Installing a trailer hitch: Useful for more than towing?

Tom
Update by Tom Suddard to the Volkswagen Golf GTI project car
Mar 23, 2023 | Volkswagen, VW, GTI, Golf, Trailer Hitch, Mountain Bike

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There’s a joke here about having to carry a bicycle because your Volkswagen broke downbut we won’t make it. Instead, we’re here to extol the virtues of having a small car with a trailer hitch.

See, cars aren’t our only stupid hobby. We like to burn time and money playing with bicycles, too, which meant we needed a way to carry a mountain bike on our GTI.

Lots of trial and error on past cars has taught us that roof racks are noisy and a pain to load. Disassembling the bike to put it inside is fine once a year, but onerous once a week. Instead, we’re big fans of hitch racks, particularly our trusty two-bike model from 1UP USA.

One problem: Our GTI didn’t have a hitch, but a morning in the garage fixed that.

We shopped a few different models, but landed on the Curt 11412, which we found on Amazon for $151.99 with free shipping. 

Why this and not one of the other options? The Curt isn’t the most attractive option–there’s a visible horizontal bar under the rear bumper–but unlike the others we didn’t need to cut anything or even remove the rear bumper cover.

We installed it ourselves in 32 minutes, including the extra time to take photos.

If there’s ever a day when we no longer want a trailer hitch, we could uninstall it in five minutes without leaving any sign it was ever there on the car.

Yes, we know there’s a weight penalty that comes with this modification, as we added about 25 pounds to our GTI. We weren’t going to compete for any trophies, anyway, so we’ll let that slide.

Now, we can carry a few bikes with ease on our GTI. Need some more inspiration to put a hitch on your car? Here are a few of our past exploits with other small cars with hitches. Post yours in the comments below.

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Comments
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
3/23/23 3:21 p.m.

See, cars aren’t our only stupid hobby. 

My stupid hobby is paying too much to take photos using a nearly-dead format.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
3/23/23 3:54 p.m.

I put a similar Curt hitch on our 2005 Mazda MPV for the exact same reason.  In nearly 14 years of service, I never pulled a trailer with it, but the hitch rack is definitely the way to go for bikes.  Enjoy!

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/23/23 4:10 p.m.

I was interested until I saw it's a 1 1/4" receiver. Nope. 

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
3/23/23 4:27 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

Idk, there's three different receiver sizes on my property at the moment. This is plenty of capacity for this car. 

dps214
dps214 SuperDork
3/23/23 4:40 p.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

I was interested until I saw it's a 1 1/4" receiver. Nope. 

I mean nothing that car is realistically capable of towing or hauling is heavier than a 1-1/4 receiver can handle. And adapters exist.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/23 4:47 p.m.
dps214 said:
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

I was interested until I saw it's a 1 1/4" receiver. Nope. 

I mean nothing that car is realistically capable of towing or hauling is heavier than a 1-1/4 receiver can handle. And adapters exist.

Class II is 1 1/4, and the rating is 300lb tongue weight or 3500lb trailer weight.

That is heavy enough to make a trailer brake a good idea!

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
3/23/23 4:53 p.m.

I put one of those hitches on the Spark. I plan to race at least three series this year, province wide, and I'm not into paying $150 in gas for a day of racing. A lightweight bike trailer is about half done and I'm working on a rear rack for the trials bike since it's only 150lbs.

Pretty sure my 1 1/4" is rated at 200lbs

 

dps214
dps214 SuperDork
3/23/23 5:11 p.m.
Peabody said:

I'm working on a rear rack for the trials bike since it's only 150lbs.

Pretty sure my 1 1/4" is rated at 200lbs

Yeah you're probably not going to want to do that. The hitch might be rated 200lbs of tongue weight, but 200lbs on a trailer ball is a lot different than 200lbs of bike and rack cantilevered an extra foot or more out from the hitch.

Peabody
Peabody MegaDork
3/23/23 5:27 p.m.

Well, it's not 200lbs and it won't be hanging out that far. It'll be closer to the car than the ball, and supported on the top with a strap to the top of the hatch. I'm not new to doing out of the ordinary things with success. I may have put some thought into it.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/23 5:50 p.m.

In reply to Peabody :

One of my friends used a hitch rack to take the snow tires for his Miata to events.  Yumpy roads on the way to one event bent the chassis from the weight of four mounted NB wheels/tires swinging up and down.  It worked great until it didn't.

That may have been the impetus for him deciding to tow the Miata to distant events... with a Golf smiley

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