When it comes to road trips, there are many things to think about. One thing that's often overlooked is how to transport bikes. If you're an RVer who likes to take bikes with you wherever you go, you need a bike rack that can keep up with your vehicle and bike load.
Before purchasing a bike rack for your RV, it is important to choose one that will not cause headaches down the line. Here are 7 questions to ask when finding the best bike rack for RVs:
What Is My Budget?
Knowing how much you are willing to spend can make the decision-making process much easier. There are many different types of bike racks on the market, and they all come with various price tags. Having a realistic budget in mind before starting your search is a great starting point.
Read this New York Times article about various bike rack options and pricing.
How Many Bikes Do I Need to Transport?
If you only have one or two bikes, a trunk rack might be all you need. These are usually the cheapest option and can be easily installed on smaller vehicles. However, they may not work with an RV and are not as reliable as bike racks with hitches. If your family likes to ride together, or you often ride with a crew, safely storing several bikes becomes necessary. While thinking about how many bikes you want to travel with, also consider what the process looks like after arriving to your riding destination.
Storing multiple bikes at a time can be a hassle, but vertical hitch bike racks that offer roll-in and roll-out bike loading simplifies the process. Loading 5 or more bikes on a roof rack or platform rack usually leaves most of the loading to one person, but vertical racks spread the lifting because everyone can load their own bike (including kids!!).
How Often Will I Use It? And How Will I Use It?
One deciding factor should be how often you plan on using your bike rack and for what purpose. If you are an avid biker, you will likely want a different rack than someone who occasionally takes bikes out.
Some people want a rack that lives on their RV 24/7, others may be interested in a rack they can switch between vehicles. Getting a rack that is easy to move is important to some, but not necessary for others. Understanding how you will use your rack on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis will help you find the best rack for you.
How Durable Is It?
The durability of a bike rack is an important element to consider. If you plan on using a rack frequently, you need to find a rack that can withstand constant use and abuse. If not, you will end up replacing the rack sooner than you would like or even risk damaging your bikes.
Plastic parts have the tendency to break and will not stand the test of time. Purchasing a rack with full steel construction, like a VelociRAX, is ideal for RV use.
Does My RV Have a Hitch I Can Use?
This is an important question because not all RVs come with hitches. If your RV does not already have a hitch, you can most likely have one installed, but be sure to check hitch requirements and tongue weight capacity of intended racks before installing a hitch.
With a hitch, you will automatically have more options when it comes to bike racks. For example, you could get a 6-bike hitch rack that easily attaches to the hitch on your RV and lets you transport up to 6 bikes on a single rack.
Will I Store the Bike Rack on My RV or Remove It?
Another vital question to ask when finding the best bike rack for RVs is whether you plan to store the rack on your RV or somewhere else when it’s not in use. If you plan to have your rack live on your hitch, then this will not be too concerning. If you plan to remove the rack from your RV, you will need to consider how difficult it is to remove and what the storage options are.
Check to see if storage accessories are included with the rack, if the rack can easily be maneuvered, and how this will impact the space you have to store your rack and bikes.
Can I Lift Bikes Onto a Rack?
Some bike racks are more accessible to load than others. If you have a heavy bike, such as an e-bike, or if you plan on transporting more than one bike, you will need to find a rack that is easy to load. Otherwise, taking bikes on and off your RV will be frustrating time-consuming.
Lifting the full weight of a bike can get old, especially if you do it over and over. Vertical hitch rack options often suggest standing the bikes on the rear tire and rolling into the rack. By rolling bikes in and out, you can fully load your rack without lifting bikes. This characteristic is a top feature for many RVers.
How To Find the Best Bike Rack for RVs
The best bike rack for RVs is one that will give you peace of mind while traveling. Here are a few things to think about that will assist you in finding the best bike rack for you and your family:
Who doesn’t want a rack that is easy to load and unload? Fumbling with a rack every time it’s used takes away from family riding time and sucks the fun out of traveling with bikes. Additionally, if you plan to remove your rack from your car, consider the process of taking the rack off and putting it back on.
If securing bikes to a rack will be time consuming and difficult, it will not only create unnecessary stress, it may also cause damage to bikes if rushed. Find a rack that is easy to load, can conveniently be moved, and user-friendly for everyone using the rack.
Material and Construction
You want something made of high-quality parts that can withstand the wear and tear of traveling. This can help extend the lifespan of your bike rack and keep it looking new for years to come. You don’t want to deal with rust, broken plastic parts, and especially low-grade materials that could possibly damage to your bikes.
A solid build is essential for longevity of a bike rack and keeps bikes secure on the road. Bikes are expensive, so it is worth taking time to research your best options that will keep bikes intact when they are on your vehicle. Do yourself a favor by getting a bike rack with materials that will withstand the test of time to best protect your bikes.
Damage to Vehicle or Bike
Some racks can scratch or dent your RV, so be sure to get a rack that doesn’t require contact with the surface of your vehicle. Walk through the installation, loading, and removal process and how this impacts your vehicle. Also consider the effect a rack can have on your bikes, especially vulnerable parts \when loading and driving.
By doing your research ahead of time, you can avoid potential damage and keep your RV and bikes in top notch condition.
One way to speed up the decision-making process is to solidify which features are non-negotiable. A good starting point is comparing vertical and horizontal rack styles, then deciding which orientation you prefer. Vertical racks typically take up less space and provide more storage, while horizontal racks are typically less expensive and ideal for storing 1-2 bikes. Although horizontal bike racks can be less expensive, they limit the number of bikes you can carry and can be difficult to maneuver on RVs.
Another important feature is accessibility to your vehicle while a rack is in the hitch. Some vertical bike racks, including VelociRAX, hinge away from the vehicle, leaving space for access to the rear of an RV.
The last thing anyone wants is for loaded bikes to come loose while driving down the highway. Make sure the rack you choose can securely hold bikes the entire drive so you can confidently travel with bikes. VelociRAX come with rubber bands that can be used on brake levers to lock the brakes while on the car, which decreases the movement of bikes while on large vehicles.
If you plan to make any stops while traveling with bikes on your car, look for a rack with a lock option. This can be an accessory specifically compatible with the rack or an easy way to use your own (check out our integrated locking system here). Either way, having a lock on hand makes stops at the gas station and other miscellaneous breaks along the way much safer.
Finding the best bike rack for RVs can be challenging, which is why it is important to consider a few critical factors before making your final decision. With a bit of research, you can find the perfect bike rack for your RV that will provide years of use and enjoyment. Don't let the challenge of finding the best bike rack for RVs stop you from enjoying your travels.
If you made it this far you might be feeling overwhelmed, but don’t worry! VelociRAX makes the best bike rack for RVs available on the market! Check out our bike racks that will make taking your bike on your RV trips the least of your travel worries.