My problem was simple - or difficult, depending how you look at it. I have a seven-seat estate car and I needed to transport three adults, three children, a dog, three bicycles, a family-sized tent and all our camping equipment. All the passengers fit in the car and I have roof bars and roof-mounted cycle carriers for all the bicycles, but where to put the tent and camping equipment? With everybody on board there isn't nearly enough luggage space in the car.
One possible solution was a trailer since my car has a towball fitted. I was tempted but, partly because of expense but mainly because I have nowhere secure to store it, I decided not to go for this option. Another possibility was to get a roofbox and buy a towball-mounted cycle carrier. Feasible but I would be left with three unwanted cycle carriers and lifting the tent onto the roof would be difficult too I reasoned since it is quite heavy and awkward. The last option was a towball mounted rack which could take a container large enough to hold our tent and camping equipment. This rack turned out to be the Thule EasyBase 949 (and the container the Thule EasyBag 948-4).
There are two versions of the EasyBase, the 949 which has a 7-pin connector and the 948 which has a 13-pin connector. Most British registered cars fitted with a towball have a 7-pin electrical socket, or two 7-pin sockets if used for caravans. My car has a single 7-pin socket, so I needed the 949.
To find out more about the EasyBase system I visited the Thule website, which has a good selection of videos showing how to fit and use a wide range of Thule products. Apart from using it with the EasyBag 948-4, the EasyBase can of course be used on its own, or with the EasyBasket 948-3 (a kind of roofrack), EasyBike-1/2, which convert it into a cycle carrier for one, two or three bicycles, or the 900 Thule Backup, which is like an extra boot.
The EasyBase is quite expensive at around £160 recommended retail price but on-line I found it for less than £110 from Towequipe, whom I have used before and know to be reliable.
EasyBase arrives in a large box and needs some simple self assembly. The instructions come as an A4 size booklet, are mostly in the form of diagrams and I found them clear and easy to follow. If you have ever made an IKEA product then you will know what to expect. The Swedes seem to be logical and thorough in these matters.
There are two basic ways to build your EasyBase, either on the car starting by attaching a piece to the towball or build the whole thing and then attach it afterwards. I chose the second approach since I prefer to work in a warm, dry environment and not have to chase instructions being blown about by the wind. Mainly it is a question of fitting sections together and bolting them up. A multi-spanner is provided but it is difficult to use and slips off easily. I used my ring spanners and socket set instead. The completed EasyBase can be lifted by one person; it weighs 15 kg. However, it is easier to have a second pair of hands available when attaching to the car.
You will need a British Standard approved number plate matching your car's to fit to the lighting board supplied. I purchased mine from eBay for about £5.
Fitting to the car was quite straightforward. You place it over the towball and tighten a large screw with a special wrench included in the box. It isn't possible to fit a torque wrench onto this so you have to guess how tight to do it up. Thule say it should be torqued to 90 Nm, which is about the same as you would apply to a wheel nut. So quite tight. The EasyBase aligns itself horizontally as you tighten the screw but you need to make sure it is straight in line with the car yourself. The only thing that remains is to attach the 7-pin connector. I found the cable was barely long enough to do this and I had to reposition some of the cable clips to allow a good connection. Then after testing all the lights worked I was ready to go. As supplied the EasyBase is not lockable but Thule can supply a simple lock to go over the end of the fitting screw and it is possible to match the key with your other Thule equipment.
First job for the EasyBase was helping a neighbour move house. After loading up the car I then attached his small table and two bedside cabinets to the EasyBase with strong luggage straps. The extra weight far behind the back axle did press the car down on its rear springs a little but nothing serious. Driving the car again, I barely noticed any difference and we arrived safely with no loss or damage, so EasyBase had passed its first test.
Next up the camping trip. For some reason, enthusiasm was waning as the summer holiday was almost at its end and then the weather broke. Rain followed by more rain. So the camping trip never happened and my neighbour has been the sole beneficiary so far. But there's always next year! In the meantime it is hanging on a bracket in my shed (it folds flat for easier storage)
Facts and figures:
Base area 120 cm x 60 cm
Weight: 15 kg
Maximum load: 60 kg
The seven-pin connector supplies the following:
Tail and numberplate lights, L & R
Brakelights, L & R
Thule thoughtfully advise you to remove the EasyBase before using an automatic carwash (as if!).
The EasyBase has been City Crash tested, like all current Thule products.