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Old 09-06-2013, 07:58 AM   #1
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Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

I am thinking of adding a front 2" receiver hitch to the van for our bike rack. I know Twogone have one. Who has installed one and do you use and like it? i am looking for pros and cons on front receivers. Could also possibly mount our generator there.

Len & Joanne

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Old 09-06-2013, 08:14 AM   #2
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

I have one. Don't use it much except for a step to clean my windshield. You can see the pull down step below the license plate in this picture.


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Old 09-06-2013, 09:29 AM   #3
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

I plan on doing one eventually. i really cant think of any cons other than blocking airflow with whatever you have installed in it when you use it.
"understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of your car, oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of your car, horsepower is how hard your car hits the wall, and torque is how far your car moves the wall."
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Old 09-06-2013, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

I have one. Very inexpensive and simple upgrade, maybe 30 minutes to install. I haven't put a bike rack on it but I keep my generator there. If you are fairly handy you can build a box for just about anything up there. I thought of putting an ice chest up there to get it out of the way and not interfere with rear door/rack. I built my generator rack out of some old bike rack tubing and wood but need to remake out of steel and make it minor accident proof. It has worked great, just pay attention if you hang anything expensive up there!


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Old 09-06-2013, 10:05 AM   #5
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

I love mine for bikes.
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:08 AM   #6
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

We have both front and rear 2" receiver hitches on our 98 EB 2WD SMB. The front was there when I bought the van last year, and I added the rear. We did one 10-day, 1500-mile trip with the bikes on the front of the van, and this summer did a 30-day, 8,300 mile trip with the bikes on the back. On the front we used a fixed, receiver-type bike rack. On the rear we use a Thule swing-away receiver-mount rack. Below are some pros/cons from my perspective:

Front rack/hitch

- Bikes are easy to see, you worry about them less because you can see them
- IMO it's easier to park when the bikes are on the front, as it's easier to judge spacing and whatnot
- Does not impede rear doors
- Can use a cheaper, simpler bike rack as you don't need tilt-down or fold-away features. I used a cheap Rhode Gear receiver rack that I got at a yard sale for $10.
- Less chance of scraping the rack/bikes on a sloped driveway, road, etc. (especially a concern with an EB van, this happened a lot with the rear rack before I put rear airbags on my van)
- When you aren't using it and fold down the arms, it doesn't really get in the way of anything (except perhaps working on the engine), compared with a rear rack that is always blocking the doors whether it's being used or not.
- I never measured it, but it "feels like" my front rack + bikes adds less overall length to the van than my rear rack + bikes, mainly because the front rack is simpler and doesn't stick out as far on it's own. The rear rack has to stick out far enough to clear the step bumper and rear-mounted spare, and that's even before the bikes are loaded. I'd guess the rear sticks out easily a foot farther than the front.

- Bugs and road dirt on the bikes. Man, this is a big one. Our bikes were covered in all kinds of crud when they were on the front. On our recent "big" trip this year, I'm really glad we had them on the back as the hood of our van was constantly covered with bugs.
- Blocks vision somewhat, and can be annoying sometimes, especially in heavy traffic
- I assume having stuff on the front makes the van less aerodynamic and decreases MPG, but I didn't test this
- The front hitch I have impedes access to certain parts of the front of the van from underneath, mainly the radiator. I had to remove it, for example, to gain access when I replaced the Starcool aux fan on the front of the radiator. I still haven't reinstalled it, as it's kind of a pain to do by yourself.
- I wonder if a front receiver messes up any designed-in crumple zones on the E-van. I have no idea if these vans even have a crumple zone, though.

Rear rack/hitch

- The inverse of most of the "cons" noted above
- Keeps the bikes cleaner, no doubt in my mind
- Rear hitch can be used for many other things
- Rear hitch provides a built-in skid guard for those times you drag the van's rear (example: SMB installs them whenever they install a generator, for protection alone)
- Depending on the spot, you can park the van in less space (talking about an EB here); whenever I can I try to find a space I can back into that has clear space behind it, like a grassy area, little-used sidewalk, etc. I can back the van in and put my EB overhang + the rack out of the traffic area and still fit in a standard space. Note that I'm always careful not to block an active walkway or similar area

- If you have a rear-view camera, depending where it's mounted the rack may block its view. I had to move mine from the license plate area up to the third brake light area on the PH. The angle of view was much better for the camera when it was down low
- Even with a rear camera, judging back-up length and space is challenging sometimes
- As a corollary, I think you are much more likely to back into a tree or wall with a rear rack than to hit a tree or wall with a front rack, just because of sight limitations
- You'll probably need a more expensive rack. I wouldn't buy anything other than a quality swing-away rack like a Yakima or Thule. Even if you think you never use your rear doors, you probably do more than you realize. Tilting down a fully-loaded bike rack is not easy. Our swing-away rack was WELL worth the extra cost, and is very easy to use.
- Rack may block license plate and/or tail lights. Our lights are fine, but our plate is obscured. Haven't gotten hassled so far, though.

In short, my preference is a rear rack by a large margin. It's nice to have the front receiver, though, in case I ever need to carry a second bike rack or use the rear hitch for pulling a trailer at the same time as transporting bikes.

Showing rear rack overhang:

Rack swung open to access rear doors:

And this one included just because I thought it was cool, with the Zion rocks reflecting in the van's paint at sunset:
Attached Thumbnails
rearrack1.jpg   rearrack2.jpg   rearrack3.jpg  
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Old 09-06-2013, 10:13 AM   #7
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

Bikes on the front, they just "feel" like they are sticking out more for some reason

And a shot of our rear rack with the tandem on it, swung open (somebody mentioned carrying tandems in another thread)

Attached Thumbnails
frontrack.jpg   rearrack_tandem.jpg  
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:01 AM   #8
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

Originally Posted by LenS
i am looking for pros and cons on front receivers.
The front receiver's front bolt on my 96 attaches at the crumple point of the frame. This bubble makes the receiver point down. I added spacers at the back so it points up which helps the entry exit angle.

1996 Ford EB 2 wheel drive 460
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:13 AM   #9
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

My front hitch is lower than my rear. This means I can load large cruiser bikes onto motorcycle rack up front, but have no chance of loading one of those beasts on the rear.

Another pro: Sometimes you need another hitch! With the front hitch, I can put bicycles or dirt bikes up front and still pull a trailer. Sometimes I'll even load rafting dryboxes onto the rack while its up front.

I really haven't found any downside to having the receiver. Yes, sometimes it makes more sense to carry a particular load on the rear, but its nice having to option carry stuff up front. And, it makes a nice anchor to double back on for winching, or a recovery point if you don't have a winch.

I even added a 7-way socket to the front hitch so I can have full lights on the carrier, including aux driving lights.
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Old 09-06-2013, 11:30 AM   #10
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Re: Front 2" Receiver Hitch...Pros and Cons

The front receiver hitch works good for bikes.
Also makes for a good recovery point.
Comes in handy for getting a trailer into a tight spot.

Affects air flow. I had to modify the lower scoop to make it fit.
Mine is lower than the bumper and creates a lower approach angle.


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