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.

Next - Early work on the Bikes ...