Question — is it common to have a bike rack loose in a hitch? We have all experienced a wobbly hitch mounted bike rack. Should you be worried about it? Or is it something to be expected?
It’s not uncommon — even for a snugly fitted bike rack to act loose or wobble a little, especially under heavy load. But if it wobbles too much for you to handle, it needs to be looked at by a professional or someone who knows what they are doing.
There’s no specific reason for a wobbly bike rack. Multiple factors could cause a loose bike rack. And it will cause wobbles. I’ll try to explain which wobbles you should treat normally and the other wobbles you should try to solve as soon as possible.
In this article, we will also be going over the factors and how you can get rid of the wobbles with simple solutions.
First, we should have an understanding of the reasons.
Why Is the Bike Rack Loose In Hitch? (5 Possible Reasons)
Here are the technical reasons behind the loose bike rack:
- Lack of a Proper Screw
Most of the time, the bike rack becomes loose because of a bad screw. It might be a screw that doesn’t fit properly to give a snug and tight connection. Or it can be a worn-out screw that has trouble holding the bike rack in place.
As a result, the rack starts to wobble and get loose.
- Using an Unthreaded Bolt
One other type of bolt used to connect a bike rack to the hitch is an unthreaded bolt. This one doesn’t work like a screw; rather it’s more of a pin with a cap. It’s called a cotter pin.
Unlike a threaded bolt, it slides through the hole and secures the rack very loosely to the hitch.
Being a pin-style bolt, it doesn’t have any scope of tightening the connection more and securing it firmly to the hitch.
In such cases, it feels like the bike rack is loose when in reality it’s the usual.
- Widened Receiver Distance
Every bike rack, especially the hitch mounted bike racks, will experience up-down and right-left movement during riding. It isn’t as noticeable when the bike parts are new.
But as time passes, the parts brush against one another. And the rack’s receiver widens due to the metal-to-metal touch. As the receiver distance increase, the wobble increases, giving you a loose bike rack feeling while riding.
All of the above cases need to be fixed immediately to prevent any damage to you and your bike.
Other Typical Reasons for a Loose Bike Rack
- Overloaded Bike Rack
One of the reasons behind a snugly fit bike rack acting like a loose rack is the overloading. A bike rack and hitch combination have a weight rating that we need to follow. If the load on the rack exceeds the limit, it creases pressure in all of the connections.
Over time the bolts and sleeve start to wear out, which results in a loose bike rack.
- Riding Momentum and Road Condition
When you attach a bike rack using a hitch, you’re practically extending the length of your bike. The only difference is that the hitch mounted bike rack requires you to ride the bike with a more controlled momentum. It’s even more crucial if the road condition is bad.
You can’t expect to make the hard turns you used to attempt before the hitch attachment. Any sharp momentum will create pressure on the bike rack’s stem and receiver sleeve.
At first, there won’t be any negative effects. But eventually, the wobbling will start indicating a loose bike rack.
How to Fix Loose Bike Rack in Hitch?
Fixing a loose bike rack is simple. If it’s a technical issue, ditch the cotter pin method. Use a snugly fit threaded bolt to connect the rack to the hitch.
Here are a few tips to avoid the problems mentioned above.
- Don’t use a cotter pin system
- Avoid overloading the bike rack
- Ride in a controlled momentum
- Don’t ride on a bad road
It’s nothing to be worried about if you see your bike rack loose in hitch. It may be caused by a loose or bad screw, or it might be something non-technical, such as a rough road or extra load. The solution is a good threaded screw. And it doesn’t need an expert to fix it.