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Old 10-18-2011, 03:51 PM   #1
modette OP
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Hitch Carrier Review

Harbor Freight
http://www.harborfreight.com/400-lb-...ier-99721.html



I paid total $142.00 with shipping & tax, I used coupon code DIsc20 for 20% off.

I bought this so I could be lazy and not have to get the trailer out when its just me. I ride a 2001 Honda XR650R that is plated and has a 6.3 Gallon tank added. I guess my bikes weight is around 300lbs.

Assembly:
You will probably need to have a drill & bits to drill out a few of the holes as they don't line up. Also washers are lacking with this kit, might want to pick some of those up too. I also used Red Locktite on the various bolts to make sure nothing would come loose.







Had to drill one of these holes out some as it did not line up with the aluminum.


All put together




Here is the ramp attached to the unit in storage mode


On a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee with factory hitch package you can see the bead and the anti-sway device doe snot get to clamp down real good


Loading:
Funny how the pictures show one guy loading the motorcycle (a heavy KLR650 at that) which be heavier then my bike. However the instructions clearly state to never load alone and always have a minimum of TWO people. Huh!!! Of course I need to load alone its why I bought this, and based on the picture I assumed that was OKAY (I can say its what I plan to do).

I guess know your bike, I have man handled mine on single track hard trails so loading was not a big deal on a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7L. I will say practice loading & unloading before you NEED to use this. (from the practice I know with my 6.3 gallon tank I can lean the bike against the vehicle with no damage being done to my vehicle). I would say Unloading is harder then loading, you got to get that front tire up out of the "cup" area of the rails, best to have the bike in gear and use the clutch to brake. I found that to be extremely hard to do, I held the bike upright with my right hand, and I used my left hand to turn the tire out of the cup area (that worked best).

Driving Manors:
I have only tested the bike loaded around my local area on 35mph streets. It does move some, but seems pretty stable. On my Jeep the anti-sway does not work the best as my hitch has a bead around the end of the hitch receiver, so the anti-sway does not lay flush, this is probably okay just make sure if yours is the same to tighten the bolt very tight, put a piece of electrical tape around the end, this will stop the nut from falling off should it come loose from the bolt and you loosing the pieces.

Design:
The rear (on the towing vehicles side on the hitch carrier) strap hook points are flimsy, they will bend up. I'm thinking use ratchet tie downs and go to the safety chain hook area of your hitch to the bike...very solid then, plus this will help keep the hitch from moving around even more within the receiver.



The tire cradle/cups for lack of knowing what to call them seem flimsy. One knob/handle already did not want to turn the bolt but instead screw the handle off the bolt. I'm not sure if this is even really needed to use, I guess it is suppose to stop the bike front tire from sliding around, but its not going to go anywhere. I'm not sure on the front tire PIN either, another safety thing I guess to keep the front wheel from hopping up (if you have it ratcheted down good it should not go anywhere anyways). Plus the Pin might damage the rim/spoke, so I'm unsure of that.



I'm thinking of instead of letting the front wheel drop down to leave the pin in and add a wheel chock to the front of this unit (use the bolt holes given for the tire clamp unit that seems flimsy), true it means I would need to back the bike off the lift, but that would not be a big deal for me or my motorcycle, if this is going on a tall truck, I could see that being a big deal to back down. I actually think it might make it easier to load and unload.

Which brings me to ramp height, its fine for MY vehicle a stock height 2005 Jeep GC Limited, but that ramp is very short, the whole hitch carrier does flex down when loading and unloading...but I could see the ramp being too steep on a taller vehicle.

Towing with my 2005 Jeep GC 5.7L:
It works great. I don't even notice the bike back there. The front of the car is slightly up from rear sag but I am rated at 750lbs of tongue weight. So with hitch I am around 360lbs, not that bad really. Also the instructions say not to go over 55mph...not sure I will follow that myself, I'd get run off the road here in CO with a speed limit of 75mph. I think as long as you drive sanely and safely you probably be okay. Obvious the vehicle will drive different with that rear weight back there so just realize that.

Another Con is no tail lights, your vehicles lights will not be seen thus you will not be to code and a danger. I picked some up at my local Wal-Mart's store for $29 with flat 4 connector to wire on and mount. If you were going to go long distances might be a good idea to relocate the license plate to the hitch unit...most cops probably would not notice or say anything but it does give them a reason to stop you. Your call, but do realize needing to see tail lights and rear plate is required under every states laws.

Sorry I did not get a picture of the bike loaded, I loaded it 3 times and i can not believe I forgot to do it...I'll update this review once I field test the unit, plus update it when I mount the tail lights.
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Old 10-18-2011, 04:39 PM   #2
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I've been using the AMC-400 for six years, have hauled 300# dirtbikes multiple times to Big Bend, Baja, Moab, Death Valley... Four Mile Freakout
(lighter ones too)

$100 on ebay, no assembly - brakelights show up fine, haven't had a single issue with the thing. I use a locking/clamping receiver bolt to keep it from rocking. Works a treat, simple and cheap.

Just sayin'...

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Old 10-18-2011, 06:22 PM   #3
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modette, it sounds like you're not too happy with your purchase. I have a steel one that I picked up off craigslist a few years ago. It is pretty damned heavy. Not sure what brand. Some thoughts on hitch carriers after a few years of use, a couple of which may improve your experience:

1. They are easier than loading into the back of a truck.

2. Brake light visibility is going to depend on the bike and vehicle combination. DRZ + 4Runner = no lights; 525 + Titan = no problem.

3. Mine didn't come with instructions, so I go as fast as I want. No problems so far.

4. Loading/unloading gets easier with practice. Before loading, position one or two straps on the bike so they are ready to attach to the carrier once the bike is up.

5. Most of the time you can position your vehicle in a way that will minimize the slope of the ramp for loading. ~15 yards of rolling in neutral (bike turned off) is plenty to get enough momentum to load the bike. Let the weight/inertia of the bike do the work.

6. To unload, I get in front of the bike and a little to the right of the center of the bike. Facing the headlight, I am ready to grab front brake from underneath with my left hand (thumb on the lever). Release the brake and simultaneously use your right hand to pull (roll) the front tire forward and out of the dish. Brake to save your progress and repeat as necessary. Once the bike is ready to roll the rest of the way down on its own, turn around with your hands on the bars as you would if riding and let gravity do the work. I have found this process to be way easier than attempting to start the bike and feather it off the carrier.

7. I put white/red reflective tape on my carrier for maximum reflection. $2 at Wal-Mart.

Enjoy your purchase.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:42 PM   #4
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I'm okay with it, the review was written for Harbor Freight, which I then added photos and changed a few things for here.

I'm just stating its not PERFECT and you should not think it will be, for the money its a pretty good deal. Like all Chinese Harbor Freight items you got to tweak them to make them work correctly, I'm okay with this and I'm a handy person so not a big deal. But if I did not wrench or knew washers should be under bolts then maybe this is not for you as it needs tweaked to be safe and thus work right.

I know the tail light is depended on vehicle/motorcycle combo, again this is why I state what I have. Someone with like combo has as many details as possible of this combo I am using.

I have ZERO complaint about loading...LOL Just pointed out they show ONE guy but claim in instructions TWO (I assume so you don't sue them should you drop a KLR on yourself. Again same reason for speed, as all vehicles will handle like crap compared to when its not on there....its a cheap and easy way for the manufacture to say "we told you so". The one person loading is indeed misleading and again I only point it out so people know. Again I myself have no issues loading, someone 55 years old might with a big bike. In fact another reviewer at Harbor Freight points this out too. I myself will use curbs to lessen angles for loading and dirt banks and dips for unloading.

It's a review, take it or leave it....I don't care.

Would I recommend it: Sure

Update:
As for the tail lights I took those ones back to Wal-Mart. I'm going to look for some small LED ones to replace where the cheap reflectors are and call it good.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selaznog View Post
I have found this process to be way easier than attempting to start the bike and feather it off the carrier.
.
Not to sound like an ass but that made me LOL My bike is kick start, if I were to try and start it, for one I would have to be up there on the bike, and the other issue be the nice damage I would cause to the rear of my vehicle. You peopel with push buttons make me sick

Its always easier and safer to push a bike onto a trailer, well a real trailer I don't even mind riding it up been there done that with street bikes that are 550 lbs.

Oh, yep and I bought the hitch because like I said, it be easier then dicking with the Kendon Dual Spot trailer that I have to unfold, get out, hook up, load bike...but worst is at the end of the day when I need to unload, unhook, push up the driveway, flip up by myself, push it back into its spot int he garage...yep a lot of work when your sore.
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Old 10-18-2011, 06:56 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modette View Post
if I were to try and start it, for one I would have to be up there on the bike...You peopel with push buttons make me sick
You can't kick it over with your hand? Honda riders are so soft.










Actually one of my bikes has has no magic button, and no, I can't start it with just a hand.
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Old 10-18-2011, 07:01 PM   #7
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Good review. Pretty mutch mirrors my experience with this carrier. It is OK for occasional use only. It can be really tough to get the bike off of it, that is for sure.
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Old 10-18-2011, 07:20 PM   #8
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Nice review. I don't see a lot of those for items like trailers and hitch carriers. Nicely done.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modette View Post
Again I myself have no issues loading, someone 55 years old might with a big bike.
I'm 56 and loading big bikes solo is no problem.



I do double up on the straps - ratcheting soft straps around the bars, and a set w/ soft straps around the forks at the lower triple as a backup....and one over the rear to prevent hop.

The first time you haul with one, every bump in the road is a pucker moment until eventually you relax and realize it's not going to fly off the thing.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blakebird View Post
The first time you haul with one, every bump in the road is a pucker moment until eventually you relax and realize it's not going to fly off the thing.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:01 PM   #11
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If one could use this type of securing device it would, from my experiance, it would aliviate concerns about the bike leaving the hitch carrier. I engineered a set some time ago using light duty chain type binder hooked to the footpegs, and a set of ty downs with caribiners to the handlebars for side movement. Worked extreemly well and never had a issue. Let one of my buddies use it to transport his bike to LA and it never returned, really to big and heavy to ship back. I guess I could make anothr, but I always have owned a pickup truck being a motorcyclist, they are always seemed to be needed.
My 2 cents on the subject.
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Old 10-19-2011, 05:57 AM   #12
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I have been using a Versa-Haul that I bought from CL. Had it for several years. It's rugged, and fairly easy to load, but is heavy by itself. The hard part is picking it up and installing it in the reciever. It makes me nervous back there. I have nightmares of my bike laying on the road on I-70 or some other over crowded freeway. So I double and tripple strap it. The tail lights on my F-150 and also the MH are hard to see, so I use some extra harbour friegth lights that plug into the trailer wire receptical. I really know its back there. Lots of extra weight a long way behind the axle.
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Old 10-19-2011, 06:39 AM   #13
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Modette, thanks for the review. How does it handle the tendancy to rock on road bumps (play in the reciever)? I have a homemade steel one, it's about 100#. It tends to rock due to play in the reciever, I see the HF has the clamps for that.

My cousin went Gucci with a hitch carrier, he got ahold of a used wheelchair carrier and modified it for a bike, electric lift It actually works pretty good.

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Old 10-19-2011, 06:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blakebird View Post
I've been using the AMC-400 for six years, have hauled 300# dirtbikes multiple times to Big Bend, Baja, Moab, Death Valley... Four Mile Freakout
(lighter ones too)

$100 on ebay, no assembly - brakelights show up fine, haven't had a single issue with the thing. I use a locking/clamping receiver bolt to keep it from rocking. Works a treat, simple and cheap.

Just sayin'...

2nd. I had this same carrier. Loved it. New from http://www.discountramps.com/motorcycle-carrier.htm

Cheap, easy to put together, and worked like a charm every time I used it....
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RideFreak View Post
Modette, thanks for the review. How does it handle the tendancy to rock on road bumps (play in the reciever)? I have a homemade steel one, it's about 100#. It tends to rock due to play in the reciever, I see the HF has the clamps for that.

My cousin went Gucci with a hitch carrier, he got ahold of a used wheelchair carrier and modified it for a bike, electric lift It actually works pretty good.
I think it rocks more then it would if my receiver did not have that thick bead around it. But it does seem pretty solid, I was thinking if I was going long distance (might haul my bike to TN when I go visit my parents) I might try and close the gap...could use shims...maybe metal or some wood ones. I also think if I hook the ratchet straps to the hitch safety chain hook spots that will also make the hitch tight in the receiver.

More use needed to know for sure.
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