Flanged Towbars

Flanged Towbar Advantages Most popular and cheapest type of towbar Ideal for general towing Bolted to face plate with two M16 bolts Flange style towbars are versatile and accessories can be bolted on i.e. cycle carriers, bumper guards, stabilisers. Flanged Towbar Disadvantages Towbar will interfere with parking aids nine times out of ten and can also look bulky.

Fixed Flange The towball is bolted onto a faceplate and is permanently attached to your vehicle. This is ideal for serious towing, compatible with accessories and usually the cheapest option. Tow and carry bikes at the same time AL-KO towballs can be fitted Towing couplings and accessories can be fitted

Swan Neck Towbars

Swan Neck Towbar Advantages Mid range competitive prices Ideal for vehicles with parking sensors – The compact design of the neck is narrower and does not interfere with parking sensors. Compatible with Alko style stabilisers and most cycle carriers. Swan Neck Towbar

Disadvantages With swan neck style towbars there are only a certain range of cycle carriers that are compatible. Most accessories cannot be bolted on i.e. bumper guards.  

Detachable Towbar

Detachable Towbar Advantages Most desired type of towbar due to the option of the neck being easily detached from the vehicle when not in use, making it invisible.

Does not affect parking sensors whatsoever. Electrics can be hidden behind the bumper, un-affecting the appearance of the vehicle. Compatible with Alko style stabilisers.

Detachable Towbar Disadvantages Most expensive type of towbar With detachable style towbars there are only a certain range of cycle carriers that are compatible. Most accessories cannot be bolted on i.e. bumper guards.


It is vital to consider how your towbar electrics are installed, especially because cars are becoming a lot more complex.

10 years ago towing electrics were simply connected to the rear lights of the car, but nowadays cars are now more modern and computer controlled, with advanced safety features, and complicated wiring systems.

Towing electrics are no longer this ‘simple’ and need to be installed by trained technicians and properly coded to the car's ecu modules

Single Electrics 7 pin (12n)

Fitted as standard Used for powering cycle carrier lights, and for powering rear lights when towing trailers or caravans. Caravans can be towed with single electrics only, although the interior electrical functions of the caravan would not have power to them. It is recommended to have a single socket installed even if you are only towing a cycle carrier, so that a light board can be powered over the bikes.

Twin Electrics (12S)

Fitted in addition to single electrics if you are towing a caravan or trailer built prior to 2008. Has an extra grey socket which provides power to operate interior functions of a caravan such as the fridge and lights. Charges battery while towing. 12s socket also has reversing lights for the caravan or trailer. This type of socket has been replaced on caravans built after 2008 in the UK. New caravans now use the 13 pin standard socket shown below.

13 Pin Electrics

European, newest style of towing socket. As of September 2008, all manufactured caravans are wired up using 13 pin plugs that meet ISO11446 standards and requirements. More adaptable for detachable towbars that have a spring mounting single socket plate that can be folded up behind the bumper so that it is not visible. 13 pin electrics have a twist to lock coupling system that makes plugging in easy and also makes it a sealed watertight fitting. The 13 pin socket is essentially the two 7 pin sockets merged in to one. This system uses one socket with 13 pins inside, instead of the traditional two separate 7 pin sockets. 13 pin sockets are also used on some vehicles especially with detachable towbars when there isn’t enough room to mount two separate sockets behind the bumper.