Biking is one of the best ways to explore once you’ve set up your RV basecamp. Whether you’re exploring trails in the national parks or biking downtown to check out the local cuisine, transporting a bike on your RV expands your travel options once you reach your destination.
But, it can seem daunting to get your bikes loaded onto your recreational vehicle and transported safely. The good news is that RV bike racks are made for all types of RVs, and you’re in the perfect place to find which type is right for you.
Why Get a Bike Rack for an RV?
If you have a motorized RV, you could always secure your bikes inside while traveling between destinations. And we’ve certainly known owners of new and used travel trailers that transport bikes in the bed of their tow vehicle or on a roof rack.
Toy haulers are perhaps the easiest because they have a garage that can be used for gear storage. But fifth wheels make it tough because the pin box takes up so much space in your truck bed, and your 5th wheel cap needs room to pivot as you go around corners.
While there are ways to transport bikes without a rack, here are the major benefits of RV bike racks:
- Dedicated bike storage. Don’t worry about having to navigate around bikes that are stored inside your RV if you’re making a one-night rest stop between destinations.
- Increased storage space. Leave the room in your truck bed or toy hauler garage for other travel toys and camping equipment.
- Maintain a clean living space. Avoid bringing dirty bikes inside your RV if you don’t have time to clean them after a muddy ride.
- Less tangling. Bikes stored inside your RV or in a truck bed can shift while driving. Each bike has a dedicated spot with a bike rack, so you don’t have to untangle them when you get to camp.
RV Bike Rack Types
There are four main types of RV bike racks, categorized by how they mount to your RV. It’s fairly straightforward, but here’s a little more about each type of rack.
Ladder-mount racks are best for RVs with permanent rear ladders. They hook over ladder rungs to provide a stable place to transport your bikes. They are a great option for all types of motorized and towable RVs with ladders, and they also allow you to keep your tow hitch free to pull a second vehicle.
Motorhome campers traveling without an extra vehicle, a “toad,” can still use their RV’s trailer hitch mount. Hitch-mount racks are easy to install in your motorhome’s hitch mount. They come in two-bike and four-bike varieties and can accommodate bike rack covers if you want to protect your bikes from road dirt, moisture, and other potentially harmful elements.
Usually best for travel trailers and fifth wheels that don’t have a rear hitch receiver, these racks mount directly to your trailer’s rear bumper. They appear similar to hitch racks from afar, but they are secured by bolting around your welded bumper rather than inserting them into a hitch.
Trailer Tongue-Mount Racks
This rack type is great for toy haulers and trailers because it mounts on the front of your trailer’s tongue. This placement of a bike rack is out of the way, convenient, and doesn’t block any doors, ladders, or storage areas. It’s also nice to keep an eye on your bikes when you drive. They usually come in the shape of an upright Y and can accommodate two to four bikes.
How to Choose the Right Bike Rack for your RV
Your decision begins with considering the rack types above and deciding which mounting option is best for your RV. Aside from that, here are a few more factors to choose an RV-approved bike rack:
Number of Bikes
For starters, you’ll need a bike rack that can accommodate the number of bikes you hope to bring on your next RV road trip. Most racks carry two or four bikes, so you won’t have much to consider here.
But remember that having more bike storage can come in handy in certain situations. Your RV family might expand in the coming years, or you might plan a road trip with guests who want to bring their bikes along. Or, perhaps you have several bikes of your own: a road bike, a mountain bike, and an e-bike.
If it’s not too much of a price difference between the two-bike racks and four-bike racks, having a rack with more space than you’ll normally use can be useful.
Weight and Weight Capacity
Consider how much weight you’ll be adding to the location of your bike rack and how much your bikes weigh. Some of today’s e-bikes can weigh as much as 80 pounds, which can be a problem for a rack with a maximum capacity of 35 pounds per bike.
When considering a rack’s weight capacity, you can look at the rack’s total capacity or capacity per bike. Knowing the weight of each bike you’ll transport will benefit you. A rack that’s rated for 35 pounds per bike (and a total capacity of 70 pounds) may be able to hold a 50-pound e-bike if your other is a 15-pound road bike.
The weight you add to your RV can impact fuel economy and towing performance. The location of your bike rack makes a difference, particularly with tongue-mounted racks that increase your overall tongue weight, which must be accounted for when calculating how much your vehicle can tow safely.
Rear-mounted racks add weight to the back of your trailer, which may increase trailer sway (if heavy enough). This extra weight should always be factored in when considering how to load your trailer safely.
The last thing to consider is how easy loading and unloading your bikes will be. The hitch-mount racks that extend upward from your hitch require you to lift your bikes to shoulder height (or higher) to load them on.
This can be restrictive for some RVers, but those racks have the benefit of carrying your bikes up higher to minimize the chance of dragging them on the road if you’re pulling into a gas station with a steep entry.
The alternative is the tray-style rack, which sits at the same height as your hitch mount. Loading and unloading bikes from a tray-style rack requires less lifting, but your bikes may ride a little lower behind your RV.
Finally, the Y-shaped tongue-mounted racks are great for maintaining the ease of going in and out of a rear entry trailer or toy hauler. But it might take a little longer to get used to loading and unloading these racks. Additionally, you’ll find it cumbersome to load and unload when your trailer is still connected to your tow vehicle.
How to Install an RV Bike Rack
Fortunately, most RV bike racks are easy to install. They come with instruction manuals that offer simple, easy-to-follow instructions. This is certainly one of those RV upgrades you can do alone, even with minimal experience.
But if you aren’t comfortable installing your new bike rack, you can always schedule an appointment at your nearest Camping World Service Center. Our techs can quickly install your rack, and they might even help you load up your bikes so that you can get back on the road in no time.
Best RV Bike Racks from Camping World
Here are a few of our best-selling RV bike racks:
Best Value Bike Rack: Ladder-Mount Bike Rack
- Number of Bikes: 2
- Weight Capacity: 60 pounds
- Rack Weight: 6.6 pounds
Made for hooking onto RV ladders, this rack is a super affordable way to improve your RV’s bike storage while maintaining your hitch for towing. It’s made of lightweight anodized aluminum, and it’s super easy to install by hooking over your ladder’s rungs and securing it with tie-down straps.
Best Hitch-Mount Bike Rack: Stromberg Carlson 4-Bike Rack
- Number of Bikes: 4
- Weight Capacity: 160 pounds
- Rack Weight: 76 pounds
For those that don’t tow a vehicle behind their RV, this rack can slip right into your hitch mount and secures with a standard hitch pin. It’s a great family bike rack and easily folds up and out of the way when it’s not in use. Plus, the wheel mounts are adjustable to any size bike frame.
Best Bumper-Mount Bike Rack: Swagman Traveler XC2 Bike Rack
- Number of Bikes: 2
- Weight Capacity: 70 pounds
- Rack Weight: 41 pounds
This rack is a great option for travel trailers and fifth wheels without a rear hitch. It mounts right to a 4.5-inch steel RV bumper and features push-button ratchet arms to quickly and easily carry up to two bikes. That removes the need for tie-down straps, and the entire rack folds up for easy storage if you remove it when winterizing your RV.
Best Tongue-Mount Bike Rack: Jack-It Double Bike Carrier System
- Number of Bikes: 2
- Weight Capacity: 80 pounds
- Rack Weight: 25 pounds
Jack-it is one of the industry’s most trusted names if you want a bike rack that secures to the tongue of your trailer. This rack is designed to fit all bike frames and features adjustable wheel cradles with SwayStop straps to secure your bikes while in transit.
Adding a bike rack to your RV is essential if you enjoy two-wheeled transportation once you reach your destination (or just casually pedaling around the campground). It will make storing and transporting your bikes so much easier.
Which type of bike rack appeals most to you and your RV lifestyle? Tell us in the comments below!