Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

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The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer F45 (2014-)
The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer F46 (2015-)

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MarkySpark
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Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by MarkySpark » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:39 am

Does anybody have any recommendations for a towball / towbar mounted cycle carrier for a 2 Series Gran Tourer?

When I purchased my F46, I included the option for cycle carrier preparation. What was actually included seems to be exactly the same as a towbar preparation. It has the wiring connection, but also all the steelwork welded to the chassis where a removable towball can be fitted. When I spoke to my local BMW dealer about the towball, they showed me a towball which looks like a standard towball, but which actually had a little kind of rod inserted into it from right to left, creating a small protrusion on each side. BMW told me this provides extra stability for BMW's own cycle carrier. They told me it looked like I could also install a standard towball, which didn't have these side protrusions, but which costs £40 more - I'm not sure why I should pay more for what looks like a simpler product, unless it's somehow stronger or a different design than the "cycle carrier towball". Any ideas?

Does anybody know whether it really is possible to fit the standard towball to the "cycle carrier preparation", so that I could then buy a standard aftermarket cycle carrier rather than the (more expensive) BMW specific carrier? Is the metalwork underneath the car absolutely identical for both the cycle carrier preparation and the towbar preparation?

Is BMW's own cycle carrier superior to an aftermarket model from eg. Thule because of these supposed additional stability features?

I'm really not sure how a standard aftermarket cycle carrier (eg. Thule) fits onto a towball. Would the side protrusions on the BMW cycle carrier towball prevent a standard Thule carrier from being fitted to it?

MarkySpark
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Re: Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by MarkySpark » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:56 am

I have also attached some photos of both the "cycle carrier towball" and the underside of my car which shows the cycle carrier preparation
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Babaa
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Re: Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by Babaa » Mon Apr 02, 2018 2:19 pm

Hi there,

Not sure I can help that much yet as we haven't gone about getting our bike rack setup on our Active Tourer yet, but in terms of a good rack, we have a MaxxRaxx Voyager as it allows up to 4 bikes, and you can fold it down with all the bikes still on to get in the boot.

Our one happened to have used a 'flange' type fitting from the previous car instead of a tow ball as such, so although we are going to see if the BMW one can come with this 'flange' plate, I think we'll have to go down a third party one.

I know that MaxxRaxx do also do one that somehow mounts to a towball, but as we would have 4 bikes on it at times, I preferred the more solid look of the one that bolts to the flange plate.

We had a Witter detachable tow bar fitted on the last car which the parts mounted to the car look like what you have already got with the BMW preparation, but from the photos you show of the actual detachable tow ball part, I'd have to say that from memory that whilst it does look similar to the Witter one we had, I wouldn't be sure that it is exactly the same / is a standard fit without trying one.

I think your options are go for the BMW one possibly saving £40 from one without studs, but then maybe pay more for a BMW bike rack, or see if you can try fitting a non-BMW one without the studs (sorry, we sold ours with the last car), and if so then go for that and choose whichever bike rack will go on a tow ball.

Sorry I can't help much more with the fitment bit that goes on the car, but I can say that in the years we have used the bike rack, it has worked really well. One downside to this type of design is that you have to lift the bikes up and slide them back, whereas some other designs that have a bottom too them look like they may be easier to slide the bikes on to (and some of those still tilt down too), but then the good thing with our one is that it is just really 2 long sturdy beams that come in a bag, so when you get to where you are going and take it off the car, not much to store.

Cheers -- Babaa
2018 m140i SE
2015 220i Active Tourer
2013 m135i (now gone)

MarkySpark
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Re: Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by MarkySpark » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:01 pm

Thanks Babaa for your advice.
I have attached a couple more photos, one showing a detailed view of the towball protrusions, and another one showing the complete BMW part number for this cycle rack towball on the packaging. I ended up taking this item back to BMW when I looked into it last year, as I just couldn't decide whether I really wanted to spend so much money for a BMW Original cycle carrier (compared to a much cheaper aftermarket one), for the small amount of use it would actually get. Also, I think the BMW Original cycle carrier only carries 2 bikes as standard, and you have to pay extra for an additional add-on unit for a 3rd bike. Considering I was actually hoping for something to carry 4 bikes, the total cost was approaching £1000 (£160 for the original cycle rack preparation on the car, £180 for the cycle carrier towball, about £500 for the cycle carrier, and about another £100 for the add-on 3rd cycle accessory), for something which didn't exactly meet all my expectations.....

The description of this cycle carrier towball on the BMW invoice was "165611/Ball hitc", and the part number was shown on the BMW invoice as "Standard Parts P B71.60.6.870.724"
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Nottsknots
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Re: Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by Nottsknots » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:09 pm

I cant speak for a 2series GT, but I wouldnt get a dealer fit (I doubt there are any factory fit) towbar again. No car manufacturer makes their own, they are all rebranded mainstream towbars, so just get one fitted by a local reputable bunch, and you get exactly the same thing for less money. Many dealers ever get the local fitter to fit them anyway, so cut out the middle man.

My "Jaguar" one was Witter underneath. Yours looks exactly like one of the Witter ones too (although it's a Brink, I'm not sure how close the designs are)
https://www.pfjones.co.uk/witter-detach ... e3000.html
so you could almost certainly fit a standard ball in that mounting frame (there are quite a few different models, so do phone them up to make sure).

Towball fitted cycle racks are fine, and you dont need "special" three pronged anything "for stability". I have one two-cycle one that just clamps on with a lever, and one four bike one that has a screw clamp onto the ball, AND uses a locking bolt to REALLY grip the ball; just came back from the Forest of Dean up the M5 (120 miles each way), and it didnt move AT ALL: its stable once fitted properly, even fully loaded (and I've stood on it and jumped up and down to check it's fitted properly - no movement what-so-ever). The wife doesnt even notice it on the back, so it doesnt affect handling that much either (I can tell its there, but again, doesnt really have much effect on driving).

Mine is an older version of this
https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbveh ... C4ure5HXEB

As said above, you can get one that drops to facilitate access to the boot without removing the bikes
https://www.roofbox.co.uk/scripts/rbveh ... ure5Jvj%60
I decided for the amount of use it would get, I could live without that feature and save some dosh; I've really not missed it, but thats personal choice.

As for "how do they work", they just have a clamp that fits in 3 or 4 segments over the ball (think hollow Chocolate Orange) which are then clamped together with a screw mechanism from the top, and the bigger ones have a split ring around the base of the ball with a bolt to clamp the two ends of the ring together (so it grips UNDER the ball as well, and holds the segments together). My 2 bike one just has two half-shells with a hinge a few inches above, and the long vertical shafts above pivot out on a lever, which forces the half-shells together and grip the ball; there is a circular hole at the bottom of the spherical shell where the towbar comes out of the ball, and thats what stops it moving around the horizontal axes (the shaft interferes with the base of the shells) - and the tight grip stips the whole thing twisting around the ball around a vertical axis.

I suspect any BMW extra stability bits would get right in the way of a rack designed to fit a normal ball.

Hope you find what you need :)
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Billy1mate
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Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by Billy1mate » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:23 pm

I would pay the extra £40 for the towball, that way you are free to choose whichever cycle carrier, trailer or caravan you want.
The best cycle carrier on the market is/was the Atera Strada (Sport possibly) comes as 2 or 3 bike with an add on option to extend to 3 or 4 bike fitment. They clamp and lock onto the towball so cannot be stolen.
http://www.atera.co.uk/bike-carriers-racks.php

MarkySpark
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Re: Towbar mounted mounted cycle carrier for 2 Series Gran Tourer

Post by MarkySpark » Tue May 15, 2018 11:32 pm

Hi all,
Just thought I'd give you an update on what I did in the end, in case anybody else is in a similar situation.
First of all, I called my local BMW dealer to check whether the factory-fitted chassis-mounted metalwork for the cycle carrier preparation was the same as the metalwork for the standard towball. The pictures look identical, but they have two completely different BMW p/n's. The guy at my local BMW dealer said that he couldn't tell what the difference was, but that he could not recommend that I fit a standard towball to the cycle carrier preparation. Maybe BMW use two different p/n's for exactly the same kit, just to try and force people to buy their BMW Original cycle carrier, but maybe there are some small differences between the two.
So in the end, I decided to try and find a reasonably priced BMW cycle carrier. The latest version (Cycle Carrier Pro 2.0) has a recommended retail price of about £550, which is ridiculous. After keeping my eyes open on eBay, one eventually appeared as a regular auction. It had apparently been an ex-display model, which was hardly ever actually used by the person who bought it. I eventually managed to win the auction at a price of £233 including shipping. It arrived today.
I then bought the BMW Original cycle carrier towball. Most places were selling it at the recommended retail price of £183. But a BMW garage called Barons Watford were selling them brand new on eBay for £168 including shipping. So I ordered one of those, which also arrived today.
Overall, I have therefore paid £160 for the cycle rack preparation (when I bought the car), plus £168 for the towball, plus £233 for the cycle carrier, so a grand total of £576, which isn't bad, considering that if I change my car, I should be able to reuse my existing cycle carrier and perhaps even the removable towball.
The BMW cycle carrier Pro 2.0 seems like a really solid piece of kit. From what I can see on the label, It seems to be manufactured by a German company called Uebler GmBH (www.uebler.com). I managed to fit it onto the towball in my lounge this evening, and I'll have a go at fitting it to my car this weekend.
Thanks for all your advice.

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