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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never installed a hitch on my vehicle before. I now have my 2014 Mazda3 and I would like to attach a bike rack to hold my mountain bike via tow hitch. It needs a 2 inch tow hitch to do this. Does this car have the ability to install one? If it does, how?
 

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I assume you're in North America

Hitches for this car are class 1 rated, 1 1/4", unless you custom modify or get one custom made.

Only other option is Eco Hitch where you can specify a 2" receiver. There's lots of info about hitches on these boards if you search for it...
 
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I would go the easiest, cheapest and most common route and install a Curt or Drawtite which are both 1.25in and then you can use an adapter to bring it up to 2inch for your bike rack
 

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I would go the easiest, cheapest and most common route and install a Curt or Drawtite which are both 1.25in and then you can use an adapter to bring it up to 2inch for your bike rack
This is the LEAST correct thing to do and can easily overload your hitch and/or cause structural damage to your car.


- An extension like this pushes the load further to the rear, reducing approach / departure angles (depending on which direction you drive)
- It pushes the load further from the hitches mounting point, increasing the load that the frame of the hitch and it's mounts to the vehicle see due to the increased bending moment - despite the fact that the actual weight load is the same
- A 2" hitch is usually able to hold more than a 1 1 /4" hitch - either weight rating or qty of bikes. This is by design. 1 1/4" racks don't hold as many bikes and aren't as big / heavy because the frame or it's mounts isn't rated to support that load.
- It will defeat any anti-rattle / anti-sway devices that are built into the bike rack as the adapter likely won't have the same, further reducing the safety and security of the bikes, rack and your car.


If you're going to do it, do it right. Get a 2" hitch to support that rack, or sell that 2" rack and get a 1 1/4" rack to transport those bikes.

If a 1 1/4" rack won't suit your needs then a roof rack or even a trailer are better options than using an extension / adapter. An adapter may not be an issue for some accessories on big class 3 / class 4 hitches but it certainly not the way to go on a compact car with a class 1 hitch.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the help! I'll go ahead and search for another bike rack with a 1 1/4 inch hitch. Thanks for the info!
 

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If you only need to carry 1-2 bikes I have this one and love it.

Products | Küat Racks

I like platform racks, and this folds away for trunk access even if loaded up - which was really my priority.

Food for thought. Good luck in your search!
 

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This is the LEAST correct thing to do and can easily overload your hitch and/or cause structural damage to your car.


- An extension like this pushes the load further to the rear, reducing approach / departure angles (depending on which direction you drive)
- It pushes the load further from the hitches mounting point, increasing the load that the frame of the hitch and it's mounts to the vehicle see due to the increased bending moment - despite the fact that the actual weight load is the same
- A 2" hitch is usually able to hold more than a 1 1 /4" hitch - either weight rating or qty of bikes. This is by design. 1 1/4" racks don't hold as many bikes and aren't as big / heavy because the frame or it's mounts isn't rated to support that load.
- It will defeat any anti-rattle / anti-sway devices that are built into the bike rack as the adapter likely won't have the same, further reducing the safety and security of the bikes, rack and your car.


If you're going to do it, do it right. Get a 2" hitch to support that rack, or sell that 2" rack and get a 1 1/4" rack to transport those bikes.

If a 1 1/4" rack won't suit your needs then a roof rack or even a trailer are better options than using an extension / adapter. An adapter may not be an issue for some accessories on big class 3 / class 4 hitches but it certainly not the way to go on a compact car with a class 1 hitch.

If he had asked about carrying a cargo rack or towing a small trailer I would not have suggested it. You're talking about a 15lb bike rack and 25-30lb bike.

- An extension like this pushes the load further to the rear, reducing approach / departure angles (depending on which direction you drive)
Not if he chooses the correct adapter. There are adapters on them market that insert into the receiver and the adapter is also a riser and then has a 2in receiver as its top receiver point thus gaining increased approach and departure angles. I personally owned one and ran it on my lifted 4runner. I believe the accessory you have in mind is the extension type adapter which simply extends straight out from the receiver and opens up to 2in
- It pushes the load further from the hitches mounting point, increasing the load that the frame of the hitch and it's mounts to the vehicle see due to the increased bending moment - despite the fact that the actual weight load is the same
This is true if youre talking about about an extension adapter. And again even then, you're dealing with a 30lb bike. The hitches I listed are rated at 200lb tounge load. Will it place extra load? Sure. Will it be over the 200lb load limit? We will need some geometry and structural professionals in here to get down to the nitty gritty of that one!:grin2:
- A 2" hitch is usually able to hold more than a 1 1 /4" hitch - either weight rating or qty of bikes. This is by design. 1 1/4" racks don't hold as many bikes and aren't as big / heavy because the frame or it's mounts isn't rated to support that load.
Eco-hitch does not have a higher tongue nor tow capacity according to their site. The numbers are identical to the Curt

- It will defeat any anti-rattle / anti-sway devices that are built into the bike rack as the adapter likely won't have the same, further reducing the safety and security of the bikes, rack and your car.
My Thule rack(1.25) has a threaded through hole which utilizes a Grade-10 bolt and secures it to the hitch while also acting as an anti-rattle.
 

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If you only need to carry 1-2 bikes I have this one and love it.

Products | Küat Racks

I like platform racks, and this folds away for trunk access even if loaded up - which was really my priority.

Food for thought. Good luck in your search!
I also run a platform rack. The only way to go IMO. Makes loading and unloading so much easier while also being more secure.

It is unfortunate that most racks and hitch accessories are only manufactured for 2in hitches. I personally got lucky when I sold my truck and went from 2in to 1.25in hitch... all my accessories were 1.25 with plate adapters/sleeves that brought them up to 2in. Picture for reference
 

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It is unfortunate that most racks and hitch accessories are only manufactured for 2in hitches. I personally got lucky when I sold my truck and went from 2in to 1.25in hitch... all my accessories were 1.25 with plate adapters/sleeves that brought them up to 2in. Picture for reference
That is perfectly fine. Most 1.25" accessories come with the spacers to make it usable in a 2" receiver. Doing this won't ever exceed a 2" hitch's limits and won't compromise the anti-sway device. The OP was asking about going the opposite way and using a 2" rack in a 1 1/4" hitch so that part is irrelevant.

Even if you use an anti-sway device into an adapter the adapter will still be loose in the hitch. As such your rack does not have anti-sway at all if you are using an adapter.

You can't argue that the adapter also adds complexity to the mounting, size and weight and cost to the whole assembly, and no matter what it will move the geometry of the mount out even if it moves it up at the same time. If it didn't it would be inside the bumper... There's nothing but negatives trying to MacGyver it together this way.



You are far better off with the right tool for the job. Either a 2" hitch for a 2" rack (or 1.25" rack with 2" adapter) or a 1.25" rack with a 1.25" hitch.
 

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That is perfectly fine. Most 1.25" accessories come with the spacers to make it usable in a 2" receiver. Doing this won't ever exceed a 2" hitch's limits and won't compromise the anti-sway device. The OP was asking about going the opposite way and using a 2" rack in a 1 1/4" hitch so that part is irrelevant.

Even if you use an anti-sway device into an adapter the adapter will still be loose in the hitch. As such your rack does not have anti-sway at all if you are using an adapter.

You can't argue that the adapter also adds complexity to the mounting, size and weight and cost to the whole assembly, and no matter what it will move the geometry of the mount out even if it moves it up at the same time. If it didn't it would be inside the bumper... There's nothing but negatives trying to MacGyver it together this way.



You are far better off with the right tool for the job. Either a 2" hitch for a 2" rack (or 1.25" rack with 2" adapter) or a 1.25" rack with a 1.25" hitch.
If you took anything away from my first reply it was that I understood the OP was trying to go from 2" rack in a 1 1/4" hitch. I simply followed up by referencing my personal rack and setup. Besides that point, you are not going to tweak your frame by running an adapter with a bike rack. People run into those issues when they load up a few hundred pounds worth of gear on a cargo carrier and go bouncing all that extended load off the back end. In a fwd vehicle you are asking for trouble with how loose the front tires will become.

I'm not arguing any of those points. All valid. I just think it's a bit silly to spend 3-4x at much on the Eco-hitch if the OP only intends to run a bike rack. As you suggested, the easiest thing would be to sell his current rack and purchase a 1.25 rack. I picked up my Curt receiver for $40 as an open-box special, plus I received and additional $20 from Curt for a promo rebate they just ran. I did a ton of homework on hitches currently available for our vehicles and it was very difficult for me to not go with the Eco-hitch for it's aesthetics but ultimately, I went with the Curt due to my reasons for downsizing and purchasing a more economical vehicle...to save some money.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Luckily I have not actually bought any bike racks yet. I know now that I need to get a 1.25 inch rack, but where exactly is the connection for a bike rack? I tried to look under the car for an obvious connector but was met with the exhaust. I've never used a hitch on a sedan before so be nice. lol. Can someone point it out for me? And by the way, the Kuat racks are really nice but WAY out of my budget. I already felt somewhat weary throwing $500 at my mountain bike. Thanks for all of the help again guys!
 

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Luckily I have not actually bought any bike racks yet. I know now that I need to get a 1.25 inch rack, but where exactly is the connection for a bike rack? I tried to look under the car for an obvious connector but was met with the exhaust. I've never used a hitch on a sedan before so be nice.
I'm going to agree with the others here about a 1.25" rack. I personally have the hatchback with the 1.25" Torklift Ecohitch, and a 3-bike rack from Amazon that was about $75 (sorry, can't remember the brand name and I can't find it on Amazon now). It's unfortunately that many racks are 2" only, mainly because they cater to big SUV drivers, but there are many 1.25" racks out there at a good price, plus many racks are designed so they'll work with either size hitch.

For the geometry argument that it's "only" a 30-lb bike, what if you put 2 or 3 bikes on, because your friends want to go biking with you? Suddenly that hitch is now holding three 25-30 pound bikes, plus a 30 or 40 pound bike rack, which is well over 100 pounds. That's way too much to put on a "MacGuyvered" 2"-to-1.25" rig, esp. as many hitches are only designed for a tongue weight of 100 or 200 pounds.

For the hitch, the Curt hitches I'm sure are fine, and don't cost much. The Torklift hitch is very expensive by comparison, but it does look a lot better: the other hitches have a large horizontal bar plainly visible beneath the bumper which I really don't like, plus the receiver hangs a little lower on those. On the Ecohitch, the entire hitch is hidden inside the bumper except for the receiver itself, which hangs just below but partly in the bumper (you have to cut away a bit of the bumper bottom to make it fit; you can see how it fits on the pictures on Torklift's site). It really looks like the hitch is OEM equipment installed at the factory this way; the other hitches simply don't. I got a good deal on the Torklift straight from their site on Black Friday a couple years ago; if you can wait until November, I recommend trying that.

Finally, in case you're never used a hitch-mount rack, or have used non-hitch-mount racks before, I just want to say that hitch-mount racks are really the best way to transport a bike. You don't have something attached to your rear trunk/tailgate that'll inevitably scratch your paint, the bikes are held a comfortable distance from the car so they don't touch it and scratch it, any decent rack will allow you to tilt it down so you can open the trunk/hatch, and with a couple straight wrenches, it takes about a minute to put the rack on or take it off the car (less if one wrench is ratcheting). Why anyone bothers with those ridiculous racks with straps, I have no idea; they're just horrible. Once you have a hitch and a hitch-mount rack, if you do any biking at all, you won't be sorry you invested in this set-up.

Finally, to address your question about how the hitch connects: these cars are not designed for hitches from the factory, so hitch manufacturers reuse various points on the body to mount them. Every hitch is different, and custom-designed for that model of car. My Torklift hitch mounts behind the bumper, between the body and the bumper beam (which is a metal piece hidden inside the bumper to absorb crash energy), and then hangs just below that beam. The Curt hitch, I believe, mounts using some existing exhaust system bolt-holes and some other holes on the frame rails. Generally these things are not hard to install if you can turn a wrench, and come with complete illustrated directions.
 

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For the geometry argument that it's "only" a 30-lb bike, what if you put 2 or 3 bikes on, because your friends want to go biking with you? Suddenly that hitch is now holding three 25-30 pound bikes, plus a 30 or 40 pound bike rack, which is well over 100 pounds. That's way too much to put on a "MacGuyvered" 2"-to-1.25" rig, esp. as many hitches are only designed for a tongue weight of 100 or 200 pounds.
I never refuted nor do I disagree with that. The OPs original post was asking about a single bike, hence my answer/numbers.

If the manufacturer of these available hitches felt it was unsafe or not structurally sound, why would they manufacture and sell such accessories? They would be putting themselves up for a great deal of liability. All of your load and tongue ratings are advertised much lower than the true breaking point/capacity. All hitches are certified and tested through private testing facilities(an exception being Curt who tests in-house) and meet SAE J684 standards which are usually CAD tested and assigned a rating of much lower than the actual, true capacity to factor in outside variables as well as leaving some insurance because they know some consumers are going to push the limit of that label. To each their own but I, personally, would feel plenty safe and confident in these manufacturer's products running a simple bike rack off of an adapter and saving myself hundreds of dollars to use towards something else. In fact if you call Curt I'm sure they would tell you that they have tested the exact setup at some point. Again, I am not condoning loading up a 500lb cargo carrier with an extension adapter and going blasting down the freeway.
 

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To answer part of the OP questions, I used the Curt Hitch which i bought on Amazon. IT is a very simple installation, basically you remove the muffler, and bolt it to the frame rails.
There was a great "how to" however I believe the pictures went away. It is the 1.25 size and i have not yet bought a bike rack.
 

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Luckily I have not actually bought any bike racks yet. I know now that I need to get a 1.25 inch rack, but where exactly is the connection for a bike rack? I tried to look under the car for an obvious connector but was met with the exhaust. I've never used a hitch on a sedan before so be nice. lol. Can someone point it out for me? And by the way, the Kuat racks are really nice but WAY out of my budget. I already felt somewhat weary throwing $500 at my mountain bike. Thanks for all of the help again guys!
You will need to install the hitch on your car first so the rack has something to hold it up.

If budget is a concern and you have a sedan you may want to look to a strap-on rack. While least ideal they are the most economical if you're just getting into it.

You will need the hitch + install + bike rack + bike to get yourself going

I only sent you the Kuat to show you what I was running. Tilting from the hatch was a priority for me. Not so much an issue if you have a sedan. There are many less expensive units out there that will work just fine, such as this one https://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Bike-Racks/Swagman/S64650.html
 

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@erklep

I'm walking away from this one. Nearly any time this question is raised on e-trailer, or a biking forum, or even a car forum the idea of using a 1.25" to 2" adapter on a class 1 hitch is strongly discouraged unless someone is trying to MacGyver something to save a buck. I urge you to take a look if you don't believe me.

Yes, it will fit and work. No, it's not right. Yes, your car will tow a 5,000lb trailer... it may not instantly break, but it's definitely not the right thing to do. The right tool for the job is the best way to make sure everything is safe and secure.

Either way the OP has no gear at all at the moment and he is heading in the right direction from the start. Continuing to argue this is pointless.

OP: Here's a post with a platform hitch rack installed on a sedan, including a photo of the hitch itself. Again there's a lot of existing hitch info out there via the search.

http://mazda3revolution.com/forums/740154-post32.html
 

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@erklep

I'm walking away from this one. Nearly any time this question is raised on e-trailer, or a biking forum, or even a car forum the idea of using a 1.25" to 2" adapter on a class 1 hitch is strongly discouraged unless someone is trying to MacGyver something to save a buck. I urge you to take a look if you don't believe me.

Yes, it will fit and work. No, it's not right. Yes, your car will tow a 5,000lb trailer... it may not instantly break, but it's definitely not the right thing to do. The right tool for the job is the best way to make sure everything is safe and secure.
We will agree to disagree on the hitch integrity matter. I am not arguing that going the route of fitting the same size accessories to the same size hitch isn't the proper way to go about this. As I mentioned, that is how I currently run my bike/hitch setup. I was giving the OP the easiest solution to his current situation and current rack. I am an ex-auto technician so you are speaking to the king of tools. I 100% agree the proper tool for the job is always the way to go.
 

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To answer part of the OP questions, I used the Curt Hitch which i bought on Amazon. IT is a very simple installation, basically you remove the muffler, and bolt it to the frame rails.
There was a great "how to" however I believe the pictures went away. It is the 1.25 size and i have not yet bought a bike rack.
As I mentioned earlier, I am running the same Curt hitch. The cheapest place to source it was JET dot com. They offer free shipping as well as 15% off your first order. Easy install and works great with any 1.25in rack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I read through all of your comments and suggestions. The bike finally arrived in the shop and I was able to pick it up. I severely underestimated the size of the trunk space when dropping the seats down. I was able to fit the whole 29 inch wheeled bike comfortably in the trunk with no problems at all by simply removing the front tire. Smooth as butter! I suppose in the hitch is not necessary now but I will definitely keep this thread in mind when I decide to take friends out for a ride with their bikes or if I just want an upgrade. I highly appreciate all of the links you supplied (I've looked through all of them) and appreciate the tips for how to set one up. Have a wonderful day!
 

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That works too.

Just be careful to keep the drive train side up and to not knock the derailleur around. Don't want to bang that sucker out of alignment.

Congrats on the new bike
 
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