Traveling in an RV is the epitome of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Life is a journey, not a destination.” For those who cannot but heed the call of the road, RVs and motorhomes are a great way to spend the time, whether it’s just over the weekend, a couple of weeks, a month, or the whole summer, and, yet, despite being practically on the move the whole time, people still want to enjoy the activity, freedom, and peace of a bike ride, to enjoy the scenery in a way no motor vehicle can ever hope to match (yes, this includes motorcycles). And this is exactly where an RV bike rack comes into play.
What Are The Different Types of Motorhome and RV Bike Racks:
Life is a game of options, and with RV bike racks, it’s no different. In this list, there are two main factors to consider, bumper, or ladder. The difference can quite seriously impact the way you transport your bikes, and how you might prevent damage, both to your RV and to your bikes.
As mentioned before, there are a few options to consider when transporting bikes on your RV. And while this list focuses on the motorhome bike racks, we want you to know that there are alternatives. Such as if your RV has roof rails or a hitch. Options aside, this list will guide you through choosing the best RV bike rack, so let us jump straight into it!
Bumper and Ladder Racks have a chance to obscure your vehicle license and may land you with a ticket.
RV Ladder Racks:
A ladder-mounted rack is more versatile than a bumper rack, being able to fit most variants of RV (that have ladders). These racks may also let you attach a trailer as well, depending on the length of the trailer tongue and of course whether your hitch is free of obstructions.
2 Bikes-35 lbs Each
26.5 x18 x2 Inches
We begin the first leg of this journey with the ever-trusty Swagman and their RV Ladder Rack. This is pretty much what it reads on the tin – a bike rack that mounts on your RV’s or motorhome’s ladder. Needless to say, if you have one of those models that feature a ladder on the side, this is not exactly the thing for you.
The rack can carry up to two bikes, provided they weigh no more than 35 pounds each. In other words, the maximum load on the rack is 70 pounds. It’s made out of aluminum, so you know it’s lightweight and resistant to corrosion. It installs ridiculously easily thanks to the simple, yet ingenious hook design.
Be sure to hook it on the top rung, so that the bikes have plenty of room to hang without touching the ground. Secure them using the straps that come with the rack, and enjoy the journey. Of course, you can use a bike lock on top of that just to be sure, as well as to prevent the bike from “falling off” from the back.
For your peace of mind, the rack comes with the usual Swagman limited lifetime warranty.
1 Bike – 50 lbs Total
23.5 x16.5 x3.5 Inches
There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to lie in bed after a hard day’s work and know that you’ve got the maximum bang for your buck, and that satisfaction will be satiated with the multi-use functionality of the Thetford Universal Ladder Rack.
This ladder rack can be used to carry bikes, chairs, and even portable waste toes, making it an excellent solution to who need to utilize every bit they can. The rack is made of lightweight aluminum and as such is corrosion resistant while also having a carrying capacity of 50 lbs.
This rack has a remarkably easy installation process using metal brackets and screws and comes with an 85″ Nylon strap to further secure your cargo. The rack weighs only 5 pounds and for a ladder rack that’s pretty standard but a bonus when traveling in an RV.
Overall this rack is highly rated for its versatility but as with all ‘Jack of all trades,’ it may not have the same strengths as racks designed specifically for bike transportation. It’s up to you to balance your needs, but in the end, this is a sturdy rack that holds up with some of the best of them.
2 Bikes – 60 lbs Total
23 x11 x3.7 Inches
The Camco RV Ladder Mount Bike Rack is a stalwart of RVs with a ladder and a dire need for convenience. Its form to function construction allows for a perfect fit to almost any ladder rack currently on the market and attached to an RV. This rack currently has excellent reviews and one thing that stands out is its ease of storage when not in use, due to its folding nature.
The cradles of the rack hold your bikes firmly so they neither damage your vehicle nor wobble when traveling at high speeds, a feature made possible by its solid construction and foam handles. This rack holds two bikes up to a weight of 60lbs.
Another great feature of this rack is its soft-grip handles which will ensure you don’t chip the paints of your bikes while transporting them. One point to look out for is that a few users of the rack have not followed the instructions and have installed the rack below the bumper, rather than above it, as indicated.
Incorrect installation will cause damage to your bikes if you are towing a trailer and make any sharp turns. So it goes without saying, but make sure you read and install the rack correctly, or you may bare witness to some unnecessary bicycle carnage.
RV Bumper Racks:
A bumper-mounted rack does exactly what it says on the box – it attaches directly to the bumper of your RV. Some bumper racks require a specific shape bumper (usually square but sometimes round) so be sure to double-check the required bumper specs before purchase! These racks also have the potential to prevent the attachment of a trailer as well as to obscure your license.
2 Bikes – 35 lbs Each
5 x35 x11 Inches
As far as bike racks and carriers go, there’s one name you’ll keep coming across over and over – Swagman, and with good reason. They are one of the major players in this niche market, and they’re giving their best to justify and maintain that reputation. Their aptly named Traveler CX2-RV 2 Bike Carrier does a great job in this regard. Of course, as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing from Swagman, the rack comes with a limited lifetime warranty
As you might’ve guessed already, the rack mounts on 4–4.5-inch continuously welded bumpers (using the bumper adaptor) or any 2-inch class 3 hitch receiver (without the bumper adaptor). This gives you a nice versatility in mounting choices, which, although it may not seem as much, does count when you’re looking to use every available inch of space, as is the case with RV trips.
You can mount up to two bikes on the Traveler, as long as they weigh no more than 35 pounds each. They mount horizontally, of course, and without having to detach the front wheel. For this purpose, the rack features sliding wheel hoops that can accommodate any wheel between 20 and 29 inches, as well as push-button ratchet arms that adjust so that they clamp onto the bike, securing it in place. Don’t worry, the arms have padded hooks, so they don’t mar the finish on your bike’s frame.
2 Bikes – 30 lbs Each
26.5 x21 x2.5 Inches
The Swagman 2-Bike RV Bumper Rack does what the name promises, and much more. It’s obviously a bumper-mounted model, able to fit any square bumper with 4 to 4.5 inches to a side. It installs around the bumper using a 6.5 and 8-inch long bolts. If you’re worried the rack won’t survive the stress, don’t be. The frame is made out of heavy-duty steel, painted in black and powder-coated so that it can resist corrosion. The bolts used to secure it in place are heavy-duty steel, as well.
As the astute readers may have already guessed, the rack packs up to two bikes, provided they weigh no more than 30 pounds each. It should fit most any type of bike, from the road to mountain and hybrid, as well as all frame and wheel sizes. There’s even an upright bar in the center of the rack which is designed to give your bikes additional support and keep them stable while towing.
Of course, you can always use a cable lock, just to be sure the bikes won’t wobble, as well as to dissuade the five-finger-discount folks. Although, to be honest, when you compare the price the rack is going for at the moment and the quality you’re getting, buying it is practically a steal, so we shouldn’t be pointing fingers just yet.
2 Bikes – 30 lbs Each
22 x3 x26 Inches
Let’s continue with our list on a more serious note – with the Quick Products RV Bumper 2-Bike Rack. This thing is everything it promises, though finding a bit more never hurt anyone. Is made of heavy-duty steel, with a powder coating for corrosion resistance and tire wells to hold your bikes securely without them bumping against your vehicle.
It attaches to a 4 to 4.5″ square bumper and packs the convenience of an adjustable strap system that allows for any length of bike to fit on it. Besides its sturdy design the Quick Products RV Bumper 2 has a weight capacity of 30 lb. per bicycle.
One downside is that the rack will not fit fat-tire bicycles and bikes with over 29″. Another benefit to the tire wells is that it contains a stabilizer post that allows for less shaking and potential to damage both your vehicle and your bike.
RV Spare Tire Racks:
This rack conveniently fits over your Motorhome’s spare tire but secures onto the bumper. This more often than not prevents you from attaching a trailer. These racks generally carry two to four bicycles and of course require a spare tire.
2 Bikes – 35 lbs Each
34 x12 x26 Inches
Along this list, you might begin to notice a trend, and that trend is Swagman. There’s a reason their products feature so numerously, and it’s precisely because their products are rated excellently and are highly sought after.
The Swagman RV Deluxe is the older brother of the Swagman Mighty Rack, also found on this list. Except, unlike its little brother, the Deluxe went to the army straight out of school, beefed up, and learned a few new tricks along the way. Jokes aside, the Deluxe is a fantastic continuation of the Mighty rack with better, new improved, anti-sway cradles that prevent damage to your bikes or the vehicle.
This rack wraps around your spare tire but attaches to a 4 to 4.5″ bumper. All hardware needed for installation is included, which is pretty great as far as racks go, especially when you find yourself ready to go and lacking the tools to attach the device.
Finally, the greatest compliment this rack receives is for its lack of shakiness which reduced the chances of scratching your bike and vehicle. Overall the Swagman Deluxe is a must-have, simply for the convenience, the product brings to carrying bikes.
2 Bikes – 30 lbs Each
33 x15 x2 Inches
The Swagman Mighty Rack is the ideal choice for folks who want to keep the ladder on their RV, motorhome or van accessible at any time but have a spare tire blocking the bumper. The reason is simple – the Mighty Rack (got to love the naming pattern at Swagman’s) mounts around your spare and onto the bumper, which makes it perfect for RVs with no hitch. Of course, you can use the rack without the spare tire, just mount it straight to the bumper.
You can install it fairly easily by simply positioning the rack around the spare tire and feeding the U-bolts supplied around the bumper, then secure it with a lock washer and a nut. And if you do need the access to the tire, you can simply remove the pins that lock the upright bars of the rack and lift those off.
It does require some assembly before actually hooking it up, but if you’re ever played with LEGOs or assembled stuff from IKEA, you’re more than qualified to do it. Luckily, everything is supplied, from bolts, nuts, and washers to U-bolts and-hooks.
The rack can carry two bikes with a maximum weight capacity of 70 pounds, or 35 pounds each. To secure them, just use the J-hooks supplied, tightening down the handles. Once you’ve done this, take the straps that come with the purchase and cinch them around the frame to eliminate wobble entirely.
What are the Top Tips for An RV Bike Rack?
Transporting bikes with an RV brings its own unique set of opportunities and challenges. Here are a few of the major things to consider when using or choosing an RV bike rack.
Make sure you purchase an RV rack that is made of a material strong enough to withstand long trips and heavy loads. You’re more than likely to be carrying between two to four bikes on your RV rack and because of the long journeys and constant weight, it will be imperative that you invest in a rack that is made of a material that you can trust not to break while traveling.
Another factor to consider is whether or not the RV rack you’re interested in has an anti-rattle (sometimes anti-wobble) feature. It is a general piece of advice that your bike rack should not wobble, as this increases the chance that its attachment to your vehicle will become loose, but with an RV bike rack, this risk is increased as the journeys are likely much longer and therefore at greater risk of a constant wobble detaching your rack. If the rack you’re interested in does not feature such a device, it may not be the perfect one for you.
Consider if you’ll be needing to tow from your hitch or bumper, and then keep that in mind when looking for a motorhome rack. While some motorhome racks allow access to the rear bumper and hitch, not all of them do. It’s best to have a clear idea of what you’re going to want to bring along with your RV so that no easily avoidable problems occur.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I be Unable to Access Parts of my RV If I’m Using a Bike Rack?
That depends on the type of rack you’re using. If you’re using a ladder rack, you’ll obviously not have access to the roof, but depending on where the ladder is situated you also may not have access to your rear hitch. It goes without saying that a bumper rack obstructs your ability to tow as well (usually), but in that case, it may be worth considering a front bumper rack (just make sure it doesn’t obscure your vehicle license!)
Are There Any Specific Security Concerns with an RV Bike Rack? If So, Shat Precautions Can I Take?
RV bike racks, like most generic bike racks, differ in whether they include a locking mechanism or not. Sometimes racks can be made for utility without security in mind, but it goes without saying always to have your own lock to secure the bikes to the rack, or to the vehicle as well if possible. In some cases, it has been reported that when a rack attachment has failed during travel, usually due to incorrect installation, the bikes have been saved only by the extra locking mechanism of the owner.
Do RV Bike Racks Present Any Unique Challenges When it Comes to Vehicle/Bike Damage that a Normal Bike Rack Doesn’t? If So, What Can I Do to Minimize the Risks?
Most vehicle-mounted bike racks tend to present the same challenges. There is always the threat of your bikes scratching each other if they are packed too tightly together on a rack. Cutting a pool noodle to fit over the frame of your bikes often solves this, but may prove difficult to apply if the rack attaches to the frame of the bike, in that case, using strips of cloth around the exposed frame may do the trick. Many racks, such as the RV ladder rack, feature padded clamps that hold firm while reducing the risk of scratching, this is definitely something to look for when looking to purchase a rack.
It generally comes down to common sense, if you can see that the rack wobbles or doesn’t feature an anti-rattle device there’s a good chance the shaking could make the bikes scratch your vehicle, each other, or even detach from the rack while traveling. In this case, there is either a problem with the rack, a poor installation, or you’ve simply bought a rack that is not suitable for your vehicle. It’s imperative you purchase a rack that fits well and doesn’t shake. All in all, if you already have a rack that shakes, you can do your best to maintain it but stop every 100 miles or so to retighten and secure it.
Is it Possible to Tow From an RV Bumper Rack?
That depends on if you have a bumper-mounted hitch, and if that hitch does not interfere with the operation of the bumper bike rack. It is advised only to attach a trailer in the way that your trailer is meant to be attached, which will be clearly outlined in its manual. If you’ve lost the manual simply google the trailer’s product code for the online version.