Nick’s Tips #22 – Tow Bars

Nick’s Tip 22
Tow bars

Towbar 4
Tow bars on Motorhomes seem to have several uses.
Firstly, the obvious towing of a trailer. This is a practical way of increasing your payload without exceeding the legal limit of the van.
Then there is the towing of a car. This can be useful as a run around at your destination. Be careful of current legislation here as it would seem quite complex. What we get away with in the UK may well not cut the mustard in France of Spain.
I have used my tow bar to carry a scooter. This sits on a bracket and is loaded on and off in a few minutes. Be careful of weight loadings to the rear axle with this one as the longer the overhang at the rear the greater the leaver effect. This will not only increase the weight to the rear axle but lift weight of the front. If your van is front wheel drive then this could affect the traction. Especially on wet grass for example. When I carried the scooter on a bracket my van had undergone a weight upgrade with air suspension. This added 350 kg to the rear axle limit and kept me legal but didn’t stop the traction issues. Also remember the tow bar comes with a max down weight, mostly this seems to be circa 100 kg and carrying a scooter and the bracket it sits on will no doubt equal or exceed this.
Finally there are many and various to bar mounted bike racks available in the after market. These can hold up to four bikes. And assuming that the bikes aren’t electric this should be within the weight capacities available. However if they are electric four bikes could way as much as a Peugeot scooter. See above for the issues here.
Anyway back to the tow bar itself.
There are two main types of these.
1. A bespoke manufactured type. You will see these on a great many motor homes. They normally have a long bumper style bar across the full width of the motorhome which offers great rear protection. I have had a couple of these made for previous motorhomes, both of them By Towtal in Stoke on Trent. They take a full day to manufacture and install, as every van type is slightly different the are made on site painted and installed.
2. In 2012 the law changed and the towbar now has to be “type approved” if fitted to a vehicle registered 2012 onwards. Type approved means the towbar has undergone rigorous testing and is manufactured for the specific vehicle. With my Bailey van I was easily able to obtain one suitable for the lowered Alko chassis. However my guess would be that they won’t be available for every van type on the market.
Inevitably this type of unit is more expensive. I paid £900 to get it fitted at Kaytow Vehicle and Trailer Services in Brierley Hill I received great service from these guys and it was done in about five hours.

Towbar 6 Towbar 5 Towbar 4 Towbar 2 Towbar 1

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