Many people buy travel trailers because they are the outdoorsy type. Lots of outdoorsy types also like to ride bikes. A travel trailer doesn’t give you the best spot from the factory to carry your bikes. Having a bike on a camping trip can give your kids something to do, or provide you with transportation around the campground or city you are in. We put together this guide to help you decide which method you can use to carry your bikes safely and securely.
How to carry bikes on a travel trailer?
There are several options to carry bikes on a travel trailer including, a hitch carrier, ladder carrier, tongue carrier, bumper carrier, inside the travel trailer, inside the tow vehicle, in the bed, on the bed, on a front hitch, as well as on a roof rack on the tow vehicle.
10 Easy Ways to Carry Bikes on a Travel Trailer Trip
The options to carry bikes on your travel trailer vary greatly depending on the type of trailer, if there is any optional accessories to allow you to carry bikes, how many bikes you are planning on carrying, as well as the type of tow vehicle. If you are towing with a pickup truck, you will have the most options, if you have a SUV, you will have a few less, but still some good options.
Travel Trailer Hitch Mounted Carrier
If your travel trailer is equipped with a factory towing hitch or have one installed to the frame, which several brands are, you can buy a normal hitch carrier as you would for a truck or SUV. This will either be for a 2” receiver or 1 ¼” based on what your tow vehicle or travel trailer have. We have used a few different styles, but if you have a 2” receiver, it is not fun to use the adapter to upsize a 1 ¼” as it will wobble quite a bit. If you have to upsize your hitch, they make kits to prevent the wobble if your unit has too much play. Our favorite bike hitch carrier is made to tilt down if you need to access something, is fold away, and is locking.
We have seen many travel trailers have add on hitches that bolt on to the back of the stock bumper on the travel trailer. These are not a good idea to use, as the bumper on your travel trailer is not meant to hold any weight. Also, the weight of bikes cantilevered over the back bouncing up and down can break away the rear bumper as they are not designed to hold that much downward pressure. If you do decide to do this, make sure to strap the bikes to your travel trailer to relieve the downward pressure that this will create.
Ladder Mounted Bike Carrier
If your travel trailer has a built in ladder, an option to bring your bikes along is to purchase a ladder bike rack. These go over the rungs of your ladder and strap at the bottom. Typically these carry two bikes at a time. This is a great option as your ladder provides a secure mounting point for your bike rack and the bikes are held very close to the ladder as to not create downward pressure as a bolt on hitch mount would create. This unit folds away for storage when not in use.
Tongue Mounted Bike Rack
The tongue of your travel trailer is a good option to mount a bike carrier as you can keep an eye on your bikes when you are traveling. These mounts bolt to your A frame on your tongue and mount the bikes right above the propane tanks. With this, you are able to securely lock your bikes to the trailer’s frame so they do not get stolen. Another benefit of this style since you can watch your bikes, if they are in trouble or coming off of their mount, you can notice and re strap them down. There are a few brands that make these mounts, but our favorite holds two bikes and up to 80 pounds.
Travel Trailer Bumper Bike Rack
A RV specific bumper mounted bike rack will mount onto your stock bumper and will give you spots to mount your bikes onto. These do not cause huge downward pressure as a hitch mount would and are a bit safer than the bolt on hitch mounts. These are available to carry two bikes or four bikes at one time.
Trailer Ball Mount Bike Rack
A ball mount hitch is a hitch which is mounted on the shank of your trailer ball mount. You will need to check the clearance to determine if your hitch ball mount provides enough space to mount one of these, but in some cases with larger weight distribution hitches, they may provide adequate space for mounting. We like this nice two bike configuration. These are a secure way to carry a bike as you can see it going down the road so there are no problems with them coming loose and you missing your bike when you arrive. These also provide easy access to lock them up.
A hitch ball mount may get in the way of opening your tailgate until everything is unloaded, so make sure to check how it mounts and if it is tilting before you decide to go this route.
Tow Vehicle Roof Rack Mount
When you are traveling with your travel trailer, typically the roof of your tow vehicle is empty. The roof of your vehicle is great for carrying your bikes as this is a good mainstream way of doing so. There are many roof mount bike carriers to choose from, but our preference is one that is backed by a good reputable brand. Your vehicle will need roof cross bars to mount these racks to. If you have them already, you are one step ahead of the game. Mounting your bikes or removing them may be a job as if you are doing this on a pickup, you may need to do this from the bed, or get a step stool. We have also seen some travel trailers with roof racks installed to carry bikes on top of them. This may put you in a height situation with bridges, so we would only recommend mounting on your travel trailer if you have a popup camper.
Front Hitch Mount Carrier
Vehicles are capable of having a front hitch installed as well as the rear hitch. There is an option to mount a hitch rack on the front of your vehicle and use a hitch mount carrier as the one we recommend. This is a very secure and safe way to tow your bikes, but if it impedes on your visuals of the road, you may want to look in a different direction. This will depend on how high your hitch sits up and the height of your hood. A front hitch if installed, can also provide you with a space to store a bumper luggage carrier, or even be a tow point if you get stuck. Here is an example of a front hitch mount for a 2009-2015 Ford F150.
Inside The Travel Trailer
One obvious and free way to carry your bikes to a campground is to just store them in your travel trailer. Some travel trailers even have a “bike door” in their bunk bed sections for this specific purpose. This would require you to move them in and strap them down and you are set. A downside of storing your bikes inside while traveling, is that if you need to get in and make lunch or use the restroom, you may have to maneuver around your bikes to do so. Also this does not provide you with easy storage when you are at your campsite as you will be inside your travel trailer.
Truck Bed Mount
The truck of your bed, if you are towing with a truck, is a great place to stow your bikes when traveling. They have specific truck bed carriers that can be installed which provide a sturdy mount and keep your bikes safe behind the cab of your truck. This will take up the bed of your truck and if you have a tonneau cover or hard cover, will make your truck bed unusable besides your bikes.
Truck Bed Mounted Carrier
Another way to get around using your truck bed, but not carrying your bikes on the top of your cab is to mount rack bars above your truck bed and mount a roof carrier. This will provide the best of both worlds by allowing you to use your truck bed if you have a cover, as well as mount your bikes lower to the ground.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to figure out which carrier will be best for your use. We prefer the frame mounted carriers which mount by your tongue jack as well as the truck bed mounted carrier route for our use. All of these options will bring your bikes to your campground safely and provide a good sturdy secure traveling spot for your bikes.
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