Rear tire carriers can be expensive. Even worse than hurting your wallet, some vehicles don’t benefit from an expansive aftermarket where there are many, or any, options for carrying your spare tire. Off-roading and long adventures without a spare are never a good idea and using up precious cargo space is less than desirable. Wilco Offroad has the solution you need.
Based in Santa Ana, California, Wilco Offroad builds everything in-house. Years of off-road and military experience have culminated in expertly designed and fabricated products that keep weight to a minimum and performance to the max.
A Hitchgate To Fit All Your Needs
Project XtremeJ received a nice heavy duty bumper, but needed a way to get the spare tire out of the cargo space.
After receiving a new heavy duty rear bumper, Project XtremeJ was in dire need of a way to carry the 33-inch Toyo Open Country M/T spare tire. Wilco Offroad had exactly what we needed with its Hitchgate Solo (PN UHG32130).
Built in several configurations, the Hitchgate can be utilized on most of the popular off-road vehicles on the road. The Hitchgate Classic is the original; the tire is offset to the driver side of the vehicle and gets the job done. The Hitchgate MAX is for vehicles that will have a heavy load; with the available cargo basket, the MAX can handle up to 350lbs of gear, including the spare tire. Hitchgate Solo is the lightest weight version of Hitchgate.
The Hitchgate Solo is a light 53lbs and can carry up to a 35-inch tire, a Rotopax can and Hi-lift mount.
Hitchgate Solo is the lightest weight version of Hitchgate – Luke Wronski
For our project, we wanted something lighter and more streamlined. The Hitchgate Solo uses less material and comes in a smaller overall size, and suits our needs perfectly. The Solo is available in three forms; Standard, Hi-Clearance, and XL.
The Hi-Clearance model is specifically designed for vehicles that have a hitch mounted below the factory bumper. The unit raises up the arm to give a better departure angle and more clearance under the vehicle.
The XL model is five inches wider than the Standard. This allows it to be used on full-size trucks, vans, and SUVs. This wider model allows the larger vehicles to open the rear doors to 90-degrees or drop the tailgate entirely.
Wilco Offroad builds their products in-house at their Santa Ana, California facility.
For Project XtremeJ, the Hitchgate Solo Standard was the right choice. Designed for vehicles with a hitch within the rear bumper, the Solo centers the tire to the vehicle, while still providing ample clearance for the rear hatch to open.
“The Hitchgate Solo was originally designed to accommodate vehicles with limited clearance between the receiver and rear doors like Sprinter and Transit vans,” explained Luke Wronski, General Manager of Wilco Offroad. “In order to accomplish this, we had to put the swing-arm in line with the receiver, thus also making it single-sided.”
Capable of carrying up to a 35-inch tire, the Hitchgate Solo sits about four inches lower than its bigger relatives. The arm is one-sided, providing extra clearance for vehicles that have a tight space between the rear door and the hitch. Designed into the carrier is a two-inch hitch, which is rated for up to 7,500 pounds max trailer weight and 750-pound tongue weight, though we recommend you make sure to consult your vehicle’s service manual for the max trailer weight.
The Hitchgate Solo will free-up your cargo or bed space from the space consuming spare tire, Hi-Lift Jack and fuel can.
Installing the Hitchgate Solo was a breeze and only took about 45 minutes. During the install, we also took the opportunity to install Wilco Offroad’s available Rotopax/Hi-Lift mount kit that bolts directly onto the Hitchgate Solo.
The Wedge-Lock system is designed to keep the hitch-mounted tire carrier from moving around by eliminating the slop between the hitch and the receiver.
Wilco Offroad developed the Wedge-Lock to tighten the system, keeping the tire and gear from shifting during use. “The Wedge Lock eliminates all slop on the receiver, resulting in a rock-solid platform capable of carrying a tire, fuel, and Hi-Lift without wobbling or noise,” said Wronski.
We slid the receiver into the hitch and lined up the hitch pin hole that best suited the vehicle. We installed a hitch pin to ensure proper location and remove and then we tightened the Wedge-Lock bolt from the outside to lock the Hitchgate in place.
Prior to installation, we greased the bolt and the anti-rocking wedge-lock. The Hitchgate Wedge-Lock assembly and truck mount were inserted into the vehicle hitch. The truck mount had two hitch pin holes, we chose the best position for your vehicle and inserted a hitch pin to ensure it was lined up correctly.
We removed the hitch pin and then used a 3/4-inch socket and extension, to tighten the wedge lock from the exterior of the assembly and reinstall the hitch pin. The Wedge-Lock was only designed to keep the system from rocking, and was not designed to carry the load of the hitch pin.
The Hitchgate used Delrin washers to ensure smooth operation all the time. We lined up the swing arm and inserted the greased bolt.
We placed the two provided Delrin washers on opposite sides of the pivot bushings in the swingarm and inserted the swing arm into the tabs on the truck mount arm. We greased the 1/2-inch bolt and inserted it from the top using washers on both sides. As a starting point, we torqued the pivot bolt to 75 ft-lbs. The bolt could be tightened more to increase the tension of the swing.
We inserted the upper lug bracket and snugged the hardware. This point could have required adjustment later when the tire was fitted to the vehicle.
We installed the upper lug bracket into the tabs on the backside of the tire mount plate, leaving the hardware snug until the tire was test-fitted. Wilco Offroad provided lug bolts and nuts in both 12 mm and 14 mm to best match the factory lug size.
Project XtremeJ has half-inch diameter lug studs, so we went with the 12 mm lug bolts. The tire mount plate was designed to work with a near infinite amount of lug patterns. Wilco Offroad suggested a minimum of three studs get used and four studs when used on a full-size vehicle.
The Rotopax/Hi-Lift bracket clamped to the vertical tube of the swing arm. We positioned the bracket so the top portion rested on the top tube. The Hi-Lift was attached to the top of the bracket with a pair of bolts and wing nuts.
With the main assembly installed, we then installed the Rotopax/Hi-Lift mount. The simple bracket system was a direct bolt-on and provided an easy way to carry the extra fuel and jack outside the vehicle.
We mounted the tire on the carrier using the first lug bolt as a guide. We then installed two or more additional lug bolts to properly secure the tire to the tire carrier.
Wilco Offroad is a family owned and operated business that is dedicated to providing quality products made right here in the USA. For more information on the extensive Hitchgate product line, please visit the Wilco Offroad website.