Towbars and bike racks – quotes & compatibility

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  • Towbars and bike racks – quotes & compatibility
  • nickewen
    Member

    Does anyone have much experience with towbar fitting costs and compatibility of various types of towbar with bike racks?

    After years of dismantling bikes in the boot/using a saris boot mounted rack I’m finally sick of the hassle…

    Looking to get a Thule 3 bike carrier and mount onto a detachable tow bar. Are most racks compatible with swan neck/bolt-on/detachable? I can’t find a definitive answer.

    Also, getting quotes in the region of £280 for fully fitted detachable towbar. Car is a 3 series saloon with parking sensors if that makes much difference. Any info/advice would be much appreciated.

    Cheers.

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Subscriber

    Quotes were pretty much generic for mine. Give or take £20.

    £277 was the price for a fixed one on a 2010 Mondeo

    nickewen
    Member

    Thanks for the info – ball park figure sounds reasonable then.
    Cheers.

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    If you’re ever likely to want to tow and carry a bike rack then the bolt on is required.

    For everything else a swan neck should be fine – the racks tend to clamp around the towball.

    Always best to check the individual rack before you buy, though.

    I went for a detachable swan neck having shinned myself enough times on a previous fixed tow ball…

    nickewen
    Member

    Thanks wwaswas – it would just be carrying bikes, no caravans or trailers. Cheers for the info.

    Think I’ll drop Thule a mail as it doesn’t even reference towbar types in the user manuals I have looked at..

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    All the Thule ones I’ve seen have been ‘swan neck’ types, if that helps.

    nickewen
    Member

    Thanks – are swan neck and detachable the same other than being able to take them off when not in use?

    Sorry for the daft questions!

    Premier Icon wwaswas
    Subscriber

    was going to type a long explanation and then spotted this;

    http://www.pfjones.co.uk/tow-bar-types-explained.html

    nickewen
    Member

    That’s great – cheers!

    Premier Icon bruneep
    Subscriber

    I went for a detachable swan neck having shinned myself enough times on a previous fixed tow ball…

    this ^

    BlindMelon
    Member

    Try indespension £220 fitted for a Thule on my Insignia. Branches all over:

    http://www.indespension.co.uk/store-locator.html

    nickewen
    Member

    Yep definitely want to avoid shin injuries! Cheers for the link, they have a branch pretty close to me. Ta

    Premier Icon paulosoxo
    Subscriber

    We have a witter detachable tow ball, and a Thule 3 bike rack. Work great together.

    Premier Icon jonathan
    Subscriber

    Thule rack here – been on an Alko ball and a swan neck (both fixed).

    Just note that detachable balls have lower weight limits than fixed balls. Suspect you’ll be fine unless stacking DH bikes on, but worth noting what the limit is on whatever you fit.

    I DIY fitted mine (towequipe own brand (witter branded when it turned up), on a ford focus), cost about £80 inc electrics and relay). Took a morning (and a big torque wrench).

    Aiston rack avoids the need to have a ball at all, just bolt the plate on in its place. And no wobbly metal or plastic bits, its over engineered to the n’th degree, which is nice at 70mph seeing the bikes rock steady in the mirror, not bouncing arround!

    nickewen
    Member

    Thanks for the info all. I’m normally up for DIY’ing stuff but not long had the car and don’t want to wreck it… I’ll have a look into those Aiston racks for sure. Cheers.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Subscriber

    Aren’t aiston racks not all bolt on though? Don’t know if I could be arsed bolting and un bolting very time.

    rickt
    Member

    Which 3 series is it? (You may need a new rear defused and painted)

    Also, go for the dedicated electric kit too, more so if it’s a new car

    Premier Icon wheelie
    Subscriber

    I bought an Aiston in the summer, and ran down to the Auvergne and back. Fantastic, simple, and breaks down very quickly and small for storage. Very quick to attach and an 18mm. spanner does everything. Bikes are kept seperated and the swanneck holds the bikes very securely. The safest rack I have used.

    Aren’t aiston racks not all bolt on though? Don’t know if I could be arsed bolting and un bolting very time.

    the 2 bolts just nip up to hold it in place, as they dont line up with anything its quicker than fannying arround with the pins on my old thule rack.

    nickewen
    Member

    rickt – It’s a 2009 SE model (facelift) so no fancy m-sport rear bumper… Spoke with one towbar place and they explained there would be no cutting of the bumper visible… Although some cutting would be required behind the bumper. Do you sometimes need a new rear bumper?

    Also – the bike rack says 7 pin and the quotes I have been getting are single electrics… Is the only difference between this and full that the reverse light won’t work? Not sure what full electrics gives you?

    Thanks

    neiladams
    Member

    I have a Witter detachable swan neck tow bar on my 3 series (e90 330d). Its good and when detached there is only a very small bit of the remaining tow bar visible. The salt on the road makes it difficult to detach in the winter so you have to oil / grease it or it’ll get stuck on.

    I fitted it myself as there are quite good pictorial instructions on the ‘net. You have to take the whole back fascia / bumper off which is a bit of a pain as the studs go up inside each wheel arch. The parking sensors are detachable. It also involves a little bit of hacksawing the underside of the bumper. You also have to expose the wiring loom and splice in the electrics. You need the specific e90 wiring kit. Your quote sounds good as its a bit of hassle / time consuming doing it yourself.

    nickewen
    Member

    Thanks Neil. The quote is for the Thule detachable tow bar too, so does sound reasonable.

    Good to hear that you can see very little of it once removed. My GF was meant to be getting a Golf Diesel for bike duties but has went and got herself a Mini Cooper so the beemer needs sorting for bike duties but I don’t want a permanent fixture on the back…

    Cheers.

    neiladams
    Member

    No problems Nick. I got the single electrics also (7 pin) and its fine for bike racks. You only need full electrics (13 pin) if you are towing a caravan and want charge the battery in it. I have the Thule Euroway G2 for 3 bikes and its brilliant as it can be tipped backwards with the bikes on it to allow access to the boot. There is also a bar to stop the bike nearest the car falling onto the boot lid before it is secured. The boot lid easily clears the handlebars when opened.

    I had the cheaper Thule “ride on” before that and it was not nearly as good – there is not a bar between the bike and the car to stop the bike accidentally falling onto the car. My car has a dent in the boot lid as a testimony to this problem!!! Also the boot would not clear the handlebar when it was opened.

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