What’s the difference between swan neck and flange towbar?

There are two distinct styles of towbars, fixed and detachable, both of which are obtainable in swan neck and flange styles. Selecting a towbar can be a confusing decision due to the vast variety of options. Towbars are vehicle-specific so the options of towbar types can be determined relying on the make and model of the car. Regardless, most modern vehicles have choices for all towbar styles and types.

Further to their builds, the flange and swan neck towbars are nicely equipped to manage distinctive circumstances and functions. In this, article let us find out which is best for you.

Swan neck towbar

A swan neck towbar gets its name from its shape and design. This is where the tow ball and the neck are all one piece of the towbar, resulting in one solid unit. With a sleek and compact slimline design, Swan neck tow bars are becoming a popular design due to the appearance of the bar looking neater and with the bar being narrower.

This type of bar is slightly less versatile; you can either tow or hook a cycle carrier but you can’t use both at the same time with a base plate that needs to be bolted behind the tow ball. The swan neck type is available in both a detachable and fixed style. The swan neck towbar can also be used with an AL-KO stabilizer without the need for transformation. The swan neck type towbars are more expensive to buy as compared to flange towbars.

Fixed swan neck towbar

The fixed swan neck towbar is more aesthetically pleasing than a flange-style towbar. It is compatible with AL-KO and other friction-style stabilizers. Also is capable of carrying all types of ball mount cycle carriers. Some necks are not as adaptable as the flange style i.e. cannot fit height adjusters, steps, and couplings. Towing and using a towbar mount cycle carrier at the same time is not possible. Can be more expensive than a flange depending on the make and model.

Detachable swan neck towbar

A detachable swan neck towbar has all the benefits of a fixed swan neck towbar with the additional feature of being removed when not in use. The towbar can be removed leaving the vehicle looking like there is not a towbar fitted and towing capacity is the same as a fixed bar. Allowing for a cleaner look on the rear of a vehicle when not towing anything.

The detachable towbar will not interfere with parking sensors once removed and also walking around your vehicle is easy without any disturbances. If you lose the neck at any point they are expensive to replace. Alternative tow balls cannot be fitted as a result towbar height cannot be altered.

Flange towbar

The most commonly used type of towbar in the UK is the flange towbar; where the tow ball is bolted to the towbar with two 24mm bolts. There are also some variations of the flange towbar type that have four bolts instead of two. This is the most versatile design of the towbar because it can be used with tow ball-mounted accessories i.e. cycle carriers, bumper protectors & all types of stabilizers, all mounted between the towbar & ball. The flange towbar is available in both fixed and detachable styles.

The flange is the most widely used tow bar. The assembly consists of a tow ball that’s secured to the flange plate with bolts. The flange plate is permanently attached to the vehicle. The flange ball towbar features two distinct parts the tow ball and the tow neck which are bolted together to create the towbar.

Fixed flange towbar

The fixed flange towbar tends to be more reasonable and is capable of using accessories like mounted cycle carriers. It can fit a towbar and pin system needed to haul factory campers and generators. The tow ball can be upgraded to be used with an AL-KO stabilizer for different towing heights adjustable and clearances.

Both the towbar and electrics can be seen when glancing at the vehicle are not as aesthetically attractive as other styles. The parking sensors equipped in the vehicle may consider the towbar an obstacle when in reverse. You may also end up hurting your legs while walking around the vehicle.

The flange is the most widely used tow bar. The assembly consists of a tow ball that’s secured to the flange plate with bolts. The flange plate is permanently attached to the vehicle. The main downside to a Flangeball Towbar is that the neck and tow ball can be bulky so it doesn’t look as neat as a Swan Neck Towbar.

It is also highly likely that if your car has parking sensors they will detect the towbar neck and beep all the time when you are in reverse. In fact, if your car has parking sensors, we wouldn’t recommend fitting this type of towbar at all, unless you go for the more expensive Detachable Towbar.

Detachable flange towbar

A detachable flange towbar is just as safe and sturdy as a fixed towbar, with the added benefit of being able to remove the neck. A detachable towbar doesn’t affect your car’s appearance and is easy to use, remove and store. Detachable towbars have safety neck mechanism locks so the neck cannot be removed to stop it from being stolen from the vehicle.

Detachable towbars can be more expensive than fixed towbars in terms of pricing. Capable of fitting a tow ball and pin system required to haul manufacturer trailers, generators, towing couplings, and accessories can be fitted.

Difference between swan neck and flange towbar

Swan Neck towbar Flange towbar
Swan Neck towbar neck being narrower is compact in design. This is the most versatile design of the towbar because it can be used with tow ball-mounted accessories that are bolted behind the tow ball.
Less likely to be picked up by parking aids.It can be used with a bumper guard which means that the ball is left free, so you can carry bikes and tow them at the same time.
Is compatible with Al-Ko stabilizers without the need for an Al-Ko tow ball to be purchased separately.It can be a bulky extended tow ball needed to use with an Al-Ko stabilizer and some of the larger clamp-on type cycle carriers.
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The reason the Flange towbar is most widespread with drivers towing heavy vehicles for long distances is that there are a number of counterpart accessories available. The accessories like pin-type tow balls, bumper protectors, and drop plates adjust the tow bar’s height which aids the towing experience.

Which should I get? The towbar is most appropriate for you and will come down to usage accordingly. If you are looking to carry bikes often, then the fixed flange ball towbar is definitely the right one to go for. If towing large vehicles is your main focus, it may be wise to invest in a swan neck towbar due to its ability to easily accommodate an al-ko stabilizer.

If you’re doubtful of exactly what you will need it for in the future, perhaps getting a fixed flange ball towbar is your most suitable due to its versatility and cheaper price matter.

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Aaron Bennett is an accomplished author and a true aficionado when it comes to pickup trucks. With an unwavering passion for all things automotive, Aaron has dedicated his life to exploring the world of pickups and sharing his expertise with others. As the proud owner of several powerful machines, he has spent countless hours behind the wheel, navigating rugged terrains and conquering highways with unrivaled enthusiasm.

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