If you are a frequent reader of DieselArmy.com, then you remember back in November of 2022, we introduced you guys to B&W Hitch’s new Continuum hitch. You can check out that article here. Anyway, that article took off and you guys really wanted to know more about how this new weight distribution hitch (WDH) was about to revolutionize trailer towing. I announced that I would try to test one, and I recently got the opportunity to do just that.
First, a little refresher about this hitch and its design. The Continuum hitch is rated for trailers with a maximum weight under 16,001 pounds. It is also designed for trailers with a tongue weight between 600 and 1,600 pounds and a 2-inch-wide A-frame coupler design with rails from 4 to 7 inches tall.
Next, the area behind the coupler and between the frame rails must be open with at least 2 inches of open area in front of the next object, such as the propane tank tray. The mounting location behind the coupler requires the distance between the frame rails to be between 6 and 9 inches. A clear span of frame rail is needed on the driver’s side frame rail to mount the hydraulic pump. Finally, the Continuum hitch works with hitch receivers of 2 and 2-1/2 inches.
The Weight Distribution Hitch Gets A New Design
How the Continuum Hitch varies from other WDH designs is readily apparent. Instead of steel bars that are “loaded” when being used, Continuum uses composite “springs” that are loaded by a hydraulic cylinder.
“Our Continuum weight distribution hitch has been in development for nearly seven years,” says Eric Stewart of B&W. “While designing this hitch, we did not want to simply make a hitch that you normally see. We wanted a hitch that is different, easy to use, and allows you to make adjustments on the fly.”
As Stewart mentioned, the Continuum definitely looks different than any WDH on the market. Not only are there composite “springs” rather than steel spring bars, but those underslung springs attach to the truck via a latching slide receiver on the truck and a hydraulic cylinder on the trailer. While some feel a steel spring bar will last longer than a composite spring, B&W disagrees. “Under normal circumstances, we expect the springs to last the lifetime of the hitch,” says Barlow. “The LiteFlex material used in the springs has been used in suspensions of dump trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles for a long time.”
That said, how does one connect a set of composite springs between a trailer and a truck? The way the Continuum works is so much easier than a traditional weight distribution hitch, as you simply connect the truck to the trailer, slide the spring assembly into the receiver, latch it in place, and then easily distribute the trailer load by pumping a hydraulic cylinder, much like you would a floor jack. However, there is a right and a wrong way to load a WDH, no matter the design.
With other weight distribution hitches, any change in your trailer or tongue weight might require a hitch head adjustment. Large adjustments might even require different bars while minor adjustments might mean adding or subtracting washers or other adjustments in the head. The angle of the Continuum head is set, and the composite “bars” are rated from 600 to 1,600-pound tongue weights. Adjustments to the Continuum are easy and allow precise control. If your trailer isn’t handling the way you like, pull over and pump the handle again to add weight to the front axles. It’s as easy as that.
Proper Distribution Of Weight
I have seen many people improperly load a weight distribution hitch and when you apply too much pressure to the spring bars, which can cause a very stiff ride and wear out the bars prematurely. To properly set proper weight distribution with Continuum, we got some input from Beth Barlow, marketing director at B&W Hitches.
“The beauty of the Continuum is the ability to fine-tune the amount of Front Axle Load Restoration (FALR) as your trailer and tongue weight change,” says Barlow. “By taking a few measurements and knowing your truck’s suggested FALR, you can do a calculation that will get you set up correctly. After that, if you feel that your truck feels a little light in the steering, for instance, you can pull over and adjust Continuum in seconds by adding or subtracting weight on the front axles by utilizing the hydraulic pump.”
In case you are shrugging your shoulders at the mention of FALR, figuring this is as easy as measuring the front wheel well before the trailer is connected and then again after you have connected the trailer. Returning your tuck to the pre-connected ride height is a 100-percent FALR. If your truck manufacturer recommends 100-percent FALR, then pump the handle until you have 100-percent ‘restored’ the weight to the front axle. If the truck manufacturer recommends 50-percent FALR, for instance, then split the difference.
As I mentioned, the load is applied to Continuum via a hydraulic pump. The pump attaches to a hydraulic cylinder that pulls on the spring assembly to distribute the load. Hydraulics have limitations, and I asked Beth about a safe hydraulic pressure, and she informed me that, the system is rated to 3,000 pounds, but B&W set the maximum pressure of the system at 2,200 pounds. Anything over that, and the pressure relief activates. Pump the pressure past there and you will hear the relief valve working.
Weight Distribution And Sway
There are some WDHs on the market that incorporate sway control and then there are add-on friction devices that help control sway. The problem with these is, it is recommended that you remove the sway control to avoid damage when backing a trailer. That’s a hassle that Continuum eliminates. According to B&W, friction sway control is built into the hitch and can lessen sway as much as the current leading brands. Sway control, however, is much less important to towing stability than other considerations, such as speed, road and weather conditions, trailer load distribution, tire conditions, and many other factors.
“One of the first things we did when we embarked on weight distribution hitch research was to conduct an experiment of the major brands in the category,” Beth states. “We set up air casters on the tires of a trailer to remove friction with the ground, we then measured the resistance offered by the sway control measures of the leading brands of hitches. What we learned was that they actually offered little resistance to sway. For some brands, the sway control measure took effect when the angle of the trailer was so large, it would already be outside a lane of traffic, for instance. Our conclusion was that once sway starts, the forces created are too big to be overcome by some friction-based hitches.”
“So, does our hitch offer as much friction-based sway control as the leading WD hitch? Yes! But we wanted to contribute to safety by incorporating a way to make it easy for the hitch to be set up correctly, even when the weight changes in the trailer. As you can see as you travel down the road, there are a large number of setups that are visually incorrect, even setups with weight distribution hitches. This is because it is very difficult to affect FALR with other hitches, you are either loaded or unloaded.”
I do need to let you know that, if you have multiple trailers, you would need multiple hitches unless you plan to switch the hydraulic system from trailer to trailer depending on which one you want to connect.
On The Road Again
Enough talk about the design and function of the Continuum. You probably want to know what we thought of the install and how it worked while towing our 11,000-pound toy hauler. For starters, I will say that our trailer is on the large end of being Continuum-friendly. For instance, the Continuum hitch has a tongue weight maximum rating of 1,600 pounds and our toy hauler is right at the limit.
The instruction manual was easy to follow and the install took roughly 40 minutes from start to finish. Once the Continuum was mounted to the trailer, I made the connection to the truck. I will say that with the hydraulic cylinder, the forward and aft movement of the composite assembly makes sliding the spring assembly into the receiver very easy. Once the assembly is latched into the receiver, this is where the Continuum really shines.
As I previously stated, traditional spring bar WDHs require a spring to be loaded by using a piece of pipe for leverage to lock the bars into place. With the Continuum, you simply pump the hydraulic jack until you have a proper distribution of load. Easy peasy. Also, traditional weight hitches should be greased frequently where the bars meet the hitch, this can be a messy proposition when storing the bars as the grease can get everywhere. with the Continuum, the grease is contained within the hitch assembly and grease is added via two grease fittings, not slathered on the bar ends.
Once the trailer was connected to WorkHorse, our 2019 Ram 2500 project truck, it was time for some road testing. The first thing I noticed is how quiet the Continuum is when loaded. This includes when turning and going over speed bumps. Most WDHs are noisy when in use but not the Continuum. This is because the Continuum uses a rotating head in the hitch as opposed to traditional WDHs that use binding bars to distribute weight. I had to check my truck’s rearview camera to make sure it was still connected.
“The difference you will notice right away [when towing] will be the quietness of the Continuum compared to other systems. That, in addition to its ease of use (all setup can be done from the driver’s side), makes it enjoyable to use. Towing should be enjoyable,” affirms Barlow.
The roads I was testing on were in Florida, and I traveled on two- and four-lane roads to get some time invested. When I noticed my first tractor trailer coming up behind me on the four-lane, I braced myself as I am used to a WDH that utilizes extra swap-control bars and I know the Continuum did not. To say I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of sway experienced as the truck went by would be an understatement. I never noticed the sway I was expecting. When I got home and prepared to back the trailer into the driveway, I also relished at the fact that I did not need to get out of the truck and remove any bolt-on sway controls to prevent damage. The Continuum is a connect it and forget it hitch.
The Final Word
I can’t say that the Continuum does a better job at distributing weight than any other hitch because any hitch — if properly used — can distribute weight effectively. What makes the Continuum a better hitch than many others is how easy it is to connect, how quiet it is when in use, and how it can easily be adjusted in seconds. If you start your trip and feel you need to adjust the load distribution, simply pull over, give the hydraulic system a pump or two, and continue on your way.
“B&W spent seven years working on a WD hitch before we launched the Continuum,” says Beth. “Much like we did with our gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitches, it was either improve it, or don’t offer one. Our use of composite materials makes this hitch possible.”
The Continuum is definitely a hitch I would recommend to anyone towing a trailer, be it a car trailer, equipment trailer, or camper. Having a hitch that makes towing more enjoyable and will likely outlast me is a definite reason to invest the money in this innovative design. To learn more about the Continuum, you can check out B&W’s page on this WDH by clicking here.