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Discussion Starter #1
I've been thinking of the easiest way (as well as least expensive way) to transport my TW with my Suburban (no problem with a 2" hitch bar) or with my Saturn Vue (small SUV - problem is a 1 1/4" hitch bar).

Choices are:

1.) A small trailer seems easy, one can be purchased for as little as $145 from Harbor Freight with their 20% off discount coupons. There would have to be added a 3/4"thick plywood floor extending 1' each for and aft longer than the trailer's 48" length, and probably a front wheel chock, and a ramp would need to be made or bought. This would fit either vehicle, is just another thing to have laying around when not in use but could be used to transport other "stuff" too.

2.) A hitch mounted bike rack to avoid the trailer. Most of these are rated for at least 400lbs if not more. Choices are aluminum or steel, solid all the way of their length or made of bolts every 6" or so between 2 side rails, with a solid ramp. These come standard with a 2" draw bar, will fit the Suburban with no problem, but it wouldn't fit on my Saturn.I can get an adapter that fits into the 1 1/4" receiver of the Saturn that the 2" draw bar of the rack would then fit into, but this would extend the whole thing out another 12-18", which puts more weight on the back because of the leverage and more leverage on the receiver.

One question I have is how stable are these things in the receiver - how much rocking side to side do you get with these at rest or on the road?

Do you just push or muscle the bike up onto the rack, as opposed to using the engine and clutch to power it up? How easy is it to roll up? And getting it off is just rolling it down trying to use the brake?

3.) I already have a small jetski trailer that could easily be modified with a central area of wood to support the bike and I would add a front wheel chock up front, and have to make/buy a ramp. This seems the cheapest and easiest and I could make the center bike support removable and leave the bunks in place for the ski when I need to use the trailer for that.



My real question is for those that have used these rear racks is on ease of use and how stable they are and, any suggestions for mounting on a 1 1/4" receiver. I don't know of any rack made that uses the smaller drawer bar but there might be a place where the bar could be bought separately and interchanged on the rack when and if I wanted to switch between vehicles.



Anybody have any suggestions or thoughts or ideas on all this?
 

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Modify the ski trailer and be done with it. You can make a motorcycle rail with chock out of $20 worth of steel, then simply bolt it to the crossmembers when you want to haul the bike, with enough steel left over to make a ramp from a 2x8.
 

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I couldn't agree with qwerty more. Using your jetski trailer would be a great option. The only problem I see would be what do you do with your jetski when you want to trailer your TW? I am sure that your Suburban could handle a carrier on the back, but I doubt if your Saturn could handle the load with its smaller receiver.



Brian
 

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I've have both a trailer and a rack. There are pros and cons, but in your case I don't think the Vue is going to handle the rack. I have a full sized Chevrolet van with an additional rear helper leaf spring and with the bike on the rack, it drops the rear of the van a couple of inches. The rack will probably exceed the tongue weight spec on the 1.25" receiver also. The Suburban should handle it fine, but I'd check the capacity of the hitch to be sure it has the needed rated capacity. It is a little dicey pushing the bike up on the rack and works best with two people. I don't think I would try motoring it on. The other problem with the rack solution is that it will probably hide your tail lights when loaded. I had to add tail lights to the rack because of this. Once everything is set up though, the rack is a nice solution since you don't have to hassle with a trailer. I have a Harbor freight trailer that I pull with either my van or a Pontiac Vibe (same as a Toyota Matrix). It works great, but it did require some welding to beef it up (the bolted together trailer is pretty flimsy in my opinion without beefing it up). I agree with the post above. You've already got about 90% of your solution with the jet ski trailer. Hire a welder to put together a suitable bolt on platform for the bike.
 

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I've have both a trailer and a rack. There are pros and cons, but in your case I don't think the Vue is going to handle the rack. I have a full sized Chevrolet van with an additional rear helper leaf spring and with the bike on the rack, it drops the rear of the van a couple of inches. The rack will probably exceed the tongue weight spec on the 1.25" receiver also. The Suburban should handle it fine, but I'd check the capacity of the hitch to be sure it has the needed rated capacity. It is a little dicey pushing the bike up on the rack and works best with two people. I don't think I would try motoring it on. The other problem with the rack solution is that it will probably hide your tail lights when loaded. I had to add tail lights to the rack because of this. Once everything is set up though, the rack is a nice solution since you don't have to hassle with a trailer. I have a Harbor freight trailer that I pull with either my van or a Pontiac Vibe (same as a Toyota Matrix). It works great, but it did require some welding to beef it up (the bolted together trailer is pretty flimsy in my opinion without beefing it up). I agree with the post above. You've already got about 90% of your solution with the jet ski trailer. Hire a welder to put together a suitable bolt on platform for the bike.


I have to agree with Truepath and Qwerty.



I have a Mercury Mountaineer with a Class III hitch. I had to put overloads and airbags on the rear suspension to keep the headlight from illuminating the tops of the trees.



A trailer approach will be much cheaper in the long run.



But there are a few places I go to that it would be hard to get into with a trailer (but I guess I could off load the bike sooner).






Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree with all of you, and that's what I probably will do. Thanks for your input.

The jetski stays in the water floating on a little floating dock called a Sportport, so that's not a problem using it (unless there's a storm and I have to take it out of the water). That trailer sits empty practically all the time so it's available for the bike.



I have seen metal channels with an angled front wheel shallow holder, on eBay, or I could just put a couple of 2x8's down and mount a locking chock up front. That's not a problem either.



BTW, the Saturn has a pretty sturdy receiver, the vehicle is rated to tow 3500lbs with a hitch weight up to 500 lbs. but I don't like the idea of all that weight being hung 2 feet or more out the back of the vehicle. Not so good for the steering or traction either, as this car is front wheel drive. And the headlights would probably be aimed way too high.



What I was also interested in, is how easy are these trailer hitch carriers and ramps to use, and their stability, and I think I have a good idea now. It would be a lot easier to ride or push the bike up onto the trailer maybe only a foot off the ground than it would be to push the bike up onto one of those hitch carriers if doing it alone.



I think I'll mod the jetski trailer and make it dual purpose. Thanks all. I'll get some pics when I'm done if anyone's interested.
 

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Add another vote for the trailer.



I read the reviews on the hitch racks and bought one from Harbor Freight. I have a Class 3 hitch on my Jeep Grand Cherokee, so it's plenty stout. However, it is very high to maintain rear clearance. The TW fit on the rack OK, but during the loading process the rack seemed quite unstable. It was hairy getting it up that high by myself. I re-read the rack directions several times and tightened the anti-sway mechanism as much as I could. Once the TW was on the rack it still swayed side to side on the rack. I didn't even take it on a test drive as I knew I would not be comfortable with it back there during my upcoming 400 mile drive to WV.



I trailer is the only way to go and it provides more space to carry other stuff you might not want inside your Saturn when it's muddy and ripe.
 

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I use both a trailer and a hitch mounted rack. I have towed the trailer thousands of miles with the bike and have have rolled thousands of miles with the bike on the rack.

It is my opinion that both work equally wel but the trailer is more versatile.

If you have some place to leave the trailer - that is the route I would go - both your vehicles could easily handle that regardless of the receiver size
 

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Here is my Ranger loaded up to meet the Guys heading over the Rubicon a couple of years ago. What you see beneath the tray is about 7". It scraped a couple of times going into the gas station. I dreaded the thought of ending up on the road at night. As was already mentioned, my headlights would have been illuminating tree tops. This was the first and only time I used the rack. Sold it to a fellow with a 4 wheel drive Ranger that seem to have another 7''. Now have a trailer, and more peace of mind. Gerry



 

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The racks work well only if you have enough spring to keep 325 pounds on the receiver from messing up the chassis alignment. That means a HD 3./4 ton truck or better. I know, I know, people run 325 pound hitch loads on smaller vehicles all the time, but they use a load equalizing hitch that distributes most of the hitch load across the front and trailer axles, and the ball is not usually as far behind the axle as the center of gravity of a motorcycle on a rail. The distance from axle too load makes a big difference in how the load is carried.
 

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My Silvarado 1500 carried the bike fine, but I do have the 4x4 package. There's no doubt that trailers will carry bikes, lawn chairs, and beer, but if you have to navigate a crowded gas station, back out of a driveway, go through Tulsa in rush hour, or get by without extra registration, storage, and maintenance expenses, a trailer hitch rack is one option worth considering. I rarely carry my bike to distant places, hence, I'm satisfied with the rack. If I went to San Bernadino every weekend, I'd have a trailer. I've never drug the nose of my rack but there were a couple of inclined driveways in Missouri's Ozarks that had me concerned. I think its a matter of speed and angle of attack; if you are going to drag it do it slowly and inspect things after it happens. There's no way I'd use one of these racks without extra tail/turn signals, and strong tie downs. All systems have shortcomings and most have positives. I have a buddy who has an expensive aluminum trailer with a three bike capacity, but twice in the last 3 years, he's borrowed my hitch rack when he wanted to go to Kansas, or California to buy a motorcycle. It was just so much easier to throw the rack in the truck, and load it once he was ready to use it. Tom
 

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These bikes only weigh about 280# +- a rack should be easy to manage. I have both. The draw back with a trailer is 55 mph.
Why limit yourself to 55mph?
 

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I guess California won't see any of my vacation dollars.
 

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I have used the Pentagon carrier for about a year and it has worked very well. I was a little skeptical about it before I ordered given its pretty low price, but I was pleasantly surprised when I received it. It is made with aluminum channel with a steel receiver piece and supports. I have a picture of it on my van somewhere and if I can find it I'll put it up here.



My link
 

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55 is the law for large trucks and vehicles towing trailers in Ca.


I routinely cruise at 70 mph with my trailer. And I have done it through radar traps in 65 mph zones and the cops have never given me a second glance. Heck, around here if you aren't doing at least 70mph you're holding up traffic.



And I vote for a trailer!

 

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Here's what I use. This was home-built (though not by me) but someone who had the tools for bending pipe and welding. I really like it.



 

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My real question is for those that have used these rear racks is on ease of use and how stable they are and, any suggestions for mounting on a 1 1/4" receiver. I don't know of any rack made that uses the smaller drawer bar but there might be a place where the bar could be bought separately and interchanged on the rack when and if I wanted to switch between vehicles.


I have the VersaHaul rack and am very happy with it. However, I HAD to have a hitch mount rack because I want to haul my Aliner camper trailer behind the rack. With the VersaHaul you can have up to about a 1500 lb trailer behind the rack. I have a 2004 Toyota Tundra with (I think) a 7500lb trailer rating, a Class III hitch and 2" receiver. I really don't think a 1 1/4" hitch receiver could be made to work, as this rack depends on the 2" for it's side to side stability.



I had to install airbags because with the bike and trailer tongue weight the axle would bottom out on the slightest bump, not to mention blinding other drivers at night. However, once I had done that, the package worked very well. Even with the trailer attached, I have no problem loading or unloading the blike, as long as I am careful to pick a level area, or one where the right side is higher than the left. With the antisway collar tightened down there is very little movement on the VersaHaul. I just got back from a 1000 mile trip at 70-75mph on secondary roads and it never moved. The rack is heavy and solid, and with the bike on it it WILL overload most smaller trucks without airbag ride height compensation. I installed mine myself for about $280 and that works fine for me. If I didn't also have a camper trailer I would spring for a small enclosed trailer...that road grime from a wet, snowy, sanded road really makes a mess out of your bike! Some states do allow a double trailer set-up, but not the ones I want to visit.




Rocky
 
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