Ark Jockey Wheel Review; are they the best jockey wheel around?
When we purchased our Reconn R2 hybrid camper trailer, it came with an Ark Jockey Wheel. A couple of months ago, I did a review on how the hybrid had faired, and what we liked, and didn’t like about it.
I was reminded by some readers to add the Ark Jockey Wheel to the list of items that are fantastic, and its absolutely true. We’ve used a number of Jockey Wheels over the years, and the Ark is truly fantastic.
I mean, at the end of the day, its a jockey wheel and not the most exciting part of a camper trailer, but as far as they go its up there with the best jockey wheel that I’ve seen.
It’s solid and strong
I’ve seen some pretty flimsy looking jockey wheels on heavy trailers. Given the role that they do, its nice to know that I’m not going to have a drawbar land on my feet any time soon, and that I can push the camper around with a bit of force without worrying about the jockey wheel taking offense.
These are good for 750kg, and if you are applying more than that to your drawbar, you’ll have other issues.
The materials used are substantial, and its certainly one of the strongest around. Now, I will mention that I did bend the brackets a bit one weekend when I was trying to remove the DO35 hitch without taking the pressure off the car (it needed to move forward a bit to stop it binding), but it hasn’t affected anything, and it bent due to misuse, not because there’s anything wrong with the unit itself.
I’ve not bothered to remove it and fix it either, as I can’t see it being a problem.
It’s easily adjustable
One of the things that I really like about the Ark Jockey wheel is you can adjust its height very easily. Not only does it have the normal up and down winding function, but you can literally lift the entire jockey wheel up and down on a second set of locking pins, in 4 positions.
If you come to a camp site that is going to require your camper to be up high at the front, you simply pull the pins out, move the jockey wheel down and lock it up again. This is a game changer, as you no longer have to worry about running out of stroke (up or down).
I will say that after countless mud and dirt roads, this function no longer works smoothly and I have to resort to a hammer to knock it one way, and then using the pressure to push it back. Perhaps some lubrication would solve this, but we don’t bother adjusting the jockey wheel in this way anymore.
You don’t have to remove it
A lot of Caravans or Camper trailers have removable jockey wheels. These have their own pro’s and con’s, but they take extra time and there’s more chance of things not being used properly. The Ark Jockey Wheel simply flips up, and gets locked in its horizontal position. It’s built to never come loose, and you can position the wheels in an upwards position so the drawbar will hit long before the jockey wheel does.
The handle is removable too, which means there’s nothing to come off, undo or catch off road
The wheels have plenty of surface area
Most jockey wheels only have a single wheel on the bottom. The Ark has two, and this is fantastic when you drop the camper onto ground that is soft. Whether it be sand, mud or grass, the extra surface area means you can shove the camper around easily without it sinking in, and damaging the ground.
The jockey wheel also has little locking pins that allow you to keep the wheels above the drawbar. Even if it were to loosen a little, the pins stop the wheels swinging around and becoming a target off road.
It is heavy
Of course, you don’t get all of this in a Jockey Wheel without it being heavy. I believe they are somewhere around the 20kg mark, which is a reasonable amount of weight especially considering its position. If you had a heavy tow ball weight, removing this would help considerably.
4 year update
It’s hard to believe that we’ve nearly had our Reconn R2 for 4 years, and our Ark Jockey Wheel has been used hundreds of times. It still works perfectly fine, with exception of the adjustment that slides the unit up and down to gain or reduce the height of the wheel (not the winding part). This is somewhat seized, and requires some hammering persuasion to get it to move.
The blue plastic bits are badly faded, and cracking, and it wont be long before either the top or the handle cracks off.
I also noticed that the rubber on the jockey wheel is cracked in a couple of places, which could have been exacerbated by the fact that we had a piece of timber to stop the van moving down the driveway at home (and that its always sat in the sun), but its certainly going to break at some stage in the future.
Overall; is it any good?
These are fantastic, and I’ve not seen anything better. Ours has been out in the weather for a number of years, and asides from the normal wear and tear (and I’m sure cats and dogs are biting the plastic!) its performed flawlessly. I’d have no issues recommending it.
That said, after 4 years of use you can see its not new anymore, and despite working fine it is starting to come apart a bit. I still haven’t seen anything any better, and wouldn’t have a problem using it.
If possible, I’d consider a centre mount one though, as this gives you more ability to manoeuvre your 4WD. We cracked the bumper on the Dmax when I jackknifed it a bit too far!
Thanks for your extensive comments. I have to say I agree with a lot of what you’ve written.
We’ve had ours now for 4 years, and have done a heap of travel on all sorts of roads. I haven’t had too much issue with dust ingress(but I do keep pumping grease in!), except in the mechanism to slide the entire unit up and down which was seized (and I resorted to hammering free), but I’ve resolved this with some silicon spray.
The top cap on ours will fail any moment as well, and I know exactly what you mean about the wheel coming loose. I haven’t had this happen for a while though, which is interesting. I did just nip the handle up the other day though, as that was falling down.
Perhaps their extreme definition is more in relation to the weight capacity, and overall strength of design. Your comments about it not being overly suited to dusty roads is probably pretty fair, although we haven’t had any major issues thus far.
I have one of these for a few years now
I have an off road camper trailer so the jockey wheel is really a bit of overkill. I wanted something that would make it easy to push the trailer around.
Much of my travel is on dirt roads
Overall I have been happy with it in particular as it does allow for the trailer to be pushed around while off the car.
The wheel though is let down somewhat by a complete lack of dust proofing. This is disappointing given its advertised, supposed, extreme off-road credentials. The dust largely enters the internals by way of the holes in the external shaft just below the internal bevel gears. Adding to the grief is the recommendation to squirt grease into the works. As you would appreciate dirt and grease when mixed make for terrific grinding paste and can cause significant wear and tear issues. The issue also means that the wheel can become virtually impossible to wind up and down, especially down. Maintaining this is very difficult. As a partial solution I have wrapped insulating tape around the shaft covering the holes. This does help to a degree but I really cant see why Ark don’t just cover them at manufacture. If you only travel on bitumen you may never notice this but then you may not buy an ‘extreme’ jockey wheel anyway.
In addition the blue plastic cap with the embossed company logo appears not to be u/v stabilised becoming brittle and fracturing. It is a ridiculous $20 or so to replace. The magnetic, removable (prone to getting lost) winding handle is about $30
The spare parts list is also incomplete. For instance it is not possible to buy the handle that is used to swing the wheel from the vertical to the horizontal position. There have been previous discussions also about replacing the thrust bearing which Ark do not supply.
One other irritation about the wheel. It does have a useful feature in that you can position and lock the twin wheels through a range of degrees up to 180 when the jockey wheel is in the horizontal traveling position. This means you can have the wheels facing up so there is no real chance of hitting them when you are off road. The problem is that as you drive along your bit of off road the jockey wheel unwinds somewhat through the vibration and the wheel swings down. Of course the driver is unaware of this.
It is possible to prevent this by using a shock cord but bit of a nuisance.
This will be entirely dependent on your setup; I can’t answer without more information. We don’t run anti sway/weight distribution bars
All the best
What about when you use anti sway bars have you got room with this jock wheel set up prefer to be able to remove jockey wheel. Only have short draw bar on caravan
Yep, they are built like a brick aren’t they?! Have fun with it!
I have just purchased an ark jockey wheel. Not cheap but well worth the money, almost indestructible.