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We recently had to decide on what would be the best bike rack option with our truck camper setup. As with almost everything I do, I researched obsessively over different ways to carry our 3 bicycles. Here is a look into what we think are the best bike racks for truck campers.
These were the requirements I had in mind:
- The ability to carry 3 bikes with minimal effort
- Will not prevent people from being able to get into or out of the camper when the bikes are attached
- Not extremely heavy
- Not a hanging top tube mount due to differing frame types
These criteria turned this into a somewhat difficult search. I’m going to explain below some of the ways and products people use to carry bicycles with truck campers, and ultimately what we decided on.
Direct Attachment to Camper – Fork mount
Pros: Cheap & lightweight
Cons: Very unlikely to fit 3 bikes on the backwall safely, drill into camper, take off wheel
Many people attach fork mount bike blocks to the back wall of their camper. This is a neat and intriguing option as It allows the bikes to be hung directly on the back of the camper without requiring a rack hanging out of the hitch. I believe this is the best way to attach bikes to your camper if it works for you and you are not bothered by the negatives. For these reasons, it has made our list of the best bike racks for truck campers.
There are many of these available online. You will probably want a locking one to help secure the bikes to your camper. Also keep in mind that you will have to engineer a way to attach it to the top wall of your camper and will probably want a backing plate on the inside of your camper to spread the load. You will also need a way to secure the rear tire to the camper wall to keep it from bouncing around as well. Here are some examples that amazon offers:
The negatives for this method are that you must take the front wheels off your bikes to mount them, and then find a spot to store the wheels. Another negative is being able to physically fit the bikes you want on the back wall while still allowing full use of the camper. This seemed unlikely with our need for 3 bikes. I have also heard concerns from some people of the structural integrity of the back wall of the camper when hanging bikes off it.
Swinging Attachments Bike Rack
Pros: Swings bikes out of the way, adapts to any hitch mounted bike rack
Cons: Weight, expense, hanging off back of truck
Swing away rack attachments might be a good option for many. These were a top contender for me as well when I was trying to decide. Offerings like the Yakima Backswing, the Kuat Pivot, or the Rak Attach are what I’m referring to. They allow you to attach any hitch mounted bike rack to them and then swing it out of the way when you need into the camper. These do come with downsides though. They are costly themselves and then you must purchase a bike rack to go into them. They are also very heavy.
I personally really liked the idea of being able to fully swing the bikes out of the way to access the camper. What turned me off of this option the most was the added weight and expense that comes with them. The cool part is that in the future one of these could be easily added if you already have a normal hitch mount bike rack.
Hitch extender with tilting platform rack
Pros: Ease of use, can allow entering camper if done right, can use any bike rack ($, weight), step
Cons: Hanging off the back of truck
The reasons for this choice is that the RockyMounts WestSlope 3 is a platform mount that fits 3 bikes of any size. We have 1 men’s, 1 women’s, and 1 children’s mountain bike we carry with us when we travel. The platform system with the arms that secure the bikes by the front wheel makes it extremely easy to use. I also like that the WestSlope 3 is angled upwards toward the back in a tiered fashion to prevent handlebar interference. This setup also gives the rack more ground clearance. With the rack installed into the hitch extender I have enough room to slip into the camper to get drinks or snacks at any time without hassle.
An added benefit is the hitch extender also has a nice large step on it. When we go camping without the bike rack we still leave the hitch extender in place for the step. It ended working better than another step I had bought specifically for entering the camper.
Another feature of the rack is that it can be tilted down to give even more room between the bikes and the camper. It has a simple handle that you pull, allowing you to tilt the whole platform down. This can be cumbersome with all 3 bikes loaded and having a friend give a hand is always helpful. Price was a major deciding factor, the whole setup can be had for around just $325 and managed to tick almost all our checkboxes.
That concludes the list of the best bike racks for truck campers. I hope you enjoyed the article and that it can help guide you in your decision making as well.
Here are links to all of the products mentioned in this article: