Picking the right type of tow bar for the job is probably best left to your tow bar fitter as there’s more to choosing the right tow bar than just picking the one you like the look of.

In the UK and Europe all tow bars have to be type-approved by law (unless your vehicle is pre-1989)

Type approved means that the tow bar has been manufactured and legally approved for use with your make and model of vehicle. This includes the tow bar neck.

There are FOUR types of tow bar neck, Fixed Flange, Removable Flange, Fixed Swan Neck, and Removable Swan Neck.

Flange Towbars

Fixed Flange Towbar

The Flange neck tow bar is the more traditional out of the types of tow bar. Mainly used on commercial vehicles the flange neck tow bar has a bolt-on tow ball that can be either ball and pin (commercial vehicles only,) standard ball (50mm,) ALKO compatible ball (50mm long reach.)

The flange tow bar can be fitted with a cycle carrier that attaches behind the tow ball, this allows for bikes to be carried between a trailer and the towing vehicle. (The main consideration with carrying cycles like this is nose weight.)

Detachable Flange Towbar
Detachable Flange Towbar

The detachable flange tow bar is basically a flange tow bar where the neck disconnects when not needed, allowing for easier access to the vehicle’s boot and also having the benefit of avoiding bruised shins.

Swan Neck Towbar

Swan Neck Towbars

Swan neck, because they have a long curved neck. The swan neck tow bars are designed in a way that makes them less bulky than the flange tow bars. The 50mm ball on the swan neck is ALKO compatible, so no issues when connecting an ALKO hitch. The swan neck towbar is available in both fixed and detachable types.

Westfalia Detachable Swan Neck Towbar

Things you need to know before choosing a tow bar.

Fog Light
If your vehicle has a lower bumper central fog light then you will need a detachable tow bar. (Blocking the light with the tow ball when not towing is a criminal offense and also an MOT fail.

Number Plate
If your vehicle has a low bumper situated number plate then you also require a detachable tow bar, for the same reasons as above.

Nose Weight Make sure that the nose weight limit for the tow bar is within the limits you need. If you’re expecting to carry two eBikes weighing 25kg each then you need a neck weight of over 70kg as you need to account for the weight of your cycle carrier around 16 kg.

Maximum Tow Weight The maximum tow weight is normally depicted by your vehicle’s maximum tow weight, so check your owner manual to make sure you can tow what you are planning on pulling.

Getting the best tow bar

Try to think of a tow bar as a critical safety item. As with most safety-critical things you get what you pay for. You wouldn’t get the cheapest parachute as you would want something that’s ultra-reliable and safe. The same goes for tow bars, get cheap and get the safety and reliability that cheap pays for.

The more expensive tow bars ar welded by robots, CARLOS tested and finished with premium coatings that are designed to last. Cheap towbars are made cheap and are designed to be made as cheaply as possible.

We never recommend fitting second-hand tow bars. You won’t know the history of the bar, it could have been involved in an accident, it could have been used for pulling out a tree stump. Be safe and always fit a new tow bar, it’s just not worth risking.

Towbar Fitting

Make sure that whoever is fitting your tow bar knows what they are doing, has the required tools and can fit the tow bar to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can fit your own tow bar, providing you fit to the tow bar fitting instructions that come with the tow bar.

Fitting a tow bar usually requires the removal of the vehicle’s bumper, lowering the exhaust and possibly the AdBlu tank. It’s not something to be attempted unless you have experience.

The best way to choose a tow bar is to ask your local tow bar fitting company. They should know the best type of bar and which manufacturer to choose. If they don’t then give us a call or email us, we will be happy to help.

You can contact us on 0114 360 7080 or email info@ultimatetowbars.co.uk

Happy Towing

Team Ultimate