A non-binding tow bar is an essential part of our towing setup. We’ve experienced binding in the past, and trust us – you don’t want to deal with it. In this post, we’ll explain what binding is and how it happens, show you how non-binding tow bars are different, and share the ones we’ve had a great experience with.
- 1) What Is Tow Bar Binding?
- 2) What Is a Non-Binding Tow Bar?
- 3) The Best Non-Binding Tow Bars
- 4) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews & Giveaways
What Is Tow Bar Binding?
Binding is an issue you may encounter when disconnecting your towed car (commonly known as a “toad”) from the rear of your motorhome. Binding occurs when the latches won’t release due to pressure on them. This occurs most often when your toad is at an angle from your rig or when you’re parked on a downgrade, where the weight of the toad presses forward toward the RV.
As an example, here’s a photo of our Newmar Mountain Aire parked with the toad at an angle, followed by a photo of our original tow bar which we often had to fight to release because it wasn’t equipped with non-binding latches.
Take it from us, you don’t want to deal with binding. It can be incredibly frustrating, sometimes requiring two people and considerable effort to resolve. The sharper the angle between the tow car and the RV, or the steeper the downhill, the more difficult the process.
Of course, parking perfectly straight on a level surface is the best and easiest way to disconnect the toad. But in tight campground situations, that isn’t always possible. Without a non-binding tow bar, getting it released can be a real pain.
When this happens, often the only way to get the tow bar latch(es) to release is by having one person put the car in reverse and pull back hard. That takes the forward pressure and weight of the car off the latches, allowing a second person to release them. It can sometimes require the person driving the car to rock the steering wheel back and forth to release the pressure on the latch(es).
When facing downhill, it’s common for neither arm to release.
Again, a helper is needed to pull back hard on the car. If you’re alone, you’ll be hard-pressed to get the car disconnected from the RV without assistance.
We dealt with binding issues for years when we first hit the road. We had to constantly worry about being as close to perfectly straight and level as possible to disconnect. When that wasn’t possible, we’d find ourselves forced to work as a team, pulling our toad back and forth to try to get our tow bar to release.
It wasn’t until we learned about a non-binding tow bar design that releases easily in virtually any situation (not just on the straight & level) that we were able to put the annoyance of tow bar binding behind us permanently. (As we often say: “We learned about RVing the hard way, so you don’t have to!”)
What Is a Non-Binding Tow Bar?
Non-binding tow bars have specially designed latches that let you release the tow bar at virtually any angle or slope. This means no more worrying about being perfectly straight or level to disconnect, and no more pulling your toad back and forth to try to get your tow bar to release.
Non-binding latches are one of the best features of any tow bar setup. As far as we’re concerned, no tow bar makes it into the “best tow bar for flat-towing” category without non-binding latches.
We dealt with the frustration of tow bar binding until we learned about Roadmaster tow bars, which are designed with clever patented latches that make binding a thing of the past. Roadmaster calls them “Freedom Latches” and they work by providing a 400-to-1 mechanical advantage between the latch handle and the release mechanism.
We had friends who used (and loved) their Roadmaster Sterling tow bar and never experienced a binding issue. When we asked them about binding, they actually didn’t even know what we were talking about! That was enough to compel us to visit Roadmaster to learn what kind of solutions they might have for our long-time binding issues.
We made the following video to illustrate the binding problem with our original tow bar, our switch to the Sterling, and share our tour of the Roadmaster facility and how their towing products are made:
We put our new Roadmaster Sterling to the test at various angles and slopes. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t make it bind. The arms released effortlessly every time.
We liked the way Roadmaster tow bars work so much that when they introduced a brand new top-of-the-line model, the (lighted!) Nighthawk, we upgraded and never experienced binding with that bar either.
The Best Non-Binding Tow Bars
Based on our extremely satisfying personal experience, Roadmaster non-binding tow bars are our first choice, hands down. That said, here are several of the best non-binding tow bars on the market.
This is the tow bar we used and loved for years. It has an 8,000-pound capacity and is unique because it includes two strings of LED lights. They serve as a safety feature by helping other vehicles on the road see that you’re towing.
Since other drivers aren’t likely to expect another vehicle to be following you as closely as a toad, this is an awesome safety feature when driving at night. The lights also help a lot when connecting or disconnecting in the dark.
The Nighthawk uses the same Roadmaster patented non-binding Freedom Latches as the Sterling, so we weren’t the least bit surprised that it wouldn’t bind either. Also like the Sterling, it uses Roadmaster’s patented one-step storage latch. But after dark, it’s a whole different animal, and surely the safest tow bar ever made.
The Nighthawk addresses a nagging issue we’ve always had about towing — that other drivers may move behind us suddenly without realizing we’re being “tailgated” by a car that has no lights lit anywhere except on the rear. A bonus is how clean the design is, with its cables neatly routed within channels along the bar.
This is the ultimate top-of-the-line tow bar, with every feature Roadmaster offers. We wouldn’t tow with any other bar, and Roadmaster makes it even better by offering a special deal — a free tow bar cover and free tow bar lock, both of which will help protect your beautiful new tow bar.
Call Roadmaster at (800) 669-9690 to order your Nighthawk tow bar factory direct and tell them you want “The RVgeeks Package”. You’ll receive a FREE Tow Bar Cover & Hitch Receiver Lock to keep your new Nighthawk secure and looking great. Free Shipping is also included!
Call Roadmaster at (800) 669-9690 to order your Nighthawk tow bar factory direct and tell them you want “The RVgeeks Package”. You'll receive a FREE Tow Bar Cover & Hitch...Show More
Call Roadmaster at (800) 669-9690 to order your Nighthawk tow bar factory direct and tell them you want “The RVgeeks Package”. You'll receive a FREE Tow Bar Cover & Hitch Receiver Lock to keep your new Nighthawk secure and looking great. Free Shipping is also included!
The Roadmaster Nighthawk is our favorite RV tow bar. The non-binding latches ensure you'll have an easy time disconnecting, no matter how the RV and tow car are positioned. Longer arms make connecting and disconnecting easier. And the LED lights along the arms improve safety and visibility when towing!Show Less
Check out our video about our Roadmaster Nighthawk:
Roadmaster Falcon All-Terrain
The Falcon All-Terrain non-binding tow bar has a 6,000 lb. capacity and also includes Roadmaster’s patented Freedom Latches and one-step storage latch. It uses a self-aligning design and the longest tow bar arms available. Each inner arm telescopes to over 50″ in length and can be extended or retracted independently and rotated 45º horizontally.
The Falcon is durable with solid stainless steel inner arms and has built-in channel guides through which the safety cables and power cord can be routed for protection against damage or dragging.
- Patented one-step storage latch: Fold the tow bar toward the motorhome and it will “click,” automatically locking in place
- Built-in channel guides: The safety cables and power cord can be routed through built-in channel guides for protection against damage or dragging and...
Roadmaster Sterling All-Terrain
We’ve used Roadmaster’s Sterling All-Terrain non-binding tow bar and it performed flawlessly for us. (We only upgraded to the Nighthawk when it was released to take advantage of the LED light feature.)
The Sterling has an 8,000-lb capacity and steel & stainless steel construction for high strength. It also has a powder-coated finish for maximum durability and to prevent corrosion. The telescoping solid stainless steel inner arms center and click automatically, locking as you pull away. Safety cables and power umbilical are included.
- Steel and stainless steel at every critical point ensure superior strength and structural integrity
- Easy to connect, and its solid stainless steel inner arms telescope, center and automatically lock as you pull away
Roadmaster Blackhawk All-Terrain
Roadmaster’s Blackhawk is a non-binding all-terrain tow bar with a 10,000-lb capacity for use with Blue Ox baseplates. This tow bar is actually a beefed-up version of the Falcon All-Terrain, with an additional couple of tons of towing capacity.
It features Roadmaster’s patented Freedom Latch non-binding technology that offers a quick-connect and quick-disconnect system that makes it easy for one person to operate. If you already have a toad with a Blue Ox baseplate installed, this bar may be the one for you (although Roadmaster also makes adapters that will allow any Roadmaster bar to work with Blue Ox baseplate connections. (This is what we used when we upgraded our old binding tow bar.)
- For use with Blue Ox Baseplates
- The 10,000 Pound rated BlackHawk 2 All-Terrain is a beefed-up version of the popular Falcon All-Terrain, with an additional two tons of carrying...
Blue Ox Avail
Regardless of the manufacturer, towbar binding when trying to release a towed vehicle can happen unless they’ve engineered a latch to overcome the problem. As our own experience showed us, Blue Ox tow bar binding has been an issue, which is why they now offer models with non-binding latches. They also include a patented storage latch.
The Blue Ox Class IV Avail is a 10,000-lb-capacity non-binding tow bar constructed of steel covered by metallic paint. It uses a non-binding latch that’s designed to release in any condition. The design of this Blue Ox tow bar offers wider arms for smooth, trouble-free operation even over rough roads.
- 10,000 lbs. capacity
- Steel construction, premium metallic paint
Demco Excali-Bar 3
Demco’s Excali-Bar 3 is a 10,500-lb-capacity non-binding tow bar that uses modular steel construction. It’s self-aligning and adjustable, eliminating the need to line up a coupler to a ball and receiver.
The safety cables are vinyl-covered and are attached securely with safety cable mounting clips that keep them out of the way. The Excalibur 3 has the highest towing capacity of any steel tow bar on the market when used with the appropriate weight-rated receiver hitch.
- Exclusive design allows for true independent arm movement
- Tows up to 10,500 pounds
If you’re in the market for a tow bar, we highly recommend going with a non-binding tow bar to save time, effort, and aggravation. We learned the hard way and now wouldn’t use anything other than a non-binding tow bar.
We hope the information in this post saves some fellow RVers from experiencing the frustration of owning anything other than a non-binding tow bar. If you want to see how easy it is for just one person to manage, check out our video about it:
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