When it comes to towing a kingpin-equipped trailer (i.e. fifth wheel), a specialized fifth-wheel hitch that mounts within the bed of your truck is required. A fifth wheel hitch consists of a top plate that the trailer pin box (kingpin support) rests on. Hooking up requires backing the truck under the kingpin so metal jaws can clamp and secure the trailer-mounted kingpin. Once connected, the pivoting top plate on the hitch allows the necessary movement required to smoothly tow the trailer.
While a fifth-wheel hitch consists of more components and an overall bulkier and heavier design than a gooseneck hitch or bumper-pull hitch, this type of hitch is generally regarded as the best option for many towing enthusiasts. With a more intricate design, a fifth wheel generally provides smoother, quieter, and more stable towing compared to a gooseneck or bumper-pull hitch. This makes it ideal for car- and equipment-hauling trailers and RVs.
However, for years, this meant either, A) having a bulky hitch to haul around in your truck or store somewhere when not in use or B), utilizing a gooseneck-to-fifth wheel adapter that creates a lot of concerns and issues with camper manufacturers and owners alike. To remedy both of these concerns, the folks at Blue Ox have come out with the BXR2100 fifth-wheel hitch. This new hitch design is lighter than most fifth-wheel hitches on the market and is a safe way to utilize a fifth-wheel trailer with a gooseneck ball-equipped truck.
Choosing The Best Fifth Wheel Hitch For My Needs
I have long been contemplating a dedicated fifth-wheel hitch for my truck, but other than the obvious bulkiness of a traditional rail- or puck-mounted hitch, many truck owners like me could be facing other issues when deciding what is the best fifth-wheel hitch for their needs. For starters, my Ram is not equipped with the puck-receiver system that is required to mount a fifth-wheel hitch to the truck and I do not want to have a set of rails mounted to the bed floor of my truck. My Ram does have a gooseneck ball for towing my equipment trailer, but again, using a gooseneck to fifth wheel adapter is not an option and I’ll explain why.
It comes down to leverage. By using an adapter between your kingpin and the gooseneck ball, you have increased the distance between the hitch connection point and the trailer itself. This extension can be as much as 30 inches. This longer arm can and will exaggerate any forces applied against the trailer. Think of hitting a bump or uneven ground or road surfaces, simply starting out from a red light or stop sign, or worst yet, a panic stop. The exorbitant leverage applied to the trailer frame is why many fifth-wheel camper manufacturers will void a trailer’s warranty if a gooseneck to a fifth-wheel adaptor is utilized.
Filling The Needs Of Many With A Two-Piece Design
The BXR2100 is unlike many other fifth-wheel hitches in that it is a two-piece design. The bottom portion secures to the truck by holding on to the 2-5/16-inch gooseneck ball. To attach the BXR2100, simply place the hitch base over your existing ball, slide two securing pins through the housing and under the ball, and then torque the retaining mechanism to 45 lb-ft. As you torque the retaining mechanism, it pulls on the bottom of the ball (and the retaining pins), securing it to the truck bed floor. Once you have the base secured, you will then install the upper kingpin receiver head.
It is worth mentioning that this hitch will place the kingpin roughly 4 inches rearward of the gooseneck ball which, in my 2019 Ram, places it directly over the rear axle. What does that mean to you? Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. The distance is not significant unless you consider it might help those with a short bed in regard to possibly not needing a sliding hitch.
“Yes, this does help,” says Paul Choquette, director of operations at Blue Ox. “However, depending on the camper shell design, one still needs to be aware of the short distance and take precautions when turning tight.”
Out Of The Box Thinking Makes A Different Design
One thing I was not sure about was whether or not safety chains are required. My confusion came about because a trailer connection using a hitch ball requires safety chains while a kingpin connection does not. Since the BXR2100 technically uses a kingpin hitch that mounts to the truck via a ball, you can understand my confusion. I asked Choquette about this and he clarified it this way, “the trailer is still connecting to a “fifth wheel” [kingpin] so no chains are attached.”
Where the Blue Ox design differs from most fifth-wheel hitches is there is no top plate or clamping mechanism to secure the kingpin. The Blue Ox BXR2100 utilizes a funnel design receiver head that fully encompasses the kingpin as it is lowered into place. Once the kingpin is in position, a crossbar slides through the kingpin to secure it. There is no way for the kingpin to come out unless it is raised out of the funnel with the jacks. The biggest advantage I can see to this design is there is no possibility of the clamp mechanism not getting clamped or of it coming unclamped and the trailer going bye-bye without the truck. To me, this is a much better kingpin receiver design for that reason alone.
This design also means that you cannot simply back into the kingpin and latch it. Your trailer must be high enough for your truck to back under the kingpin so it can be lowered into the receiver. Backing the kingpin into a top plate and having it latch is much easier than backing up just enough to lower the kingpin into the funnel (like making a gooseneck connection), but the funnel does allow for a small amount of misalignment as it guides the kingpin into the receiver.
Loading The Blue Ox Fifth-Wheel Hitch
If you are worried about the load capacity of the hitch, there is no need for concern. The BXR2100 gives you a gross trailer capacity of 21,000 pounds and a vertical load limit of 5,000 pounds. This is right in line with most other fifth-wheel hitches, so most trailers will be good to go when connected to the BXR2100. To give some clarity, the 40-foot Boost XLR trailer I connected to in the video has a pin weight of 2,650 pounds and an overall weight of 12,000 pounds.
Other than the kingpin receiver design, another benefit of the Blue Ox hitch is its actual weight. Most other fifth-wheel hitches are very heavy and require either a lifting device of some sort to remove it from the truck or a couple of healthy friends. While the Blue OX BXR2100 only weighs slightly more than 120 pounds, and its two-piece design means you can split that weight for removal which makes removal and installation a one-person job.
Adjustability And Flexibility
The two-piece design also affords the ability to adjust the hitch height. While most hitches have a fixed height and trailer-mounted height is adjusted with the pin box, the receiver head of the BXR2100 is retained via a hardened pin that can be placed in any one of three height positions. The three holes are spaced 1 inch apart.
Also, the receiver head has a small amount of movability to help with connection, and the head also utilizes rubber stops/bumpers to help smooth the ride. Since the receiver head articulates a small amount, if your fifth wheel has a Rotoflex pin box, then you will want to order the optional Rotoflex lock. Because the BXR2100 affords some movement and the Rotoflex also allows a certain amount of movement, one of these moveable pieces of the connection puzzle must be locked in place, or there will be too much movement which could damage the trailer and cause unsafe towing conditions.
“Since the hitch head has so much articulation built into it, with the extra movement of the Rotoflex you could experience a small amount of chucking [forward and aft jarring of the trailer against the truck] if the Rotoflex isn’t isolated,” Paul states. “Our experiences have been only smooth towing when we lock out the Rotoflex.”
Paul finished by adding, “This hitch gives the RV’er the best option for all benefits. It is a steel-constructed product with no kingpin adapters and is still light enough in its two-piece design to take in and out of your truck bed. The head offers little opportunity for false hookups and has superior comfort due to the cushioning and 360 degrees of rotation in the hitch head.
On The Road Again
The towing experience with the BXR2100 really shines when bumps are encountered. The rubber isolators under the hitch head do a great job of damping the jarring effects of potholes and severe road irregularities. Other than that, the hitch works as well as any fifth-wheel hitch. I did have one person ask me about whether the hitch would rotate in the bed while turning with a trailer attached, and I did not have that experience.
While it is hard to say the BXR2100 is any better than other fifth-wheel hitches, again, its two-piece design is the big selling point. Having a hitch that can be easily installed by one person is a huge benefit. What’s more, it can easily be stored almost anywhere. Blue Ox even makes a wall hanger for the hitch to keep it stored out of the way.
If you’re looking for a strong fifth-wheel hitch option that is a virtual one-man installation and only requires a gooseneck ball, the BXR2100 might be the best fifth-wheel hitch option for you.