride together. I am looking for a solution to easily transport up to 5 bicycles.
I had a Class 1 hitch installed on my Subaru Impreza. It has a 1-1/4" receiver. I saw that Walmart was selling an Allen 5-bike carrier for a great price ($99), and it had pretty good reviews on Amazon (4.5 stars). However, it is meant to fit a 2" receiver. So, I purchased this bike rack, and a 1-1/4" to 2" adapter.
Well, I completed the installation, and I find that there is a fair amount of wobble in the connection between the adapter and the car's hitch receiver. There isn't really any movement between the bike rack and the adapter.
So my questions, if you would be so kind to chime in, are:
1) Is this a safe assembly? Is the inclusion of the adapter between the 2" bike rack and the 1-1/4" receiver safe, and legal?
2) Should I be experiencing this wobbling? Do you have a suggestion how to eliminate it or minimize it?
3) There are 4-bike racks out there that are designed to fit a 1-1/4" hitch. Should I instead consider purchasing one of these? I would imagine it might be a little safer, as the bikes would be closer to the car. But would I experience less wobble with this solution? And yes, one downside is that I would only be able to carry 4 bikes when at some point I may wish to transport 5.
4) What other suggestions would you have?
Thanks in advance for your help...
10-23-10, 09:28 AM
The wobble is fine. You can try to shim the adapter. Stacking pieces of aluminum cans would probably work.
The rear racks can be hard to work with the more bikes you need to get on them. You may find that you will need to plan how you mount the bikes to get them to all fit. You may also need to add bits of padding to keep the bikes from banging and scratching each other. Folks often get extra straps to secure the bikes together and to the racks.
The only other options would be to roof carry or get a small trailer.
See how you like the carrier you have. The 4 bike carrier will probably not be much different from what you have except for somewhat minor differences like mounting, adjusting, strapping.
10-23-10, 12:20 PM
1) Would the 4 bike rack with the 1-1/4" size result in less wobble ie without adapter?
2) Would it be "safer" to eliminate the need for the adapter, as that would but the bikes & rack closer to the hitch (ie less torque on the "tongue")
Both racks are about the same money. Basically I would simply be choosing between the current setup (5 bikes, requires adapter) or the 4 bike rack which does not require the adapter. I want to make the smartest/safest choice, and additionally would like to eliminate as much wobble as possible. Thanks for your input..
10-24-10, 05:08 AM
Every hitch mounted bike carrier I've owned had some wobble to it. Doesnt matter if it had an adapter or not. The one I have now even has a tension bolt to keep it from wobbling. Without the bikes, it's rock solid. Once all the kids bikes are loaded, there is enough leverage to cause some side to side motion. As long as everything is secure, there isnt much to worry about. AS for the adapter causing leverage, it wont be an issue unless you decide to tow a trailer. But just the rack and bikes shouldnt be enough to cause any damage to the reciever or vehicle.
If the slop really drives you nuts, check into some RV sites for clamps that you can install to prevent the hitch from moving around. Its just a square peice that fits over the stinger (the part that goes into the reciever). Ususally has a flat peice on one side with a bolt in it. As you tighten the bolt, it smashes the stinger to one side and the flat peice on the other, preventing (in theory) the stinger from moving inside the reciever.
10-24-10, 07:35 AM
I have an Impreza as well. I don't know if it's the safest thing to put a 2" rack on your hitch... our class 1 hitch is only rated for 200lb tongue weight, and there's a reason why they don't make 2" hitches for the Impreza ~ I know 5 bikes don't weight that much, but it's cantilevered out, so it's putting more strain on the hitch than just the weight of the hitch+bikes.
I'd be careful about putting that much weight that far out from the hitch. I don't like roof-racks, but that might be an option you should think about - putting 2 up top, 3 on the hitch rack. (I have a Saris T-Bones 3-bike hitch rack on my '08 WRX and love it, but I think that's all I'll even be comfortable putting on the hitch)
10-25-10, 08:42 AM
Ya, do check what your hitch is rated for. I did a quick search and only found class I hitches for the Impreza.
Trailer Hitch Classes
Go shopping for a rear mount trailer hitch and you'll find that there are five hitch classes sorted by the amount of weight they can safely pull. Maybe that is all the vehicle can take load wise. I found other information that says the Impreza is not recommended for towing.
Subaru recommends that the Impreza not be used for towing and advises that more information is available in the owner’s manual and from dealers on all three models.
Subaru doesn't supply hitches for the sedans or recommend towing and so it is not suggested or recommended and there is no offficial approval. Warranty could be affected by any towing.
Any automatic should be able to tow 1-2000 pounds, with trailer brakes. A trans cooler is always a good idea.
2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 automatic trans 2000lbs manual 1000lbs
2001, 2000, 1999, 1998 1997, 1996 1500#
Class I: Gross trailer weight up to 2000 lbs. Tongue weight up to 200 lbs.
Class II: Gross trailer weight up to 3500 lbs. Tongue weight up to 350 lbs.
Class III: Gross trailer weight up to 5000 lbs. Tongue weight up to 500 lbs.
Class IV: Gross trailer weight up to 12000 lbs. Tongue weight up to 1200 lbs.
Class V: Gross trailer weight up to 13000 lbs. Tongue weight up to 1300 lbs.
200# is not alot, but that 200# is the tongue weight (http://www.uhaul.com/Trailers/HitchGlossary/HitchSystemRating.aspx). That number has alot of safety built into it. It is probably 10% maybe 20% of static load limit.
Having a 2" or 1.25" receiver does not matter. It is more important to not exceed the weight limits of the system. That includes the hitch, ball, ball mount, transmission, etc.
If you do not plan on doing this every day, you will likely be fine. The occasional weekend trip for a few miles will not likely kill the car. I've towed 1k# on a car that was rated for 600# cross country. It was slow, but there were no problems during or after. I wouldn't recommend doing what I did unless there were very few other options. But it can be done.
10-25-10, 10:53 AM
In the case of my Honda Fit, the car is not recommended for towing at all. Yet, there are manufacturers who sell 1 1/4" hitches for it. So when the time came to stop shoving the bikes in the back, I got a hitch and a Thule Hitching Post 1 1/4" 4-bike rack.
As stated, the Fit's manual says no towing at all.
The hitch says 1500lb or 150lb tongue weight.
The bike rack says 120lb max.
We've used it at least twice monthly since May, and there have been no issues with anything and only negligible wobble, but we've only put one bike at a time on it so far. Even my 35-lb commuter doesn't cause it any more distress than my much-lighter CX bike.
I would consider dumping the 2"->1 1/4" adapter, as that would seem to be asking for trouble.
The manual for my hitch also recommended tethering devices such as bike racks to the car by other means (I assume some sort of a strap with coated hooks to the trunk/hatch), but with only one bike I have not seen the need. Maybe you should look into this.
10-25-10, 07:31 PM
Here's the thing about towing: it doesnt matter how much weight the vehicle can pull (in regards to engine power, transmission type/capability, and differentials) it's more about how much the vehicle can stop (in regards to tires, brakes, and axle strength). This is the reason why trailers over a certain weight are required to have trailer brakes and why Subaru recommends trailer brakes on a trailer over 1k lbs and up to 2k lbs (the recommended max combined trailer weight).
Since you arent towing a trailer, you technically arent towing. So at this point, you have to look at how much weight is on the hitch (you shouldnt be anywhere near 200lbs) and add whatever you have back there to the max load capacity. To get the max load capacity of the car, you have to subtract the curb weight (basically the weight of the car as it rolled off the assembly line with a full tank of gas and all the fluids) from the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)of your car. This info will be in the owners manual and also the door placard on the door fram of the front drivers door. At best estimate, I'd say about 1k lbs. So if you have 100lbs of gear on the bike rack, you have to subtract that from the 1k lbs to determine how much weight for people and other gear your car can handle. And I'm guessing the year and exact model of your car, so my numbers may be off.
If I've lost you buy this time, let me know.
10-25-10, 07:34 PM
Forgot to add that even though your car isnt rated for towing, you can still carry things (such as bikes) on the rear of the car. Hence the reason for a model specific hitch for say, the Honda Fit. Also the reason why alot of bike racks are designed for 1 1/4" Class 1 hitches =)
10-26-10, 08:45 AM
Here's the thing about towing: it doesnt matter how much weight the vehicle can pull (in regards to engine power, transmission type/capability, and differentials) it's more about how much the vehicle can stop (in regards to tires, brakes, and axle strength). ......
The whole system is important, not just the brakes and axles. If the transmission can't handle the strain, it will be just as useful for towing as brakes that can't handle the load. You'll find many folks that put transmission coolers on their vehicles if they know they will be doing more than average towing. You have to have a hitch/bumper, ball and mount that can meet the load. It doesn't work unless it all works.
craigdg, You'll likely be fine with 2-3 of bikes on the rack, but five may be pushing it for the Suburu. Remember the bikes will be catching the wind, if a sedan, effectively adding tongue weight. A strap from the top of the rack to the front edge of the trunk lid can help. Also the adapter will add some leverage to the reciever's position, reducing the 200 lb. tongue weight limit. If you use this car in the future for all five bikes I think you'll need to install a roof rack.
To stop the wobble drill three 1/8"-1/4" holes around the adapter's hitch pin hole, buy a nut and bolt and have the nut tack welded inside of the adapter. Then install the adapter and tighten the bolt.
10-27-10, 07:37 AM
Most capacity I have seen for hitch mounted carriers is 4 for the ones that your bike tires fit down into. Swinging version 4-5 depending on brand. But if your looking at that many bikes to transport I would suggest a combo of hitch mount and roof rack mount.
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