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Greatpooba
10-24-2011, 01:48 PM
Hi all,

First post here for me. Just got a 2010 CPO 550iGT, and want to install a trailer hitch with a 2" receiver for my Thule bike rack. Any suggestions? Thanks.

jadnashuanh
10-24-2011, 05:24 PM
In most of the rest of the world, BMW offers a neat retractable ball towing arm that has electronics in it to detect sway and stuff that is integrated into the stability control. But, I've not seen a typical receiver hitch. Be interesting to see what responses you get. BTW, BMW does make a bike carrier designed to fit on their hitch, but again, not sold here.

Capobranco
10-24-2011, 07:53 PM
Congrats on your first post and your new 550i GT!
Welcome to the tribe! :beerchug:

Sorry - I do not have any experience with hitches.

wchewbaka
10-26-2011, 09:41 PM
I also have a receiver mounted bike rack (Yakima) and have been looking around for a hitch.

The Westfalia built hitch sold in Europe looks pretty slick in operation from what I can see in Youtube videos - but the literature on their website shows the hitch to be an integral ball hitch. No receiver. They also seem to sell a bike rack that mounts on the ball hitch.

I saw a listing in Ebay for the Westfalia hitch from England priced in the mid $300 range, plus shipping.

Ebay also shows receiver hitches - search under BMW 550i GT hitch - that are priced about $170. They claim to be Class 1. I found some instructions online for their installation that involves drilling holes in the trunk floor pan. I don't think I would trust it for much more than a bike rack.

I am actually more concerned with the appearance of the hitch. I have one on my X5, but that lower bumper is built for it with a removable panel. I have no idea what a receiver hitch would look like on a GT - but I would not want to cut a hole in the bumper. Too ugly on a GT in my opinion.....

Plus, if someone would rear end the GT the hitch would rip apart the floor pan - the bumper ceases to be any protection.

Other than removing the front wheels from the forks and putting the bikes in the trunk, I am leaning towards a roof rack.

Thad
10-26-2011, 09:59 PM
I also have a receiver mounted bike rack (Yakima) and have been looking around for a hitch.

The Westfalia built hitch sold in Europe looks pretty slick in operation from what I can see in Youtube videos - but the literature on their website shows the hitch to be an integral ball hitch. No receiver. They also seem to sell a bike rack that mounts on the ball hitch.

I saw a listing in Ebay for the Westfalia hitch from England priced in the mid $300 range, plus shipping.

Ebay also shows receiver hitches - search under BMW 550i GT hitch - that are priced about $170. They claim to be Class 1. I found some instructions online for their installation that involves drilling holes in the trunk floor pan. I don't think I would trust it for much more than a bike rack.

I am actually more concerned with the appearance of the hitch. I have one on my X5, but that lower bumper is built for it with a removable panel. I have no idea what a receiver hitch would look like on a GT - but I would not want to cut a hole in the bumper. Too ugly on a GT in my opinion.....

Plus, if someone would rear end the GT the hitch would rip apart the floor pan - the bumper ceases to be any protection.

Other than removing the front wheels from the forks and putting the bikes in the trunk, I am leaning towards a roof rack.

I would concur about the appearance look. I have a Yakama bike rake that I'd like to use on my GT ... but am concerned about the look. Perhaps there's a mechanical engineering special forces type out there that can help out out with something cammo ;-)

jadnashuanh
10-27-2011, 12:05 PM
I have an ICE trike that I ride and carry around. It will fit in the back if I take the front wheels off (the trike folds), but I opted to put the BMW rack on to avoid the chain lube from intruding on the interior (a trike has a VERY long chain, thus more opportunities to rub something). I clamped a Yakima tray onto the rails, as trying to get a trike onto rails would be a major pain! If I wasn't tall and in moderately good shape, hoisting the thing up on top would be a problem.

BMW does sell a crane like bike attachment that essentially lets you do most of the work on the ground. Expensive, though.

If I could find a rear hitch that wasn't obtrusive and would hold my trike, I'd probably buy one as I don't know how many more years I'll want to put the thing on the roof.

jadnashuanh
10-27-2011, 01:53 PM
I looked over the Westfailia website, and their hitch and bike rack system is neat. The instructions indicate the replacement of the bottom bumper trim piece. I don't know if that trim piece would fit the USA version or not and then you'd probably need to get it painted if you could get it. The installation, including all of the electrical hookup, can get quite involved, but it looks like it is a straight bolt-on operation. The arm pivots out of the way and is hidden underneath the rear when stowed...a neat operation. They have an animation that shows the operation I found, but didn't bookmark (it may have been on the GB site). In addition to the bike rack, they make a platform and a storage box that can fit on the bike rack after you have the base towing hook installed. All in all, a nice, clean installation, but not cheap. It isn't deep enough to fit my trike, though. It will hold two bikes, and a third rail is optional. Folds down so you can open the tailgate even while loaded. Slick.

DEAN@EXECUHITCH
01-19-2012, 02:26 PM
We do have an excellent hitch assembly for the 550GT

And..After a big move and retooling we are ready to serve you at Execuhitch. Please visit www.execuhitch.com. Website is constantly updated but for best most current info please contact dean@execuhitch.com or call direct with phone number posted on website.
Thanks!
Dean

As a re grand opening offer to those in BIMMERFEST I will give a 10 percent discount off any hitch and accessory purchase now through the month of February 2012. (does not apply to shipping, handling, and insurance and may not be combined with any other offer)

Jurassicdean is your code word. either mention during phone order or use on website with on-line order.

Dean ...

jadnashuanh
01-19-2012, 04:42 PM
This looks like a nice idea, but a square mount receiver hitch would allow installation of many different bike racks from others. Also, your website lists the GT as an F10...the GT series is the F07, so you need to change that, assuming it really is the GT.

wchewbaka
01-19-2012, 07:22 PM
Yep, still looking for a way to salvage use of my Yakima bike rack.

jadnashuanh
01-19-2012, 07:41 PM
Yep, still looking for a way to salvage use of my Yakima bike rack.

After a little more digging, they make both a 1-1/4 and 2" square receiver that plugs into the base mount ($69)...so, depending on the length of the lever and the weight of the bike(s), it should work. Unless the rack you buy tilts, you might have to take it off to open the trunk, though, but I guess that's true with most.

wchewbaka
01-19-2012, 08:12 PM
After a little more digging, they make both a 1-1/4 and 2" square receiver that plugs into the base mount ($69)...so, depending on the length of the lever and the weight of the bike(s), it should work. Unless the rack you buy tilts, you might have to take it off to open the trunk, though, but I guess that's true with most.

Yes, I see that now. Still, kinda expensive solution.

I think I am going to go with the BMW base system and adapt a Yakima or Thule bike rack to it.

Sell the Yakima hitch rack....

jadnashuanh
01-19-2012, 10:07 PM
That's essentially what I did, but I put the Yakima basket case up there to hold my folding trike. The shape of the bars means you have to improvise. I used some SS worm clamps with some vinal tubing over the strap. This hitch might end up about the same as the BMW authorized one they sell in Europe (by Westfailia). That one hooks into the stability programming as well, which would be better if you were actually going to tow a trailer, verses just use it as a bike rack. The BMW one uses existing bolt locations from the installation instructions. I didn't find the Execuhitch's installation instructions, only the operation ones.

DEAN@EXECUHITCH
01-20-2012, 03:09 AM
We are still getting all bugs out of website as to exact models. The hitch was specifically made on the 550gt and is an excellent application. We offer the 2 inch and 1 1/4 inch receiver attachment for use with bike racks and cargo racks so along with the towball assembly you have a complete package.
Dean

bmrbiker
05-03-2014, 12:51 PM
I posted some pictures of the Invisihitch with a 5 series at this post. Should work the same for other BMW models.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8315596&postcount=19

fredruth
08-26-2014, 08:32 AM
Does anyone know if you put to an Invisihitch how much you can tow? Does towing void the BMW warranty? My car is new and has a beast of an engine, but, I'm not sure if BMW would supprot towing with this vehicle. The Invisihitch looks like it would work well for bike rack mounting, but, I also would like to be able to tow 2 a trailer with 2 snowmobiles. Wt is probably 1800 lbs.

Any help would be appreciated!

Fred

jadnashuanh
08-26-2014, 02:40 PM
I have one installed, but only use it to carry bikes. I've not hauled a trailer. But, that being said, the hitch can pull more than the car can support. Read through the whole thread, it has some of the BMW weight limits from areas where BMW does offer their hitch, and it's more than what you want to pull by a fair amount.

But, the bigger thing is if you want to enable the vehicle's trailer logic. It's easy to find a wiring harness that can make the lights work, but you're very limited to one choice in the USA if you want all of the logic to work (stability control, camera view, auto rear pdc shutoff). I also have that solution, but you'll have to import it yourself and unless you rewire your trailer, you'll need to buy or build a conversion adapter to make the trailer lights (and maybe brakes) to work and that's from www.rightconnection.co/uk. I chose the 13-pin DIN connector, as it's a nice, 1/4-turn, waterproof plug...much easier to install and remove than any of the USA plugs.

Give Daryl a call there, he can help you out.

Note, as is true for most hitches, the Invisihitch requires an adapter to either carry a bike rack or pull a trailer, and if you want to do both, you'll need both as the square receiver is NOT rated to pull a trailer, but the ball hitch is (but that can't hold a bike carrier!). IOW, to do what you want, you'll need both the bike rack adapter and a ball hitch.

fredruth
08-27-2014, 08:41 AM
Thank you for your reply.

I didn't realize that BMW has the logic for towing already built in. I picked this car up in Munich and when driving through Europe you see all kinds of cars pulling trailers as not many people have SUV's and almost nobody has a pick up, so it makes sense that the logic is built in.

The Invisihitch looks amazing since you don't detract form the appearance of the vehicle and you have a rock solid connection to the trailer since the ball is integral to the hitch.

Getting the car to perform well in trailer mode is essential. I'm going to be pulling snowmobiles in bad weather so the harness from the UK sounds like what I'm going to need.

Once it get set up I'll post and really appreciate your time in answering my questions.

Fred

jadnashuanh
08-27-2014, 02:46 PM
The Right Connections website doesn't sell directly, so you'll have to find a dealer that is willing to export it for you. I picked mine up while visiting my sister, and was able to get it locally at a shop near her place (and was able to avoid the VAT because of my brother-in-law's status). I carried it home in my carry-on luggage, and got flagged for a very close inspection at the airport! But, all was well.

With the Invisihitch, you can remove the bike carrier part and the ball hitch, and unless you're laying on the ground, you'd never know there was a hitch under there. Just remember to put some lube on the post, otherwise, it can be a pain getting it out of there! I leave the bike carrier square adapter in all summer, and only take it out when the winter weather approaches, and over that time, in the rain, etc., if there's no lube, it can get pretty tight. Other than that, no issues.

There are three sources of electronics for the GT that could provide all of the OEM functionalities, but only one of them works out of the box without programming the vehicle. And, the dealers in the USA are not capable of programming the module to incorporate it into the vehicle. The RightConnections interface box has that programming in the firmware, so it works out of the box. The other two do not (the BMW part, and the Westphalia - the maker of the OEM hitch) - they have a 'generic' box that must be programmed to work in a specific vehicle, and since the USA dealers can't or won't, you're stuck.

As I said, though, if you don't care about the OEM towing functionality, there are sources of interface wiring that will make the lights and brakes work. If you do have a trailer with brakes, the only one I'd consider for the GT is one that works via a wireless connection - the controller just plugs into the accessory socket and talks to the box on the trailer for the brakes. The lights and power come from the 'normal' harness.

The lights on most BMWs are not controlled via real switches carrying current - the switches talk to the computer, and then the computer tells the light to turn on or off, so it's not just patching onto existing wires...you need a box smart enough to understand the serial data and then make the power available to light the lights. Same idea with the brakes...you don't really want to try to cobble something up to make a trailer brake controller work, which is why I suggested that one that works wirelessly (dont' remember right now, but it's in one of the threads)

invisihitch
08-27-2014, 02:46 PM
Congrats on your 550 GT... and on taking Euro Delivery! Very nice.

Although our new, lower pricing on the invisihitch is not advertised or on the website yet, the invisihitch for your 550GT with both of the removable pieces included (ballmount & rack adapter) is now $548.

This kit also includes a plug-and-play wiring harness but, as jadnashuanh pointed out, U.S. harnesses for this vehicle do not automatically disable the rear park sensors when a trailer is electrically attached. Similarly, U.S. harnesses do not activate the vehicle's built-in Trailer Stability Control, which monitors for repetitive trailer yaw ("trailer snaking") and intercedes with vehicle braking if necessary to bring the trailer back under control.

These two advanced features are only available with Euro harnesses. But... as you would expect... the output signals of Euro harnesses assume that you will be using a European trailer. European trailers have separate bulbs for turn signals vs brake lights, whereas U.S. trailers use a single bulb on each side that serves as both the turn signal and the brake light. So to use a Euro harness to tow a U.S. trailer, you would need a wiring adapter and some significant knowledge/skill to wire things up correctly. This is what jadnashuanh did. It is the premium trailer-wiring solution on this vehicle, but it also requires some significant expense, ordering from the U.K., and a good bit of technical knowledge and patience, drilling, etc to install. You may want to quickly install the U.S. plug-and-play harness that comes with the invisihitch kit while ordering/learning/preparing for a future Euro-harness upgrade.

One advanced feature that is available via coding regardless of which harness you install is the rear-camera overhead "zoom" mode. This can be easily coded, and it enables you to select a special mode on your rear camera that looks down over the ballmount, which is very nice when you are attempting to back up to your trailer and you want to end up with the ball directly under the trailer coupler. It tends to preserve domestic tranquility compared to the two-person method!

Hope this is somewhat helpful, even if a bit lengthy.
Daryl
daryl@invisihitch.com

fredruth
08-28-2014, 06:19 AM
Daryl and Jadnashuanh,

Thanks for the advise. It makes a lot of sense about the euro trailer lights being different then ours. My trailer with 2 snowmobiles is less then 2000 lbs so maybe I don't need the full functionality of the euro harness. I live in a rural area in Pennsylvania and doubt anyone here would we capable of installing it correctly. Perhaps Invi****ch some day would develop a plug and play full function harness. The back up sensors are going to be relatively minor since you try and put yourself in situations where you don't need to back up often. Is the zoom feature of the camera controlled form the setting menu?

I will be in Dublin in November and will contact right Connections to see if they have a supplier in Ireland.

The Euro delivery was great. This is my second 550Gt both of which were Euro deliveries. If you've never done it, it is amazing. The factory tour was like seeing "Terminator" all over again.

Was able to hit 149 mph on the Autobahn as I bought the M Sport package with my 2014 550. That was a thrill!

I'll be calling Daryl to order the hitch with both the bike mount and ball.
Fred

jadnashuanh
08-28-2014, 09:47 AM
It depends on how willing and able you are...neither the hitch nor the harness are horrible to install, and you might be able to get away without drilling a hole to pass the harness out to the rear. You do have to take nearly all of the trim out from the rear of the car to install the harness, and while not hard, it is somewhat intimidating. Getting the rear bumper cover off without breaking one or more of the tabs is much harder the first time and may be the biggest risk since if you do break one, it's new bumper cover time! Most of the stuff (all of the hitch) just bolts on. You do need to cut a hole on the bottom, black portion of the bumper cover to gain access so that the part can mate up with the hitch in there, but it cuts fairly easily with a sharp utility knife.

The bigger thing is probably the stability control. TO me, it was the rear PDC, which, while you can turn off all of it, takes a conscious effort, and then, you have to concentrate on both ends of the car...with a bike carrier, it will be going off constantly while in reverse. To solve that, I put in the harness after living with it for about a year. I also bought a bike light bar (required in many places in Europe) that plugs into the harness and makes the car think there's a trailer hooked up. The extra set of lights back there does add to the safety. The 1/4-turn Euro 13-pin DIN socket is a distinct pleasure to use. Lots of companies make the required plug, but one that I found is much nicer than most (all?) of the others...the guide slots for the cam on it start their taper at the end of the plug. All of the other brands I found, there's a short straight section which requires you to push the plug on part way, then turn. WHen it is starting that ramp at the end, it goes on easier and comes off easier. SO, can't remember the brand right now, but it was one made in Germany rather than a Taiwan or Chinese knockoff, which are slightly cheaper, but not as nice.

invisihitch
08-28-2014, 02:28 PM
Was able to hit 149 mph on the Autobahn...

Yikes! I am a fan of Euro Delivery also, but I much prefer the winding roads through the Alps...

invisihitch
08-29-2014, 05:15 AM
Is the zoom feature of the camera controlled from the setting menu?

I missed this question earlier. Yes, you select the zoom mode when desired, but first the zoom mode has to be added to the menu by coding the vehicle.

fredruth
09-23-2014, 11:25 AM
I got my Invisihitch and had it installed at a local auto body shop. They said it was straight forward. It is completely invisible and I have used the bike rack. Will try towing my snowmobiles in November when they go in for service.

This is a quality product and I would recommend it for anyone who wants a secure bike hitch and/or the ability to tow.

Hopefully, they will eventually make a wiring harness that will use the vehicles built in trailering programs in the future.

Fred

fredruth
04-14-2015, 06:05 AM
Finally got to use my 550 GT with the Invihitch. Drove 1,000 miles from Pittsburgh to Michigan and back. truly amazing. It was like the trailer wasn't event there. Total weight was about 2,000 lbs. The 450 HP engine barley strained even going through the mountains of western PA.

The bike rack also works great.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone with a 5 series that wants to tow.

Fred

jadnashuanh
04-14-2015, 04:57 PM
Which trailer electrical interface did you end up with? The only two I'm aware of that will give you full factory functionality are the one made for BMW by Westphalia, or the one I have from RightConnections. The Westphalia one requires the dealer (or someone knowing how to program) to set it up, otherwise, it won't be recognized. It was worth it to me to get the later since it enables the full vehicle stability control logic, disables the rear PDC sensors, and gives you another camera view all without any vehicle programming. The only 'hassle' with the Invisihitch design is that if you want a receiver for your bike carrier and also want to tow a trailer, you cannot put a ball into it...you need to buy the attachment with the ball on it to plug into the guts of the hitch. The square receiver (at least when I bought mine) was only designed for a light load, and not for pulling a trailer. It only takes a moment to swap, but it means finding the key and crawling on the ground for a moment to release it and swap it out.

I've not actually pulled a trailer with mine, but used it regularly to carry a recumbent trike on the back to which I plugged in a bike lighting bar, which is common in Europe. By plugging that in, it makes the car think that there is an actual trailer attached, which triggers all of the inherent logic to maximize safety.

fredruth
04-15-2015, 07:30 AM
I used the "plug and play" interface from Invisihitch. All the functions are NOT active with this, just the trailer lights. In my experience unless you are pulling a larger, heavier trailer this is probably all you need. I towed with a 2002 Explorer for years and other than disabling the OD it didn't have to do anything else. I now have a 2013 Explorer that has a "tow mode" where it modulates the transmission.


We have also towed a 4 place snowmobile trailer. That's totally different. You need sway bars, stability control and brake control.



Changing out the ball for the bike receiver is a bit of a pain. I only tow once or twice a year so not a huge issue, although laying on your back in the snow sucks. Also, the connections for the trailer chairs on the Invisihitch are VERY small. We had to improvise and put smaller clips on them and then attach these to the chain hooks.



I was not able to find the Westphaila in the US. Where did you get yours? How hard was the installation? I am not mechanically inclined LOL!! It would be great to have the full functionality though.



Do you know if the US version of the 550 has additional transmission cooling? From what I understand transmission overheating is one of the main issues when towing. However, even in the steep hills of the PA turnpike I could drive at 80 mph and the tach never went over 3,000. It was almost hard to even tell that the trailer was attached! I am sure that with the V-6 on the 535 it would have been more noticeable.



Thanks,



Fred

jadnashuanh
04-15-2015, 01:09 PM
As far as I know, BMW doesn't make a V6, it's an in-line 6.

But, since the Westphalia unit requires vehicle coding, and since BMWUSA does not support a trailer on the GT in the USA (you can't get it prewired for it, nor do they offer a hitch or interface in the USA), the ONLY one you can use in the USA if you want full factory functionality that is totally without requiring any programming is the one made and sold in England at www.rightconnections.co.uk

I picked one up while I was there visiting and installed it on the GT. Now, was it worth spending the extra money on since I don't really tow a trailer? Maybe not, but while you can disable the PDC sensors, when you do it, you do it for both front and rear, and have to think about it. WHen I attach my trike carrier, I have a light bar attached to it that I plug in, and it's all automatic. IF I wanted to pull a trailer, I've got a spare plug and could make an adapter to plug in a US style trailer connector. I chose to buy the interface with the Euro 13-pin plug...IMHO, FAR superior to any of the USA trailer plugs. It's a quarter-turn, twist lock that goes on and comes off easily, and is waterproof.

I do not know details about if the vehicle has a transmission cooler.

Variante Alta
05-13-2015, 05:23 PM
I recently installed an Invisihitch (same as Executhitch now) on my 535 GT...the worst part is getting the bumper cover off without wrecking stuff...I love the stealth install and it came with both the 2" ball receiver and bike rack attachment ...I moved my step son 450 miles with my cargo trailer and everything performed beautifully - the car hardly broke a sweat (used lots of fuel, however! :)). Highly recommended. I am tempted to tap into the vehicle's towing program but with what I tow (<2,000 lbs), it's probably overkill...quiet back-up sensors would be nice though...

jadnashuanh
05-13-2015, 08:50 PM
I am tempted to tap into the vehicle's towing program but with what I tow (<2,000 lbs), it's probably overkill...quiet back-up sensors would be nice though...

While it doesn't happen often, the first time a trailer starts to oscillate, you may change your mind! It's unfortunate that BMW won't sell the GT (or most vehicles except the x-series) prepped for trailer towing in the USA. It's very common elsewhere, and the installation of the harness is almost literally a 5-minute, no cutting affair once you get things apart to find the prepped connectors waiting for it. The right-connections choice is the only one you can install in the USA since it works out of the box without programming. The other two choices both require the dealer to program the box...BMWUSA doesn't support it, so they won't.