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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I finally took the plunge and got a hitch-carrier so TW-hauling duties can now be spread among our other vehicles other than my P/U truck. Plus next summer I'm planning on taking a long trip with my wife's 4Runner and wanted to bring a MC with me without having to tow a trailer for one MC.



The hitch carrier I bought was made by Zieman about seven years ago. It's VERY heavy-duty. Zieman (at least here in So.Cal.) is known for building some of the best (and $$) flat-bed trailers of all types you can get. It seems for a time they also built hitch-carriers but seemed to have stopped six years ago when the company was sold to a larger trailer company. I found this one on my local Craigs List.



All that aside it's heavy (~70 LBS) but seems very sturdy. I had originally thought about building one from scratch but eventually decided against it. Had I built one though it would have been very similar to how this one is constructed. The only thing I need to "fix" is I'm going to add a pair of tailights since at least on the 4Runner the rear lights seem to be blocked. May not be an issue on our two other trucks (wider) but having some additional lights would make me feel better.



Here are some pics:











--Kevin
 

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Very nice set up. I have been considering something like this for my truck, [also have a Toyota] I am curious as to how it straps down securely to the carrier? Next time you have it mounted can you take some close ups of the tie downs . Thanks , Rob
 

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Might I suggest a bungie wrapped around the rear tire and rail?



I really don't see anywhere to mount additional taillights without them being knocked around when the carrier is not being used. I suggest removable taillights. Magnetic base towing lights might be easiest--load the bike, set the lights in the tire track under the bike, and plug them in. On sale here: http://www.harborfreight.com/12-volt-magnetic-towing-light-kit-96933.html
 

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I have a very similar hauler. I do have tail lights mounted underneath it on metal plates. This protects them when the tray is not in use.



It looks like a worthwhile purchase.



If you find that it wobbles a bit in the receiver, try putting a small shim in the space above the receiver bar. I usually use a dime or a thin washer.



Cheers!
 

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Nice, I particularly like the angled brace from the front tiedown strut to the middle of the hitch. It could turn a shin cracking whack when you trip over that strut to a glancing blow. I always worry about these horizontal obstacles sticking out from the rest of the carrier. I've tried fastening glow green tennis balls on them after the tie downs are in place, but a red flag works nearly as well. Good luck and expect your rig to feel that extra weight in the back. Tom
 

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I have a similar unit but was stopped by the state patrol because the motorcycle blocked the tail lights and that was definitely true.



So, I went and installed two tail lights (brake and turn signal) onto the back rail and that worked well.



Not sure how your local law enforcement looks at it but I just wanted to share an experience that I had here in Washington State.



But they sure are nice hitches.



Mike
 

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Same thing happened to me in Tacoma, WA. with my versahauler. I got out of it by pleading with a judge with proof I installed a light kit. Right after I got the ticket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the comments guys! I agree about adding lights, I loaded my TW on the rack, tied it down then stood behind the 'Runner with the tailights and hazard lights on. I couldn't see either (just a reflected glow) I *think* I have an idea for some lights and brackets which will work with just a little bit of modification, I'm collecting the bits I need now and will post pics later after I have something set-up.



In just a quick drive around the neighborhood I noticed the extra weight for sure! However 2nd Generation 4Runner's are known for having soft springs in the rear and this one is no exception, a suspension upgrade is on the list for this truck, especialy if I do end-up using the 4Runner for TW hauling. BTW This 4Runner is equipped with eight ply load range D tires (Nitto Terra Grappler's) so they should be able to handle the extra weight (we do some towing and light off-roading with this SUV). Someone in an E-mail mentioned that as a concern.



--Kevin
 

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Good timing on this thread.



I just bought a MasterBuilt Hitch Carrier from Cabelas (~$200) and have finally gotten around to mounting it. Easy enough, although I'm going to have to drill a new pin hole for the receiver pin so that it sits in closer to the back.



I think I'm happy with it, but brake lights and license plate visibility are going to be an issue. I'm wondering how long I can drive it around before I get pinched. The brake light on the top of the car will help with the safety issues, but am sure it won't pass inspection. The taillight and blinker are visible from exactly the right position but the lic plate, uh-oh. How do people deal with this?



On another note, there is some rocking motion in this carrier, but I plan to use a lighter cam strap from one end of it to the roof rack on top. It won't win any beauty contests, but will take care of that annoyance.



Bottom picture is a metal gerry can rack I made from scratch for the same 4Runner, and I made it to sit high (am very conscious of ground clearance - but giving that up for carrier) with the cans on either side between the tail lights and lic plate. Works great.



Kevin, let me know how you dealt with it. Thanks.







Carrier on '98 4Runner







Double Gerry Can rack for 4Runner hitch receiver
 

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Most trailer parts places sell anti wobble devices like this one to stop hitch carriers from rocking.



 

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I've been looking at the same carrier from Cabella's. They were out for a while at my local store, but just got a few more in the other day. They are $169.00 on sale right now. I already picked up the magnetic lights from Harbor Freight. They were just $9.99 when I got 'em, couldn't pass up that deal.



Let me know more about how you like the carrier. How easy is it to load/unload the bike? Does it come with one of those clamps that go on the receiver to help prevent rocking? If not, might this help to settle things down a bit?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Rich, I'm in the process of mounting oval tailights on mine as we speak (these are the types like you see flush-mounted on a lot of boat trailers). Got them mounted tonight, hope to finish the wiring tomorrow night and then it should be good to go! I'll post some pics when I have it finished, I hope to get to try it out this weekend.



Truelight, Mag-mount lights are better than nothing, I just think having some sort of brake and/or tailights are what's important although lots of people seem to get along without them, I'd rather not risk a ticket.





I should have pics of my completed install by Wednesday or Thursday evening.



--Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Finished installing the lights on my hitch carrier tonight. Their functional although I need to spend some more time hiding the wires but I feel better now that I have some lights back there. Here are some pics:















--Kevin
 

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I have the hitch carrier that Cabela's sells on my 2005 Toyota Tacoma. I added lights to the carrier, the same ones Kev250r used. They are waterproof and pretty bright.



I also added SuperSprings SuperSprings to the rear suspension. I've been really happy with this addition. With the springs, I can barely tell the bike is back there. When not under load they raise the back an inch or two, but don't have any noticeable effect on the ride.



I recently drove round trip from Dallas to Boise with the TW on the back. I was worried about the license plate being covered, but in over 4,000 miles of driving, we never got stopped. It's probably a good idea to rig up some kind of plate display, but I did dodge the bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I'm glad I'm not the only one who took the time toe add a pair of lights! It does seem to make a difference, on a trip to my local mountains last weekend I had an officer driving behind me in traffic for a little while, I think my plate is readable (sort of). I guess time will tell.



Kevin
 

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I bought the Harbor Freight hitch carrier for my TW and '08 Grand Cherokee diesel. I found it to be way too unstable rocking side to side. I was planning a 800 mile roundtrip into the hills of West Virginia and didn't want to lose my TW along the way. It has an anti-wobble feature on it, but even cranked down it didn't help. I'm glad the one you bought works better.



I rented a 5x8 enclosed trailer from Uhaul for $18/day to make my trip. I bought a wheel chock from HF and mounted it to a 5/8" piece of plywood I cut to the width of the Uhaul. The set-up worked great and I have the chock in my garage for future use. The enclosed trailer was nice to change in and keep my stuff dry in the heavy rains.
 

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Someone asked before, how do these tie down? It seems like they'd be ready to flop off the carrier in a hard-braking situation, or up a steep hill. Found a bunch in a quick Google Shopping search, some nice looking aluminum ones as well. Price was $80-250.



Edit: Turned this up with a little more searching: http://www.discountramps.com/motorcycle-carrier.htm?CAWELAID=298240468 Cheesy video (love the chick in heels and a miniskirt on the dirtbike...on the hitch
), but good pics of the construction and tie-down arrangement.
 

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I bought the double version of that one today, stinkycm.

I wouldn't advise it unless you have a pretty stout truck to haul them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Someone asked before, how do these tie down? It seems like they'd be ready to flop off the carrier in a hard-braking situation, or up a steep hill. Found a bunch in a quick Google Shopping search, some nice looking aluminum ones as well. Price was $80-250.



Edit: Turned this up with a little more searching: http://www.discountramps.com/motorcycle-carrier.htm?CAWELAID=298240468 Cheesy video (love the chick in heels and a miniskirt on the dirtbike...on the hitch
), but good pics of the construction and tie-down arrangement.


I gave the tie-down issue a lot of thought before I used my rack. What I do is use one strap one either side of the handlebars, then I have someone push-down on the bars of the bike while I tightened the straps evenly. I did the same in back with one strap on either side of my rear rack straight-down to the hitch carrier. On an 80 mile trip the bike never got loose (I stopped and checked it a couple of times) but by the same token I think it's better to check more often than not. FWIW I use Ancra MC straps (they hook back onto themselves so the hooks don't rub the paint off the bars) then once the straps are tight I tie a knot in the slack (hard to explain) to keep the straps from backing-off. So far, so good!



Kevin
 

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I bought the double version of that one today, stinkycm.

I wouldn't advise it unless you have a pretty stout truck to haul them.


You mean for the double you'd need a stout truck? I could see that, with that much weight hanging off the rear.



Kev, where do your straps attach/wrap around the rack? In that link it looks like they have a pair of D-rings on the perpendicular support bar widget, and hook one end of the strap to that. That's not bad, but its also right in the middle of the bike.
 
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