Variable Towbars for Motorhomes
Basic knowledge about variable towbars for motorhomes. Everything you need to know before you decide on a universal trailer hitch: Manufacturers, prices, value for money. Read on and learn more...
Universal towbar - what for and what to look out for
It is clear that a trailer hitch expands the transport possibilities of a motorhome. However, acquiring a suitable towbar often turns out to be much more complicated than expected. To make the decision and selection easier, we describe the function and compare the differences, manufacturers and prices of universal towbars here. Before we make the comparison, here first general information to understand the function and areas of application for a variable towbar.
Function and use of an adjustable trailer hitch
A variable trailer coupling has many faces and...many names. One speaks of a variable trailer hitch when the device is adjustable. Thanks to this feature, a variable towbar is referred to as universal and adjustable. No matter what search term you enter in Google - universal, adjustable, variable, is meant and what you are looking for is a device that can be adapted to a vehicle.
This adaptability of a variable towbars also defines its range of use.
Variable or adjustable towbars are fitted to vehicles equipped with additional bodies, e.g. motorhomes, containers, boxes, working platforms, lifting platforms, car transporters, etc.
There are some and simple reasons for this, including:
- the additional chassis are usually longer than the base vehicle,
- The mounting points from a trailer hitch were used to mount the additional equipment,
- the attachments collide with a standard trailer hitch.
Manufacturer, comparison and differences
In Europe there are several manufacturers of universal towbars. These include SMV-Metall, SAWIKO, LINNEPE, MEMO-Europe, XIMPLIO and others. The working principle is the same for every trailer hitch and the design is similar. The adjustable trailer coupling system consists of the following components:
- Towball (rigid, removable),
- Clamping cage or holder for the towball,
- Cross member (or outer tube),
- Adjustable legs (or inner tube),
- If necessary, side plates and grid plates.
With each of the suppliers mentioned, you will find various versions of towball. The variance is large and includes:
- Fixed tow ball with a two-hole flange ball (hole spacing 90 mm) and four-hole flange towball (hole pattern 83 x 56 mm),
- Fixed trailer couplings with a ball bar (swanneck),
- Horizontal and vertical removable towball with an anti-theft device.
SAWIKO by AL-KO (Dexko group)
The company SAWIKO has the largest portfolio of variable trailer couplings. SAWIKO, which was taken over by AL-KO in 2011, offers a range of towbars for motorhomes with the designation MT. SAWIKO's towbars for motorhomes are grouped as follows: ALKO chassis, standard, heavy duty, panel van, variable and modular. The modular system is a modular trailer hitch that is assembled from various standard components. There is a choice of fixed (rigid) and removable tow ball in all possible designs, namely removable vertical and horizontal, with a ball bar, as well as with various four-hole flange towballs. In addition to the crossbars, which are available in various lengths, there is a large selection of side plates with which the crossbar can be brought into the desired position. The price range for trailer hitch from SAWIKO is just as wide as the product range, and lies between 700.00 and 1200.00 EUR.
Memo Europe from the Netherlands, has in its range a variety of towbars for motorhomes with a fixed width from 920 mm up to 1410 mm, as well as a variable one for chassis widths from 800 to 1420 mm. The trailer hitches are all equipped with a fixed or removable towball and are particularly popular in the Netherlands. Prices for MEMO trailer hitches start from 600.00 EUR.
You can find the universal towbars for motorhomes/touring vans from the company SMV-Metall GmbH online from 600.00 EUR. The towbars from SMV-Metall are equipped with a fixed ball that can be placed above or below the main crossbar. The trailer hitches are adjustable in width from 812 mm to 1420 mm, fit AL-KO chassis and can be equipped with additional side plates to adjust the height of the device.
XIMPLIO is the supplier of universal towbars with fixed and detachable towballs. Fixed towbars are in turn available in three different variants:
- With a flange towball fixed with two M16 screws (90 mm hole spacing),
- With a flange towball that is fixed with four M12 screws (83 x 56 mm hole pattern),
- With a swanneck tow ball.
The XIMPLIO portfolio also includes detachable trailer hitches with the removable tow ball mechanisms from ACS Systems in the Netherlands. The removable tow ball mechanisms is a tested design that is used by almost every European trailer hitch manufacturer, is inserted horizontally into the mounting cage and secured against theft with a key.
The trailer hitches from XIMPLIO have a rotatable main crossbar that allows additional adjustment of the trailer tow ball height. Depending on the version, the alignment possibilities are different, from 2-fold to 5-fold adjustment of the tow ball. XIMPLIO towbars are adjustable in width from 800 up to 1450 mm, can be equipped with additional grid plates, and are type-approved and approved for road use throughout the European Union.
Similar to towbars from other suppliers, XIMPLIO's towbars are compatible with ALKO chassis and frame extensions from other manufacturers.
The adjustment possibilities of variable trailer couplings are similar or at least comparable. The width, thanks to the adjustable legs; can be adjusted relatively easily. The same applies to the height of the crossbar, which can be adjusted with the additional side plates. The trailer hitch from XIMPLIO is the only one that offers the possibility of additionally adjusting the height of the tow ball.
SAWIKO's towbars with the modular system are certainly a good alternative for demanding bodies where additional clearance is needed for the lateral grid plates.
Should you consider the towbar in the category "value for money", the towbars from XIMPLIO are right at the front. With a purchase price of up to 400 EUR for a fixed trailer hitch and up to 500 EUR for a detachable towbar, every trailer hitch from XIMPLIO is an affordable alternative that still offers additional customisation options.