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Can You Carry More Than 2 Bikes Using a Class I Trailer Hitch

Question:

Is this true even if the 3-bike rack plus bikes are under the tongue weight? Note: You can only carry 2 bikes when using a Class I trailer hitch

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Expert Reply:

Yes, that note is accurate. A Class I trailer hitch receiver is limited to only 2 bikes regardless of the amount of weight it's carrying. This is due to the exaggerated force caused by the additional leverage from the bikes being further away from the vehicle. A Class II hitch, which is also 1-1/4 inches, is designed to withstand the added stress but a Class I hitch is not.

So when using a bike rack like the Thule Helium Pro, part # TH9043PRO, you're limited to only two bikes in a Class I hitch even though the rack is a 3-bike rack.

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Charles S

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Follow up Questions


Rayan J.
I have a 1-1/4 in. class one hitch on my 2019 Subaru Outback (factory installed into the rear frame of the car) and I would like to use a 4 bike Allen Sports 2 in. hitch rack with a hitch adapter. I understand that a class one hitch can't support the vertical weight of a 4 bike rack, so I'm planning on using a cargo strap to attach the top of the hanging rack to the roof crossbar. The idea is to alleviate the tongue weight of the rack by providing a second support point. Do you think that's a reasonable workaround solution?
Etrailer Expert
Reply from Chris R.

A support strap will certainly help to stabilize the rack but I'm not able to officially say that it's a good workaround. The 2-bike limit on Class I hitches is kind of a "written in stone" rule regardless of what precautions you take. It's also important to note that using that hitch adapter will cut the hitch's capacity in half - so you need to make sure that the weight of your loaded bike rack still falls below the reduced limit. Your best option is to really secure the other two bikes on the roof. If you're interested in this let me know and I can recommend a roof rack setup for your Outback.

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