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I'm looking to purchase a hitch mounted bicycle carrier for my 19' Forrester. The hitch is factory OEM and was installed by my Subaru dealer. I'm looking at the Thule
ApexXT 4 Bike Rack for the 1-1/4 inch hitch. Has anyone had any experience with a 4 bike carrier with the 1-1/4 inch hitches. It does seem like a lot of weight / mass for the tiny 1-1/4 inch hitch, but I've read that it should not be a problem. Any input or comments are welcome. I do want a quality, well built carrier and have heard that the Thule is the best.
 

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2018 Forester XT Limited CVT
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What kind of bikes? If they are mountain bikes I like this bike carrier:


We have two of them. We had one but my wife stole it and put it on her car (she rides more than I do) so I had to get a second one. We've had other ones from Curt and (I think) Thule in the past. These Curt/Thule bike racks just had two sticks pointing backwards with hokey rubber mounts on them, and rubber straps. We had to mount bikes eg upside down, and strap other bikes on after the first couple bikes were mounted.

I had a 2007 Forester and I did get the factory (Draw Tite I think) hitch for it. It was a 1.25" hitch, and I did use it for towing a small trailer around. Eventually I took the hitch off, went to a friend's place, used a cutting torch (ever use one? It's fun) and took the 1.25" thing off, and my friend helped me weld a 2" tube on, and we stuck it back onto the car. Geez I should have done that ten years earlier.

For my 2018 there was no factory 2" hitch so the dealership took it to Cap-It who installed a 2" hitch for me. If I were you I'd take off the 1.25" and put a 2" on. Having the 2" doesn't increase your towing capacity or other specs, but it's compatible with a lot more stuff, without using little adapters and things to convert to 2".
 

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A bike rack is not a tongue and won't apply nearly the forces a 1500 pound trailer with 175 pound tougue. It won't be a problem.
It can actually apply more. Trailers are (ideally) balanced and bear dynamic weight mainly on the wheels. Weight hanging off the hitch applies a lot more dynamic weight, torsional and rotational force during bumps and cornering.

The tongue weight is also rated for where a ball would be. A bike rack, especially a 4 bike rack, extends much further out, increasing leverage.

If I recall, I read somewhere that Subaru states not to exceed a 2 bike rack.
 

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A bike rack, especially a 4 bike rack, extends much further out, increasing leverage.
Maybe a tray-type rack with four 50 lb bikes on it would cause you to notice something different back there while driving, but you'll also notice people sitting in your car bopping up and down to the music. Neither is comparable to a small 4x8 utility trailer loaded with furniture. But a tray-type rack is going to cause problems with parking etc, which is why a rack that holds the bikes upright like the rack mentioned in my post above, is better.

There are some eg Thule videos where they load up a roof rack and some kind of hitch cargo carrier, with maximum weights, simultaneously on the same car, and then take the car through some sort of performance obstacle course at high speed on wet roads through pylons. No cargo came out and nothing broke or came off. If you're going to be doing that sort of stuff, yeah maybe limit yourself to a small two-bike carrier. But four 50 lb bikes upright on the hitch is just like your buddy standing on the trailer hitch. And it's a rare bike that is as heavy as 50 lb.
 

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It can actually apply more. Trailers are (ideally) balanced and bear dynamic weight mainly on the wheels. Weight hanging off the hitch applies a lot more dynamic weight, torsional and rotational force during bumps and cornering.
I don't think that's true. For stability a portion of your trailer load should be carried as as tongue weight. In addition, the trailer imparts a dynamic load on the tongue that does not exist for the bikes. When the car goes over a bump, it causes a rotation to the trailer (tongue goes up, trailer tail goes down) and that inertial force for a 1500 pound mass is greater than simply moving 150 pounds of bikes up and down as the car traverses a bump.
 

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I don't think that's true. For stability a portion of your trailer load should be carried as as tongue weight. In addition, the trailer imparts a dynamic load on the tongue that does not exist for the bikes. When the car goes over a bump, it causes a rotation to the trailer (tongue goes up, trailer tail goes down) and that inertial force for a 1500 pound mass is greater than simply moving 150 pounds of bikes up and down as the car traverses a bump.
No, rotational=twisting. Which doesn't exist with a trailer. This is why it's not uncommon to use support straps with bike racks. Hitches best support loads in the vertical and horizontal plane but are weaker twisting. Also during rotation, more force is placed upon one frame rail or the other less equally than vertical or horizontal forces, which distribute force more equally on the two rails. The bike rack not only has increased leverage behind the hitch, but above it as well. Cornering puts quite a bit of rotational load on the hitch.

If the trailer is loaded properly, it takes very little force to see-saw it on its fulcrum. You should be able to do it one handed. The inertial load is quite low when going over bumps and the tongue pivots on the ball. The ball is mounted closer to the hitch so it has less leverage and is a pivot point, so force is directed to the trailer fulcrum. Again, if it's loaded properly, meaning the bulk of the weight central over the fulcrum, with slight forward bias, not exceeding tongue weight specs.
 

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No, rotational=twisting. Which doesn't exist with a trailer. This is why it's not uncommon to use support straps with bike racks. Hitches best support loads in the vertical and horizontal plane but are weaker twisting. Also during rotation, more force is placed upon one frame rail or the other less equally than vertical or horizontal forces, which distribute force more equally on the two rails. The bike rack not only has increased leverage behind the hitch, but above it as well. Cornering puts quite a bit of rotational load on the hitch.

If the trailer is loaded properly, it takes very little force to see-saw it on its fulcrum. You should be able to do it one handed. The inertial load is quite low when going over bumps and the tongue pivots on the ball. The ball is mounted closer to the hitch so it has less leverage and is a pivot point, so force is directed to the trailer fulcrum. Again, if it's loaded properly, meaning the bulk of the weight central over the fulcrum, with slight forward bias, not exceeding tongue weight specs.
I feel I'm not explaining this very well, lol.
 

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I feel I'm not explaining this very well, lol.
It's definitely not easy to explain, especially without pictures! Since this is going to turn into a "how heavy/how fast" dynamics discussion, I'm going to let it go (Unless I find someone who wrote an online animated demo :) ).

Anyway you cut it, I don't think it's a good idea to push Subaru's stated weight limit for handling reasons more than breaking something. Did that as a youth with my first car and it was a case of the tail wagging the dog.
 
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