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Options for Carrying 3 Bikes on 2004 Mazda 6 Wagon with Class I Trailer Hitch


Im looking for a 3-bike rack for this hitch on a 2004 Mazda 6 Wagon. I see in an earlier answer that you said any 1-1/4inch mount is limited to 2 bikes, but I see plenty of 3 and 4 bike carriers made for 1-1/4inch hitches on the market. If this hitch has a tongue weight limit of 200 lbs, why would it not be acceptable to use a 3 bike carrier on this hitch?


Expert Reply:

I have a solution for you to carry 3 bikes on your 2004 Mazda 6, but it is true that Class I, 1-1/4 inch receiver trailer hitches, like the # C11308 you referenced, are limited to carrying only 2 bikes.

These trailer hitches are limited to carrying 2 bikes due to the low tongue weight capacities of both the trailer hitch and the vehicle on which the hitch is installed. As more bikes are installed on a hitch mount rack, the weight of the bikes is moved further away from the hitch, increasing the leverage placed on the hitch. Because of the increased leverage with more bikes, trailer hitch manufacturers have determined that Class I trailer hitches are limited to carrying 2 bikes.

Class II trailer hitches with 1-1/4 inch receivers are able to carry more than 2 bikes, which is why manufacturers make 3- and 4-bike racks for 1-1/4 inch trailer hitches. Some of these racks will still fit in Class I hitches, but they will be limited to carrying 2 bikes when used with a Class I hitch.

In order for you to carry 3 bikes on your Mazda 6, I recommend using a hitch mount bike rack and a bike rack attached to a roof rack.

For the hitch mount bike rack, I recommend the Swagman Trailhead 2 Bike Rack # S63360. This rack allows you to tilt the unloaded rack forward to better access your vehicle's rear hatch. The anti-sway cradles help prevent bike-to-bike contact during travel and the included anti-rattle, threaded hitch pin and clip help prevent the rack from moving inside the hitch receiver. If you plan on carrying any women's, children's, or alternative frame bikes, a bike adapter bar, like # 64005, may be needed to secure the bikes to the rack. I have attached review videos of this adapter bar and the bike rack for you.

To comply with Curt's warranty on the # C11308 hitch, all non-trailer loads like bike racks and cargo carriers need to secured with a support strap, # 18050. I have also attached a review video of this support strap for you.

For a roof rack, I recommend a Thule SquareBar System. If your Mazda 6 has a naked roof, you can use the Rhino-Rack 2500 Roof Rack - Square Crossbars - Naked Roofs or Fixed Mounting Points - 46" Long Item # DS118B. If your vehicle has raised side rails, you will want the 47 inch bars # TH712200 and Evo Raised Rail Feet # TH710401.

A great option for a roof mounted bike rack is the Swagman Upright Roof Bike Carrier # S64720. This rack will hold your bike in place with the upright arm that will clamp around the bike's frame, allowing the bike's front tire to stay on the bike. I have attached a review video of this rack for you.

Another option to carry 3 bikes is a trunk mounted carrier. I really like the Thule OutWay 3-Bike Rack # TH56BV. The rack has narrowly spaced arms for easier loading of bikes and hold fast, anti-sway cradles to hold the bikes secure during transport. I have attached a review video of this bike rack.

expert reply by:
Victoria B

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