A Kinder, Gentler Cross Canada Touring Unit

We’re about to undertake a cross Canada drive and I’m already missing the thought of riding for a whole month this summer.  I’ve previously thought about Guy Martining up with a van to carry a bike, but that’s a pretty industrial approach that wouldn’t be very comfortable.  I’ve also thought about carrying a bike on this trip, but again, I was pretty industrial in my thinking.

From a passenger carrying perspective, a minivan would be the logical choice.  A Chrysler Pacifica is just what I’m looking for.  It’s very efficient for what it is (much better mileage than the industrial vans I was considering before).  With a nine speed transmission it’d also be quiet and comfortable in addition to getting better than thirty miles per gallon.  Unlike our small SUV, it would also be able to carry whatever we wanted to bring and the flip and hide rear seats means leg stretching room in the back.

The reason a minivan would work is because I found a hitch mounted motorcycle carrier, which means I’d be able to carry a bike on the back of it.  A trailer is such a pain in the ass and is so hard on gas and transmissions that I’m not interested, but this rack fits right onto the Pacifica’s frame mounted trailer hitch and distributes the weight on the back properly.  The Pacifica is a strong towing vehicle with a frame mounted trailer hitch option.  The rack can only carry five hundred pounds, but I wouldn’t need anything like that.  KTM’s 690 Enduro is a Swiss Army Knife of a bike that only weighs 330lbs before fuel, so it wouldn’t stress the rack much at all.

Being so light weight the Enduro makes a capable off road machine, but that light weight also means you can load it on a rack designed for dirt bikes.  The Enduro is also a big bike that’d fit me and is more than capable of making time on paved roads.  It’s a multi-talented choice that fits.

The question is, can the Pacifica actually handle a bike rack with a sub-four hundred pound bike on it?  The issue doesn’t seem to be the rack itself.  I’ve found single racks and even double racks that can hold up to six hundred pounds along with road bike specific racks, so finding a rack capable of holding the Enduro isn’t an issue.  The problem comes from tongue weight and how a vehicle can handle that vertical weight (as opposed to the horizontal weight of towing a trailer that rests on its own wheels).

The Pacifica’s stock Class III frame mounted hitch is also the kind suggested for a bike rack, and while the Pacifica has a massive 3600lb towing capacity, the tongue weight (the only thing really matters with the bike rack) is rated at 360lbs, which is mighty close to what I need here.  Tongue weight is usually calculated as being ok if it’s between 9 and 15% of the towing weight, which should put the Pacifica well over 500lbs at the top end, but evidently it isn’t. 

I might contact a Chrysler dealer and see if this is possible…

Lightweight, multi-talented KTM Enduro on the back of a fuel efficient Chrysler Pacifica?  Yes please!

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