Introduction: QuickLift - a Hitchball Bike Carrier

I built this simple bike carrier to haul around some odd-shaped home built bikes and trikes I have made. I needed a carrier that was cheap, simple, removable and compatible with both 1 7/8" and 2" trailer balls. I wanted the carrier to do most of the work of lifting bikes that weighed up to 50-60 pounds. I didn't want the carrier to require any permanent modifications to my vehicle.

My version of the lift has three welded joints. In Step 10 there are modifications that you might use to avoid any welding.

Most of the carrier is built of EMT conduit. EMT is short for Electrical Metallic Tubing. This conduit is cheap and available at most home repair centers. Welding EMT can be hazardous so please read through my Instructable about how to do this as safely as possible (

My cost was about $20 for the carrier parts I bought (conduit and two tiedown straps).

Step 1: Select a Bottom Bracket Shell (BBS)

You will need a BBS (in yellow circle) from a bike that had a 1-piece pedal. These BBSs are usually 2" inside and that is perfect for what we want to do. A short piece of 2" pipe would also work.

Step 2: Prep the BBS

Cut off the chainstays close to the BBS. Then cut the down tube and seat tube in a straight line as shown.

Step 3: Determine Your Measurements

Here is the back of my SUV with the two key measurements indicated by the colored arrows. The blue arrows indicate the width I want the carrier to be (measurement #1 = 54" in my case). The yellow arrows indicate the height I want the carrier to be (measurement #2 = 30" in my case).

The third measurement is the offset from the hitch ball to the rear door (11" in my case).

Your dimensions may vary.

Calculate these two lengths:

Length #1 is measurement #1 minus 12". (54 - 12 = 42" in my case)

Length #2 is measurement #2 minus 6". (30 - 6 = 24" in my case)

Step 4: Add Main Tube

The main tube is 1" conduit cut to a length that is 12" shorter than the first dimension we took in the last step (54"-12" = 42") which is length #1 from our calculations.. I will explain why we subtracted 12" in the next step.

Mark the midpoint of this tube and grind (or burn) the galvanized coat off for about 3" on each side of the mark. Clamp the main tube "sorta tight" so it is centered over the intersection of the down tube and the seat tube on the BBS (Photo 1). Hold the BBS flat on the floor and level the main tube so it is parallel to the floor (Photo #1). Tighten the clamp, double check the position and weld it in place (Photo #2).

Step 5: Add Pivot Tube

The pivot tube is 3/4" conduit that goes through the main tube and bends upward  at each end. Each bend of 3/4" tubing adds 6" to the width (using my tube bender) so the main tube needed to be 12" shorter than our width to allow for the bends.

Start your first bend 24" (length #2) in from one end of the 3/4" conduit (see Photo 1). Make a 90 degree bend.

Insert the long end of the bent tube through the main tube , position it and mark the location for the start of the second bend.

Make the second bend parallel with the first bend and stop it at 90 degrees (see Photo 2).

Measure up from the top of the second bend for 24" and cut the extra tubing away.

Step 6: Bend Carrier Tubes

The carrier tube is made from a 10' length of 3/4" conduit. I again marked 39" in from each end and made two 90 degree bends.

Photo #2 shows the carrier tube with the two 1/2" attachment tubes welded on. These two tubes are positioned 11" from the front side (measurement #3 in step 3).

A piece of 5/8" garden hose (slit lengthwise) is taped to the front side of the carrier tube to cushion where the carrier sits against the SUV. Two pieces of bike inner tube are slipped over the arms of the carrier tube.

Photo #3 shows the attachment tubes sliding into the pivot tube. Holes are drilled through the pivot tube and attachment tubes so pins can be inserted to hold the carrier together.

Step 7: Add Mounting Straps

I looped the mounting straps through hooks that were located under the floor mat of my SUV. The buckle end  protrudes out from under the rear door (Photo #1) and the long ends of the strap protrude from under the glass (Photo #2).

Step 8: Loading the Carrier

You can load the trike or bike on the carrier by lowering the arms down as shown in Photos #1 and #2. Then you can rotate the carrier up into traveling position (Photo #3).

You can also just lift the bike or trike up onto the carrier arms and strap it in place.

Step 9: Tools and Parts List

Special Tools Needed:

Tubing cutter
1/2" tubing bender
3/4" tubing bender
MIG welder

Parts List:

42" piece of 1" EMT for lower pivot tube
10' piece of 3/4" EMT for pivoting arm
10' piece of 1/2" EMT for top rack
2 ea. ~12" scrap pieces of 1/2" EMT for carrier tube attachments into pivot tube
Donor bike frame with 2" BBS
4 ea 1.5" long 1/4" hex bolts with lock washers and nuts
2 ea bicycle tube pieces ~24" long to cushion arms
2 ea Tiedown straps
6' of 5/8" garden hose

Step 10: Non-Welding Option

One way to build this carrier without the welded joint is to mount the BBS in the middle of a 42" 2 X 4 and attach the pivot tube to it. Here the steps.

1. Trim all the tubes off the BBS.
2. Bore a 2" diameter hole at the center of the 2 X4.
3. Drill a 1/4" hole through the 2 X 4 and the BBS and bolt them together.
4. Use four U-bolts to attach the pivot tube to the top of the 2 X 4.
5. Use two 1/4" hex bolts to attach the hanger tube to the 1/2" linking tubes.

Use "J" bolts to link the attachment tubes to the top rack.


rchilders (author)2011-04-03

I love this instructable. I was just thinking about doing this when I saw yours. You will save me a bunch of time.
One question:
I don't see where you explain how the carrier attaches to the tow frame. I see the bike hub weld and then only the emt bending. How do you attach it to the car at the bottom?

cjbikenut (author)2010-10-12

Very nice, it looks like it has a lot of capacity. I'd like to know more about the FWD/rear steer trike you showed in the pictures of the carrier being loaded.

bikeframe (author)cjbikenut2010-10-12


I am working on an Instructable for the trike you see. The trike has three experimental (questionable?) features: an inverted rear triangle for power, a pedal used as a foot brake and electric steering (using an old cordless drill).

I should have that Instructable and another one on a more conventional delta trike done in the week or so.

Thanks for asking. :)


Don,t try this at home (author)2010-10-11

let me guess its a 99 nisson pathfinder lol i got one.


Right :)

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