The Hitch Carrier
Some closeup pictures of the Hitch Carrier would be nice. Here are two with the bikes loaded.
The other important part of the equation with the Bikes is the
Joe Hauler Hitch Carrier
I spent a lot of time thinking about
and exploring different alternative methods of carrying the bikes.
Some experience with inferior approaches (like using a bolt-together
hitch mounted cargo carrier), led me to have Joe create a custom
carrier for me. The bolt-together ones don't work very well.
There is too much play in the joints, and the bikes bounce around
and swing back and forth. So my first priority was to get a fully
welded unit, especially as I was going to be carrying two bikes.
As I researched carriers, I found that most other manufacturers resort
to an external, bol- on "stabilizer" to keep the carrier itself from moving
inside of the hitch tube. The Joe Hauler has an elegant and rugged solution
to the problem with it's semi-patented Cam-Lock approach. When the hauler is installed
and properly tightened down, it is virtually motionless with respect to the
vehicle. There is still some movement of the bikes as the Van bounces up and
down, as the steel of the carrier flexes a little and from the springs in the
bike when it strapped down, but for all intents and purposes, the bikes
are an integral part of the vehicle once loaded.
In addition to the Cam-Lock, which, by its design, forces
the rear of the carrier UPWARD, which is what is desired for ground clearance,
the carrier also has a built in 3 inch riser and is welded in such a way that it
is angled upward a little so that when the bikes are loaded, it levels out a bit,
and the ground clearance is preserved. The ground clearance with the carrier on
turns out to be the most important issue as it is what limits the Van's range now.
I am very satisfied with the product, but wish, upon reflection, that I had Joe
build the riser a little higher. Even a few more inches would be useful.
Finally, the other reason I needed a custom carrier, as opposed to one
of Joe's stock pre-built carriers, was that I needed the rails to go
the opposite of the stock design because of the spare tire. The first
bike loaded has to load from the Left rather than the Right.
The carrier includes a bolt-on Ramp and I added a 2x8 as a platform
on which I can carry gas-cans, etc. In usage, the carrier is pretty easy to
load and unload. One person can load the bikes by using the added platform
board to support each bike in turn by it's kickstand until two straps can
be attached, but in practice, we usually have one person hold the bike
while the other straps it down.
All in all, the hitch carrier works great.