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  1. #1
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    Hitch mount racks on sedans...support straps?

    I'm looking for transport options for my BMW 335i. I had decided on a Yakima Whispbar roof rack until someone suggested I look into a custom mounted hitch and a hitch rack. I did some research and Curt makes a rack specifically for my car. This seemed like an easy solution and much cleaner than installing and removing a roof rack every weekend.

    But the Curt site mentioned something odd. It said "When using a hitch mounted device other than a trailer, like a bike rack or cargo shelf, you must use a supplemental support strap."

    I get it from a mechanical standpoint. The hitch is designed for tension, not bending moment so you need to support some of the weight with a strap.

    But is that just a CYA disclaimer? I don't think I've ever seen a hitch rack supported by a strap.
    I live with fear and danger every day. And on the weekends she lets me go mountain biking.

  2. #2
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    It won't snap but it could bend, depending on how it mounts to the rear of the car. I had a problem with a hidden hitch on a Jetta, and a hitch mount rack. I would recommend finding a custom hitch installer who could make you a custom 2" hitch for the 335i.

    how many bikes are you looking to carry?

  3. #3
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    The curt is the only one that works?

    2010 BMW 3 Series Trailer Hitch | etrailer.com
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  4. #4
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    It depends a lot on what rack you are going to use. Some are heavier than others and some are longer leverage arm which can test your rigidity. If you have concerns about the loading, look at the tongue rating (200 lbs, 350 lbs etc). That is measured at the ball mount distance, so the length of the rack will add leverage and decrease the total load capacity. The rack I use with my car is a Performance brand Xport platform 2 bike and it has held plenty of weight with a class 1 hitch on a sunfire. The load rating of the car's springs was far more of a concern than any bike combinations.

    Nevertheless, a strap with only a light tension can reduce bounce considerably. In so doing it can reduce fatigue stress on the body and mounting points.
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  5. #5
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    I've installed two hitches on sedans over the years. Curt hitches always have that disclaimer, while most other brands do not. For that reason, I've used draw-tight brand hitches with bike racks and have had zero problems. Both were purchased from etrailer.com and installed locally.

  6. #6
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    The only hitch etrailer.com shows that fits my car (2011 335i) is the Curt.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I'll just go with a roof rack and a fork mount tray. The trailer hitch just doesn't look right on the car and I can remove the roof rack at will.

    Thanks for the advice, all!
    I live with fear and danger every day. And on the weekends she lets me go mountain biking.

  7. #7
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    Hitch mount racks on sedans...support straps?

    Check out Torklift if you are still considering a hitch mount rack. They can design a strong hitch specifically for a bike rack.

    http://torkliftcentral.com/

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    The only hitch etrailer.com shows that fits my car (2011 335i) is the Curt.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I'll just go with a roof rack and a fork mount tray. The trailer hitch just doesn't look right on the car and I can remove the roof rack at will.

    Thanks for the advice, all!
    What do you mean by this? Modern hitches do not stick out, there's no "ball" that's in there, it's just a receptacle really that you can insert a hitch-rack into. This is only something you can see from one angle and you'll only see it if you know what you are looking for. They are so far out of the way that you usually don't see it, unlike a rack on the top which you see from virtually all angles.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  9. #9
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    I gotta be honest with you man, a Thule rack on top of a bimmer looks super sexy IMO

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gentimmy View Post
    I gotta be honest with you man, a Thule rack on top of a bimmer looks super sexy IMO
    I've had this suspicion before, that people think an erector set on top of their car looks good. To each his own! I thought it also might be about making a "statement" so anyone that would see you would "know" you're a cyclist. I admittedly don't really understand the reasoning, if that's it, or there are different ones, but I know I like to keep my cars sleek and sexy!
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    I've had this suspicion before, that people think an erector set on top of their car looks good. To each his own! I thought it also might be about making a "statement" so anyone that would see you would "know" you're a cyclist. I admittedly don't really understand the reasoning, if that's it, or there are different ones, but I know I like to keep my cars sleek and sexy!
    I didn't know being a cyclist made a statement. Actually, I'm pretty sure it doesn't...at least where I'm from. I just like the aesthetic appeal of a roof rack on imports. My bad.

    Like you said, to each his own.

  12. #12
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    The hitch would be visible from the rear. My car is silver so a black 1 1/4" hitch would definitely stand out. Here it is on a black 335i and it's still noticeable.



    It's not obnoxious, like you see on some of the redneck pickups in Atlanta, but it's noticeable and it's always there.

    If I got the roof rack, I'd probably take it off during the week and put it on on the weekends or when I'm taking the bike to work for an evening ride.

    As for the appeal of racks on sports cars, I think the impact is that you don't expect it. You don't even notice a rack on an SUV but you definitely notice them on BMWs.
    I live with fear and danger every day. And on the weekends she lets me go mountain biking.

  13. #13
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    I guess I'm weird in that I think that looks good

    What about something that straps and hangs off your trunk?

  14. #14
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    Roof racks work just fine. Think of all that extra weight you add by bolting on a hitch and then a heavy bike rack. I would think that would upset the weight distribution of a nice fast relatively lightweight car. Leave the hitch racks to the SUVs.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdrewguy View Post
    Think of all that extra weight you add by bolting on a hitch and then a heavy bike rack. I would think that would upset the weight distribution of a nice fast relatively lightweight car.
    Honestly, I feel bikes on the roof way more than bikes on the hitch racks. At least on curvy roads. On bumps obviously you'll feel the hitch rack more. The main place I feel bikes on the roof rack is in the reduction of power and the gas mileage hit.

    If you plan to use the rack more than once every couple of weeks get the hitch. Or be prepared to just leave the roof rack on the car. My roof rack gets used at least once a week, so there's no way I'm going to the hassle of taking it on and off. With carriers on (fork mount trays for bikes and stackers for kayaks) it's a two person job and a bit of a pain. My hitch rack is super easy and takes about a minute to put on, so it only comes out when I need it.

    I also have a black car, so the hitch is not very noticeable. I don't think it'd be a big deal though. If it bothers you, just back into parking spots and you pretty much never have to look at the back of your car.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdrewguy View Post
    Roof racks work just fine. Think of all that extra weight you add by bolting on a hitch and then a heavy bike rack. I would think that would upset the weight distribution of a nice fast relatively lightweight car. Leave the hitch racks to the SUVs.
    Most of the time it improves it with a RWD car, usually there's slightly more weight on the front, especially with a gas tank that's less than full. That receiver can help to tie the rear together, and with the addition of a strut brace, you can significantly tighten up the handling. This without the bikes and just the receiver.

    Sure, you can't yank through the turns too hard, although I kind of still tried with my WRX, but you're going to rip the bikes off the top rack with the same kind of forces or bend stuff on the rack at the forces you'd start to encounter the real negatives of aggressive driving with bikes.

    Anyways, that receiver on that 335 looks good, you can barely notice it. Seriously, 99% of the people that will look at your car will never notice it.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by gentimmy View Post

    What about something that straps and hangs off your trunk?
    It would mess up the paint and bumper/trunk. Those racks are not for any long-term use. Not worth it in my experience.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

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