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Using an RV bike rack, we travel with a couple of Rad E-bikes on the back of our car (Rad is the brand name, but they are pretty “rad” to ride, too!) We’ve ridden them in RV parks, city streets, on forested trails, and even out in the open desert. Their “Fat Bike” tires can handle surprisingly rough terrain, and we absolutely love them.
Because we’ve gotten so much enjoyment (and some awesome health benefits… yes we do pedal them!) from our bikes, we thought we’d share some ideas about gear for our readers who might be considering bringing bikes along with them on their RV travels but may not be sure how they’d carry them.
Should You Bring Your Bikes Camping?
If you can swing carrying your bikes on your RV or towed car, we’re definitely proponents of bringing your bikes camping! There are so many good reasons to bring your bikes along, including the aforementioned health benefits of good exercise.
Bikes are great for getting around a large campground or RV park, either for leisure and exercise or to run to the park store, to visit friends on another side of the park, or to hightail it over to the area of the campground that gives you the best signal for checking and responding to email!
When you’re traveling, you’ll find many great opportunities to ride, including some excellent bike trails.
So, let’s get to the big question – you’ve decided that you’d like to bring your bikes along, but how will you carry them? This is where RV bike racks come in – and yes, there are bike racks that are designed specifically for carrying on an RV.
Let’s check out the details…
What to Look For in an RV Bike Rack
There are several specific criteria to consider when looking for the right bike rack for you. An RV bike rack isn’t a universal item. You’ll need to consider your specific RV in addition to a number of considerations regarding the bike rack itself.
First, you’ll want to make sure that the bike racks you’re considering are RV-approved. An “RV-approved” bike rack is specifically designed for RVs, which can be very different from other vehicles. RV-approved bike racks are designed with specific size, weight, and shape considerations, and have increased stability features to keep your bikes from bouncing and shaking, which can damage the bikes and even break a traditional car bike rack.
Bike racks that are mounted on an RV need to be able to absorb a fair amount of “bounce” to keep your bikes steady, and RV-approved racks are designed with this important purpose in mind.
Accommodates the Number of Bikes You’ll Carry
Bike racks carry a specific number of bikes and no more. Some carry only up to two bikes, others carry up to four bikes, etc.
If you need to bring your entire family’s bikes along, you’ll need to get a bike rack that is rated to carry that number of bikes.
Is Rated for the Weight of Your Bikes
Bikes vary considerably in weight. Some bikes are designed with a lightweight frame. Others, like mountain bikes, E-bikes, and even some kids’ bikes can be fairly heavy.
So, you’ll need to make sure that the bike rack you purchase is rated to carry the cumulative weight of the bikes you’ll be carrying. We like to leave an extra safety margin to spare.
Made of High-Quality Materials
A well-made bike rack will be durable. It will remain strong and continue to do its job provided it’s made of high-quality materials that will withstand exposure to the elements and to lots of work holding your bikes as you travel, even over rough terrain.
Be sure to read reviews from others who have experience with the bike racks you’re considering, to give you an idea of how well they’ve held up over time and miles.
Easy to Use
This is another area where time spent reading reviews can be fruitful. You don’t want to buy a bike rack that’s difficult to use. You need to be able to mount and dismount the bikes with relative ease.
Obviously, the weight of your bikes will impact this experience. But if the bike rack itself is difficult to use, you’ll likely be discouraged from carrying your bikes with you on trips, defeating the purpose of buying an RV bike rack in the first place.
Read reviews to see what others have to say about how easy or difficult it is to use the racks you’re considering and comparing.
As always, you’ll want to bear in mind how much money you can spend on your RV bike rack. Getting a quality RV-approved bike rack is important, but depending on the bikes you’ll be carrying and your budget, you may want to put money aside for a while to get the exact setup you want or need to safely carry your bikes.
How Do You Carry Bikes on an RV?
Bike racks are mounted on RVs in different ways. Depending on your RV, you’ll need to choose an RV bike rack that mounts to your RV in the appropriate way.
Let’s check out the various ways RV bike racks mount to an RV…
Ladder Mounted RV Bike Rack
For folks who have a ladder on the back of their RV, a ladder-mounted RV bike rack may be an option. This will depend not only on whether you’ve got a ladder to which to mount the rack but also on whether the ladder is rated to carry the weight of the bike rack and your bikes. It may also depend on your ability to hoist the weight of your bike(s) high enough to use a ladder-mounted rack.
Hitch-Mounted RV Bike Rack
Hitch mounted RV bike racks are very popular for good reason. These racks mount to your RV’s hitch via the hitch receiver. Do take note of whether your hitch receiver is a 1 ¼” or 2″ variety and matches the size offered by the bike rack you’re considering.
An important note: There are many high-quality hitch-mounted bike racks available, but be sure the hitch mount you buy is designed specifically for mounting on the hitch of an RV. In other words, remember to make sure the rack is RV-approved. Although the style of mounting the bike rack may be similar to what you’d see on the hitch of your SUV or car, your bike rack really should be RV-approved.
Front Mounted RV Bike Rack
Front-mounted RV bike racks tend to see less bounce than rear-mounted racks, but they’re nowhere near as popular. Still, there are a number of RVers who either can’t mount their bikes in the rear of their rig (or choose not to) for a variety of reasons. Their rear hitch may be in use for another reason or there may be an item in the way (like a spare tire, for example) making it impossible to fit the rack with bikes loaded on the rear hitch.
For these folks, a front-mounted RV bike rack may (or may not) work, depending on the bumper itself, how many bikes they need to carry, etc.
Bumper Mounted RV Bike Rack
A bumper-mounted RV bike rack is secured to the bumper of the rig. It doesn’t use the hitch but is mounted directly to the RV’s bumper.
The Best RV Bike Racks for Taking Your Bikes on the Road
Now let’s take a look at some of the best-rated RV bike racks available.
You’ll find that most of the RV bike racks mentioned below are of the hitch-mount variety. Hitch mount bike racks are very popular with RVers for a variety of reasons, and there are a number of racks of excellent quality on the market.
You may also notice that we don’t include a ladder-mounted RV bike rack in our round-up of some of the best RV bike racks on the market. The reason for this is that we were hard-pressed to find a ladder-mounted RV bike rack that didn’t have a significant number of complaints regarding quality from experienced users.
We don’t ever want to appear to be promoting an item that is of poor quality or that will not be of good value to our readers, so we decided to simply leave out ladder-mounted RV bike racks for this reason.
If you have a strong, easy-to-use, high-quality, durable, RV-approved ladder-mounted bike rack, please feel free to let us know about it in the comments section.
In no particular order, let’s take a look at five of the best RV bike racks for taking your extra wheels on the road!
Swagman Bicycle Carrier TRAVELER XC2 RV Approved Hitch Mount Bike Rack
This Swagman bike carrier is designed to carry bikes on the back of a motorhome, 5th wheel, or trailer of nearly any size. It can be hitch or bumper mounted.
All of Swagman’s “RV-approved” products state that they’re rigorously tested to ensure that they’re capable of handling the additional stresses that can occur when mounted on an RV (the increased side-to-side sway on a trailer or 5th wheel for example).
The Traveler XC2 RV is able to carry up to 2 bikes (maximum weight of 35 pounds per bike) and has an upright arm with push-button ratcheting hooks to provide quick and easy bike mounting and dismounting. The finish is resistant to rust and corrosion.
This RV bike rack requires a 2″ Class 3 hitch receiver or it can be mounted to a 4.5″ continuous steel welded RV bumper adapter.
The Traveler XC2 RV is capable of carrying bikes with a tire width up to a maximum of 3 ½” and has a maximum wheelbase of 52”.
Reviewers overwhelmingly give high reviews to this bike rack, though a few note that if you’re going to attach the XC2 RV to your bumper, you’ll need to make sure your bumper extends far enough to accommodate the bikes while keeping handlebars and pedals away from the finish or rear window of the RV. (Note that Swagman specifies a 4.5” continuous steel welded RV bumper adapter.)
Quick Products QPRBM2R RV Bumper-Mounted 2-Bike Rack
This Quick Products RV bike rack is a bumper-mounted carrier that can carry up to two bikes on a square bumper that is 4”- 4.5” wide. It has adjustable mounting which makes it possible to carry varying lengths of bikes.
While easy on the budget, this bike rack is made of corrosion-resistant steel and has a 30-pounds-per-bike weight capacity. It has slotted tire wells to securely hold bikes, and a stabilizing post that offers support, and a post to which to secure your bike(s).
Note that this bike rack will not accommodate fat-tire bikes or bikes with wheels greater than 29”.
Thule Range Hitch Bike Rack
Less budget-friendly, this hitch bike rack exhibits the high standards we’ve come to expect from Thule (when we carry our canoe on top of our CR-V, we use a Thule roof rack). The rack is sturdy and hefty (36 pounds), and is designed to hold up to 4 bikes, with 7” of space between the bikes.
This hitch bike rack will accommodate a variety of bike sizes and frames and has ratcheting straps to secure the bikes.
Thule states that their Range Hitch Bike Rack is specifically designed to handle the forces on the back of an RV/travel trailer. It has integrated anti-sway cradles and includes locks that secure the bikes to the rack and the rack to the RV.
The bike carrier arms can carry up to 150 pounds and fold down when not in use.
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Futura GP RV Bike Rack for Travel Trailer Tongue A-Frame Bike Rack Bike Hitch Mount Rack (2-Inch Receiver)
Like the Thule, this rack is far less budget-friendly, but it’s specifically designed for travel trailers. Made in Canada, the trailer rack is constructed of zinc-plated steel for durability and protection from the elements, while the bike rack is constructed of 95% aluminum making the rack itself incredibly lightweight at 13 pounds. (Weight of the trailer rack + bike rack is 44 pounds.)
This two-bike rack can hold a maximum of 80 pounds with a maximum bicycle wheel width of 2 ½ inches, and bike wheel size of 20-30 inches.
The carrier system includes a padlock to discourage theft and is noted by reviewers to be easy to use, and is a very highly rated RV bike rack for travel trailers.
Super Duty Double Rack from 1UP USA
We’re including this one as a sort of “premium bonus” because while we think it’s one of the best RV bike racks, we also recognize that it’s on the pricey side. But being big believers in the old saying “You get what you pay for,” this is the bike rack that we use ourselves, and it’s one we can personally vouch for.
Our 1UP USA Super Duty Double RV bike rack is a hitch-mounted carrier that fits a 2” receiver. This particular model is designed as a fixed 2-bike system, meaning that the second tray can’t be removed.
The rack itself weighs in at 47 pounds, with a total weight carrying capacity of up to 225 lbs. Our RadRover 5 Electric Fat Bikes each weigh in at about 70 lbs, so that 140 lbs puts us far below the 225 lb. weight limit. (There’s that “extra safety margin” we mentioned earlier.)
The rack is rated for off-road use (also important for us). It fits bikes with 16” to 29” wheels, up to 3.1” wide. (They do have a spacer kit for tires wider than 3.1”, sold separately, which we needed for our Fat Tire bikes.) The rack accommodates up to a 54” wheelbase.
The hitch bar has an anti-wobble mechanism built-in, and all parts have an anodized aluminum finish. It’s also available in black.
We also have a swing-out arm mechanism called the RakAttach that enables us to swing the bike rack out of the way of our Honda CR-V’s rear door, with the bikes attached. (The RakAttach comes in left- or right-swinging versions.)
This bike rack works great for us, and that’s really the name of the game. Buy a good-quality RV-approved bike rack that works with your rig and your specific situation and needs.
We’re big proponents of enjoying everything there is to do outside, and biking is no exception. If you have an interest in biking at any level, whether on the trails, around the RV park or to the grocery store and the post office, we encourage you to take your bikes along with you if you can.
We hope one of the RV bike racks we’ve featured here will be right for you or will steer you toward the one that works best for your RV lifestyle.
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