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Rear mounted tow ball


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Does anyone know a company that can install a towball to the rear of a caravan? Conceptulayy it's possible, bolting to the subframe, but I can't find anyone who does this.

I have two electric bikes which are 24 Kg each and I carry them on the back of the car with a towball mounted bike carrier and I want to use that same combination for my caravan.

Standard rear mounted caravan bike racks are too high for me to lift a 24Kg bike.  OK, so I'm a weakling.  And the weight on the rack would be outside spec. anyway. 

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Standard AL-KO chassis rails at the rear are feeble in the extreme?

I will be interested to hear any definitive views but this sounds like a recipe for disaster and outside any construction and use regulations?

Being more positive, removal of the batteries and specialised bike racks for the car roof and sliding them up may be better although, again, I have no specifics.

Edited by DougS
Bike racks?
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35 minutes ago, geo3geo said:

Does anyone know a company that can install a towball to the rear of a caravan? Conceptulayy it's possible, bolting to the subframe, but I can't find anyone who does this.

I have two electric bikes which are 24 Kg each and I carry them on the back of the car with a towball mounted bike carrier and I want to use that same combination for my caravan.

Standard rear mounted caravan bike racks are too high for me to lift a 24Kg bike.  OK, so I'm a weakling.  And the weight on the rack would be outside spec. anyway. 

 

Perhaps a trial run with 50+kg at the very rear of the caravan floor may provide some thoughts on handling?

 

Drilling an AL-KO chassis is ill-advised so mounting any framework for a bike rack will be a major problem and  will impose stresses that were never calculated in the design which may cause the floor to part company from the chassis rails!

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42 minutes ago, geo3geo said:

Does anyone know a company that can install a towball to the rear of a caravan? Conceptulayy it's possible, bolting to the subframe, but I can't find anyone who does this.

I have two electric bikes which are 24 Kg each and I carry them on the back of the car with a towball mounted bike carrier and I want to use that same combination for my caravan.

Standard rear mounted caravan bike racks are too high for me to lift a 24Kg bike.  OK, so I'm a weakling.  And the weight on the rack would be outside spec. anyway. 

Is your caravan payload generous enough to cope with an extra 50kgs or so without grossly overloading it??

If so, there used to be a company that made racks to fit the inside of the caravan - they had expanding bars at floor level that you could fit between the front seats. It had vertical bars with hooks on that you could secure 1 or 2 bikes to. I used one successfully for a few years...its in my loft somewhere!

 

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I'm afraid you are unlikely to get many positive responses. Even the pre-fitted racks on some caravans are a bit controversial, the CMC don't recommend them.

 

By the time you add the weight of the tow bar and the rack to the two bikes you are probably looking at nearly 70kg in the worst place on a caravan for carrying weight. It's unlikely you even have sufficient payload of movable mass to keep the towbar weight within an acceptable range. And even if you do you'll have a caravan with most of its weight at the extreme ends which is far from ideal.

 

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The rear end of an AL-KO chassis is nothing more than two lightweight extenders bolted to the axle section of the chassis rails.   They are there to carry the rear steadies and even then require the added support of the van floor.

 

They are not the same as the tail end of a motorhome chassis

 

1829754329_Alkochassisrearend.jpg.bb2af3ab29aeaa9e1f967c085071e9eb.jpg

Edited by Jaydug

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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I posted last year that I had followed a caravan near Swindon with a standard tow ball on the back, nothing attached to it (maybe his boat & trailer had fallen off????) but the conclusion was that it was for a bike rack.  As has been said, there isn't a great deal of "meat" to an AL-KO chassis and I have no doubt that drilling into one would invalidate any warranty going.  It would be possible to have something fabricated that bolted to it in several places further down from the corner steadies but by the time it had been made you'd be adding a fair old chunk of weight to the back end of the caravan before you'd even considered adding the bikes.

2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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I once had a rear tow ball on a van to enable me to winch my van into place.  Pre AL-KO chassis I hasten to add, Pre motor movers as well.  The old steel chassis may have been heavy but you could do almost anything that took your fancy and the suspension could be upgraded and serviced, such is progress.

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I think the idea is a none starter for the reasons given but also I think the weight involved would also rule it out. You have two bikes at 24 kg each and would have to add the weight of the tow ball and bracket, so well clear of 50 kg. That weight hanging off the back would almost certainly cause serious instability and leave you with an insufficient payload for everything else. 

The Knaus Desseo might be a solution, but other wise I think you would need a towing vehicle that you could get them into.

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On 26/07/2021 at 14:19, ChertseyMike said:

I'm afraid you are unlikely to get many positive responses. Even the pre-fitted racks on some caravans are a bit controversial, the CMC don't recommend them.

Whether the CMC recommend them or not, caravan manufacturers obviously believe a rear wall mounted bike rack is not a problem as a number of manufacturers have offered them as optional extras.

image.png

 

13 hours ago, Wildwood said:

I think the idea is a none starter for the reasons given but also I think the weight involved would also rule it out. You have two bikes at 24 kg each and would have to add the weight of the tow ball and bracket, so well clear of 50 kg. That weight hanging off the back would almost certainly cause serious instability and leave you with an insufficient payload for everything else. 

The weight may be an issue with some outfits but certainly not all. I have towed many thousands of miles with bikes mounted on the rear wall of our caravans with no hint of instability as a consequence of the rear mounted bikes. All options should be considered though, and the one most appropriate to each outfit chosen.

Bike Racks.jpg

 

The issue raised by the OP is another matter, and I cannot see that fitting a towball to the caravan rear can ever be a good idea given the light weight construction of the caravan chassis, even if the towball is intended to only be used to mount a bike rack designed for use on a car. Either do the job properly using something like a Fiamma bike rack that is designed for fitment to a caravan rear wall, or carry the cycles elsewhere, either in or on the towing vehicle. With a bit of thought there is usually a solution, such as the three kiddies bikes stowed in the boot of our Volvo along with the sun loungers and other assorted holiday paraphernalia.

image.png

 

 

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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I do take the point and it was the particular bikes hear that worried me. Loading onto the rear is not good at the best of times but bikes can in some circumstances be mounted there but to me must be lightweight.  The weight here is simply too heavy to be sure you would be safe particularly if this was a longer caravan and the load allowance on many models would simply not be high enough to get a sensible amount of other things on board.

Not knowing exactly what the caravan is it is hard to go further, but the roof does seem the best spot for them if you can manage this although this does not look like an option for the OP.

Looking at the rear of your Volvo makes me wonder if you overloaded the rear axle if you add the nose weight to that lot. 

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A 50kg  lump hanging off the rearmost extremity of a caravan is not a good idea in my view.

 

Also 50kg mounted on the very  back of your car, when combined with your caravans noseweight (75-100kg) could well tip your car over it’s permitted rear axle loading when you take into account the leverage effect, have you even considered that??

 

I would be more inclined to investigate a couple of bike carry bags and place the bikes inside the caravan over the axle for much better weight distribution IF you have the payload available of course.

 

In addition take the batteries off and carry them in the car.I have two folding ebikes, the batteries are 5kg each.

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Hi Wildwood,

 

In principle I agree that any rear caravan loading should be kept to a minimum but what is an acceptable weight depends upon what proportion of the the total caravan mass it is. The same weight of bike can have a different effect upon a light caravan than the same weight would have on a heavier unit, also the distance from the axle line has to be considered.

 

The problem as I see it, is that 'geo3geo' has difficulty in lifting the bike, therefore mounting them on the rear of the towcar would probably be best for him - providing care was taken to allow full articulation with the caravan on tow. The only other viable alternative (providing the payload allowance permits) would be to carry them (appropriately secured) inside the caravan.

 

I agree too that the Volvo boot in the picture is full but actually there was not a high load there as I also had to allow for our two lightweight adult bikes mounted on the rear of the car. The three kids bikes were mostly air, as were the sun-loungers (the bulk being made up of the foam cushions). The red blob at the bottom left is actually a folding plastic picnic table. There are a couple of roll up beach mats, and a sheet of corrugated card to protect the headlining. The other odds and ends are the result of an Auchan visit the day before travelling home. The caravan was a twin axle unit with a 100kg nose weight so the outfit rode level.

 

image.png

 

11 minutes ago, Mr Plodd said:

A 50kg  lump hanging off the rearmost extremity of a caravan is not a good idea in my view.

In addition take the batteries off and carry them in the car. I have two folding ebikes, the batteries are 5kg each.

Out of interest I have just checked the weight of our non-folding electric bikes, and the batteries are both 5kgs, and the bikes (without the batteries) just under 18kgs. I agree that battery removal would be an obvious option, not only because of the weight but also for battery security.

Just to clarify, the bikes on the car rear in my earlier post were lightweight frames and not electric.

Fourwinds Hurricane 31D Motorhome. Also MGTF135 1. 8i Roadster (fun) & Volvo V70 3.2Ltr LPG (everyday car)
Unless otherwise stated, my posts will be my personal thoughts and have the same standing as any other member of Caravan and Motorhome Talk.

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If your tow bar is a suitable design and you have adequate tow bar weight capacity, MaxxRaxx  do a tow bar mounted bike rack that also allows use of the tow ball for towing. 

 

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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45 minutes ago, KnausCol said:

If your tow bar is a suitable design and you have adequate tow bar weight capacity, MaxxRaxx  do a tow bar mounted bike rack that also allows use of the tow ball for towing. 

 

 

Cant see anything in their website that says you can still use the towball for towing if you have a removable, or swan neck towhitch and it very difficult to see how such an arrangement could be engineered!!

 

But there is one for a flange mounted towball. 

Edited by Mr Plodd

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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I carry my electric bike - minus the battery and saddle, on a bike rack and although I could still tow the caravan with the bike in place, I don't, because of the additional weight.   The bike goes in the car.

 

IMG_20200719_102426.jpg.72ee6371123e3f4461f8b9b9c9fe1e46.jpg

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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5 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

 

Cant see anything in their website that says you can still use the towball for towing if you have a removable, or swan neck towhitch and it very difficult to see how such an arrangement could be engineered!!

 

Believe me their rack can be used on a swan neck type tow ball but you need to provide exact measurements so they can confirm the fixing bracket will fit - see here.

Unfortunately their bracket would not fit my electric retractable tow ball but I bought the rack anyway and had a bespoke bracket fabricated so I could use it. 

This diagram illustrates the basic engineering  . . .

840025678_VoyagerSwanNeck.JPG.2ea332447285b1c3c0b627196376af16.JPG

Life is not a rehearsal . . .:)

Porsche Cayenne S Diesel & Knaus StarClass 695. Previously Audi S4 Avant & Elddis Super Sirocco

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Thanks! Always nice to hear of someone’s personal experience of any such item.

 

The attachment bracket wasn’t at all  clear on the website picture I looked at, but the one you have posted certainly is.

 

I bet the bolts have to be torqued up pretty high to prevent any movement though. 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Annoyingly can’t find a link on the net, but a few weeks ago I saw a fella with two bikes carried horizontally on the car roof. They were in a frame which was lowered from the horizontal above the roof to vertical alongside the car about a foot or so above the ground so easy to load unload. Really don’t know what it was called so no idea what to search for but it does exist!😀.

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Many thanks everyone for the interesting comments and ideas. But is seems that what I am left with is my existing solution which, for the benefit of anyone with a similar problem, is:

 

One ebike on the rear wall mounted Fiama bike rack, and one ebike on the back of the car on a single bike carrier than slots onto a plate behind the towball. It's a Sprite Alpine2 and the max load for the Fiama rack is 40Kg of bikes, in addition to the 10Kg of the rack itself. So one bike is well within. No batteries on bikes of course. With this arrangement I can adjust the van loading so that the van noseweight is good and the car towball spec is not exceeded.  I've already added an extension to the Fiama rack to lower it about 12" and when loading the bike onto the van I fully wind up the jockey so that my wife and I can just about manage to lift the one ebike onto the lowered back of the van. It's all a bit tedious and strenuous but it has worked for many trips over the last two years. Looks like we'll just have to carry on the way we are.

 

Thanks again everyone!

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5 minutes ago, geo3geo said:

Many thanks everyone for the interesting comments and ideas. But is seems that what I am left with is my existing solution which, for the benefit of anyone with a similar problem, is:

 

One ebike on the rear wall mounted Fiama bike rack, and one ebike on the back of the car on a single bike carrier than slots onto a plate behind the towball. It's a Sprite Alpine2 and the max load for the Fiama rack is 40Kg of bikes, in addition to the 10Kg of the rack itself. So one bike is well within. No batteries on bikes of course. With this arrangement I can adjust the van loading so that the van noseweight is good and the car towball spec is not exceeded.  I've already added an extension to the Fiama rack to lower it about 12" and when loading the bike onto the van I fully wind up the jockey so that my wife and I can just about manage to lift the one ebike onto the lowered back of the van. It's all a bit tedious and strenuous but it has worked for many trips over the last two years. Looks like we'll just have to carry on the way we are.

 

Thanks again everyone!

Are you sure your bike rack on the caravan is a Fiamma, because I think the mounting bars are Thule.

Is your Citroen Picasso and the tow bracket able to take so much weight on the tow bracket  (Caravan nose weight plus bike rack and bike?

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Ern: You may be right about it being Thule, I may be getting confused with our previous van and its bike rack. Not that it matters, it's the numbers that count, so to speak. And yes for the Picasso.

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13 hours ago, geo3geo said:
13 hours ago, Ern said:

 

Is your Citroen Picasso and the tow bracket able to take so much weight on the tow bracket  (Caravan nose weight plus bike rack and bike?

 And yes for the Picasso.

 

Might I ask how you figure that?   As I see it you're proposing to add a 10Kg rack, a 24Kg bike, plus a caravan's nose weight on to a tow bar which is rated between 50 and 80 Kgs (depending on year and model)   Even given the highest weight allowance,  your van's nose weight is surely more that 34Kgs.?

My own Citroen X7 Tourer (which is slightly heavier than your Picasso) is able to carry a bike and tow at the same time, - but I don't because the downward weight on the towbar would be exceeded.

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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Jugday: The 10Kg rack is the Thule rack on the caravan not the car rack - this is much lighter. Basically I can adjust the van nose weight to whatever I need by distributing loads in the van.  Typically, on the car towball there's about 25Kg bike and 30Kg van.

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