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Advice for bike rack installation

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Advice for bike rack installation

Old 04-09-14, 03:08 PM
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funkdified
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Advice for bike rack installation

Hi there,

My family is going to New Orleans for Jazz Fest, and we've decided to bring our bikes this year.

I have a 2013 Toyota Camry, and want to get a hitch installed for a bike rack.

There are a few places in Austin that install hitches and carry a variety of options, but I am overwhelmed.

What is a good bike rack for transporting 2 bikes long distance, and what type of hitch would be required?

Thanks!
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Old 04-09-14, 03:22 PM
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JerrySTL
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If you are transporting 2 bikes, get at least a 3-bike rack.

Are you ever planning on towing anything else, like a small boat or maybe rent a small U-Haul? If not, you can save some money by skipping the wiring.

However there are some racks that come with lights so make sure that you consider this before skipping the wiring. Often the bikes do block the turn signals and brake lights so lights mounted to the rack can be a good idea. I have a 4-bike rack with lights mounted on it.

For a 3-bike rack, you probably can go with a 1 1/4" Class II hitch. Just make sure that the rack you buy will fit in the hitch. Many racks come with adapters that will fit both 1 1/4" and 2" hitches.

After installing the rack and bikes, look where the exhaust comes out. I've seen people cook off tires with a rear bike rack when the tires were right next to the exhaust. You can get exhaust pipe tips that divert the exhaust downwards to prevent this from happening.
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Old 04-09-14, 03:27 PM
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Start with a Class 3 (2") hitch receiver since this offers the broadest number of possible racks. Some reputable hitch places may refuse to install this on your car because it's tow capabilities are inadequate, but explain that you're not towing, just using it for a hitch type rack.

As for the racks, you have a vast array of types.

The most common hold bikes by the top tube, and come in versions for 2-5 bicycles. The features you want to look for are fold-down arms, so they're not sticking out when not in use, and bicycle anti-sway mounts, so the bikes don't swing forward and back when you stop or accelerate. If you have a hatch back, make sure that the entire unit tilts out of the way, so you can access the hatch (most are not tiltable when loaded).

Other designs hold the bikes by the wheels in a track, or wheel cradles, with a vertical arm to stabilize. These are generally pricier, but very nice to load and unload, and the bikes ride very securely. These are typically 2 bike units, sometimes with optional add-on units for one or two more.

I hope this gave you a sense of the choices. Have a great time, and be sure to bring or buy good bike locks because N-Orleans is a fairly high bike theft city. (never leave the bikes on the car in town).

BTW- if you get a chance stop in at Bicycle Michaels, and tell him Francis from New York says Hi.
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Old 04-09-14, 03:45 PM
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2" hitch will give you much more options, assuming you can get one for a Camry.

There are plenty of good racks. I prefer ones that hold by the wheels so that your top tube doesn't get scratched up.
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Old 04-09-14, 04:04 PM
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Wow, many great suggestions already thanks guys!
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Old 04-09-14, 04:25 PM
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The Camry is not rated for 2" capacity. You will prob be sticking with 1-1/4". However, they do make 2". Plan on $160+++. Many have mods that have to be done to the car.

Toyota Camry Trailer Hitch - 2013 | etrailer.com

They have racks too.

Last edited by yote223; 04-09-14 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 04-09-14, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by yote223 View Post
The Camry is not rated for 2" capacity. You will prob be sticking with 1-1/4". However, they do make 2". Plan on $160+++. Many have mods that have to be done to the car.
Yes, that's exactly my point in the earlier post. Based on tow capacity, the Camry should only have a class-2 or 1-1/4" hitch. But 2" hitches exist and provide a far better platform for hitch bike racks -- But you have to uderstand the tow capacity limitations if actually using for towing.

For liability reasons some people will refuse to install a 2" hitch, but if you explain the intent you should be able to get it done.
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Old 04-09-14, 05:00 PM
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U-Haul was the only place I could find that sold a 2" hitch receiver for my Honda Element. They installed it for free, too.
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Old 04-09-14, 07:07 PM
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Hitch racks are great. They look a lot more secure than trunk mount racks and can't harm the paint because nothing actually touches the car. That said, I have had absolutely great results from a trunk mount Thule 2 bike rack. I've carried two bikes all over the place on a local basis. I've been on rough roads and freeways with no problem. I can't see any effect on the paint, but I'm not inspecting closely. The most severe test I've given the rack is transporting a Da Vinci tandem from Fort Worth to San Diego. No problem at all except what it did to my gas mileage. If you are going to make a lot of trips with the bikes go ahead with a hitch rack. If you won't be hauling bikes often, think about a trunk mount rack. They work a lot better than we have any reason to expect.
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Old 04-10-14, 10:00 AM
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I'm kinda switching over to the trunk mount racks away from my hitch mount --even on my minivan. I have a nice, 4-bike, swing-away, lockable, hitch mount bike rack that is a bit of a behemoth to mount and unmount. I am fine doing the mount/unmount, but my wife and daughters are not. It does not drop down out of the way, so once mounted it is always in the way.

For hitch mount, I'm envious of the two (or three) bike platform racks because they are sooo convenient to use. And some fold up out of the way. But they are more expensive and I bet they are also a chore to mount and unmount (again for someone who doesn't care to learn how --like my wife and daughters)

I'm switching over to trunk mount style because you can easily remove them and store inside vehicle.
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Old 04-10-14, 10:37 AM
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I've used roof racks, trunk racks and hitch racks and FAR prefer the hitch racks. Nothing touches the car's paint and you don't have to keep reminding yourself not to drive under a low overhead or into your garage. I have 1-1/4" Draw Tite hitches on my CRV and my wife's Accord and they hold a two bike rack very well. A 2" receiver might be more versatile but unneeded and much more expensive, even if one was available. Be aware many hitch racks come with adapters to fit either size.

My current Rack is a "Swagman" that supports the bikes by both wheels and retains them by adjustable (and lockable) top hooks. It's very quick on and off and very steady. The vertical support folds down completely allowing access to the tail gate or trunk and it fits either 1-1/4" or 2" receivers. . The cost was pretty good too. Here it is: Amazon.com : Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack (1/1/4 and 2-Inch Receiver) : Automotive Bike Racks : Sports & Outdoors

I had a hitch rack that hung the bikes by the top tube but hooking up the sway controls etc. made it much slower to load and unload and I was never thrilled with its stability.
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Old 04-10-14, 11:00 AM
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Toyota doesn't make a factory hitch for your vehicle, so you're looking at aftermarket.

Curt has a Class II hitch which while some feel is undersized should be more than enough to support a 4 bike mount.
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Old 04-10-14, 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
I've used roof racks, trunk racks and hitch racks and FAR prefer the hitch racks. Nothing touches the car's paint and you don't have to keep reminding yourself not to drive under a low overhead or into your garage. I have 1-1/4" Draw Tite hitches on my CRV and my wife's Accord and they hold a two bike rack very well. A 2" receiver might be more versatile but unneeded and much more expensive, even if one was available. Be aware many hitch racks come with adapters to fit either size.

My current Rack is a "Swagman" that supports the bikes by both wheels and retains them by adjustable (and lockable) top hooks. It's very quick on and off and very steady. The vertical support folds down completely allowing access to the tail gate or trunk and it fits either 1-1/4" or 2" receivers. . The cost was pretty good too. Here it is: Amazon.com : Swagman XC Cross-Country 2-Bike Hitch Mount Rack (1/1/4 and 2-Inch Receiver) : Automotive Bike Racks : Sports & Outdoors

I had a hitch rack that hung the bikes by the top tube but hooking up the sway controls etc. made it much slower to load and unload and I was never thrilled with its stability.
Checked out the Swagman XC, looks pretty good and reasonably priced. I will be book marking it. I would have to get a hitch to go with.

Taking a trip to CO. this summer, had been considering getting set up with a roof mount for the CRV but wasn't really liking the idea of lifting the bike over the side of the car. Then there is the 75 mph down the road with the bike sticking up in the air. I ruled out the top tube hanging method, carbon frame, may not hurt it, don't want to find out.
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Old 04-10-14, 02:19 PM
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I drive a Mazda 3 with a hitch. Not sure what brand but it is 1 1/4'. I use the Swagman XC rack and it is very easy to use. Highly recomended.
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Old 04-10-14, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
. I ruled out the top tube hanging method, carbon frame, may not hurt it, don't want to find out.
It won't hurt it.
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