Breezing along the Towpath, taking a few turns on Cleveland’s growing mountain bike trails, or setting the kids loose on their bikes in the campground… Sounds great, doesn’t it? Let’s get the boring part over with: you’re going to need a bike rack.
Hitch Mount Bike Racks: Why They’re a Good Option
You don’t have to reach very far to find a reason why hitch mount bike racks are preferable to trunk-mount bike racks and cartop carriers – hitch mount bike racks are a lot easier to load and unload!
While a hitch mount bike carrier is a good choice for you and your back, it’s also good for your vehicle, because bikes won’t come in contact with your car. (Translation: no dings and chipped paint!)
More good news: improved designs have made bike racks more aerodynamic, and most allow for easy access to rear doors and hatchbacks – meaning no more need to remove the rack (or bikes!) from your vehicle to get to the other gear inside.
What You Need to Know About Hitch Mount Bike Racks and Your Car
A bike rack will fit on almost any hitch – but that’s a deceptively simple and potentially dangerous statement. Regardless of the style of bike rack or size of hitch you have, put too much weight on it and you risk damaging the bike(s), hitch, and your vehicle.
The first most important thing to ask is, what kind of hitch can my car handle? Most smaller cars and sedans can take a class 1 or class 2 hitch, with some notable exceptions, like the Subaru Impreza and Toyota Prius. (If you have one of these vehicles, you’re not out of luck – see below.)
- Class 1 hitches are intended to handle up to 2,000 lb gross trailer weight and a maximum tongue weight of 200 lbs.
- Class 2 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 lbs and handle a maximum tongue weight of 300 lbs.
- Class 3 hitches are rated to pull 3,500 – 10,000 lbs – generally, you don’t need a Class 3 hitch “just” for bikes, but if you have a Class 3 hitch, know that we have bike racks designed to fit them.
For vehicles that can handle either a Class 1 or Class 2 hitch, we recommend getting the Class 2. Why the heavier duty hitch? We hate to see our customers putting their vehicles, bikes, or fun family outings at risk.
How Many Bikes? Do the Math
A couple of heavy bikes are going to put you close to the maximum tongue weight of a Class 1 hitch – and hitting a speed bump or Cleveland-sized pothole may cause damage to the bikes on the rack and possibly to your car’s body or frame. A Class 2 hitch is needed for carrying 3 or 4 bikes. Think that sounds like overkill? It’s your car – but we’ve never heard anyone complain about getting a mount that’s too sturdy. (The Reese website offers descriptions of all five classes of hitches. See the HowStuffWorks site for more than you might want to know about Tongue Weight.)
Bike Racks We Sell
JTI offers light duty V-Style Drawtite bike racks for Class 1 and 2 vehicles. We highly recommend and will only install a class 2 hitch that’s intended for use with a bike rack.
We sell Softride Dura and Element styles for Class 3 hitches.
- Element handles up to four 30-lb bikes. The carrier weight is 30 lbs.
- Dura handles up to four 40-lb bikes. The carrier weight is 39 lbs. Both are easy to access, especially from hatchback vehicles.
Is a Trunk Mount Bike Rack Right for You?
If you’re transporting just one bike – or maybe yours and one small child’s bike – it may make sense (and save some money) by simply getting a trunk mount, all-plastic carrier. If that’s what you decide to do, we’d like to offer an important tip: while most vehicle-mount carriers are made primarily of plastic, many have metal clips or fasteners on the ends of their adjustable straps. When those straps beat against your car (as happens with normal transporting) they’re likely to chip or scratch the paint on your car. 😦 Secure the straps or pad them to avoid unhappiness.
Need a Hitch in a Hurry?
JTI offers “Hitch in a Hurry” service for customers who need a hitch installed on their vehicle. No appointment is necessary. If you have questions, call us at 440.232.4311 or stop in to our Oakwood Village showroom. We want to keep you rolling!
What if Your Vehicle is Rated Class 1 and You Want a Class 2 Hitch?
Don’t panic. While we can’t turn your sub-compact car into a mighty truck, we know the hitch aftermarket like no one else. (After 80 years of working on trailers and hitches, you learn a few things.) If you car cannot handle a class 2 hitch, or one is not made for your vehicle, we will work to help you find a good solution. One that doesn’t involve selling your car 😉
So You Wanna Buy a Bike Rack…
Here’s the bottom line: A hitch mount bike rack will fit in any hitch. But if you care about your bike(s) and your vehicle, you’ll want to learn a little more about hitches in general before getting a bike rack. Don’t worry, it won’t take any longer than it took you to read this article! Come in or call us – we’ll get you and your family rolling. 440.232.4311
Do you love biking around Cleveland and NE Ohio – or do you venture way beyond the Buckeye State with your bikes in tow? We love to see pictures of our customers having fun! If you share your photos with us, we might feature them here on our blog or on our Twitter or Facebook page. Show us how you roll!