Hitch Carrier Review

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by modette, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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    Harbor Freight
    http://www.harborfreight.com/400-lb-receiver-mount-motorcycle-carrier-99721.html

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    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.

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    Had to drill one of these holes out some as it did not line up with the aluminum.
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    All put together
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    Here is the ramp attached to the unit in storage mode
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    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
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.
    #1
  2. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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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 :D
    (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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    #2
  3. selaznog

    selaznog Roadless Warrior

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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.
    #3
  4. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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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. :evil

    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. :deal

    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.
    #4
  5. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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    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 :rofl

    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.
    #5
  6. selaznog

    selaznog Roadless Warrior

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    You can't kick it over with your hand? Honda riders are so soft.








    :lol3

    Actually one of my bikes has has no magic button, and no, I can't start it with just a hand.
    #6
  7. Bobo

    Bobo Are we there yet? Super Supporter

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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.
    #7
  8. Osprey!

    Osprey! a.k.a. Opie Supporter

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    Nice review. I don't see a lot of those for items like trailers and hitch carriers. Nicely done.
    #8
  9. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    I'm 56 and loading big bikes solo is no problem. :D



    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.
    #9
  10. TheDudeAbides

    TheDudeAbides Sarcasm free11/11/10

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    :nod
    #10
  11. Assfault

    Assfault Exposed Member Supporter

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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.
    #11
  12. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism!

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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.
    #12
  13. RideFreak

    RideFreak Torque Jockey

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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 :lol3 It actually works pretty good.

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    #13
  14. S4Poor14

    S4Poor14 Glass Lickers inc.

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    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....
    #14
  15. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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    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.
    #15
  16. The Walrus

    The Walrus Gone and back again.

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    I've had a Joe Hauler single bike receiver mount carrier for 6 years or so.....good solid steel carrier which has trucked around an XR650R, 690E and I even put my 950 Adv on it....although I had taken the tanks off...and only for a mile or so...


    Loading a bigger bike is OK with just myself but the 950 was a huge challenge and I really could and should have had a second person....I think your personal size and strength are the main issues....age has nothing to do with those...

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    I just reviewed the current Joe Hauler offerings....standard carrier is rated to 400lbs which is what I got...they now offer a cam lock version to prevent rocking and increased load...not bad....and not cheap. I bought mine off a local site for a 50% discount.


    http://www.joehauler.com/singlehaulers/singlehaulers.shtml

    OTOH.....we ran a pretty cheap version hauler up and down Baja for the race last year with the race bike...KTM 450 on it....the primary casualty was the rear window of the camper shell....I think it was the Highway 1 whoops that were blamed.....:D

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    #16
  17. Zachsv

    Zachsv SVhaver

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    I went cheap several months ago with a T-Motorsports ~75$ hauler. It was about 100$ shipped to my door. I didn't have much faith in it, but knew I only was going to use it a couple times...after I used and drove around I changed my mind. Took a hr to put together and I was done. Like I said, I didn't have high hopes, but its all steel, all well painted, even has a stabilizer.

    I've used it over a dozen times, each trip being an hour - 2 hours each way. The only thing i don't like about is the ramp design is just awful. Some fab work and its better. Has a center pivot point that's supposed to be the locked in point...just turns the ramp into a teeter-totter if you're not careful

    http://www.t-motorsports.com/product/hd-500-lb-motorcycle-carrier-hitch-hauler-dirtbike-ramp/

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    One thing to mention...took the pins out of the left side now so that the front tires is below (inside) the steel frame...I should have a photo somewhere:

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    #17
  18. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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    One interesting thing I forgot to mention everyone looks at you.
    #18
  19. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    Try also the receiver bolts that thread thru and have a key lock. They cinch down on the male portion and keep it pretty tight as a unit with your 2" receiver. Mine doesn't rock up and down at all.
    http://www.etrailer.com/Locks/Tow-Ready/63232.html


    I hauled the KTM 440 EXC back from Detroit (the pothole capital of the world :D ) and hauled it out to Birmingham to the guy that bought it a few months later.

    Long hauls are pretty easy for these things, it's the washboard dirt roads that have your eyes glued to the rear view mirror.
    #19
  20. modette

    modette TrailTaker.com

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    Yeah, I was thinking of going to ACE Hardware and just getting a high strength bolt washers and nut and wrenching it on. Or another option, have a shop weld in a solid piece of metal that is then tapped out and you bolt into it, that is how our ski carrier is, it don't move at all.
    #20