Hitch 2:
Using our Bike Rack
on our Model 3

Mark D Larsen

Correcaminos Got Hitched
(Click to enlarge)

Now that I had installed an EcoHitch on our Model 3, we could carry the same bike rack on it that we had used previously with our LEAF and Subaru. It is a very robust hitch, heavier than most, because it is designed to transport my equally robust semi-recumbent bike. Converting our bicycles to e-bikes with electric motors and batteries added even more weight, which is why I cannot imagine ever trying to bench press them up onto a roof rack. Besides, with a hitch rack it is possible to pull in-and-out of the garage with the bikes mounted. I can well imagine how, after a long day of biking, an exhausted driver might inadvertently forget that bikes are on a roof rack when arriving home. Yeow!

NOTE: You can click on any of the following photos to enlarge them.

I was pleased to find that the rack mounts on the Ecohitch even easier than it did on our LEAF. You can see that the hitch folds up when not in use, and can be lowered when carrying bikes.

On the LEAF I needed to use a receiver extension so that, when the rack is folded up, its wheel holders wouldn’t rub against the rear bumper. I was happy to discover that the extension wasn't necessary on Correcaminos, thanks to the curved shape of its bumper.

I was also happy to determine that, when the rack is in the raised position, it is still possible to adequately see what’s behind the Model 3 using the rear view camera on the touchscreen.

Of course, you can see even better when the rack is in the down position, but... that is without the bikes mounted on it (see below).

Here you can see that my recumbent’s frame is indeed thick and hefty. It is by no means a lightweight model, but very comfortable and downright fun to ride, almost like a skateboard on two wheels.

I always mount my semi-recumbent first on the rack’s wheel holders nearest the car so that its heavy weight isn’t hanging on the very rear.

My wife’s Trek bicycle isn’t nearly as heavy as mine, although the motor and battery also makes it more difficult to lift. Nonetheless, we can both attest that the electric conversions are well worth the extra weight.

I mount my wife’s bike on the outermost wheel holders, facing the opposite direction as mine, which keeps them from rubbing against each other.

Looking at the setup from the side, you can see that, when both bikes are when secured on the rack, their combined weight causes the rack to tip slightly backwards. A heavy load, indeed!

The bad news is that, with the bikes mounted, it is now difficult —if not impossible— to get a clear view of what’s behind the car with the rear view camera. At least we’ll be able to use it to verify that the bikes haven’t fallen off. Heh!

The good news is that it is still possible to see through the bikes in the rear view mirror. Phew!

One problem that we have discovered is that the Model 3’s rear sensors detect the bike rack and will beep proximity warnings when backing up. I wish there were a way to disengage that function for the back of the car, but at least we can mute the beeping and try to ignore the lines and alerts on the screen.

A very legitimate question is how carrying the bike rack will affect Correcaminos’ aerodynamics, energy efficiency, and range. This was never really an issue with our LEAF, because we couldn’t drive it for long distances anyway, so our biking was limited to local pathways. A Tesla Model 3, however, is fully capable of roadtrips, and owners would thus want to know how much range might be lost when hauling bikes on the back of the car.

I decided to run a quick-and-dirty test, with and without the rack and bikes, by driving the same route on city streets, highways, back roads, and a stretch of freeway. Of course, even though I tried to drive at the same speeds using Autopilot (5 miles above the posted speed limits), the trips were not strictly identical. For example, during the first attempt without the rack, the temperatures were in the high 80s, but by the time I made the second attempt with the rack, the weather had warmed up to the mid 90s. There were no headwinds or tailwinds on both attempts, but I had the climate control set at 75°F the entire time and listened to music from my iPhone’s playlists. Stop lights and traffic were likewise different on the two attempts. Nonetheless, I think the comparison can provide some ballpark estimates of what one might expect when hauling a loaded bike rack on the back of a Model 3. Below are the readouts after the two trips:

WITHOUT the Bike Rack

WITH the Bike Rack

Obviously, I used more kWh when carrying the bike rack. Without it, the efficiency was 197 Wh/mi ( = 5.08 miles-per-kWh), but 234 Wh/mi with it ( = 4.27 miles-per-kWh). And the differences were actually more pronounced than those overall readouts suggest. I also made a note of the Wh/mi when entering and exiting the freeway, and there is no doubt that higher speeds cause much more aerodynamic drag, which burns even more kWh, which further reduces range. Here is a table comparing those specifics:

My experiment hardly constitutes exact science, but I will nonetheless use the results to venture guess’timates of what one might expect with a loaded bike rack on a Model 3:

Those guess’timates strike me as fairly reasonable, all things considered. After all, with an EPA total range of 310 miles, a Model 3 Long Range might still be able to go about 235 miles on the freeway with a bike rack like ours. Given the distance between most superchargers, such a reduced range shouldn’t pose an unsurmountable problem. Moreover, drivers can always adhere to the proven rule to extend range: slow down! And please remember the universal disclaimer: your mileage may vary!

Regardless, we’re really looking forward to taking our bikes to ride on pathways farther from home, now that Correcaminos has a hitch rack to carry them. And we’re even more excited to use that EcoHitch for our new add-on.