Towbar mounted bike racks? - Waino
I've been contemplating the various ways of transporting bikes around in/on the car and the majority of positives seem to be in favour of the towbar mounted variety of carrier.

I wonder if any Backroomers have experience of the towbar mounted type of carrier and could they answer a specific query that I have? As the towball is designed to allow the ball-hitch of a trailer to rotate, how is the carrier fixing stabilised to prevent it from rotating when the car goes over a pot-hole at 20mph with the weight of 2 bikes on the back?

Cheers Waino
Towbar mounted bike racks? - FotheringtonThomas
You unbolt the ball, and the bike-carrying thing, which is a flat steel plate with a vertical tube welded to the side (or similar) fits between the towbar itself and the ball. You may need to use longer bolts.
Towbar mounted bike racks? - jc2
You'll have a problem if you have a "gooseneck" towbar-no plate but there are clamp-on kits available.
Towbar mounted bike racks? - doctorchris
I used one of these many years ago on the back of a Volvo 740GLE Estate and was happy with it. However, one day, when I drove forwards onto a very sharply inclined drive, one of the wheels on a bicycle on the carrier grounded and was irreprably damaged.
In addition, the cycles and carrier had to be removed before the tailgate could be opened which was a bit impractical.
Another point, if you are also towing, then you should add the weight of the carrier and cycles to the nose weight of the towed trailer and ensure you are still within the recommended nose weight for your car.
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
I have a well known brand (Germanic ? name) of drop down bike rack which clamps securely to the removable, gooseneck, tow hitch. I was sceptical about the clamping security. But it is fine even on long holidays. I even rammed a tree. Bent the rack slightly but the rack did not rotate on the tow hitch. Easy access to the luggage boot and minimum obstruction to the rear view.
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
Tradekar SILVERBIKE 7 pin 2 to 3 bike tilting carrier, as above message . From The Roof Box Company. I bought a returned rack for a considerable discount. One lamp lens was broken ,on receipt, and sorted out promptly over the phone. Recommended as a happy customer. Clamping method is a substantial inverted cup which is pushed down onto the top of the tow-ball. As I experienced over a number of trips, and the website explains, the clamping is very effective and has been independently tested by TUV.

Edited by Glaikit Wee Scunner {P} on 24/02/2009 at 11:56

Towbar mounted bike racks? - AlastairM
Maxxrax: Holds up to 4 bikes, can be swung down to gain access to the boot/hatch, very substatial, comes complete with security cable and lock, takes around 10 mins to first install and 2 mins to fit when you want to use. Well recommended!
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Collos25
I have one that fits directly onto the towball bought of ebay for £15 carries two bikes without problem and takes atoung 10seconds to fit.
Towbar mounted bike racks? - loskie
I use a Maxxrax with the older style of fixed towbar. Find it excellent, no loss of cofidence driving at normal speed. Bikes remain secure unlike a Halfords boot mounted rack i had previously(I was just waiting for the to fall off)
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Brit_in_Germany
The German Auto Clube ACE tested various makes. The results are at:

Apparently all were suprisingly good under heavy braking from 100 km/h although the cheapest (Eufab) did move when performing the "Elk-test".

Towbar mounted bike racks? - Dwight Van Driver
Make sure the bike carried does not obscure the rear number plates/lights if it does your are candidate for the Fixed Penalty Notice Club....

Towbar mounted bike racks? - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
The above type of rack have built in lighting plus a number plate holder.Makes it much easier to travel without lashing a separate lighting board in place with bungees.

Edited by Glaikit Wee Scunner {P} on 24/02/2009 at 14:36

Towbar mounted bike racks? - BobbyG
Waino, I have experience of both towbar carrier and roof carrier for 4 bikes. They both have pros and cons.

I had a 4 bike Thule carrier and is quite a heavy bit of kit but goes straight on the towball with no towbar bracket etc. It clamps on and then you tighten a bolt at the bottom for added security. The technique needed was basically to lift the casrrier to the towball, stand inside the carrier and lift on to towball. This sounds worse than it actually was and SWMBO was able to do this single handedly. Once its on the car, then you can lift each bike on one by one and you are not having to lift high. The Thule had bracket that you could tilt the carrier back to access the boot although I never actually made use of this, finding it easier just to tilt a seat forward in my Scenic to gain access to boot.

IIRC my towball limit was 60kg and the weight of the carrier and 4 bikes was basically 60kg. Although sometimes I doubted the security of it I never once had any issues with it with regard to car handling etc. Yes it provides some extra rear bounce in the car when going over bumps but as long as you remember its there then you should be ok. Parking in car parks can be an issue though!

I now use roofbars and between the two I would prefer the towbar. Lifting 4 bikes onto the roof of a Seat Altea and holding them in the right place whilst trying to clamp them takes a bit of technique! Fuel consumption takes a hammering and you need to watch out for low car park heights!! One benefit of roof over towbar is that I found the towbar carrier very tight ie. you had to line the bikes up opposite, make sure pedals were at different angles etc to make sure they would fit. As a result bikes could sometimes suffer scratches and scrapes. Don't get that with the roof ones, its just the car that gets scraped trying to reach the roof!
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Waino
Many thanks to all for your observations and advice :-)

I'm pleased to see the good report for the Roofbox Company as I had been looking at the various options on their website. In particular, I was thinking of the Atera Strada 2 - does anyone have any experience of that model?

Checking the results on the German Auto Clube report, the Strada didn't come out as the best buy - but then, the German price range doesn't necessarily run parallel with UK prices.

Thanks again, Waino
Towbar mounted bike racks? - barneybear
British made and great company to deal with. Very good staff and good products
Towbar mounted bike racks? - grumpyscot
The above type of rack have built in lighting plus a number plate holder.Makes it
much easier to travel without lashing a separate lighting board in place with bungees.

Lighting so often ignored - how many cars carrying bikes have lights that are totally obscured by the bikes?

And how many people take their bikes off but leave the racks on to spear anyone who happens to cross the road and have the audacity to try to walk in between cars to get to the pavement.

And how many people load up their bikes but can't be bothered to adjust their wing mirrors since they can't see out the rear window any more.........

Bu it is so pleasing to see people with roof mouted bikes entering a multi-story car park or (as at our local beach) parks where the is a height restrictor. Even when you flash your lights / shout at them, some are so arrogant and just ignore you........ until the bikes hit the big steel bar........... which is when I laugh!
Towbar mounted bike racks? - Brian Tryzers
"It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine."

Was it you Wodehouse was thinking of, GS?