• This topic has 33 replies, 26 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago by poe82.
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  • A bit of fun; tow bar related maths
  • Premier Icon Kryton57
    Full Member

    So, I already have aero roof bars and racks; if it costs me £1000 to put a towbar on a 2017 320d, how many miles of carrying two bikes until the towbar is cost neutral?

    Thanks, I’ll check back tonight. 🙂

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    Assuming a boot rack is 5-10% more efficient, 1p per mile is 100,000 miles with the bike on

    Premier Icon ElShalimo
    Full Member

    8000 miles

    Premier Icon unfitgeezer
    Free Member

    I’d say you were being ripped off for £1000 ! Is that with BMW ?

    Premier Icon ross980
    Free Member

    ~25,000 miles (assume 40mpg Vs 50mpg and £1.40/l so ~4p/ mile more). Might be completely out though😂

    Premier Icon ross980
    Free Member

    And what Unfitgeezer said. £1000 for a towbar is crazy money, even for a removable.
    (Unless it’s dealer fit with proper canbus electrics, even so, a £15 bypass relay will work)

    Premier Icon mashr
    Free Member

    If playing the economics game, why spend £1,000 on it?

    Premier Icon iainc
    Full Member

    I went through this a few years back, Car was an A6 Avant, towbar supply and fit was about £700 (approved towbar specialist – Buchan, in Glasgow). I was swopping from 3 permanently fitted Thule roof carriers and worked out it’d be cash neutral in 2 years (annual mileage at that time was about 18k) and I also allowed for covering about £300 differential between purchasing a new towbar bike rack and selling the old roof system.

    On the supply and fit costs, the replacement to that car was a new Q5, just over a year ago, and cost from same specialist fitter, after shopping around, was about £750.

    Premier Icon doomanic
    Full Member

    Don’t forget to deduct the sale cost of the roof bars and bike racks.

    Premier Icon Killer
    Free Member

    £1000????? ouch. i thought £300 was pricy
    How much to sell the car and buy the same one wiht a tow bar alreayd fitted? they seem to be optional extras that don’t raise the value much so you might just get lucky and get it for muhc less

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    Should we factor in the number of times you will drive under a barrier with a bike attached?

    Premier Icon euain
    Full Member

    Should we factor in the number of times you will drive under a barrier with a bike attached?

    The other way – the times you reverse into something hard with the tow-bar rack attached?

    Also, what about when you get fed up putting the bikes on the tow-bar rack as it’s a pain in the arse (especially for more than one bike) so put the roof racks back on for all the short journeys.

    Premier Icon oldtennisshoes
    Full Member

    And factor in the reduction in value of the car when you sell it because it has a towbar fitted so obviously needs a new clutch/gearbox/engine after towing a mahoosive tin tent around.

    Also, what about when you get fed up putting the bikes on the tow-bar rack as it’s a pain in the arse (especially for more than one bike) so put the roof racks back on for all the short journeys.

    Controversial but I agree. Roof carriers are generally less faff / reduced risk of rubbing damage etc. I only have a rear carrier for my ebike.

    Premier Icon unfitgeezer
    Free Member

    this is from towbar express who are very expensive, sounds like someone is pulling your todger at a £1000
    independents will be a lot cheaper, and they are the ones that come to BMW and fit !

    BMW 3 SERIES DETACHABLE SWAN NECK TOWBAR
    3 Series Saloon (F30) (Not 320d Efficient Dynamics/ActiveHybrid3/M3)
    2012 – 2019
    £808.80
    Fitting Included in Price
    Detachable swan neck towbar, where the neck of the towbar can be removed when not in use.

    Detachable towbars avoid any issues with parking sensors picking up the tow bar neck, so ultimately if your car has reverse parking sensors this would be the best option for you.

    Neck removable when not in use

    No issues with reverse parking sensors

    Compatible with ALKO Stabilisers

    Compatible with most Cycle Carriers
    BMW 3 SERIES DETACHABLE SWAN NECK TOWBAR
    3 Series Touring Estate (F31) (Inc M-Sport & X-Drive)
    2012 – 2019
    £811.20
    Fitting Included in Price
    Detachable swan neck towbar, where the neck of the towbar can be removed when not in use.

    Detachable towbars avoid any issues with parking sensors picking up the tow bar neck, so ultimately if your car has reverse parking sensors this would be the best option for you.

    Neck removable when not in use

    No issues with reverse parking sensors

    Compatible with ALKO Stabilisers

    Compatible with most Cycle Carriers
    BMW 3 SERIES SWAN NECK TOWBAR
    3 Series Saloon (F30) (Not 320d Efficient Dynamics/ActiveHybrid3/M3)
    2012 – 2019
    £699.60
    Fitting Included in Price
    On a Swan Neck towbar, the towball is part of the neck of the towbar.

    A swan neck towbar can look tidier on the vehicle because it is more compact and is less likely to set any reverse parking sensors off. We can not guarantee this as it is dependant on the bumper shape and location of the parking sensors. We would recommend the Detachable Swan Neck Towbar if your vehicle has parking sensors.

    Tidy and compact

    Compatible with ALKO Stabilisers

    Fits most clamp-on Cycle Carriers

    Unlikely to trigger parking sensors compared to a Flange Towbar, however we would recommend a Detachable Towbar instead
    BMW 3 SERIES SWAN NECK TOWBAR
    3 Series Touring Estate (F31) (Inc M-Sport & X-Drive)
    2012 – 2019
    £703.20
    Fitting Included in Price
    On a Swan Neck towbar, the towball is part of the neck of the towbar.

    A swan neck towbar can look tidier on the vehicle because it is more compact and is less likely to set any reverse parking sensors off. We can not guarantee this as it is dependant on the bumper shape and location of the parking sensors. We would recommend the Detachable Swan Neck Towbar if your vehicle has parking sensors.

    Tidy and compact

    Compatible with ALKO Stabilisers

    Fits most clamp-on Cycle Carriers

    Unlikely to trigger parking sensors compared to a Flange Towbar, however we would recommend a Detachable Towbar instead
    BMW 3 SERIES FLANGE TOWBAR
    3 Series Touring Estate (F31) (Inc X-Drive, Not M-Sport)
    2012 – 2019
    £703.20
    Fitting Included in Price
    The flangeball towbar is a commonly used type of towbar in this country.

    On this type of towbar, the towball is bolted on to a faceplate on the tow bar, this allows accessories such as bumper guards and cycle carriers to be bolted behind the towball.

    Versatile

    Can be used with most accessories.

    Can be used with a bumper guard.

    Not recommended if your vehicle has reverse parking sensors.
    BMW 3 SERIES FLANGE TOWBAR
    3 Series Saloon (F30) (Not 320d Efficient Dynamics/ActiveHybrid3/M3)
    2012 – 2019
    £699.60

    Premier Icon benp1
    Full Member

    There’s a chance Kryton was using £1k as the all in cost. If you buy a tow bar you need a rack. My total cost was more than that on my E class a few years back

    There are some other benefits that aren’t just mpg related – easier to get on and off, easier to take more stuff (as you can use a roofbox, this was a HUGE benefit for me), can get in under height restrictions

    Premier Icon HoratioHufnagel
    Free Member

    I’m sure I read some article that said tow bar bike racks can be worse if you fit them to a saloon car because your bike is side on to the air flow but it depends on lots of factors. I think the best case for roof mounted was a single aero road bike.

    So the answer might be ∞

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

    If you buy a tow bar you need a rack.

    Aye, but the rack can be fitted to any future vehicle.

    Premier Icon Alex
    Full Member

    Towbar for my 2017 520 was about £450. Witter, with a bumper cut. I sold the car back to a different dealer I bought it from and they had no issues with fitting. Electrics did not shut off parking sensors tho. THere’s a button for that 😉

    Not sure I got it back in terms of fuel, but do not like having bikes on roof. With one bike tho I used to just sling it in the back.

    Premier Icon susepic
    Free Member

    It’s ultimately a preference thing roofrack or towbar rack, but I’m a confirmed towbar convert.
    The only time i’ve had a bike fall off was a roof rack. The only people i know who’ve totalled their carbon bikes are roof rack types in car parks.
    10 years oftowbar racks, never reversed into anything or had anything fall off.
    Bikes and rack is out of the wind, easy to put on (swan neck and rack in under 5 mins) and 3 bikes in another 5 mins. doesn’t stay on the car causing drag when i’m not using it.

    Premier Icon iainc
    Full Member

    I have a detachable towball, but never actually take it off. I used to, on the previous car, and one day was shunted from behind with it on – offered jolly good protection to my car !

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Full Member

    Really dont understand the comment about roof mounted racks being easier to use, tow bar rack is great, minimal lifting, everything at chest height, no chance of dropping a bike on your head or car roof. Never reversed into anything with it on.

    Premier Icon Kryton57
    Full Member

    Thanks for all the replies, remember I was a “bit of fun”.

    My quote was actually £911 for a detachable swan neck tow bar with electrics behind the bumper, I rounded to £1000 as I want to get one of those quick Thule racks for single bike use – we already have a velocompact for the other car.

    I’ve no issues where the bike goes but it gets quite full in the back with two bikes and camping gear for a weekend away so was just considering an alternative. I have the roof bars/racks but would just need a new footpack which is probably the cheapest option, but I do like the tower racks.

    So about 18000 miles then, thats a lot of bike trips!

    Premier Icon garage-dweller
    Full Member

    I went through this agony on my previous car (Passat estate). This post assumes NO E bike factors as I’m clueless on them.

    If you think you would want dedicated electrics, a tilting rack etc. Then you’re going to have to do a lot of bike carrier miles to get the price difference back.

    IMO if you have (1) a normal height car (i.e. not an SUV or MPV), (2) no need for a roof box at the same time as bikes or can do a slim box and two bikes and (3) no other use for a towbar then the towbar route is a really expensive way of lugging bikes around for relatively modest economy gains unless you’re doing very big miles.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    Bikes and rack is out of the wind, easy to put on (swan neck and rack in under 5 mins) and 3 bikes in another 5 mins. doesn’t stay on the car causing drag when i’m not using it.

    Maybe. But if you’re using it often that time adds up so that optimistic extra 5-8 minutes vs literally 20 seconds to put a bike on a Thule roof carrier is definitely a relevant difference for short journeys. Of course, if you’re loading the car up once a year to drive 18 hours to Morzine or something then that time difference is negligible, but if you’re using it regularly, roof bars are way easier (I had a phase where I was using the rack every day as part of a commute).

    Also the rear rack gets covered in road grime, sets off the reversing sensors, takes up loads of space in the garage etc etc.

    YMMV.

    Premier Icon boombang
    Full Member

    0 miles

    (if your back goes when lifting a beefer full suss onto roof for the first time, running a huge scratch across roof, down door, then having to take 2 weeks bed rest whilst contracting on a day rate).

    Premier Icon Trailseeker
    Free Member

    Even ignoring the 17mpg hit that we got driving down to Alpe d’Huez from the ferry, spending the first hour of my time there carefully trying to clean thousands of dead fly corpses off my stanchions wondering if it would result in damage to my forks – towbar rack for every time now for me.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Full Member

    Should the calculations not be based on four types of MPG?

    1. Roof rack on, no bikes on roof (which is probably the majority of use)
    2. Roof rack on, bikes on roof
    3. No rack, tow bar fitted, no bikes
    2. Bikes on tow bar

    All of these will be different

    Premier Icon dannybgoode
    Full Member

    A friend of mine is looking at tow bars for their ’07 plate Skoda Octavia and he said prices were just bonkers at the moment. Cheapest he could find was £800. Don’t know what has happened to prices recently however they do seem to have gone through the roof…

    Premier Icon Alex
    Full Member

    I paid about that for the factory fit for my Koraq. Was outraged at the time even tho it included an upgrade to the oil cooler (I think). Electric tho, very convenient and wired into CANBUS correctly.

    I just can’t do bikes on the roof. I know how clumsy and forgetful I am. It’d end in tears, the only question would be when and where 😉

    In summer, I’m happy to take a wheel off and chuck a bike in the back. Come winter tho, trailer every time.

    Premier Icon timmys
    Full Member

    Just going through the tow bar fitting debate in my head (again) as could really do with being able to use roofbox + take 3 or 4 bikes with us. I hate having the bikes on top and earlier this year had a very gentle argument with a height restriction barrier (got lucky and only trashed the 598 bike carrier, handlebars, and the carbon rim of the front wheel rather than the frame.)

    But…
    For a 2014 Octavia VRS (natch), detachable Westfalia with 13 pin dedicated electronics;
    Local specialists; none of them can be arsed to get back to me with a quote
    PF Jones mobile fitting; £736.50
    Main dealer; ~£1500 (includes cooling system upgrade). Lots of teeth sucking when I questioned whether the cooling upgrade was needed for a bike rack, but would still be ~£1200 without anyway.

    My main concern with the non-dealer option is the chance of the coding being done right. Not sure if I’m worrying about nothing or not!

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    optimistic extra 5-8 minutes vs literally 20 seconds to put a bike on a Thule roof carrier is definitely a relevant difference for short journeys

    having used both, I recon a thule xpress towbar carrier is as quick, if not quicker (to fit, then throw a bike onto) as a roof rack (just loading the bike and securing it). There’s the odd frame its a bit more fiddly to do with, but thats the same with any carrier.

    Premier Icon andrewh
    Free Member

    Should we factor in the number of times you will drive under a barrier with a bike attached?

    The other way – the times you reverse into something hard with the tow-bar rack attached?

    That £1k will get you an old Berlingo for bike duties, put it inside

    Premier Icon espressoal
    Free Member

    I went through this a few years back, Car was an A6 Avant, towbar supply and fit was about £700 (approved towbar specialist – Buchan, in Glasgow).

    7 years ago, supply and fit to A4 Avant, my local garage in Glasgow – £350.

    2021 – supply and fit to Subaru Forrester, my local garage in Glasgow – £350.

    With Audi tow bar and electric kit – £1k, trailer doesn’t know the difference.

    Premier Icon poe82
    Free Member

    Seems to be very much personal preference but i’d always choose tow bar mounted.
    I have a detachable hitch so normally just leave the Thule bike rack attached to it. That way the rack and hitch are on or off with a single ‘click’. Can’t imagine anything else that could be faster.

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