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2017 Subaru Outback 3.6 R
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I'm new to the forum and am hoping someone here can help. I had a factory hitch (1.25") installed on my 2017 3.6R. I am looking for a bike rack but am having trouble finding one that works with this hitch. The problem is that the pin hole on the receiver is a little over 1" from the outer edge of the receiver and most bike racks require at least 1.5" of "overlap".

Subaru Canada only recommends the Thule Vertex 2 as a fit for the hitch (probably because it just meets the 1.5" minimum). When the Thule Vertex is installed the bolt that goes through the stinger and receiver does not go completely through to the opposite side and there is no lock nut to secure the bolt. I am concerned that this doesn't look very solid or safe.

I feel like installing the factory hitch installed was a very costly mistake due to the limitation of bike racks that will work. I am considering having the factory hitch removed and replaced with a Torklift Ecohitch. This is not the preferred course of action but I just can't see how this hitch will work with a bike rack. Any input on your experience with the factory hitch and bike racks, replacing factory hitch with Ecohitch, etc. is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,644 Posts
I dunno if the hitch or rack manufacturers have changed, but I had no problem using a 1UPUSA rack on my 06 WRX with factory hitch.
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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14,499 Posts
+1. The 1up bike rack doesn't care how deep the pin bore is because it isn't used. 1up has its own novel attachment system. It is secure, with many fewer rattles than the pin type.
 

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2018 Outback 3.6R Limited
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239 Posts
@Cate, I had the same issue but figured out a great solution. First I went with the Thule Apex vs the Vertex. The Apex is pricier but the locking mechanism does not use the through bolt which makes the hitch modification much easier. Also, it has a key to lock the rack to the hitch.... with the Vertex you would need to buy an additional lock for the through bolt.
Now for the mod, you will notice in the picture that at about 3 inches on the hitch there is a 'dimple'. I drilled a hole large enough to fit the pin for the Thule Apex... only one is needed. A little spray paint for rust and the bike rack installs super tight and is very solid.

I forgot to mention, if you get the rack first you can measure and drill the hole in the perfect position to have the tightest fit.



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2015 Carbide Gray Outback 3.6R with EyeSight
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176 Posts
I understand exactly what you are talking about, and was also upset when I found out that the bolt opening on the hitch was so close to the edge. However, I went ahead and order this rack: Allen Sports Premier 3-Bike Hitch Mounted Carrier Rack (from Walmart) and with the anti-rattle bolt, included with the rack, it works fine - made several 200+ mile trips without any problems. I may still drill a hole in the bike rack itself so that I could push it in further into the hitch, but only if I foresee long trips on dirt roads. Also, a nice thing with this rack (the only rack I found in this price range with this function) is that it has a lever for quick tilting to get access to the trunk - no pins to remove.
 

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2017 OB Touring 3.6R (BBP), 2012 Honda Odyssey, 2008 Acura RDX
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8 Posts
I have the factory hitch on my 2017 touring outback and I purchased the Kuat NV hitch. While it is a bit pricey, it is a terrific rack and there is no problem with the fit. Products | Küat Racks
 

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2017 Subaru Outback 3.6 R
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi there, thank you for the great suggestions. I looked into having an extra pin hole drilled into the hitch and/or rack and called a few fab shops but since everything is new I really didn't want to void the warranties. Good to hear that this works without problems though.

Great recommendations on racks. I looked into all of the suggestions in the thread and ended up buying the Kuat Sherpa as it best fit my needs (2 bikes, 1.25" hitch, easy access to cargo, and stable). Have only had the rack for a few hours and haven't tested it yet but it looks like it a solid fit. The dealership offered to remove the factory hitch for me but I'm glad that I don't have to go that route now.
 

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2018 Outback 3.6L
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3 Posts
Kuat NV bike rack

How easy/cumbersome is it to move the Kuat NV bike rack out of the way to open/close the rear hatch when this bike rack is installed but there are no bikes on it?

In the market for a bike rack for 2018 OB. I want to attach to the hitch & leave there for most of the summer but looking for something that I don't have to manipulate to open the hatch or a minimal manipulation. I've heard a lot of good things about this bike rack.

thanks.
 

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'14 Subi OBW, '18 Subi Forester
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1,972 Posts
Bike racks can be problematic on any hitch you buy. First, as you found out, a 1.25" receiver limits your options as many larger racks have 2" stingers. The second issue is the length of the stinger, and the placement of the pin hole. Often the whole assembly is too close to the bumper creating an 'opportunity' for the bikes to hit the vehicle. And there's the issue of free play and security.

I like the use of an anti-rattle (typically threaded) pin, as they help to reduce the free play of the stinger in the receiver. Better ones include a lock. Double secure that with a cable and padlock.

My solution (for my first Outback that had a 1.25" receiver) was a 1.25" => 2" adapter, available from U-Haul, Walmart, Harbor Freight, etc. It adds about 9" which is plenty of extra space to get the rack away from the rear bumper, but doesn't increase the stress level on the vehicle frame substantially (moment arm). It will require two locking pins.

As most locking anti-rattle pins require an integral nut, and as most 1.25" stingers on extenders are solid, that creates a problem.... My solution required a little bit of machine shop time (we have a little milling machine in the lab), but the outcome was a thing of beauty.
 

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2017 Subaru Outback 3.6 R
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Kuat rack is very easy to use and it releases and locks into position to access the cargo/hatch area - this can even be done with 2 bikes loaded. I have not found it to be cumbersome. The rack is also easy to take on and off the hitch. I have been very happy with how the Kuat rack functions and how solid it is on the hitch.
 

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2019 Limited 2.5 Magnetite Grey, 5th Outback
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76 Posts
i have had and used a Yakima Doubledown Ace 2 for 6 years with the factory 1.25" hitch, with a 2012 and now 2018 Limited, I agree the thru bolt does seem too close to the end, however, with the locking grip mechanism deeper in, I haven't had any issues. I've traveled long distance and over a few rough roads, no issues. And it does tilt for access to the back. (this rack is no longer available)
 
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