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Range with Bike / Cycle rack fitted on tow bar / hitch

gidster99

Member
Feb 24, 2020
80
73
London
Tesla with Bike Rack - Rear View.jpg
Tesla with Bike Rack - Side View.jpg
I have seen a few questions related to bike/cycle racks, which one to get, how much weight can they carry, what is the impact on range etc.

So I thought it worth sharing my experiences / findings.

I went for the M3 LR with tow hitch factory fitted, in large part because of wanting to carry the bikes on the tow bar as I had previous (bad) experience of roof racks with my prior car (a Ford S-Max).

First Lesson: Weight Limits
At the time of purchase, and even when speaking to the Tesla Sales people (back when the salesrooms were open!) figures like 910Kgs were mentioned... Be aware: this is only for towing with wheels (so like a trailer etc.) For something simply being supported by the Tow Bar, the limit (per the manual) is 55Kgs (even less IIRC for the M3P).

This includes the weights of the bikes and the rack itself.

I actually took this quite far, and even spoke to a lawyer specialising in accidents with trailers etc. The upshot was that the law is ambiguous. It seems very likely that the legal limit will be the 100Kgs listed in the Certificate of Conformity. But the lawyer asked me if I wanted to be the test case to take up with Tesla if we were, Heaven Forbid, involved in an accident.

I therefore went with the Atera STRADA DL 3-bike rack as per the photos (from Roofbox, who were very helpful) in order to keep below the 55Kg limit. This is definitely frustrating as, if we want to go for a full family of four bike ride, we need two cars. Or to get a roof rack for the last bike, but that is a somewhat expensive option.

And then you anyway start getting into overall weight limits of the M3 (which IIRC is 375Kgs fot the Long Range). Especially with all the holiday packing we seem to take !!

So 3 bikes it is. And a second car along for the drive when needed.

Also note: I believe all UK cars must have the tow bar factory fitted in order to be legal. This is different to the US, so watch out for that.

Second Lesson: Range
Actually, I am not quite sure what the lesson here is... I have shown below some of the longer trips I have taken with the bike rack attached. And the Range/WHrs seem to vary quite a lot. The best Wh/Miles I got was 294. And the worst was 391 Wh/Miles.

As it happens, there is one pretty close comparison (which I have also included) where I went from Home to the Winchester Charger without a Bike Rack (or any luggage in the car). Here the Wh/Miles was 280 Wh/miles. This compares to the similar journey with the Bike Rack of 391 Wh/Miles.

So it does seem reasonable to conclude that range is impacted. But as to how much I am not sure.

What is certainly interesting is that, with the Trailer fitted, the Energy Prediction seemed pretty good...and - as it has been for me without a bike rack - the reality seemed to come in very slightly better than the prediction.

Hopefully this is of use to people considering tow bars, bike racks etc.

Tesla with Bike Rack - London to Somerset.jpg
Tesla with Bike Rack - Somerset to London.jpg
Tesla with Bike Rack - London to Grafham Water.jpg
 

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    Tesla London to Winchester SC with and without rack.jpg
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gidster99

Member
Feb 24, 2020
80
73
London
I ordered mine from the UK Tesla website, and it was an option I could select. So I would imagine it would also be an option on the US/ Canadian website if it is available. And conversely, I would assume that if there is no option on the US/ Canadian website then the answer is "no" :(
 

LongRanger

Active Member
Jan 11, 2020
1,317
1,216
Wales
great work thank you. I'll be getting a trailer to tow mowing equipment and general stuff so will try and do the same for that config.
 
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Avendit

Member
Apr 18, 2019
857
567
EDI
I found on a longer mixed Dual/single carriageway drive that the efficiency lost on the bikes was pretty much made up for by doing the speed limit rather than my usual +5%. That was 4 bikes on the same rack with the extra bracket, but 2 smallish kids bikes. Total weight was 60kg which I reckoned was within tolerance.

My P- is limited to 500kg towing trailers, but the same 55kg for bike racks etc. I don't think you can get P+ with the towball? There may be a variation for the 19" or 20" wheels, but I'd have to look up the manual.
 

gangzoom

Active Member
May 22, 2014
1,375
1,231
Uk
Well on a Model X having a road bike on a tow bar carrier doing 65-70mph makes zero difference to range!! Infact with a tailwind it makes a bit of a mockery of the trip advisor.

50227129192_e3dbf7a664_c_d.jpg
 

i3m3Andrew

Member
Dec 12, 2019
35
24
Scotland
Got 250 miles on fast cross country roads in Scotland (including Glencoe) with two bikes on the tow bar and two relatively big kids bikes with wheels removed in the boot. 276 wh/mi which I thought was not too bad.
FE7FD4E5-987E-4A95-AB98-052946EA8299.jpeg
799C828E-0716-442A-BF32-830D915CC5B2.jpeg
 
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house9

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Nov 16, 2019
388
448
California
Good post. Does anyone know if one can order a factory installed hitch in Canada/USA for a M3??

Was not an option in the USA when I ordered mine last year, I think you have to go with after market solution for Model 3.

Model Y has the tow hitch option though.
 

BK11SBY

Member
Dec 9, 2019
35
17
Northamptonshire, UK
I have recently driven down from Northampton to Dorset circa 150 miles averaging 304wh/Mi with a fully loaded car with 3 bikes on a towbar bike rack. I think that journey would normally be around 270-280 so don't think that's bad at all.
 
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bensla

New Member
Jan 20, 2021
2
0
UK
I noticed in the manual it actually specifies a maximum distance that the carrier's centre of gravity needs to be away from the towball. The limit is 22.5cm. There is a no way 3 adult bikes would fall within this limit. Has this bit only recently appeared in the manual as I can't find anyone who pays attention to it!
 

M3noob

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Aug 22, 2019
811
628
Beyond the pale
I noticed in the manual it actually specifies a maximum distance that the carrier's centre of gravity needs to be away from the towball. The limit is 22.5cm. There is a no way 3 adult bikes would fall within this limit. Has this bit only recently appeared in the manual as I can't find anyone who pays attention to it!

Carry bowling balls on the frunk to balance the CG :p
 

Peteski

Active Member
Oct 2, 2017
3,539
2,403
UK, Milton Keynes
I noticed in the manual it actually specifies a maximum distance that the carrier's centre of gravity needs to be away from the towball. The limit is 22.5cm. There is a no way 3 adult bikes would fall within this limit. Has this bit only recently appeared in the manual as I can't find anyone who pays attention to it!

Are you saying that the centre of your bike rack is more than 22.5 cm from the towball?
 

bensla

New Member
Jan 20, 2021
2
0
UK
Are you saying that the centre of your bike rack is more than 22.5 cm from the towball?

Given a 3 bike carrier is about 70cm long, the center of gravity would definitely be past 22.5 I'd say yeah! I think it would work fine for a 2 bike carrier but I just can't make the numbers work when considering 3 adult bikes. Or even smallish bikes.
 

Peteski

Active Member
Oct 2, 2017
3,539
2,403
UK, Milton Keynes
Given a 3 bike carrier is about 70cm long, the center of gravity would definitely be past 22.5 I'd say yeah! I think it would work fine for a 2 bike carrier but I just can't make the numbers work when considering 3 adult bikes. Or even smallish bikes.

I see what you mean. So I guess it comes down to how critical that 22.5 limit really is. It really should be a combination of mass and overhang distance. For example a 5 kg bike will put half the torque on the tow ball than a 10 kg bike at the same distance.

I think if you stick to the 55 kg total nose weight limit you will be safe with a 3 bike rack. The further you are below the 55 kg limit, the more leeway you will effectively have on the overhang too. If you take the limits strictly, I think it implies that the max is 55 kg load at a distance of 22.5 cm. So if you only had half that load you could safely increase the distance to 45 cm as the torque would be identical.
 

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