Installing Curt’s Adjustable RV Trailer Hitch on a travel trailer or fifth-wheel makes it possible to add a bike rack to securely carry two-wheelers. 

Owners looking for just a little more storage space often turn to hanging trays and racks on the RV’s back bumper or ladder, which have limited capacity. A better choice is to use accessories connected to a hitch receiver that’s bolted to the frame, but the majority of fifth-wheels and trailers leave the factory without such hardware. In some cases, the 4-inch box bumper, which provides valuable space for sewer hoses, is omitted to make way for the hitch receiver.

Graphic with info on Curt receiver hitch installationCurt’s universal Adjustable RV Trailer Hitch allows owners to have both pieces of equipment, and the 2-inch receiver can be installed in relatively short order using common hand tools.

Curt’s hitch receiver is designed to bolt up to a C-, I- or box-beam chassis as long as the frame is no more than 72 inches wide, which covers just about all towables. Since it’s designed for a universal fit, modifications will likely be needed, but nothing more complicated than drilling holes if the provided bolt-pattern misses the mark. The receiver, at about 100 pounds, has a nice-looking powder-coat black finish and is protected by a liquid Bonderite coating that inhibits rust.

It’s rated to handle 3,500 pounds and 350 pounds of hitch weight, which makes it practical for hooking up a lightweight trailer in states where triple towing is legal. The receiver can easily handle the weight of bicycles on the Yakima LongHaul rack (as long as the trailer is capable), which was the second part of this project.

Tools Needed

Drill and bit
Socket wrench and sockets
Impact driver
Open-end wrench
Tape measure

Reading the product description about the receiver might confuse some people because it’s earmarked toward motorhomes, but the universal configuration makes it suitable for trailers and fifth-wheels. The end plates will likely hang down to a point where owners might worry about dragging on driveways and dips. The receiver was installed on a fifth-wheel for this evaluation, and only twice during 17,000 miles did the brackets drag on very steep driveways, and then only slightly. The benefits of having the receiver far outweigh the potential dragging issue.

Seasoned do-it-yourselfers can install the hitch receiver in about an hour, but it’s best to have a helper, especially when lying on your back, because the parts are bulky and heavy. A floor jack will facilitate the installation, which is optional if your buddy is a body builder. Once the ends of the box frame on the fifth-wheel were cleaned up (to remove sealant), the frame brackets were positioned to determine where additional holes were needed. Clamps were used to temporarily secure the brackets to the frame, butted up against the box bumper. Brackets can be reversed if needed.

See Related Story: Yakima LongHaul: RV-Approved Hitch-Receiver Bike Rack

There’s definitely a prescribed order for assembling the three components since the main body tube has to fit through the square openings in both frame brackets, approached from inside the brackets. After measuring and marking the center point of the trailer, one frame bracket was bolted in place and the main body tube pushed through the square hole in the bracket tube mount and stabilized with the floor jack.

The second bracket was then installed, the main body tube centered, and holes drilled to allow the set bolts to secure the main body tube. Provided fish wires were used to hold the nuts when tightening the bolts, and an electric impact wrench was used to tighten the bolts before torqueing to specification.

www.curtmfg.com


bob-livingston-headshotAn RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee and publisher emeritus of Trailer Life and MotorHomeBob Livingston has written countless RV technical and lifestyle articles and books, and created and appeared on the weekly television show RVtoday. A lifelong RV enthusiast, Bob now travels and lives full time with his wife, Lynne, in their fifth-wheel trailer. He continues to be a regular contributor to Trailer Life.


2 COMMENTS

  1. I would never bolt this hitch up the way the author did. This hitch is designed to bolt up to the trailer frame. The box tube it was bolted to is the weak point in this assembly. You would be depending upon the box tube weld points to hold up under operating conditions. I would never trust this installation. By the way, I have installed this same hitch on my fifth-wheel. I removed the bumper assembly and reinstalled it four inches higher to clear the hitch. The hitch is at the correct height and does not hang any lower than the stabilizer jacks.

    • Bob Livingston replies: The project we presented was to install a Curt Adjustable RV Trailer Hitch in a 2-inch receiver to handle the weight of a bike rack and two bicycles. On the test fifth-wheel, the welds for the box supports are substantial, and we determined that the receiver can easily handle the intended weight. After more than 40,000 miles, many on rough highways, the receiver is solid as a rock. For those who want to tow heavier trailers, the hitch receiver can be installed directly to the frame. That requires separating the underbelly membrane and making other modifications. That’s way too much work for installing a receiver to handle a bicycle rack. Keep in mind that in many cases weight will be limited by the trailer manufacturer to around 300 pounds, and some manufacturers don’t recommend adding any weight to the back of the trailer. Bottom line: The Curt hitch receiver is universal, which means it can be installed in more than one way. Inspection of the box-support welds before proceeding is important.

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