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Bikes are a great way to explore the world. They offer a slower sightseeing pace, and the fresh air and exercise are always welcome after long car trips. Don’t think for one minute that having a compact pop-up camper can limit the fun you can have.
So, what sort of biking do you enjoy? Climbing steep grades and rocky terrain on a mountain bike? Lazy summer days on a beach cruiser, getting ice cream on the boardwalk? Or maybe just everyday transportation to and from the store and bathhouse once you settle into your winter home?
There are many ways to carry any bike on a pop-up camper. In fact, if you’re shopping for a bike rack for a pop-up camper, you might have the most trouble figuring out exactly how and where you want to carry your bikes. Fear no more, as this guide will provide you with some of the best pop up camper bike racks.
How Do You Mount a Bike Rack for Pop Up Camper?
Pop-up campers come with a unique set of challenges, but there are plenty of options for hauling bikes. The precise solution will depend on exactly what sort of pop-up you have and how many bikes you want to carry.
You don’t want the bike rack to be in the way when you set up or close down your pop-up. Unfortunately, some trailer hitch, bumper mount, and tongue mount bike racks won’t work.
With some designs of pop-ups, the bike rack location won’t matter. You’ll have as many choices as you do with a regular travel trailer.
But even if your trailer has a tricky setup, there are plenty of other options. Don’t neglect to look into options of carrying the bikes on your tow vehicle. This might be preferable anyway since it will be easier to set your camper up and then explore with your bikes already attached to your truck or car.
Types of Bike Racks for Pop-Up Campers
There are plenty of ways to mount a bike on a pop-up camper, or at least on your tow vehicle. These include:
- Trailer hitch-mounted racks
- Bumper-mounted bike racks
- Front hitch mount bike rack (tow vehicle)
- Camper roof-mounted racks
- Tow vehicle roof-mounted racks
- Trailer tongue-mounted bike racks
- Pickup truck bed racks
Trailer Hitch Mounted Racks
Many travel trailers come with a rear trailer hitch receiver that you can use for mounting accessories. You might choose to use it to mount one of the best RV grills, or you might want to use it for extra storage while towing. Bike racks that fit into trailer receivers are widely available.
One of the best things about a bike rack like this is that it takes minimal time to mount or unmount. You usually slide it into the receiver box on the trailer hitch and secure it with a locking pin.
While this is likely the easiest and quickest solution, it poses some problems for tent-style pop-up campers. If your camper has overhangs in the front and back, you probably won’t be able to leave the bike rack in place when you set up the camper. That means the rack will have to come off and go someplace else.
If you plan on using this type of rack, it’s important to check that the manufacturer has approved it for RV use. This is because the forces exerted on the rack may be greater on the back of an RV, and many bike racks aren’t built to take the abuse.
You can find hitch-mount racks that can hold up to four bikes. If you don’t have a trailer hitch, you can usually add one for less than $200. If you are only using it for bikes and storage, you can also get a clamp-on receiver that attaches to the camper’s bumper.
Bumper Bike Racks for Pop-Up Campers
Alternatively, there are a few bumper racks that can hold bikes. These make a good option if your pop-up doesn’t have a trailer hitch and you don’t need one otherwise.
These bumper-mounted racks attach to your camper’s rear and provide a solid platform to which you can tie your bikes. They usually include upright supports, and most models can hold four bikes.
Most bumper racks are lower profile than the typical hitch-mounted rack. So depending on the exact dimensions of your pop-up, it may be possible to use one of these. But since attaching them and then attaching your bikes is much more complicated, you probably won’t want to use them if you can’t set up your rig without removing everything.
Front Mount Hitch Racks (Tow Vehicle)
An alternative hitch-mounted option is a forward-facing hitch found on many pickups. You can use a standard hitch bike rack, which could then be kept in front of the tow vehicle.
If you go this route, ensure your bikes don’t block airflow to your radiator. Also, make sure they don’t interfere with your headlights or signals. A nice thing about this method is that you could move the rack to the back of the truck for adventures without the camper.
Small car drivers know that there are plenty of ways to carry a bike on top of a car. All you need to get started is a sturdy set of roof rack crossbars. Many pop-up camper roof racks come with these. If yours doesn’t have them, you could install a pair of aftermarket ones.
Once you have the crossbars, there are endless options for bike carrying. The two main companies to look at are Yakima and Thule, as they have been making vehicle-top carrying accessories for decades. You’ll also find lots of knock-offs on Amazon, but be wary of the quality of some of these items. Many are cheaply made with substandard parts making for a hazardous installation. Double-check the reviews for any bike rack you might want to add.
A camper roof bike rack is ideal on a pop-up. Since they are much shorter than your tow vehicle, you’ll be keeping the overall height of your rig down. Getting them on and off a lower surface is much easier.
Tow Vehicle Roof Mounted Bike Rack
And, of course, if your tow vehicle has a roof rack, you could put the bikes on that too. As with trailer hitch receivers, you could pick and choose which rack carries the bikes based on your needs. If you have roof racks on both the trailer and car, you could move the bike rack as needed. So you could tow it to a new town on the RV’s roof, then move it to the car when you want to go out and explore the area more.
Tongue Mounted Bike Racks
The space between the tow vehicle and trailer also presents some options for bike storage. On the vehicle side, there are bike racks that mount over the trailer ball or on the bumper of the tow truck. Just remember, these need to leave enough clearance that you can safely turn the trailer without impacting the bikes. Usually, this means you’re limited to one or two bikes at the most.
There are also tongue-mounted bike racks that go over the front part of the trailer. Often these have large steel frames that clamp on either side of the trailer frame near the propane tanks.
Pickup Truck Bed Racks
If your tow vehicle is a pickup, then the truck’s bed might offer another option. But instead of just throwing your bikes in, consider getting a proper truck bed rack for them. This will hold them upright and allow you to lock them in place.
Shopping Guide – How to Choose a Good Bike Rack for Pop-Up Camper
Here’s a look at a few things you should think about when shopping for a bike rack for a pop-up camper.
Fit and Function
The simple functionality is the number one determining factor when picking a pop-up camper bike rack. How does it work, how easy is it to use, and where can you mount it? Since every rig on the road is a little different, you may not have the options available to some. But then again, you might have choices that others do not.
It’s best not to overlook the importance of how well what you buy works as a bike rack. Consider how many bikes you carry and how often you will use them. When you get to where you’re going, will you leave them on the camper, or would you rather have a way to carry them on your tow vehicle so you can better explore the local area? Does this mean you’ll need two different rack styles, or is there a way for you to use one rack on both the camper and your vehicle?
Materials and Quality of a Towing Bike Rack
Nearly all bike racks on the market are made of coated steel. They are usually painted, although some nicer ones are powder coated. Either way, if the finish chips, they can begin rusting.
Even though they are all made similarly, they do not function with the same levels of security. Some racks are considerably beefier and more robust than others. Don’t settle for a flimsy bike rack if you want to travel hundreds of miles at highway speeds.
Installation should be painless regardless of the type of bike rack you choose. Most bike racks fit into trailer hitch receivers or clamp onto the trailer frame with no drilling required.
Avoid any racks that require drilling or modifying your camper. If you’ve got a new camper, this could void the warranty, although that seems unlikely if the rack is installed correctly and the trailer manufacturer doesn’t explicitly prohibit it. This is mostly a concern for DIY bike racks.
Best Pop-Up Trailer Bike Racks
|Swagman Bicycle Carrier TRAVELER XC2 RV Approved Hitch Mount Bike Rack , Black
|Swagman RV Approved 4-Bike Bumper Rack
|CURT 19100 Camper RV Bumper Hitch, Fits 4-Inch Beam, 2-In Receiver, 3,500 lbs
|Rhino Rack Mountain Trail Universal Fork Mount Bike Carrier, Small (RBC035)
|YAKIMA, FrontLoader Wheel-On Upright Bike Mount for Rooftop Racks for Cars, SUVs and More, Carries 1 Bike
|CURT 18013 Clamp-On Trailer Hitch Bike Rack Mount, Fits 2-Inch Shank, 3 Bicycles
|Pro Rac Systems Inc. Tent Trailer 4 - Bike Carrier
|Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack
Trailer Hitch Mounted Bike Rack
Swagman Traveller XC2 RV Mount Hitch Bike Rack for 2-Inch Receivers or Bumper Mount
Hitch-mounted bike racks are a favorite, thanks to their versatility. Unfortunately, with a pop-up, you might be unable to leave the bike rack on when you set up your camper. But, since both your camper and tow vehicle have a hitch receiver, you can swap the bikes onto your tow vehicle.
There are quite a few designs of this type of rack. The Swagman XC2 folds for compact storage. The base rack holds the wheels of the bikes, while a center upright provides support and a sturdy place to tie them down. A locking hook slides down the upright to clamp the bike frame in place.
The RV-approved version of the XC2 comes with hitch and bumper mount options. The XC2 RV holds two bikes that have 20 to 29-inch tires. The wheel carriers are adjustable for different-sized bikes. Each bike should be less than 35 pounds. It works with either 2-inch receivers (Class 3) or clamps onto RV bumpers that measure between 4 and 4.5 inches.
Bumper Mounted Bike Racks
Swagman RV Trailer Bumper Bike Rack for 1 to 4 Bikes
The standard square-frame steel bumpers found on many RVs provide a suitable clamping base for many styles of bike racks.
This style of bike rack has two separate parts. First, there are two racks, each with slots for four tires. Each rack has an upright, allowing you to tie any number or combination of bicycles down. The steel frames clamp onto your bumper, meaning that this isn’t a rack you’ll take on and off very often.
One last note about this rack–since the wheel holders aren’t adjustable, you can’t carry bikes of drastically different sizes. So if you’ve got young kids with small bikes, you might have to find another way to carry them.
Curt 19100 RV Bumper Hitch 2-Inch Receiver
If you have a standard 4-inch RV bumper and want to use a hitch-mount bike rack for simplicity, this Curt adapter is an easy way to achieve it. It’s a simple adapter that bypasses the need for an entire trailer hitch. It’s designed to fit on any 4-inch-square bumper.
The 2-inch receiver is rated for 3,500 pounds. Whether your bumper is is another story entirely. But for a bike rack, this makes mounting or removing one very easy. That also gives you the benefit of using the same one on your car.
Roof Mounted Racks
Rhino-Rack Mountain Trail Fork Mount Bike Carrier
As with hitch-mount carriers, there are several ways to attach bikes to a roof rack. Many vehicles, especially SUVs, come standard with rails on the roof. If you need to add cross bars for carrying loads, Yakima and Thule make universal kits that will fit any car. These Amazon Basic cross bars are also a good, less-expensive option.
This is a great option if your pop-up has a roof rack. The bikes will be lower and easier to get on and off.
Once you’ve sorted the roof rack, you can mount the bikes in several ways. The most secure is a fork mount carrier like this one, where you remove the bike’s front tire and secure the fork onto the rack. This keeps the bike frame secure since the front wheel cannot turn.
Remember that getting bikes on and off the roof of a tall vehicle like a full-sized truck or SUV can be a task. Bikes tend to scratch paint as nothing else can.
Yakima FrontLoader Wheel-On Upright Bike Mount for Rooftop Racks
If you’d rather not deal with taking the front tire on and off, Yakima’s Front Loader is designed to do the job. This carrier holds one bike, but you can mount two side-by-side on your rooftop.
The bike is held in place by the front and rear tires, both of which are securely held by the carrier’s frame. It will fit on any cross bars so long as they are at least 16 inches and no more than 48 inches apart.
Trailer Tongue Mounted Bike Racks
Curt 18013 Clamp-On Trailer Hitch Bike Rack – 2-Inch Shank, Up to 3 Bikes
If you like the location of a trailer hitch-mounted rack on your vehicle but need to use the ball for towing, then this Curt rack is for you. Instead of going in the hitch receiver, it rests on the top of the ball mount shank. It stands 32 inches high and holds three bikes by hanging them on their frames. Each rubber cradle features a quick-lock adjustable snap strap to keep the bikes securely in place.
This rack clamps in place using a clever lever, so putting it on and off is a breeze. It’s rated to hold a total of 135 pounds.
Pro Race System Tent Trailer Four Bike Carrier
This is a unique solution designed specifically for pop-up tent campers. It’s a simple metal frame that mounts to the A-frame of the trailer tongue. A crossbar above that allows you to clamp the forks of up to four bikes. The rear tires rest on the camper, and the frames are further strapped with ratchet straps to keep them upright.
In all, it’s a tidy albeit expensive setup. If you need to carry a lot of bikes with a small pop-up, this is a pretty neat way to do it. The bikes will also sit low for towing, making them easy to get on and off and well out of the airflow over the car.
Pickup Truck Bed Racks
Thule Insta-Gater Pro Truck Bed Bike Rack
If you tow with a pickup, the bed of your truck provides yet another option for bike carrying. Depending on what else you have in there and how much you value your bikes, you can get by tossing them back and strapping them down.
But a rack is a good idea if you want the best for your bike. The Thule Insta-Gater Pro is designed to hold the bicycle upright and latch it in place. The rack itself is held in place by the tailgate. In addition, the rack has a cradle for the tire and an adjustable arm that secures it firmly in place.
The Insta-Gater holds bike tires that range from 20 to 29 inches and are up to five inches wide. You can use it with fat tire models as well as e-bikes. Each Insta-Gater holds one bike.
Be Ready for Any Adventure That Pops Up
Bikes are such a wonderful addition to your adventures. They encourage you to find places to explore as a family, all while being outside and getting a little exercise. Plus, bikes are as varied as their riders. So no matter what your adventure is, from high octane mountain biking to speedy street cycling, or lazy beach cruising, your pop-up is the perfect vehicle to get out there and explore.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can you put a bike rack on a pop up camper?
Yes! There are lots of ways to carry bikes with a pop-up camper. Many people successfully use trailer hitch receiver bike racks or tongue racks that mount forward of the camper. You could also use a roof rack if your camper has one. If all of these options fail, you could mount any number of bike racks to the tow vehicle for transport.
How do you strap a bike on a pop up camper?
How you carry a bike will depend a lot on your pop-up. Some can accept a standard trailer hitch bike rack. This is the easiest option. On others, you can mount a roof rack and store your bikes there.
In the worst cases, if you can’t find a way to mount bikes on the camper, you can still mount them on your tow vehicle.
Can you put a bike rack on a tent trailer?
Yes, you can. Just be careful that you don’t install a permanent mount that will interfere with the operation of the pop-up. You want using your bike racks to be easy, so opt for something that goes on and comes off quickly. There are also a few bike racks, like roof racks, that can work on many pop up tent trailers without interfering in their operation.
What is the best way to carry bikes on a travel trailer?
Travel trailers have a lot of different designs, so there are many different ways to mount bikes on them. The easiest is to use an RV-rated trailer hitch-mounted bike rack. These are installed in the receiver on the back of the travel trailer. They’re easy to install and easy to get the bikes on and off of. There are also a variety of bumper-mounted bike racks for trailers available.