Is this off-road hitch the ultimate coupling design?
By Mark Allen
Hitch-Ezy has upgraded its already ingenious off-road hitch, which is self-centering, and offers full flexibility in all three axes. Most importantly, it keeps the weight and pivot point right smack bang where it belongs – where a standard 50mm ball would attach – instead of (like many others) pushing it rearward. Having that downward weight rear of where OE designers intended produces increased load and cantilevering on the towbar – not a good thing. The overall height of the hitch is 120mm, so most rear doors should have clearance.
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The Hitch-Ezy has passed all the rigorous (static and dynamic) testing to achieve ADR compliance and has been given the thumbs-up for approval for a whopping 5.0-tonne rating while utilising the included six-bolt pattern; or it can be de-rated to 3.5 tonne if using the four-bolt method. A de-rating to 3.5 tonne is also in place if using the supplied weight distribution hitch spacer kit. While most of us are covered by that lower rating, there are a few huge, heavy vans getting about these days that simply need that extra weight rating… so the Hitch-Ezy may be a ‘must’ for those folk.
Interestingly, while this tow pillar maintains a 7/8-inch shank, the dome-shaped head forces the self-centering action of the hitch’s main body, and all towing and load forces are taken only on the 55mm diameter main post that anchors onto a large 75mm base flange (as opposed to a 50mm ball having a 51mm base flange). This reduces load on the threaded shank section. The recessed (concave) section is where the three large cam-operated ball bearings ‘lock’ onto the pillar – no manual locking is needed as it all happens automatically. The tow pillar’s flange incorporates a neoprene O-ring to seal against the ingress of water and dirt, both when the coupling is in use and when the supplied tow pillar cover is in place.
When lowering the hitch (via the jockey wheel) onto the tow pillar, the cleverly-engineered main body within the yoke will pivot in all directions to aid in easy hitching. When fully seated, the coupling will automatically lock itself. The user need not do a thing to ensure the trailer is securely hitched to the tow vehicle – no clips, pins, rings or other loose or separate devices to handle – it’s all done automatically. The Hitch-Ezy allows for padlocks to be installed, preventing thieving mongrels doing their job. Level riders can be used with the Hitch-Ezy, but be sure to remove them for off-road use.
While the Hitch-Ezy is a complex unit in its operation compared to most other systems that require a pin, clip or some such manual slip-in locking system, it remains an impressively simple device that legally allows pretty-much anything south of a semi-trailer to be towed on our roads. The Hitch-Ezy provides safety to the user as well as ease of use, and offers off-road ability as good as any other hitch, combined with no detrimental increase of ball weights and loads given its OE weight placement on your existing towbar and tongue.
It also provides functionality not often found in aftermarket designs. This latest design features automatic primary locking and a redesigned automatic secondary locking system; a main body and stem-to-yoke junction whose integrity is not weld dependent; a tow-pillar subject to ONC (oxy-nitro-carburisation) process that stress relieves the machined part, hardens the bearing surface, inhibits rust and avoids hydrogen embrittlement; plus, importantly… wait for it… a system that doesn’t allow people to hitch the pivoting head onto the tow pillar upside down! Yep, with the first design it was possible to get it wrong, somehow!
There is extensive use of stainless-steel components (secondary locking mechanism plus yoke pivot bolts and securing nuts), plus zinc nickel alloy plating of all other components prior to painting to prevent rusting. The handbrake is also stainless steel. A spacer is supplied for use with weight distribution hitches, and a dummy tow pillar can be padlocked inside the disconnected coupling for security and keeping it all clean inside.
The all-inclusive price is now lower at $748 including GST. For the second time running, the Hitch-Ezy scores top marks in all facets of build and execution and should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a replacement (on-road or off-road) hitch on an old caravan; or planning on getting a new van built and simply want the best.