Towbars: The Perfect Accessory For Adventurous Lifestyles

Towbars aren't just a tool to help you move belongings from A to B, they can also open up your life to more adventure. Whether towing a caravan, boat, or even a car, the convenience and flexibility of a towbar can unlock new horizons for exploration.

In this guide, we explore how to choose, install, and maintain towbars for smooth and successful travels. We'll cover:

  • The right towing car
  • Towing a trailer
  • Towing a motorcycle trailer
  • Towing a bike rack
  • Towing a caravan
  • Towing a horse box
  • Towing a boat
  • Towing with a motorhome

The right towing car

Embarking on a journey with the right towing vehicle isn't just about transporting your belongings, it's about adventure. With the freedom to carry more gear, whether it's bikes, kayaks, or camping essentials, your adventure becomes more personal.

But how do you know which car is the right one for you? And which are the best cars for towing?

How to choose the right car

Choosing the perfect towing vehicle is a crucial decision. You will need to consider various factors such as engine performance, fuel type, and transmission.

Engine Power and Performance

Medium-sized cars with engines of 1.8 litres or more often provide the necessary power for towing, as they offer consistent torque. This ensures smooth pulling from a standstill, comfortable cruising, and fuel efficiency.

Diesel vs Petrol

Diesel engines typically offer better fuel economy when towing. Alternatively, petrol engines in the 2 to 2.5-litre range can be suitable for towing.

Automatic Transmission

  • Ensures smoother restarts, reducing wheel spin
  • Allows for quick acceleration

Manual Transmission

  • Enables precise matching of engine speed to optimum revs
  • Mechanical gear changes may be less convenient in urban or congested driving conditions

Whether you opt for the precision of manual control or the ease of automatic transmission, ensure that your chosen tow vehicle meets the specific towing requirements outlined in the vehicle's handbook.

Learn more about choosing the right towing car here.

Towing with a Land Rover

Land Rover, originally designed as an all-purpose off-road vehicle, has evolved into a luxury car brand. Beyond the ordinary road, the off-road capabilities of your Land Rover, coupled with the towing flexibility, enable you to venture into uncharted territories, creating new experiences. A Land Rover allows you to tow a camper or trailer, providing comfort and convenience wherever you park.

Towing capacity of a Land Rover

The maximum towing capacities for popular Land Rover models are:

Land Rover Discovery Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Land Rover Freelander Towing Capacity: 2000kg

Land Rover Defender Towing Capacity: 3500kg

Land Rover Discovery Sport Towing Capacity: 2500kg

Features of Land Rover

Land Rover's advanced features, such as Hitch Assist, Tow Assist, Advanced Tow Assist, Trailer Stability Assist, and Nose Load Measure are there to guide the user into optimising their towing setup.

Learn more about towing with a Land Rover here.

Can you tow with an electric car?

Electric vehicles are known for their powerful performance. While many EVs boast the capacity to tow anything from trailers to caravans, the reality is not that simple. So, that begs the question, can you tow with any electric car?

Can All Electric Cars Tow?

Realistically, the answer is no. The primary focus for many EVs is maximising the distance they can travel on a fully charged battery. Towing, however, presents challenges as it affects the car's range and efficiency. Additionally, the substantial weight of EVs, attributed to their robust batteries, raises safety concerns when towing heavy loads.

However, a notable number of electric cars can tow, providing a green light for those seeking a blend of electric power and towing capability.

Rules for Towing with an Electric Car

Understanding the rules for towing with an electric car is crucial. The maximum towing limit of your vehicle, as specified by the manufacturer, determines what you can tow. Rear-wheel drive electric vehicles are often preferred for towing, although several front-wheel drive EVs, like the Nissan Leaf, are also type-approved for towing.

Learn more about towing with an electric car here.

Towing a trailer

The ability to tow with a trailer unlocks a world of adventures, whether you want to go on extended road trips, off-road explorations, or camping escapades. With a trailer in tow, you're not just driving; you can carry bikes, kayaks, camping gear, or even a cosy home on wheels.

Can I tow a trailer?

While you don't need an extra licence to tow a trailer, there are crucial laws to follow, including limitations on the carrying capacity and size of the trailer you are towing. Every car has a 'maximum authorised mass' (MAM) specifying its towing capacity, found in the handbook or spec sheet.

Additionally, the 'gross train weight' (GTW), visible on your car's VIN plate, is the total weight of a fully loaded car and trailer.

People with licences issued before January 1st, 1997, can tow up to 8,250kg MAM, but those with licences after this date are limited to 3,500kg MAM. Heavier loads may need extra licensing.

Learn more about towing a trailer with a car here.

Why towbar electrics are important

To ensure road safety when towing, it's crucial to choose the appropriate towbar wiring kit. Towbar electrics are essential for trailers, caravans, or bike racks, as they maintain the visibility of your vehicle's lights and signals, which can be hidden by whatever you are towing.

Different socket types, like 7-pin and 13-pin, may require adapters. Deciding on a wiring kit, whether specific to your vehicle or universal, depends on your car's age. Vehicle-specific kits work smoothly with advanced features, such as trailer stability control, without voiding your warranty.

Simply put, choosing the right towbar electrics isn't just about following the rules; it significantly boosts road safety and makes towing more efficient.

Learn more about towbar electrics here.

Be sure to check your towing capacity

Understanding your car's maximum towing capacity is crucial for safe towing. The vehicle manufacturer sets this limit, accessible on the VIN plate under the bonnet or on a door pillar. The plate includes:

  • Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)
  • Gross Train Weight (GTW)
  • Maximum Front Axle Load (MFAL)
  • Maximum Rear Axle Load (MRAL).

To calculate your maximum towing weight, subtract the GVW from the GTW.

Remember, towing above the specified limit poses risks, including fines and licence points.

Learn how to work out what your car can tow here.

Towing a motorcycle trailer

Towing a motorcycle trailer gives you the freedom to explore different landscapes while carrying extra gear with ease. Whether you're on a scenic road trip or an off-road adventure, having a trailer means you have the flexibility and space for a stress-free journey.

What is a motorcycle trailer?

A motorcycle trailer is a specialised towable unit designed to transport motorcycles. Typically compact and lightweight, these trailers are specifically made for the dimensions and weight distribution of motorcycles. They are sturdy, often with a low deck for easy loading and unloading, and secure points to tie down your motorcycle to ensure the whole thing is stable once you're on the road.

Motorcycle trailers are ideal for people who want a convenient and secure way of transporting their motorcycles, whether for long-distance travel, racing events, or recreational activities.

How to tow a motorcycle trailer safely

Towing a motorcycle trailer is easy when you're well-informed about the laws and safety measures.

Width and length restrictions for towing a motorcycle are the same as regular trailers. The maximum width you can tow is 2.55 metres with a maximum length of 7 metres for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg.

Prior to hitting the road, conducting thorough safety checks is crucial, including:

  • Properly coupling the trailer to the towball
  • Ensuring correct height
  • Checking the core cable's condition
  • Checks on tire inflation
  • Checks on tread depth
  • Checks on wheel nuts and bolts

Additionally, a secondary coupling or breakaway cable is necessary for brake functionality and preventing runaway trailers. Neglecting these safety measures can result in fines, penalty points, and potential driving bans, with penalties reaching up to £2,500.

Learn how to tow a motorcycle trailer safely here.

Towing a bike rack

Adding a bike rack to your vehicle brings a new dimension to your adventures, unlocking new possibilities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Imagine exploring beautiful trails, reaching secluded campsites, or biking along the coast, all made possible with a bike rack. This simple addition not only broadens your travel options but also encourages a more active connection with the outdoors.

How to choose a bike rack

Whether you're an avid cyclist or a casual rider, choosing the right bike rack for a towbar involves understanding various types and their advantages and disadvantages.

Bike rack options include:

  • Towball-mounted racks
  • Towbar-mounted racks
  • Rear-mounted racks
  • Roof-mounted racks

The towball-mounted bike rack, attaching directly to the towball, stands out for its secure design, easy bike loading, and tilting feature for boot access.

Towbar-mounted racks allow you to carry bikes and tow at the same time but lack easy access to the boot.

Rear-mounted racks, often economical.

Roof-mounted racks, mounted on the roof and accessed easily, are suitable for those who want perfect rear visibility when driving.

Learn more about how to choose a bike rack here.

The best towbar bike racks

Enhancing your cycling adventures is made effortless with a towbar-mounted bike rack.

Towball-mounted racks, available in bolt-on or clamp-on variations, attach directly to the towball. Towbar-mounted racks are fixed to the faceplate of a flange towbar, providing a hanging option. Platform carriers feature a flat platform for easy loading and may include a tilting mechanism for convenient boot access.

Here are our favourite towbar bike racks:

The Westfalia BC 60 Towball Mounted Tilting Bicycle Carrier offers a tilting feature and adjustable wheel holders suitable for most towbars and various bike types.

The Witter "Pure Instinct" Towball Mounted Bike Cycle Carrier provides a high-quality clamp mechanism, foldable rails, and options for 2, 3, or 4 bikes.

The Flange Towbar Mounted Cycle Carrier, a hanging bike carrier, supports towing and carrying bikes simultaneously, ideal for eBikes.

The Westfalia Bikelander Classic Towball Mounted Tilting Bicycle Carrier is compact, suitable for eBikes, and includes a tilting feature for easy boot access.

Selecting the best towbar bike rack depends on individual needs. Explore the range of towbar bike racks to find the perfect fit for your cycling adventures.

Learn more about the best bike racks for towbars here.

Towing a caravan

Towing a caravan expands your holidaying options, providing flexibility and convenience you won't find with other holidays. With a caravan in tow, you gain the freedom to explore various destinations at your own pace. Whether embarking on a road trip, camping excursion, or extended holiday, your caravan becomes a home on wheels.

How to tow a caravan

Towing a caravan requires preparation and careful following of safety guidelines. Before setting off, you need to have the appropriate driving licence based on when you passed your test, as regulations vary. Check that your car is suitable for towing and have a professionally fitted towbar that is type-approved for your vehicle.

For those new to towing, consider courses for building confidence. Although not mandatory, courses provide practical experience and manoeuvring techniques. Practice in an empty car park to get used to turns and towing dynamics.

Here are some helpful tips for towing a caravan:

  • Utilise a caravan mover for ease
  • Ensure the caravan is securely attached before hitting the road
  • Follow speed limits, avoiding speeds over 60mph on dual carriageways or motorways and 50mph on single carriage roads with a 60mph limit
  • Use towing mirrors for better visibility
  • Display your number plate on the caravan
  • Regularly check the functioning of lights
  • Be prepared for potential challenges like snaking and pitching

Learn more about how to tow a caravan here.

Towing a caravan with a car or van

Whether you're wondering about licensing, seeking guidance on towing lessons, or figuring out the intricacies of loading your caravan correctly, we've got you covered.

You need to understand insurance when it comes to towing a caravan. While your car insurance covers the vehicle, a separate caravan insurance policy is necessary in case of accidents. Remember that fitting a towbar is considered a car modification, potentially affecting insurance premiums, so you will need to inform your insurance company.

Alongside the obvious licensing and weight rules, you will also find that there are a variety of other laws that you must follow when towing a caravan with a car or van. These include:

  • All towbars must meet type-approved EU regulations
  • Do not exceed the 50mph speed limit on a single-carriageway
  • Do not exceed the 60mph speed limit on dual carriageways
  • Never carry passengers in a caravan while driving
  • Your number plate must be clearly displayed at the rear of your caravan
  • Your rear lights must be working and visible
  • Any caravan over 750kg must have a working brake system
  • You must fit suitable towing extension mirrors so you can maintain an adequate view of the road behind you
  • If you're 70 or older, remember to renew your licence

Learn more about how to tow a caravan here.

Can electric cars tow a caravan?

While electric cars can tow caravans, their towing capacity is generally limited, often to around 1,000kg. This may suffice for smaller trailers or boats but could be insufficient for larger caravans. Always consult your car's specifications and owner's manual for details, ensuring that your electric car is equipped with the necessary towbar attachments.

Towing with an electric car involves some differences, such as variations in acceleration and stopping distance, due to increased weight. Additionally, the charging process becomes a little bit more complicated, as towing strains the battery, requiring more frequent charging.

Learn more about towing a caravan with an electric car here.

Towing a horse box

Owning a horsebox opens up new opportunities for horse enthusiasts. It provides the freedom to explore diverse landscapes and participate in various equestrian events and activities.

Tips for towing a horse box

Towing a horsebox demands extra attention to ensure the safety of both the horse and the driver.

You need a vehicle with a sufficient towing capacity, typically an SUV, 4x4, or pickup, and a suitable towbar designed for your specific vehicle.

The combined weight of the horse box, horse and any equipment should align with your vehicle's towing capacity. Perform regular maintenance checks on its components, including flooring, roofing, doors, and safety mechanisms and make sure to check tire pressures, lights, indicators, and essential equipment.

Additionally, arrange annual maintenance for your horsebox conducted by a qualified specialist to ensure its longevity and safety during towing. Following these guidelines will prioritise the well-being of your horse and guarantee a secure towing experience for years to come.

Learn more about towing a horse trailer safely here.

Towing a boat

With a towing boat, you can explore lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, unlocking opportunities for fishing, water sports, and leisurely cruises.

How to tow a boat

Towing a boat requires careful consideration of various laws and requirements. Speed limits are reduced, and specific regulations apply, such as not using the outside lane of a three-lane motorway. It's important to have a clear view of the road behind, so if the boat trailer is wider than the towing vehicle, you'll need towing mirrors.

Ensuring your vehicle is capable of towing the boat is important, with information available in the owner's manual regarding maximum trailer weight and Maximum Authorised Mass.

Loading a boat onto a trailer requires careful execution, involving positioning the trailer in the water, aligning the boat with the trailer's bow stop, securing the safety chain, and performing safety checks before driving off.

Prior to embarking on a towing journey, conducting checks on the boat's secure attachments, nose weight, and trailer lights, as well as following safety tips like taking wide turns and leaving extra room when driving, can lead to a safe and trouble-free towing experience.

Learn more about how to tow a boat here.

Towing with a motorhome

Towing with a motorhome can give you new options for adventure by allowing you to bring additional vehicles or equipment along for the journey.

Towing a car behind your motorhome enables you to explore surrounding areas or run errands without having to dismantle your entire campsite setup. You can easily disconnect the towed vehicle and use it for short trips, making sightseeing, grocery shopping, or dining out more convenient.

Additionally, towing with a motorhome opens up options for bringing recreational vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs, or bicycles. This versatility means you can enjoy off-road adventures, biking trails, or explore remote areas that may not be accessible directly by the motorhome.

Buying a motorhome towbar

Buying a motorhome towbar requires careful consideration to ensure it suits your specific vehicle and towing needs. Factors such as the age of your motorhome play a role, especially for those registered before 2012, which may require a 'towbar re-evaluation' to ensure safety. Whilst motorhomes registered from 2012 onwards must have an EC Type Approved towbar from a reputable brand like Witter Towbars or Westfalia.

Maintenance is key, with regular checks and cleaning recommended for towbars with friction pads. Proper care, including rust prevention through towball covers, ensures longevity and safe towing experiences for motorhome owners.

Learn more about buying a motorhome towbar here.

Towing a car behind a motorhome

Towing a car with a motorhome has its advantages, especially in urban areas where parking a large motorhome can be challenging. The choice of towing method depends on your motorhome's towing capacity, width, and length restrictions.

Common towing options include

  • A-Frames
  • Two-wheeled dollies
  • Trailers

Rules for towing a car behind a motorhome vary depending on the chosen method.

A-Frames, similar to trailers, must not exceed the motorhome's towing capacity.

Two-wheeled dollies require a sufficient motorhome braking system, and the combined weight should not exceed the towing limit.

Trailers are suitable for automatic or permanent 4x4 cars, with all four wheels off the ground.

We have a variety of motorhome-compatible towbars available to suit various preferences and needs.

Learn more about towing a car behind a motorhome here.

Incorporating a towbar onto your vehicle not only expands its utility but significantly enriches your adventurous lifestyle. Whether towing a caravan, horsebox, boat, or car behind your motorhome, the versatility offered by a towbar unlocks a realm of possibilities for exploration.

A towbar grants the freedom to explore diverse terrains, visit remote destinations, and seamlessly adapt to various travel needs. The convenience and flexibility provided by a well-chosen and properly maintained towbar enhance the overall experience, enabling you to embark on memorable journeys with confidence and ease.

Check out our wide range of towbars now, and start your journey the right way.