Nothing beats a cycling/camping road trip. Nothing. Well, except when you can camp in a pop-up trailer instead of a tent… Your old bones need a good bed anyway (well, at least mine do). The trick with many bike racks is that you can’t use them and pull a pop-up camper. While there are some racks manufactured to go on top of the camper, most are extremely expensive…
After some trial and error, I’ve come up with an excellent, solid bike rack for four road bikes that cost less than $160 to build. And it took all of a couple of hours.
What I needed:
Four Ratchet Straps (1,200 pounds, preferably): $30
Two 2×6 Pressure Treated (Wolmanized): $12 (give or take).
Four bolt-on Fork Mounts (I used Sunlite): $25 ea – $100 total
1 small box 2-1/2″ coarse thread screws.
Self-adhesive Felt Pads (Four total): $6
Eight each, 2″ nuts, bolts and washers for the Fork Mounts: $10
Router (or chisel)
I cut the 2x so that it doesn’t overlap the trailer (see photo above). I routed out a groove for the center spine of the roof (also, see above). Cut two 12″ end pieces and a 24″ center piece out of your second 2x. Then I screwed the end pieces and the center piece to the bottom of your 2x. If you notice, mine has a piece on top as well. This is for structural support because originally my wife thought it should be two pieces so we could store it in the storage compartment at the front of our camper. This is a very bad idea and ended up giving us fits. Don’t try to two-piece it unless you can devise a neat way to take the pieces apart that will hold up to some incredible forces from the wind/air hitting that rack. We screwed everything together using several screws so everything is solid. Finally, place the felt pads in strategic locations so the wood doesn’t sit directly on the camper…
Now, to strap everything down securely, we used one strap across the rack and camper and two more from the front frame channels to behind the rear wheel wells. Those last two are essential so the rack doesn’t slide back under the force of the wind. Now, some people epoxy a channel to the roof of their camper to take the rear wheel. While laudable, we didn’t think it was necessary so we just ran a ratchet strap through the rear wheels to help keep them in place. We experienced no trouble on the road, skipping the rear wheel channels. Do as you perceive best in this regard. With a bad crosswind, you don’t want one of the bikes shifting into one of the others, scratching paint jobs – or worse.
The rack above, in the configuration shown, made a 350 mile round trip at 65 mph without a hint of an issue – and it sure beat the $400 alternative.
Legal Note: This post detailing a Quick and Easy Bike Rack is for your benefit. I assume no responsibility for anyone using what I did to build their own rack. Your bicycles and your carpentry knowledge, along with the installation of all tie-down straps and the proper use of the fork mounts are entirely your responsibility. Not only do you risk damage to your bikes, but other people and their property as well if you do something stupid, ignorant, incorrectly or try to skimp with cheap products. All responsibility for what you do falls on you. This post is expressly for informative purposes. If you do not possess the intelligence to build your own, you should absolutely buy a proper bike rack for your pop-up.
UPDATE: I added another post with better photos of the ratchet straps here
One extra easy bit of security (probably not needed), loop the strap going over the wood , so it passes over itself like crampon straps.
Excellent point! I never would have thought of that!
ie http://climber.org/gear/images/CramponWilsonOut.gif front straps
Great idea and thanks for sharing. Should throw some more photos (close ups) on here. Awesome work though.
I will… I’ll try to get to it tomorrow and I’ll let you know.
Very good DIY idea, Jim! I was wondering if you could post a few more images of the rack, just to have a better idea. I am also thinking on similar lines since my car is a small hatchback and couldn’t accommodate my 29-inch bike. 🙂
Ooh, this wouldn’t work on a car… The shell of a pop-up camper is a hard fiber-reinforced plastic that won’t easily scratch. Put one of these on a car and you’d scratch the heck out of the paint. Put a small trailer hitch on your car and get a legit bike carrier. It’s not cheap but it’ll save your car. I will put some more photos up after I get a chance to take them this evening.
Sure. Thank you 🙂
[…] couple of commenters asked for some better photos when I wrote my first post about how I built the rack, so here’s one that shows the routing of the straps to keep the rack where it belongs, from […]