Choosing an RV Bike Carrier

RV travelers have a penchant for adventure. Hiking, biking, fishing— they love all things outdoors and RV travel offers something incredible that staying in a hotel just can’t beat— unlimited access to wide open space. For the active lifestyle of an RV traveler, a reliable bike carrier is a necessity. Once you get to where you’re going, there’s so much to explore, so you need a convenient way to bring your bike along. There are a few things you need to take into consideration when choosing the right bike carrier for your RV:

How many bikes do you need to carry?

The first thing you need to think about when choosing the perfect RV bike carrier is how many bikes you will need haul. Whether you’re a lone ranger, or traveling with your family, there’s a bike carrier for you. The majority of bike carriers have a capacity of one to three bikes, or even up to five. Keep in mind the size of the bikes as well. Certain carriers require bikes to be of a similar size (see wheel-mount bike carriers below).

Which kinds of bike carriers are available? Which RVs will they work with?

Bike carriers can be mounted to ladders, bumpers/spare tires, and hitches on your RV. Different types of carriers have varied strengths and weaknesses, but it usually comes down to personal preference, what is most convenient for you, and RV compatibility.

1. Bumper Mount: Most bumper-mounted bike carriers are only compatible with square bumpers, that are continuously welded to the RV. They also have specifications for the dimensions of the bumper, so make sure your bumper is compatible with the rack before purchasing.

2. Ladder Mount: Ladder mount bike racks are usually only available in a frame-mount option (see below). Straps are usually included to secure the bikes into position. Typically, ladder mount bike racks are compatible with flat, elliptical steps OR square, round steps. Be sure to know the dimensions of your ladder and the ladder steps when you begin your search for a ladder mount rack.

3. Hitch Mount: Hitch mounts are the most popular style for motorhomes. They offer a versatility that bumper and ladder mounts don’t and can be transferred fairly easily between RVs and vehicles. Like bumper mounts, they are available in both wheel mount and frame mount options. Be sure to measure the interior dimension of your hitch to make sure the hitch mount bike carrier will fit.

Bikes, in turn, can be mounted in one of two ways. There are wheel mount options, and frame mount options for each of the above types of carriers.

Wheel Mount: With a wheel mount frame, the bike wheels are placed into the frame and secured with straps. Straps may or may not be provided with the carrier. Some wheel mount frames have limited adjustability in that they can fit bikes of most sizes, but not two differently-sized bikes simultaneously.
Frame Mount: Frame mounts typically have a higher capacity and more adjustability. They are also known for reducing the wind resistance that wheel mount carriers may cause. However, on certain models, fastening the frame to the carrier can be more difficult than the wheel mount option. With this style of carrier, bikes are mounted be the top bar of the frame.

Will your bike fit and will you need any additional equipment?

Depending on the style of RV bike carrier, you might need additional straps or support bars. Certain carriers are also only compatible with bike frames of a specific diameter. Be sure you know the dimensions of your bikes before you begin your search for a compatible bike carrier.

Looking to carry other kinds of equipment?

If you don’t always travel with your bikes, but would like some additional cargo space, you might want to try a different kind of carrier all together. For a carrier that attaches to your existing RV, but can carry bikes, ice chests, and other strapped-down cargo, try a platform model. The extra space can accommodate a grill, ice chests, multiple bikes, or even a dirt bike if that’s more your style.

If you’re looking to upgrade your RV to a model with some features geared toward the outdoors enthusiast, there a few different models available. Our favorites are the 2014 Jayco Eagle 284 BHS and the 2013 Forest River Work and Play 275ULSBS. The Jayco Eagle comes with a bike rack built in as a convenient slide-out tray in the back. The model also comes with an outdoor entrance to the bathroom, so you can wash off before heading into the main cabin of your RV. The Forest River Work and Play has the unique feature of a large garage area with fold down ramp. With this model you can bring along bikes, dirt bikes, ATVs and more. When you’re not hauling your equipment, the compartment can be converted to a sleeping area.

With so many options, choosing an RV bike carrier can be overwhelming. If you need help figure out which carrier will suit your needs, give us a call today or swing by the Travel Center for RV service on the go.

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