Cycling is one of the most enjoyable things that we can do while taking time away in our caravans or RVs. A bike rack or some other form of transportation device is therefore a necessity to get it there and back.
In the normal run of events transporting our bicycles is very easy indeed. Simply fit the bike rack to the rear of your vehicle, secure the bicycles and away you go. These are usually fitted either to the tow-hitch or to the rear door of hatchbacks & they come with all the pads and strapping needed to protect your paintwork and to secure you cycles.
If you tow a caravan this becomes slightly more of a problem. The following are some solutions:
Roof Mounted Cycle Carriers
Putting the bicycles on the roof of the vehicle is one of the options to be considered when the tow-hitch has a great big caravan attached. The roof mount fits securely to your roof bars which you will fit separately and each rack will usually carry one bike. You can generally fit about four of these racks to the roof-bars making it a secure and efficient way to go.
Do make sure that your bike tyres are fully inflated before you put them up there as the securing mechanism will rely on this for stability.
Remember that you are now driving a much higher vehicle so be aware of barriers, garages and multi-storey car parks.
If you’re taking your roof mounted bikes on the ferry you will need to let them know about it at the time you make the booking. It will have an effect on the on-board accommodation required for your vehicle, and if you turn up unannounced you may be charged extra for them.
A-Frame Mounted Bike Racks
Another viable alternative is to mount your bikes on the a-frame, or draw-bar of the caravan. This means sourcing a well made mount with racks attached that will fit your caravan with a minimum of fuss and bother. It may be good before going down this road to have a short chat with your dealer as she or he may be aware of one that will neatly fit your model.
A few things to watch out for when you examine this option are:
- Can I carry all of my bikes this way or am I limited to to or three?
- When I mount the bikes can I access the rear door of my car?
- Can I access the caravan boot while the bikes are in place?
- How easy is it to mount the carrier and the bikes?
- Will fitting the carrier to the caravan mean carrying out work that impacts my warranty?
- Will this unit effect any of the functions of my caravan?
- Does it increase the nose-weight?
It is of course extremely unlikely that any branded cycle carrier will impact adversely on any aspect of the handling or function of your caravan. Do however take into account any electronic stability control systems on your unit and check with your dealer before buying and fitting.
Rear Wall Mounted Bike Racks
Many motor-homes or RVs come equipped with cycle carriers mounted on their rear wall and these usually carry two or three bicycles with ease. These can be built in at the time of manufacture and always appear rugged and fit for purpose.
It is rarer to see a caravan or travel trailer equipped with this type of cycle rack by the manufacturer, although I have no doubt that some do. You may find that some caravan are manufactured do allow for an aftermarket fitting, while it might be best not to attempt it with others. Again a quick conversation with you dealer will go a long way to helping you decide what you can and cannot do.
As each caravan brand is different, some have flat perpendicular walls and some have curved surfaces, look out for bike rack models that specifically suit your caravan. In particular look out for a rack with telescoping structural bars that can be adjusted to your particular caravan make and model. Some of these will utilise existing reinforced sections on you walls and may involve some drilling to fit them. Some rear mounted racks will use existing rails available on the rear of some trailers and others will have brackets that specific to a particular model.
If you are buying a caravan and have decided that you want a rear mounted bike rack then look around very carefully for a make and model which comes with one, or one where the manufacturer of the both the van and the carrier have cooperated in the design.
The main thing to look out for is how adding a rack and some bikes will effect the handling and stability of your unit. Study this carefully as it will be different each type of caravan, and above all be guided by your manufacturer and dealer.
Fiamma manufacture a good range of bike racks including an A-frame type and a type for mounting on the rear of your caravan.
Bike on car roof rack by: Lian Chang