Wife drives a 2012 Toyota Prius V. Its pretty dang difficult to transport one bike in the back, let alone a family’s worth. All along we figured we’d just find a 2″ receiver hitch and use our existing Yakima SwingDaddy rack.
Well, the time came where we needed a solution and it took quite a bit of research to find one.
First the car doesn’t really have a provision for a roof rack. The car has no rain gutters and the only way to attach a “significant” rack to the roof is with screws. She wanted a roof rack in order to use our pair of roof boxes. Oh well.
Second idea was to find a hitch. Problem is that the Prius isn’t really made to tow anything so the only hitch you can find are the toy “Class 1” hitches. Class one has a tow limit of 2000lbs, meaning the hitch can’t hold more than that when pulling (the prius has no tow rating so can’t even tow that.) But we don’t care we aren’t towing. The more important measurement is the “Tongue weight” meaning how much weight can be supported by the hitch. Class 1 limit is only 200lbs. That seems like a lot but remember the bike racks stick out from the hitch and the leverage magnifies the effective weight. A Class 1 hitch is limited because they are only made to accept a 1 1/4″ receiver meaning the square thing you put the rack into has a width and height of 1 1/4″. Consider it is a tube, and a tube’s strength grows very quickly with diameter, that 1 1/4″ will be very susceptible to bending. That’s why racks that hold 4 bikes are only built to fit 2″ receivers (well, that and class 1 racks aren’t strong enough to hold 4 bikes + rack.)
There are a couple of bad solutions. First you can buy an adapter that fits into a 1 1/4″ receiver and has itself a 2″ receiver on the other end. This is bad because the adapter moves the receiver out so increases the leverage on the tongue. Second bad solution is to have the old receiver cut off, a 2″ receiver installed on the hitch. That is bad because… the hitch itself was only designed to support a 200 lbs tongue weight so it can bend, or worse it can tear itself free of the car!
I then came across a place in nearby Kent Washington called “Torklift.” They build a Class 2 rack for the Prius V and they claim a max tongue weight of 350lbs when installed on a prius v AND they offer it with a 2″ receiver (permitted by class 2 spec.) I still can’t tow with it but can at least use a heftier rack on the car. The secret to their increased tongue weight is that they attach the rack at two additional places. The first normal attachment is under the tow rings that are under the back of the car. The second attachment spot is through the steel bumper beams. By spreading the weight they can create an actual class 2 hitch that can safely support a 4 bike rack.
Called Torklift and ordered. Hitch was available to pickup the next day. Hitch is beautiful in person, hard powdercoat and much nicer than I expected. The included hardware is quite good and complete. My wife and I installed the hitch when we got home, took about 45 minutes. Takes a variety of tools including a 19mm socket, two 17mm sockets (one deep), and various small wrenches. No need to lift the car but do get a good light. We applied blue locktite to all the threads, also carefully torqued to spec. Best part is that there was no cutting or modification to the car.
Sorry no pics of the hitch…
No regrets it appears to be a terrific solution for us.