Are covers on hitch dangerous ?

I have a Thule Easy Fold and looking forward to some Travel with 2 Bikes next Spring. Purchased a cover for the rain and road dirt but cannot help but wonder if this thing will act like a sail and put undue stress on the Hitch or Bike rack welds.
Have seen some videos of an SUV traveling at 100 KmH, holds up but sure looks unsteady to me. Grateful for comment
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
I can't offer any information about the cover itself but be aware that some states are cracking down on bike racks that obscure the rear license plate. Often, the plate is at least partially visible through the bike spokes when using a hitch rack, but can be completely blocked by using a cover. If you go this route, you may want to find a way to put your rear plate on the outside of the cover. This is only a partial solution however since most state laws require that the plate be illuminated.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
My guess is it depends.....
Depends on the shape and size of the vehicle that the hitch is attached to. With most mid-sized or larger SUVs the covered bikes don't stick up much, so they don't act like a big sail/wind block.
Depends on the rack. Some racks are higher in quality and can handle more weight, or the weighted force of the wind at highway speeds. I would put The Thule Easy Fold into that 'quality' rating.
We carry our ebikes on a very skookum bike rack on the back of our motorhome, along with a cover and I'm not concerned about a rack failure do to excessive wind/air turbulence. Since the cover obscures the license plate I do plan on mounting the plate to the rack while in use. I've also mounted and wired up a set of brake/turn/running lights on the rack.
One thing you can do is wrap a strap around the bike(s) and attach it, with another strap, to the vehicle.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I have had the Thule Easyfold XT for over two years. I have taken a bike trip down from Washington state to Southern California and back during the last two winters (not this one though what with covid).

With two bikes on the rack there is a 3-4 loss of miles per gallon at freeway speeds. The rear vision is impaired but still okay. With a cover on, the wind resistance of a bike positioned perpendicular to the wind would put huge forces on the bikes, the rack and the car, while further impacting mileage, totally impairing rear visibility, through the center rear view mirror and likely illegally obscuring your license plate, turn lights, and brake lights.

Even covered there will be some water and dirt slung upward through any opening in the bottom of the cover, which will greatly slow evaporation and encourage rust on any steel parts like chains and sprockets.

And yet one more important reason not to do this: Putting a cover on a bike in a 70 mile per hour wind will almost guarantee significant chaff and damage to the finish of the bike, regardless of how many bungee cords you use to keep things from flapping around.

I have a light Topeak cover to protect the bikes on the rack when I can't bring them inside only while the car is parked.
 
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I have had the Thule Easyfold XT for over two years. I have taken a bike trip down from Washington state to Southern California and back during the last two winters (not this one though what with covid).

With two bikes on the rack there is a 3-4 loss of miles per gallon at freeway speeds. The rear vision is impaired butstill okay. With a cover on, the wind resistance of a bike positioned perpendicular to the wind would put huge forces on the bikes, the rack and the car, while further impacting mileage, totally impairing rear visibility, through the center rear view mirror and likely illegally obscuring your license plate, turn lights, and brake lights.

Even covered there will be some water and dirt slung upward through any opening in the bottom of the cover, which will greatly slow evaporation and encourage rust on any steel parts like chains and sprockets.

And yet one more important reason not to do this: Putting a cover on a bike in a 70 mile per hour wind will almost guarantee significant chaff and damage to the finish of the bike, regardless of how many bungee cords you use to keep things from flapping around.

I have a light Topeak cover to protect the bikes on the rack when I can't bring them inside only while the car is parked.
You make some excellent points, I will cancel my order. Thanks
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
I have a light Topeak cover to protect the bikes on the rack when I can't bring them inside only while the car is parked.
I have to disagree with you on this one.
I didn't think using a bike cover was necessary until I drove my motorhome, with our two ebikes on the back rack, 200km in the rain. Maybe it's the shape of the motorhome and how air swirls around behind the rig, but our bikes were very dirty when we got home. There was sandy grit from the wet road on every square inch of both bikes.
After cleaning the bikes (twice, to get all of the grit off) I went on Amazon and ordered a bike cover.

I also ordered a flexible cargo net which really helps keeping the cover from blowing around in the wind. I also wrap the bikes both vertically and horizontally with nylon rope. Sure, it's still possible, and probably likely, that the cover moves around a bit and rubs on the bikes, but for me it's better that having every nook and cranny of the bike covered in road grit.
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
I have had the Thule Easyfold XT for over two years. I have taken a bike trip down from Washington state to Southern California and back during the last two winters (not this one though what with covid).

With two bikes on the rack there is a 3-4 loss of miles per gallon at freeway speeds. The rear vision is impaired but still okay. With a cover on, the wind resistance of a bike positioned perpendicular to the wind would put huge forces on the bikes, the rack and the car, while further impacting mileage, totally impairing rear visibility, through the center rear view mirror and likely illegally obscuring your license plate, turn lights, and brake lights.

Even covered there will be some water and dirt slung upward through any opening in the bottom of the cover, which will greatly slow evaporation and encourage rust on any steel parts like chains and sprockets.

And yet one more important reason not to do this: Putting a cover on a bike in a 70 mile per hour wind will almost guarantee significant chaff and damage to the finish of the bike, regardless of how many bungee cords you use to keep things from flapping around.

I have a light Topeak cover to protect the bikes on the rack when I can't bring them inside only while the car is parked.
Depending on the vehicle, the wind resistance with two bikes on a hitch rack is significant, cover or not. We did a similar distance drive with our two analog bikes racked on our Prius V several years ago and the mpg dropped about 10 mpg on average. That said, I’m sure a cover would have made it much worse. I’d never even try two ebikes on a rack on the Prius, of course. The added weight of a heavier ebike-rated rack plus two heavier ebikes just wouldn’t be advisable for such a lightly built car.
This is the major reason I’m working on an internal bed rack under the topper of my pickup truck. Security and cleanliness.😎👍
All that said, IMO, a cover could be problematic depending on the vehicle/rack/bike combo. If the weight of the bikes are right at or over the rack’s weight limit, the added wind resistance of the cover might just tip it over that limit.
 
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Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I have to disagree with you on this one.
I didn't think using a bike cover was necessary until I drove my motorhome, with our two ebikes on the back rack, 200km in the rain. Maybe it's the shape of the motorhome and how air swirls around behind the rig, but our bikes were very dirty when we got home. There was sandy grit from the wet road on every square inch of both bikes.
After cleaning the bikes (twice, to get all of the grit off) I went on Amazon and ordered a bike cover.

I also ordered a flexible cargo net which really helps keeping the cover from blowing around in the wind. I also wrap the bikes both vertically and horizontally with nylon rope. Sure, it's still possible, and probably likely, that the cover moves around a bit and rubs on the bikes, but for me it's better that having every nook and cranny of the bike covered in road grit.
On a motorhome, the bikes typically sit above the lights and license plate and below the top of the MH thus the wind resistance, center mirror and light/license visibility issues are rendered moot. On a car they are all very present.
20190113_092442.jpg
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Here is a RV shot with a well place bike rack. With heavy ebikes a decent loading ramp would be a good thing to have on board.

best-rv-bike-rack.jpg
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Curious what weight a rack/weight your MB is rated for.
On the Benz there was a Gross Towing Weight of 2,000 lbs, and a max Tongue Weight of 200 lbs. The total tongue load (rack plus two bikes) was under 100 kg

We recently traded the MB wagon and my wife's Subaru Tribeca for a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It has a max. tongue weight of 500 lbs and towing max. of 5,000 lbs. runs on 87 octane instead of 93 and get double the mileage around town and 40% more on the highway.

My ebike passion has enabled us to make do just fine with one car.
 
The Hitch I had installed is rated for 400 lbs tongue weight, I spoke to the installer and in his view - 2 E Bikes at 55 lbs each + Thule Rack at 35 lbs would be fine, but I can well imagine a good wind would be a multiplier to these numbers - anybody have a friend at NASA that can calculate this ? 😀
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
Note on the photo of the white MB wagon, the Curt reinforcement straps from the roof rack to the bike rack. They really help stabilize and steady the whole assembly at speed, taking some of the load off the tongue and bracing the assembly against the wind drag.
 

Deacon Blues

Well-Known Member
One thing to add about my 200km drive in the rain-moisture got into the display on my wife's Pededgo Commuter. It stopped working and had to be replaced.
 

Alaskan

Well-Known Member
I always pull the battery(s), and display whenever the bikes are on the rack and the leather saddle if rain is threatening. I went to the hardware store and bought a black rubber plug to close off the seat tube and prevent water entry. I also take a piece of saran wrap or a piece of plastic bag with a rubber band to cover the contact surface of the display mount while it is off the bike. An ounce of cure...
 

Dallant

Well-Known Member
On the Benz there was a Gross Towing Weight of 2,000 lbs, and a max Tongue Weight of 200 lbs. The total tongue load (rack plus two bikes) was under 100 kg

We recently traded the MB wagon and my wife's Subaru Tribeca for a Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It has a max. tongue weight of 500 lbs and towing max. of 5,000 lbs. runs on 87 octane instead of 93 and get double the mileage around town and 40% more on the highway.

My ebike passion has enabled us to make do just fine with one car.
Our normal ebike hauler is a ‘19 Rav4 hybrid. We hope to get to the point of just one car but living in 4 full seasons of the rural Midwest it’s tough to do.
 

Solorider

New Member
Region
USA
I have had the Thule Easyfold XT for over two years. I have taken a bike trip down from Washington state to Southern California and back during the last two winters (not this one though what with covid).

With two bikes on the rack there is a 3-4 loss of miles per gallon at freeway speeds. The rear vision is impaired but still okay. With a cover on, the wind resistance of a bike positioned perpendicular to the wind would put huge forces on the bikes, the rack and the car, while further impacting mileage, totally impairing rear visibility, through the center rear view mirror and likely illegally obscuring your license plate, turn lights, and brake lights.

Even covered there will be some water and dirt slung upward through any opening in the bottom of the cover, which will greatly slow evaporation and encourage rust on any steel parts like chains and sprockets.

And yet one more important reason not to do this: Putting a cover on a bike in a 70 mile per hour wind will almost guarantee significant chaff and damage to the finish of the bike, regardless of how many bungee cords you use to keep things from flapping around.

I have a light Topeak cover to protect the bikes on the rack when I can't bring them inside only while the car is parked.
Well, Alaskan, you have saved me 6months of anxiety and what would end up being an exercise in futility. I have a Specialized Turbo Vado, also I have a Subaru outback, very safe. I have a trip to Utah in Jan of 22 and want to take my bike. As I said I have been seeking he perfect cover and read/feel ya when ya say it's not gonna be prefect. At this point I will use my Dodge Ram Promaster City van, not as comfortable or as safe as the Subaru but it eliminates all the CONS you mentioned in your post. I did not notice the date of your posting but it sure fits for me today/ Minnesota to Utah.
 

retiredNH

Active Member
Region
USA
Well, Alaskan, you have saved me 6months of anxiety and what would end up being an exercise in futility. I have a Specialized Turbo Vado, also I have a Subaru outback, very safe. I have a trip to Utah in Jan of 22 and want to take my bike. As I said I have been seeking he perfect cover and read/feel ya when ya say it's not gonna be prefect. At this point I will use my Dodge Ram Promaster City van, not as comfortable or as safe as the Subaru but it eliminates all the CONS you mentioned in your post. I did not notice the date of your posting but it sure fits for me today/ Minnesota to Utah.
Some of Alaskan's concerns may be unique to his MB. Note it's sharply raked rear window, and how low it sits on the ground. It's no Outback. We drive a Forester, which is only a touch higher than the Outback, and don't find much mileage penalty, or a lot of wind load on the bikes. Even with Alaskan's Benz, I bet the car acts as a giant windbreak for the bikes. It certainly does with our Forester.

Saying that, remember that these bikes are built for outdoor use, with all that implies. We live on a gravel road. Do our bikes get dusty? Of course. Do we care? Only in doing more frequent chain maintenance.
 

Elkman

Member
The aerodynamics of the vehicle make a great deal of difference. On the rear of a large SUV or a motorhome or a trailer there is not air drag to worry about. With a sedan the cover is going to get beat up unless it is tied so as not to move with the wind but may minimize the bikes being stolen while you are away from the vehicle. With cargo boxes mounted on roof racks the difference in mpg is insignificant for a 16 mpg truck or SUV but can reduce fuel economy by 20 percent with a car like the Prius.

The reason our last vehicle purchase was a 2018 Chevy Traverse SUV is that there is enough room with the seats down to fit inside two full size road bikes. The only other vehicle where this could be done was the Subaru Outback that did not have the third row seating. With e-bike though we are using a 1up rack.

For our motorhome and the SUV the 1up bike rack with or without the bikes mounted completely obscures the license plate. I took the front license plate and mounted it to the bike rack. Technically where I live the license plate must be illuminated so it can be read at a distance of 50 feet at night but I don't drive at night with the bikes on the rack and so do not plan to add a license plate light at this time.