Product Review: Hard Dog 1.25" Hitch for 90-97 Miata Thule Hitching Post Pro Bike Rack

11/26/2014 9:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Product Review
Hard Dog 1.25" Hitch for 90-97 Miata
Thule Hitching Post Pro Bike Rack
by Martin Brown

I wanted a bike rack for my 1995 Miata, and I wanted one that would easily fit into the trunk of the Miata when I wasn't using it. I tried a strap-mounted trunk rack but it was a disaster. After a lot of inquiries, the combination of gear I came up with was a 1.25" receiver hitch (in this case, from Hard Dog/Bethania Garage) and a Thule Hitching Post Pro. Here's how they've worked out so far.

HARD DOG 1.25" HITCH

This was about $140 plus shipping, and to the casual observer, such as my dog, it's practically invisible (see highlighted area).

Hitch

Hitch

The installation of the hitch was straightforward. The hitch is cleverly designed to utilize the bolts that secured the rear tie-down hooks of a 90-97 Miata. (Since those hooks were only used during the original shipping of the Miata, there's no harm removing them.) When I really really really scrunched under the car, I found that the hooks could be removed and the hitch assembly installed without any jack stands, using only standard ratchet wrenches. It took me about an hour, though someone more mechanically inclined, or in possession of jack stands, could probably do it faster. I did need to expand (using a drill) one of the holes in the hitch assembly in order to make a really square fit. Now it's connected with 8 bolts, and seems pretty darn solid. Since it's unobtrusive, I'll just leave it on there permanently.

Here's two closer views. This is kind of a dog's eye view:

Close-Up
And here's the view of the hitch you would get if you got drunk and fell down by the Miata. (Some paint has chipped off the hitch).

Close-Up

No problems with the hitch so far. The bike rack (see below) has a bit of play in this hitch, even when bolted in tight, but so far there has been no perceptible motion while driving, which is what counts.

THULE HITCHING POST PRO BIKE RACK, 1.25" VERSION

This cost $130 at Rack Attack in Portland. I bought this rack partly on the recommendation of the salesman at Rack Attack (he said it was a solid rack for the price) and also on my calculation that without much trouble I could get it in my Miata's trunk. It is attached to the receiver hitch with a strong bolt and split washer (a wrench is included with the rack). Here's what it looks like on the car:

Bike Rack

Bike Rack
I've highlighted the area that holds the bikes. The cradles for the bikes are simple to use and secure. Driving with a bike on the rack on both local roads and the interstate, I was impressed with stability of the whole arrangement. No jiggling or banging or wiggling – it was solid, using just the standard hardware provided with the rack.

Note how the rack extends a good distance from the back of the car. The bikes stay well away from the car, so there's no problem with them banging against the paint job, if you care about that kind of thing. It's easy to get access to the trunk without moving the bikes. If you want even more access to the trunk, you can tilt the main post down..

Bike Rack Down

Bike Rack Down

Now the part that's really important to me. I wanted it to fit in the trunk without dominating it. After a three-minute disassembly (I timed it), using the wrenches included with the rack, here's how it fits.

Bike Rack Trunk

Bike Rack Trunk

Sorry about this photo's overexposure, but you can still tell the rack takes up hardly any room – there's lots left for helmets, gear, picnics, or in my case, detritus from local maple trees.

Hope this helps.

 

Address: PO Box 396, Portland, Oregon 97207

Email: zoomzoom [at] mthoodmiata.org

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