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bak-rak tow-ball mounted carrier for anything - from bikes to bins

Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

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Loads   |    Overloads   |    Driving   |   Make-my-own   |    Bike racks 

These questions relate to the use of the whole bak-rak family. If you are looking at Base-rak with a desire to work out which bits you need then click here.

Any questions not answered? e-mail to [email protected] or fax as below

Q1. Will bak-rak fit any tow-bar

A1. Yes the latest universal fitting fits all euro tow-balls including swan-neck and special Al-Ko products. They even fit the Aluminium forged system used as OE on BMW and Audi .

Bak-rak can also be fitted onto pin and ball universal couplings such as the Dixon-Bate range. However these vary slightly in the width of the flange below the ball. In some cases this may be over 50mm. In this case it will be necessary to either relieve the sides of the flange [a virtually unstressed area though the manufacturers will not give approval as they are tied by their DoT approval requirement] or to cut back the bak-rak in this area - a less good engineering process - but we will give instructions if required.

If you are using the rack at the top end of the loading capability for your vehicle then you can use the optional load straps [£6] or a ratchet strap to support the outer edge of the rack from the top of a boot, spare wheel or rear door. This depends on you having an estate, MPV or 4x4.

You can even use a base-rak on a motorcycle such as a Honda Goldwing [we have sold lots] to carry luggage, wheelchairs ..all sorts of things - but it is very much your responsibility to load it so it doesn't effect the handling of the bike...light stuff only!!


Q1A. My bak-rak seems to swivel even when clamped tight.

A1A. If the clamshell goes on a brand new tow-ball with paint [or lacquer used on new zinc-plated  balls] then this acts as a lubricant. Equally any trace of grease will let the clamshell move. Clean the inside of the clam thoroughly [glass-paper or wire wool] and remove paint/grease from the tow-ball and you should not have a problem. To get rid of all grease a clamshell can be put into the dishwasher for a couple of cycles. You can also use the two grub screws in the throat of the clams to engage with pips you drill in the throat of the ball.

We now do a collar system that can stop any chance of swivelling - see home page for details.

Q1B. I have a tricycle/buggy/wheelbarrow/cart/plane/trolley that I want to fit onto the towball.

A1B. Simply bolt a sheet of plywood the right size on top of the base=rak - G4 racks have captive nuts for this purpose. Then cut slots in the wood for feet/wheels - a strap over the top and your carrier is made.


Q2. Will the fuel consumption be affected.

A2. Unlike roof-boxes and trailers the bak-rak sits tight into the aerodynamic void behind the car so will have no effect on consumption whatever speed you travel. On some cars the drag will actually be reduced as the rack smoothes the air flow behind the vehicle.


Q3. Are there any legal limitations on what I carry or where I go.

A3. The bak-rak is limited on the load it can carry. There is a maximum nose weight defined for all modern vehicles that should not be exceeded and base-rak has a maximum limit of 100 kg distributed evenly over the rack.  If you exceed these weights you are potentially carrying an unsafe load and could be taken to court by the police. However bak-rak has been tested with 650kg - so your tow-bracket will be the limiting factor.

If you have an estate, MPV, SUV or hatchback you can support the outer edge of the rack with load straps to the top of the rear door. This can legally allow you to exceed the tow-bar weight limit as the extra weight is supported elsewhere on the car. The limit on your specific vehicle is your responsibility and generally the manufacturers will have nothing to do with specifying maximum loads that can be hung onto the rear door.

Unlike trailers there are no speed-limits for bak-rak and you can use lane3 on the motorway. On ferries and autoroutes you are not subject to the extra charges which are levied on vehicles with trailers.


Q4. Do I need a lighting board & do you sell them.

A4. Only if you pile the rack so you cannot see the lights or number plate of the car. The lighting bar will need to reproduce whatever you canít see. If just the number-plate is hidden [on modern cars like a Punto / latest Corsa which have very high light clusters] then just a number-plate is needed. But if all the lights are hidden then a full lighting-board will be necessary.

We use a separate lighting board because it ties in with the modular logic of our racks. In addition you will find with built in lighting that a few years down the road you will start having problems with corroded bulbs and contacts and the odd hour with grease and glasspaper [ normally when the car is loaded up ready to go] easily equates to replacement of the lightbar every few years! The opposition sell you their products to use now!! We sell you a bak-rak to use for ever!!!!


Q5. What can I carry on bak-rak.

A5. If your vehicle can take a nose weight over 100 kg then you can carry up to 100kg by weight [60 kg for basket and box-raks]. Bulkier packages that can be fixed on can be carried. But make sure the lights etc. are visible.

If you want to think of the alternative things you may want to carry over the 20 year life of the rack then we could be here for ever. Visits to the dump with anything from a sofa to a television. Collecting all manner of purchases. In the last three months ours has been used for cement-mixers, paving slabs, mowers, potted plants, Christmas tree, a sofa and a dog-kennel [in which our dog tried to travel].

Q5A. I want to use a bak-rak to replace my trailer


Use  a G3 to fit a two piece  (for easy storage) plywood deck This can be as big as you like if you are carrying lightweight stuff. If you make one side bigger than the other and add sides, overlapping in the centre to join them then the two parts store inside each other and you can carry as much as a small trailer - but still use the council dump that bans trailers. Storage becomes straightforward too.


Q6. There is no recommendation for nose-weight on our 1955 Wartburg. [you may guess that this is an infrequently asked question - it's the principle that counts]

A6. Well, a Wartburg is unusual Ė if you can find the make of the tow-bracket you may get some assistance. Owners clubs may know. If they have all ceased to exist as well then you are rather on your own, though bear in mind the police will not be able to establish a nose-weight either. Just act sensibly and guess the nose-weight from similar vehicles. If in doubt use 50kg as the nose weight - hence 40kg for the rack load without additional straps [60kg with straps] .


Q8. What happens if I overload bak-rak?

A8. Ultimately you will bend it. But the loads are massive and you will  damage the tow-bracket in the process. Bak-rak is stressed for a 100kg distributed load, with a good margin for error to allow for the extra dynamic loads from driving over sleeping policemen and general road lumps and bumps. Our tests  loaded the rack with a 650kg load so this margin for error is high. But it is designed for sensible use by sensible people. If your local rugby team all climb on it, it will bend before it gets to any sleeping policemen! And we are sorry, but that wonít be covered by our normal warranty. Neither will the tow-bracket be covered by their warranty - so it is best not to go there!

You can avoid most chance of bending the rack by using the optional load straps to support the outside edge of the rack from the top of a rear hatch-back. ( the way many bike-racks support the load). But if your friends in the rugby club have a laugh - then you will bend the rack and the rear door.


Q9. What do I do if I bend bak-rak?

A9. If you bend your rack we will provide a reduced price replacement . Bak-rak users are very important to us! But no-one has managed it yet except for one Gent who reversed into a tree!! E-mail us the details and we promise to be as helpful as we can. We want you recommending bak-rak to all your friends, so it is in our interest to keep you happy!


Q10. My bak-rak tends to swivel on the ball.

A10. It is important to clean the grease off the ball and clam to reduce the tendency to swivel. All the clamshells now are fitted with small grub-screws in the throat area and these can be screwed out so they dig into the ball. If you want to make the fitting completely swivel-proof then dimple the throat area of the ball where the grub-screw marks it, using a small drill.   As a further option we can sell you an anti-swivel collar kit ( £15) which will allow you to change the large M12 X 30 bolt for clamping with a ratchet handwheel removing the need to use a spanner.


Q11. Why can't I just make my own rack.

A11. You can! That is how we started - but unless you copy our design you will end up with a rack probably twice as heavy [ours weighs 6kg]. And all of the extra weight will come off the load carrying capability. If you copy our design it will probably cost twice as much as buying one from us - we know as we have made the [expensive] prototypes. So the bottom line is that you will be better off with a bak-rak - which is really not expensive when you look at what it will do and the years it will last!!



Q12. Do your bike racks cope with different e.g. kids or electric bikes

A12. Our standard base-rak with bike racks is designed for 'normal' adult bikes with a frame tube up to 40mm. It is the standard bike rack built by the thousand and on sale in most car accessory shops - normally for around £25. Base-rak will take any roof-type bike racks so if you have a strange bike then buying a single rack locally for that will allow it to be fitted. In practice kids bikes can be accommodated by our standard bike racks by shortening the diagonal tubes then flattening and re-drilling the ends as per the original. It is obviously your responsibility to do it safely!!

The rack is fine for electric bikes if they have a conventional diagonal down tube of less than 40mm. If not you will need to source your own bike-rack to fit on the base.

Our gallows type racks allow carriage of up to 4 normal bikes. However the gallows design does not give the modular flexibility of the base-rak plus bike-raks.



Q13. Have you got any boxes currently available - are there any alternatives.

A13. We do a really tough plastic box for £240 and a robust smaller plastic box for £65. You can find a range of boxes from all sorts of other sources. One of the benefits of bak-rak modular design.

The pictures alongside show a garden cushion box fitted onto a plywood base - a good technique. We supply simple fitting brackets which can also fit it onto an Xtender bar for quick release.


Q14. Can I carry a microlight aircraft on a bak-rak

A14. Lots of people do and the normal system is to use the G3 or G4 base-rak and mount a piece of plywood onto it. On this can be screwed whatever blocks etc. needed to level and mount the plane. After this a couple of slots for a ratchet strap and a cable lock is all that is needed.







carrying two trikes




Bike rack support shown with one arm modified for a child's bike

old cushion box used on a base rak.



Contact details - Tel 0800 112 6884 for queries    e-mail [email protected]