UKC

Towbar mounted bike carriers

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Afternoon all,

hope all is good. I’m looking to buy a 4 bike carrier for either my tailgate or have a towbar fitted and carry them on there. No space on the roof as either kayaks or surfboards always on there.

Needs to carry 3 adult sized mountain bikes and another 24 inch bike. In the past I’ve always had a tailgate mounted rack and have upgraded the struts so I can lift the boot up. We’ve always had vans or cars with big tailgates, current car is a Ford Grand Tourneo Connect, same size etc as a VW Caddy, but I thought I’d get advice on towbar mounted carriers for a change.

They look to me like they’re always about to fall off which of course they probably wouldn’t but just after any pros and cons from those who have them.

long winded question I grant you!

Thanks in advance, Den

 Crazylegs 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Some advice I gave in a recent thread:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/biking/roof_bar_carrier_for_childs_bike-730562?v=1#x9430474

If you're short of time: Thule Velocompact + 4th bike carrier (decision made after a lot of research and quite happy with ours).

In reply to Crazylegs:

Thanks mate, much appreciated.

Time to remortgage the house 😩

 Graeme G 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

I used to use the older model of the Thule 923, with an extension for the 4th bike. Cost £500 to fit a removable tow bar, plus the cost of the rack.

Without a doubt the best solution to carrying multiple bikes that I’ve ever used. Utterly secure, easy to load/unload. Lights, number plate etc.

If you plan on keeping the car for a while it’s definitely worth the investment. But yes, it’s not cheap.

Should add the newer model makes it easy to open the boot.

Post edited at 15:26
 arch 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

They're surprisingly rigid, well the one we bought was, but it was only a two bike Thule tow bar one. It covered our car number plate so we needed a separate light and number board, but I'd already got one so all was good. I had to cover one of the pedals in something because it sat quite close to the car and the pedal fouled the rear door (XC90) and would have damaged it, but that would be car dependant. We found that there was a "knack" to fitting the bikes to the rack, but once you'd worked that out they were secure enough. For what we needed it was very good. 

 wilkesley 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

We have got a Thule 3 bike carrier. We have had it for more than 10 years. The first time it takes a bit of faffing to work out the best way to attach the bikes so they don't rub against each other (pedals). Being able to tilt the carrier, so you can get into the boot without removing it is a useful feature. 

 HardenClimber 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Have a look at this site. I think the info is good.

(I have an Atera towbar mounting rack and am pleased with it)

 jonfun21 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

If storage space is at a premium when not in use these are good - I have the 5 bike one which I put 4 bikes on regularly.....5 would be a squeeze

https://www.maxxraxx.co.uk/bikes-racks/voyager

Packs down very small.

 jonfun21 11 Apr 2021
In reply to jonfun21:

Though just seen they have no stock/currently closed but might reopen soon....which is a shame.
 

They have always been very helpful when I rang them (change of car/tow bar type and needed some pieces to adapt the rack)

 Philip 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbvehsel4_tab.php/car-specific-accessories/atera_strada_dl_3_to_4_bike_carrier_uk_lights_no_ar2603/Qx%40w%2C6M42VAwp3%40Rb%7B~cC4ure5K%7BW%7D

I've got that and the extra tray that converts it to 4 bikes. It's great. The tilt works fully loaded - for opening the boot once loaded.

Have carried 3 adults bikes and 1 child no problems.

That site often has returns at good value. Got my bike carrier, rooftbox and roof rails from them just by keeping an eye out for returns.

 RobAJones 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Another recommendation for both the rack and company Philip suggests.

It allows us to open the back doors on a Vivaro, even with Mrs J's ebike on.

 mountainbagger 11 Apr 2021
In reply to RobAJones:

> Another recommendation for both the rack and company Philip suggests.

> It allows us to open the back doors on a Vivaro, even with Mrs J's ebike on.

And another recommendation here for the same one. Solid, easy to use. Awesome.

 HardenClimber 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Philip:

That was the site I tried to link to.. seems to have been 'edited. A good site.

 Graeme G 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Check online auction sites. Just seen the one I used to use for less than £100. Older models aren’t as refined but if you’re budget is squeezed you should be able to snag a bargain.

In reply to Denni:

Another vote for the expensive thule

With 4 bikes make sure you have added up the weights. Not so bad if 4 road bikes but if you have MTB then maybe close to the limit for some models.

we have one ebike, very much limited the options. 
the Thule is big and heavy as a result mind

 climbingpixie 11 Apr 2021
In reply to Crazylegs:

I would add that depending on the MTB, the compact sized one might not be ideal and a slightly more generously sized one might be better. We carry two full suss MTBs onto our standard sized Thule but you have to be pretty precise about their relative positions to get them both to fit and we end up having to pad them out for long trips to make sure they don't knock into each other. I really regret not forking out the £50 or so more for the larger rack that would've given us an extra 1" or so of clearance between the frames.

 Tricky Dicky 22 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Some good choices at https://www.roofbox.co.uk/

I've been very happy with a Buzzrack from them.

Check the max towball weight for your car, some of the heavier racks with 4 bikes can take you over the limit. .

In reply to Philip:

That is a good price for the Atera. 

As the current owner of BOTH the Atera Strada DL AND a Thule 927 i guess i'm qualified to comment! Both are excellent TBH. 

Thule packs down a bit smaller and to my mind feels lighter (but weights on roofbox.co.uk disagree, maybe my version is older - we also have the 4th bike adapter on the Atera, but not the Thule). The arms to secure bikes are removable which makes loading sooo much easier. 

The Atera slides forward more so that you can open van tailgate. We have VW T5 and you couldn't open the boot with the Thule, hence why we had to get the Atera. The only prob with the Atera are the arms, threading them through the frames when loading is a royal pain as they don't detach. I've still not found the optimum orientation/order of bikes so every time I load them is different. The Atera does feel very solid and I the clamps to secure frames are more secure. 

Whichever you get though, will be fine. I would still behappily using the Thule if we hadn't the van. 

Now people are allowed to travel a bit more, we will be putting our Thule 927 on Ebay soon...

 Simon Pelly 22 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

maxxraxx - works well, neat solution, lock bikes to rack, packs down small.

 ChrisJD 22 Apr 2021
In reply to Christopher Smith:

We have a Thule 928 3+1 and use it with a Transit Custom rear tailgate that is even bigger than a T5. We had to add a spacer block into the tow ball and we use the 928 in the lower tilt setting for extra tailgate clearance, but it works a treat for 4x MTB.

I also use with a combo of other arms from another bike rack and also use additional straps to secure the bikes directly to the tow bar to give loads more stability.

I love getting stares when I load all the bikes on with the tailgate open; people think you are being stupid .... then I tilt the rack  and close the tailgate, with a smug knowing grin and a wink, lol.

Post edited at 19:20
 ranger*goy 24 Apr 2021
In reply to Christopher Smith:

We have an Atera and have found a few pieces of foam pipe lagging, sliced lengthways to fit rounds forks and frame, guard well against any rubbing. 

 Crazylegs 24 Apr 2021
In reply to Simon Pelly:

MaxxRaxx is ok for bikes with fairly normal frames. For certain full sus frame styles or bikes without a near horizontal top tube, it's terrible. The only way I could get my full sus safely on it was to rest it on the shock to clamp it.... no thank you!

 65 24 Apr 2021
In reply to Denni:

Do a bit of research on what suits your vehicle best. I have an Atera 3 bike carrier, (which can easily be adapted to take a 4th) and it's great but expensive. However it was the only rack available which slid far enough back to allow me to open the rear barn doors on my van. 

Re security, it's absolutely solid, I have no concerns about it wobbling loose or falling off. 

Post edited at 22:22
 MJAngry 25 Apr 2021
In reply to Philip:

Once you go atera, you never go back. 

 StuPoo2 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Graeme G:

> Cost £500 to fit a removable tow bar, plus the cost of the rack.

Anyone else regret fitting a removable towbar?  I've got a removable one fitted ... apart from the day it was fitted ... I've never had it off.

Maybe £100(?) saving in not fitting one that's removable.

 Graeme G 26 Apr 2021
In reply to StuPoo2:

> Anyone else regret fitting a removable towbar?  I've got a removable one fitted ... apart from the day it was fitted ... I've never had it off.

> Maybe £100(?) saving in not fitting one that's removable.

LOL. I didn’t regret it. I had an AMG C Class and no way I was devaluing the car by cutting into the bodywork. But yeah, putting it on and off was a regular faff.

 StuPoo2 26 Apr 2021
In reply to Graeme G:

Fair.

Given the choice ... I reckon I wouldn't bother with it next time round.  I only had it fitted for Thule Velocompact.

In reply to Denni:

Thule is worth the investment

 65 28 Apr 2021
In reply to StuPoo2:

> Anyone else regret fitting a removable towbar?  I've got a removable one fitted ... apart from the day it was fitted ... I've never had it off.

I had one on a BMW, it came with the car. When the tow bar wasn't fired it was quite discrete, you could hardly see the sockets. No problems either, though I only used it for a bike rack. I'm planning to fit one to our current wheels, which will involve a hole being cut. Car forum surfing suggests this is no big deal.

 danj1974 29 Apr 2021
In reply to StuPoo2:

> Anyone else regret fitting a removable towbar?  I've got a removable one fitted ... apart from the day it was fitted ... I've never had it off.

Not at all! I got a Westfalia detachable towbar like this one:

https://images.app.goo.gl/7mULopSNAR5U6U3L6

It has a simple pull-and-twist quick release mechanism and is lockable. I've never left it on when it's not been in use!

t was worth the extra money for me. The only downside is that the key is a bit of an awkward shape and doesn't have a hole to fit on a keyring.

 StuPoo2 29 Apr 2021
In reply to 65:

Aye ... hole cut for my current car.  You would never know its there unless you were looking for it ... its on the part of rear bumper that faces directly to the ground.

 StuPoo2 29 Apr 2021
In reply to danj1974:

Same one I've got. 

Agree on the key.


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