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Carrying 4 Bikes on a 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid

Question:

Hello experts, I think I can only put a class I hitch on my prius, so the receiver will be 1-1/4. I would like to have the ability to carry 4 bicycles I have three kids. I have some ground clearance concerns with something sticking that far off the back of a smaller vehicle. I am thinking of the Curt C11276 hitch, Pro Series Q-Slot PS63138, and a hitch adapter HTAD. Questions: Does this seem like a good ion to you, or do you have other recommendations to consider? Do you know if the hatch will open with bicycles loaded given that the adapter will extend the distance between the bumper and the first bicycle? Thanks!

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Expert Reply:

I have a solution for you but there are a few limitations with a Class I hitch that will change how you load the vehicle.

A Class I hitch like the Curt, part # C11276 is limited to only carrying two bikes. A Class I hitch is designed to only have weight relatively close to the vehicle, so adding a third bike can risk significant damage to the vehicle and the hitch. I can't recommend the setup that you've looked at for that reason.

Before I get into the recommendations for your situation, I'll be up front about the bikes. If you have bikes that have wheels smaller than 16 inches, you will do so much better with just storing these in the trunk. I know that's not a great solution, but it is a lot easier than adapting a rack to these bikes.

Instead, I'd recommend the Hollywood Racks SportRider, part # HR1000Z . This is a two bike platform rack with tilt-away features, which will let you access the rear hatch of the vehicle. This rack is able to carry smaller wheel bases of kids bikes, and can also accommodate 16 and 18 inch wheels with its kid rack adapter, part # HRSW-ADP-2 .

If any of your bikes are equipped with a quick-release wheel, then you'll be able to save quite a bit of time and effort by going with a SeaSucker Mini Bomber for 2 bikes, part # 298-BB2006 or 3 bikes, part # 298-BB3008 . There is also a 1 bike version called the Talon, part # 298-BT1004 . If you have two larger quick bikes, and then two of the smaller bikes, you can even skip the hitch and just go with one of these. This is especially nice as front quick-release and through-axle bikes are becoming significantly more common.

Since this loads on your roof, you'll want to verify your roof's weight capacity with your owner's manual or vehicle manufacturer in order to avoid damaging your roof.

These innovative racks let you use vacuum mounts to mount your bikes on any open space on the roof of your vehicle, avoiding adding a roof rack to your vehicle. Additionally, the rack is compact and can be stored in the vehicle, so you don't have to worry about not having your rack available when you need it.

The downside to this rack is that the front wheels of any bikes you use it with will need to be stored in the trunk, which can get a little daunting in terms of space. Again, the upside is that it avoids the need to install a roof rack, which can end up being far more expensive.

For the SeaSuckers, I always recommend adding a 10-foot cable lock, part # e98891 to add security to the rack, alongside a window anchor point, part # 298-BA0010 . This adds a locking cable to the rack and gives you peace of mind.

If you would rather just get the roof rack, then you'll be adding a level of flexibility to your vehicle that didn't exist before. This is a more expensive option, but a lot of my customers have found that the flexibility of the roof rack is worth it over time. Again, you'll want to verify your roof's capacity before installing the roof rack onto the vehicle.

For the Plug-In Hybrid variation of the Prius, there's not that many rack options, and they're not terribly different in price, so I recommend getting the Rhino Rack Vortex AeroBar kit, consisting of:

Rhino Rack Vortex Aero Bar 2500, 49 inches, Silver, part # RRVA126S-2
2500 Series Vortex Legs, part # RRRLKVA
DK Fit Kit for Vortex legs, part # DK195

This will add a roof rack to your vehicle and allow you to add a number of channel or clamp mounted accessories to the roof of your vehicle. For a specific bike rack, I am a fan of the Malone Pilot TC ST, part # MPG2103 which is a wheel mounted bike rack, letting you quickly and easily mount the bike into the carrier.

Additionally, the Pilot TC includes integrated bike locks and is extremely light at only 10 pounds, letting you keep your roof capacity for your bikes, rather than your racks. I also like that its wheel holders are extremely adjustible, fitting a wide range of wheel bases for bikes with wheels between 20 and 29 inches.

I've included videos of all of these racks and demonstrations of them in action so you can get an idea of how they work and install, as well as a better understanding of their features so you can make the best decision for your family adventures.

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