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Bike Racks For Pop Up Campers: Protect Your Bike While Traveling

By Edited Jun 12, 2014 0 2

If you are an avid camper and like to go trail riding then surely you’ve looked at some of the bike racks for pop up campers available today. They are pretty slick accessories and make packing for your next camping trip a lot easier, especially if you are traveling with more than one bike. Try packing bikes for a family of four in the back of your truck with all your regular gear – it’s not always easy.

If you hit your favorite spots up with nothing more than a tent and a sleeping bag then you may not benefit from a pop up camper bike rack. If you travel in a full-sized RV then you also probably don’t need to put anything up on the roof for storage and travel either.

For people with pop up campers however these bicycle racks make life a lot easier. They are mounted to the roof of the camper when it is closed and can hold anywhere from 1 to 8 bikes at a time.

Lots of enthusiasts even make their own DIY models as it doesn’t have to be all that complicated if you don’t want it to be. In many cases a couple 2x4s and a steel frame is all you need. I’ve seen some homemade racks made out of PVC. They work just fine but there are however more sophisticated options out there. For those with a few bucks to blow they can make your life a lot easier with less hassle.

How They Work

As you may well know already a pop up trailer takes the place of a tent when you go out into the woods. They attach to the hitch on the back of a truck and can be towed just about anywhere. As the name suggests they are not solid structures. They collapse on themselves so that they occupy as little space as possible when not in use, then, when on the campsite, they pop open usually leaving campers with much nicer sleeping facilities than even the best of tents. Many pop up campers have full beds with mattresses inside of them.

Prior to popping open, the camper roof is low, sometimes as low as your truck bed, and the surface on the top is flat. It is a prime area for travel storage so long as you can tie everything down. As these are popular camping items there are lots of accessories that make it easy and safe to travel with luggage on the roof of your camper. Storage bins are very common accessories but bike racks are easily one of the best accessories to mount to the roof of your camper.

If you didn’t have the need to travel with more than one or two bikes you could also find a smaller rack to mount to the front or back of the camper. This is just like you would mount them to the back of your truck or car. I find that it’s worth paying for a larger roof mounted bike carrier though because most people are not going camping by themselves. A group of people usually brings along several bikes.

Do They Cost Much

It completely depends on how much you are willing and able to spend. You can easily make your own bike holder out of random stuff from Home Depot. There are plenty of free plans available online but I tend to prefer buying them already made. Call me “not handy” but I value my time and building things is not my expertise.

If you wanted to get a simple rack that attaches behind the trailer off the back bumper then you can easily find cheap racks that are priced in the $100-$150 range. Many of these styles fold up when not in use and some of the larger ones can even hold up to four bikes at a time.

The better models tend to cost a little more (a few hundred dollars or so) although you can usually find them on sale during the off-season. Manufactures like Coleman are easy to find in almost every sporting goods store in America: Big 5, Sports Authority, even Amazon and eBay carry Coleman products. Some of these higher priced bike holders are made of sturdy aluminum and sit on top of the camper and they tend to hold a few bikes easily and safely.

Which Pop Up Trailer Bike Racks Are Best

Swagman and Yakima are two brands that make really well reviewed bike racks for campers. Most are priced a bit higher but they do have a lot of variety in styles and pricing. If you want something that goes on top of the camper or on the back hitch you’ll have a wide variety of styles to choose from.

Thule bike racks are another brand that is top of the line. Thule can be a bit pricey but they make extremely sturdy frames that can and will protect your equipment. With the cost of high-end bicycles reaching thousands easily these days I think it’s worth spend a bit more on protecting them.

One benefit to shopping for items like this is that they can regularly be found used but in great condition on resale sites like eBay or Craigslist. There are lots of people who think they want to get into trail riding so they go out and buy something really nice, say a Jayco or Fleetwood pop up camper with matching bike carrier, only to find them collecting dust in a garage for years. If you can stomach buying used then you can score some really great deals.

Roof Mounted Vs Rear Mounted

In my opinion the main thing to keep in mind when shopping for a bike carrier for your camper is to know the difference between the top mounted racks and the rear mounted racks. With a rear mounted rack it can be challenging to pack around any spare tire that is ordinarily mounted on the rear of the vehicle. Also multiple bikes can and will rub up against each other on a rear mounted “fold-down” style rack.

The top racks are far better for protecting your bikes from wear and tear but they do cost more and are sometimes more difficult to install. Even still both are viable options and far better than stacking your bikes in the back of the camper or the back of your pickup truck. They all are made well enough too; it’s just a matter of how much you are willing to spend.

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Comments

Aug 8, 2014 5:29pm
CynthiaJ
Thanks for this article! Would love to see a piece on the different options for biking with little ones (under 4), safety and cost trade-offs etc. Seems like you'd be the perfect person to write it :)
Aug 22, 2014 6:11pm
DubeluWriter
Awesome article!
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