Temporary roof vs hitch rack for 4 bikes on Prius v

Discussion in 'Prius v Accessories and Modifications' started by Twinmommie, Jul 26, 2013.

  1. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    I want to carry 4 bikes for our family trip. I understand that I need a class 2 hitch for 4 bikes. I've read about a "stealth hitch" and one by "curt". I like the idea of a hitch, but possibly a roof rack might be easier for 4 bikes? Less hassle and no change to the car when not in use..

    What are the advantages or disadvantages of these two as far as the car and gas mileage?

    Which is easiest to use?

    Which is most useful for long term? (Currently have 2 kids bikes and 2 adult)
    Thanks!
     
  2. fotomoto

    fotomoto Senior Member

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    Yes, a hitch is more useful; besides a bike carrier, you can add a cargo carrier or tow light loads (not recommended I'm sure). For example even though I had enough interior room for all this beach stuff, I wanted to keep it and the sand outside the car as much as possible. Worked very well. I've noticed not difference in FE carrying loads such as this.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. xpcman

    xpcman Senior Member

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    I assume the roof rack and bikes will have a large effect on mpg at 60+ MPH.
     
  4. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    I think you're right, but probably still better than in a town n country... Our other (less used now) option... And less than driving two cars with fewer bikes.
     
  5. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    Really was curious which would be better mileage of the two, roof vs hitch. But, since the roof can be removed, there is no permanent change. So maybe it's better option?
     
  6. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    That is not correct. The requirement is less than 200 pounds on the tongue.

    If all 4 bikes along with the rack weigh less, it is fine.

    If not, but you have the easy-off front tires and room inside the car for them, that works too.
     
  7. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    So are you saying a class one hitch is ok, or either hitch needs to have less than 200lbs? The racks seem to be 40lbs...
     
  8. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    Class-I = 200 pounds

    Class-II = 350 pounds

    In other words, if you can get by with carrying a maximum load (bikes & rack) of 200 pounds, a Class-I hitch is ok.
    My bikes are about 30 pounds each (without cargo bags) and the 4-bike rack 35 pounds. So, the total load is no big deal.

    Note that Class-I typically only comes in the 1.25" size. If your rack requires the 2" size, you'll need an adapter and will have to deal with the extra weight and the distance it pushes the rack away from the car.
     
  9. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    Thanks! I was trying to find the weights of our bikes, but not getting far... I have a trek navigator 300 that is around 17 years old, two trek 20inch kids bikes, and a Gary fisher for my husband. Trek doesn't post bike weights on their site (?) because they "can vary"... I know the kids will get new bigger trek bikes next year... I have no idea how much they weigh. I am looking at Thule racks, vertex or apex, at our bike store. I've been told any hitch is ok. Doesn't have to be Prius specific... Thoughts?
     
  10. Offline

    Offline Active Member

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    I could write a book about the evils of roof mount bike carriers vs. the joys of hitch mount bike carriers. I used mainly a Prealpina roof bike rack from the 1970's until I bought a hitch rack in 1990.

    Roof rack drawbacks:

    * Difficult to lift bikes on to it - particularly if you carry more than two. Impossible for a shorter person (i.e. my 5' tall wife to put a bike on a roof rack.
    * Wind noise .... horrible, never ending wind noise.
    * Safety - always have to be on guard for low hanging objects such as entries to parking lots and parking garages and even you own garage at home.
    * Damage to roof. I was careful when putting my bike on my roof rack but others weren't always. But my roof rack required removing the bike's front wheels; it was the front bike wheel fork that usually did the damage.
    * Did I mention wind noise.
    * Sometimes requires adjusting doors to allow clearance for clamps - instructions on how to do it are on the Toyota/Lexus Europe service website.
    * Often cannot be transferred from vehicle to vehicle due to differences in vehicle width and design. May have to have vehicle specific attachments.

    Roof rack benefits:

    * Teenagers think they look cool? (why would anyone care what kid's think?)
    * Cost - they are usually cheap to buy and don't require expensive add-ons like a hitch.
    * They do not interfere with following drivers seeing the tail and brake lights.

    Hitch rack drawbacks:

    * Can make it difficult for following drivers to see tail/brake lights. Use of the type of hitch racks sold in the U.S. is prohibited in many countries where hitch racks have their own light module.
    * A rear end impact can trash the bicycles.

    Hitch rack benefits:

    * No wind noise! Makes carrying bicycles much more pleasant.
    * Much quicker to mount a hitch rack than a roof rack. I can mount the hitch rack to my car and secure it with a locking pin in less than 1 minute.
    * Easy to put bicycles on it - a child can do it.
    * A hitch rack can be used as a repair stand when working on a bike - done that countless times.
    * Safer - wind less likely to rip a bike or accessories attached to one off.
    * Never have to worry about overhead objects trashing bicycles.
    * Can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle - any vehicle with a trailer hitch.

    I've used the same hitch bike rack for 23 years on a variety of vehicles. My Prealpina roof bike rack went at garage sale in 1999. My Yakami roof rack and all its attachments for a variety of vehicles is in the basement - nobody wanted it.
     
  11. Twinmommie

    Twinmommie Junior Member

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    Thanks! This is so helpful! I've called toyota warranty, they said as long as I don't hook up electricity, no problem with warranties! Looks like we are going with a hitch. Local place sells hitches for prius at $150, install $60. Class 2, 1.25 inch hitch. Looks like we may go with the Thule vertex 4, fot $279. Price is ok, holds 4 bikes... Weight 39 lbs... Sold at our local bike store. Is there anything I'm overlooking?
     
  12. Offline

    Offline Active Member

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    If you are handy, have tools including a torque wrench and want to save $60, you could installing the hitch yourself - only four bolts hold it on. etrailer.com has a Draw-tite hitch for a regular Prius for $111: Trailer Hitch for 2012 Toyota Prius - Draw-Tite 24847

    I don't know if it fits the Prius v but etrailer could tell you if you call or email them or tell you if they have another Draw-Tite class II hitch at the same price that does. If you there are other accessories you need (e.g. a locking pin to lock the rack to the hitch), a total purchase of $150 currently gets you free shipping. I may seem like a "shill" for etrailer but that's where I bought the Draw-Tite class II hitch and trailer wiring harness I have on one of our current vehicles. I remember having some technical problem installing the wiring harness and got great support when I called etrailer and even received a call back a few days later to see if I needed more help.

    In the reviews of the Thule vertex 4, I'm reading that the four bikes need to be "bare" (e.g. no racks) to fit on it and that the 5-bike version allows more room to load bikes with racks. Extra cost adapters are of course needed to carry bikes with "step through" frames. I guess I'm curious of the Thule rack will tilt away from the rear the Prius v to allow opening the rear door without unloading the bikes. If you are buying the rack at a local bike shop, they should allow you to test load your bikes before you pay for the rack.
     
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