Update: June 23, 2013 – Putting a hitch rack on the Crosstrek XV
If you have to drive your mountain bike to a remote trail or destination, the finest way to transport a bike is with a hitch rack. Hitch racks save gas, are quiet, don’t smash into low roofs, don’t damage your paint and are much easier to use on every trip. Most cars do not make it an option because they’re afraid you’re gonna tow a trailer home once they give you a hitch mount. But most cars can be fitted with a hitch these days. With a hitch tray rack, you don’t have to lift the bike over your head and you don’t have to remove the front wheels every time.
So we embarked on a project to install a hitch rack in our Subaru Crosstrek XV. Some quick research indicated that the Curt Hitch receiver is best and is available for $110 – $140. We opted for the 1.25 inch size instead of the 2 inch receiver size since we wanted a cleaner look for this small vehicle. Folks who want to carry four bikes in the back and have very rough roads should opt for the 2 inch hitch. A 2 inch hitch has more load capability and is more stable laterally.
This install can be done for you by U-Haul or an auto shop but it seemed like a good project for a closet mechanic to tackle. the main task is to put mounting bolts in the chassis so the rack can be secured. Since one can’t drop the bolts in from above, the bolt heads have to be inserted in a hole big enough then a plate has to be put in place to secure the bolt from falling out of the entry hole. This fancy operation is performed by a fishing wire which allows you to insert the bolt, thread a plate in the mounting hole and then pull everything back in place.
Warning: If you have to lift up the rear of your vehicle for access, you have to ensure there is no chance your jacks can fail and have the car fall on you. This is best done with wheel ramps or jack stands. The puny car jack that comes with your car is not safe to hold up the car by itself if you plan to crawl under the car.
On the Subaru XV, the holes had to be enlarged so the bolt head and the retaining plate could go through. This is probably the most difficult part of this install as the car chassis made of robust steel and is not easy to drill out.
Once the bolts are in place, putting the retaining nuts on is obvious enough. But two people should really do this job as the heavy hitch receiver needs to be lifted and held in place then nuts can be screwed on tight.
Here is the very secure arm of the Yakima HoldUp as it can handle all the wheel sizes today.
We were rewarded with a rack that was secure and very simple to use. We’ve taken it on a couple trips already and the kids are actually able to put the bike on the rack. The rack was stable and secure and we are able to check on the bikes with the rear view mirror.
In the end, we recommend that you consider a hitch rack for your car. And if you’re car cannot accomodate a hitch rack, make sure your next one does.
Here’s some detailed photos of the Curt Hitch receiver installed on the Subaru.