Many factors are at work when you are sorting through the countless options on which RV bike rack is best for your motorhome, travel trailer, or camper. If it was just about the bike rack itself then the decision would be quite simple, find the highest rated option at the lowest price and move on to the next project. It is just not that easy. You must consider the RV bike rack in conjunction with how compatible it is with your vehicle/RV, the bikes you intend to carry, safety and the accessibility you require.
Choosing the Right RV Bike Rack for your Vehicle
What Kind and How Many Bikes are you Carrying?
Are you carrying road bikes, mountain bikes, or bikes for the kids? As you can imagine there is a long list of RV bike rack options for all types of bike configurations.
Bike Wheel Mount
This type of RV bike rack secures the bikes by the wheels. The wheels are placed inside rails and held in place with tie downs. They are typically adjustable. They tend to present problems if there are different sizes and types of bikes.
- Great for loading and unloading
- Capacity is typically up to 4 bikes
Frame Mounted Bike Rack
- Most common type of mount
- Many of this type have features that swing or fold out of the way
RV Bike Rack Mounting
A bike rack can be mounted in 4 basic ways to your vehicle or trailer:
- Bolt to the bumper – This traditionally takes a solid bumper that is welded to the frame and is made of steel.
- Mount to ladder – Your RV must have a ladder for this (obviously). Most RV bike racks are made to fit most types of steps, but ensure the one you purchase fits your type of ladder.
- Install into the trailer hitch – Hitch mounted racks are by far the most popular option. Using the trailer hitch you can attach a RV bike rack to the back or front of vehicle.
- Bolt to trailer tongue – This is one of the rather complex options. Many prefer to add a bike rack over the propane/battery box area on the trailer tongue.
RV Bumper Bike Rack
The RV bike rack is mounted to the bumper on the rear of the RV. U-bolts are traditionally used to secure it to the bumper. There are several variations to accommodate different RV designs and the needs of the user. This is a common method for travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, and pop up campers if they feature frame connected bumper. It is straightforward to install including just a few U-bolts and some minor assembly of the RV bike rack itself. Bumper racks also have the added benefit of not restricting access to your tow vehicle.
Concerns: A RV bumper bike rack adds additional 1-3 feet of additional length to your RV setup. This of course adds additional difficulty backing up and maneuvering while driving. Depending on the weight, a bumper mounted rack could stress the bumper and change the weight distribution of the RV.
- Swagman 2 Bike or 4 Bike RV Bumper Rack
- Swagman “Around the Spare Tire” Bumper Rack
- RV Bumper 2-Bike Carrier
Alternatively, you can use an adapter to connect a trailer hitch to the RV bumper with U-bolts that creates a 2” trailer hitch. This allows you to use the RV hitch bike rack described below.
RV Ladder Bike Rack
This RV bike rack, as the name implies, is for stowing your bikes through the use of your RV’s ladder should you have one. These types of racks are typically designed for most ladder widths and shapes. This is one area where you want to be sure that the bike rack you choose will fit, otherwise you may end up buying and returning it. At the very least purchase from a place with a great return policy such as Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, or Costco. RV ladder bike racks typically hook onto the steps of the ladder and fasten without tools in some cases. Much like bumper racks, ladder racks also do not make it difficult to access your tow vehicles trunk/bed area.
Concerns: High loading height. Unless you are taller it can be hard to get the bikes onto the rack if your ladder doesn’t allow for mounting it lower. Limited to 2 bikes on most racks.
- Surco Ladder Mounted Bike Rack
- Ladder Mounted Bike Rack from Camping World
- Swagman 2 Bike RV Ladder Rack
RV Hitch Bike Rack
The most used method and therefore the method that provides the widest range of options is the RV hitch bike rack. This type of RV bike rack can be installed on the back of your motorhome, the rear of your travel trailer/5th wheel/camper, or on the front/back of your tow vehicle/motorhome. This makes it by far one of the most versatile bike rack options. It is easy to transfer these racks from RV to RV or from RV to vehicle. This bike rack uses the square trailer hitch insert that must be pre-installed on your vehicle or RV for this to work. If you don’t have a trailer hitch, then you must have one installed before using any of the RV hitch bike racks. The options here are many. They vary widely in quality, price and design. You can hold up to 6 bikes on these types of racks and possible customize something to carry even more if you travel with a large group.
Concerns: Not much to be concerned about here with the exception of the extra length and weight added to the back of the vehicle/trailer. It may be necessary to turn the handle bars on the bike if it is mounted too close to the vehicle/RV. Also be sure the ladder is not in the way as pictured above. Certainly worth considering the trailer tongue bike rack below if you are seeking an alternative.
- Allen Sports 2 Bike, 3 Bike, and 4 Bike Deluxe Hitch Mount Rack
- Swagman XC Cross Country 2 Bike Rack
- Yakima Double Down Ace 4 Bike Hitch Rack
Trailer Tongue Bike Rack
A trailer tongue RV bike rack is one of the many names a bike rack goes by when it is mounted at the front of the travel trailer/camper/fifth wheel. Often times this is a custom setup (see a custom example here and here) that requires metal working and some design prowess. This is particularly true on a fifth wheel travel trailer. Though store bought options are sparse, there are a few models of RV bike rack that are purpose built for this application. One this is for sure, the folks who have this kind of setup rave about its convenience and peace of mind in comparison to the other options shown here.
Concerns: Not all trailer tongues are the same. It can be difficult to find a RV bike rack that fits right and carries the number of bikes you need for a reasonable cost. This tends to be one of the more expense options.
- The Bike Bunk from Camping World
- Arvika DFX Series Mount and RV Bike Rack (Canadian Company – website is a little hard to follow)
It is our hope this guide helps you better identify the options available in the RV bike rack market and which is best suited for your needs. If you have anything to add or additional questions please make a comment below!