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Thule Bicycle Hitch Rack Technical Information

What to Know About Receiver Hitches for Bicycle Racks


Thule rear hitch mounted bicycle racks provide the ultimate in protection for both bicycle and vehicle. They're simple to install, fast to remove from the reciever hitch and bikes are at an easy loading height.  The first step is to identify what type of reciever hitch you have or need to have installed.

What’s a receiver hitch?
A welded steel structure that is attached to the underside of the vehicle leaving a square receiver tube positioned just below the rear bumper. Receiver hitches are rated by class 1-4, sometime shown with Roman numerals I-IV.  This rating is limited or determined by the gross towing weight (G.T.W.) and tongue weight (T.W.). 

  Thule Bicycle Rack Hitch Class Illustration

The class of hitch will determine what hitch racks can be used, how many bikes can be loaded and the maximum total combined weight of the bikes.  A class 1 hitch is rated for up to two bike weighing no more that 70 pounds while a class 3 hitch can carry five bikes up to 150 pound.

A class 1 receiver hitch is identified by the 1¼ x 1¼ inch square tube and typically there is no reinforcement collar at the end the tube.  The method of attachment varies widely but the hitch is usually bolted to tow hooks and under-body sheet metal.

All 1¼ inch Thule hitch racks fit this hitch type when the hitch is installed flush with the bumper or first point of contact e.g. spare tire.  If the hitch is set back under the bumper, consult the Thule Hitch Dimensions Chart 2.

  Class 1 Receiver Hitch Illustration

A class 2 receiver hitch is identified by the 1¼ x 1¼ inch  square tube and typically there is a reinforcement collar at the end the tube along with safety chain hook up loops.  The method of attachment varies widely but usually the hitch is bolted to the vehicle's chassis or frame members making for a very strong attachment.

All 1¼ inch Thule hitch racks fit this hitch type when the hitch is installed flush with the bumper or first point of contact e.g. spare tire.  If the hitch is set back under the bumper, consult the Thule Hitch Dimensions Chart 2.

  Class 2 Receiver Hitch Illustration

A class 2 to 4 hitch is identified by the 2 x 2 inch square tube and there is a reinforcement collar at the end the tube along with safety chain hook up loops.  The method of attachment varies widely but the hitch is bolted to the vehicle's chassis or frame members making for a very strong attachment.  A class 4 hitch is usually found on vehicles with very stiff suspension, road shock can transfer directly to the rack.  Use caution on rough roads and speed bumps.

All 2 inch Thule hitch racks fit this hitch type when the hitch is installed flush with the bumper or first point of contact e.g. spare tire.  If the hitch is set back under the bumper, consult the Thule Hitch Dimensions Chart 2.

  Class 2 Receiver Hitch Illustration