Finding a bike rack for your pop-up camper is that last step before you can cruise off into the wilderness.
Whether you’re a weekend adventurer exploring new cities with your trailer, or you use your pop-up to hike up bigger mountains, a pop-up camper lets you camp out without leaving all the comforts of home behind; adding a bike to the mix just means you can get further, and do more things, getting more life out of your investment.
However, attaching a bike to your pop-up RV is a little less straightforward than attaching it to a typical vehicle. Pop-up campers typically attach to your vehicle’s hitch and also obstruct access to the trunk, making conventional hitch- and trunk-mounted bike racks unusable.
Nonetheless, there are still several ways to mount a rack onto your camper. Here’s our guide to what to expect and think about when looking for a rack for your pop-up RV:
|#1||ProRac 2 Bike Tent Trailer Proformance||Fork-Mount||2 Bikes (~100 lbs)||23 lbs.||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#2||Stromberg Carlson Bike Bunk||Tongue||3 Bikes (~100 lbs)||15 lbs.||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#3||ProRac Permanent Mount Tent Trailer Rack||Roof Rack||N/A||17 lbs.||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
|#4||Yakima Spare Ride||Spare Tire||2 Bikes (~60 lbs)||3.25 lbs.||Read Review||See Price on Amazon|
Finding a Pop-Up Camper Bike Rack that Works For You
There are a few factors which might make this decision easy for you depending on the specifications and capabilities of your Pop-up Camper. For example:
Do you have a spare tire on the back of your camper?
If your camper has a spare tire mounted on the back, then you are in luck! Many racks are made to clamp onto the back of a spare tire, regardless of whether it is on the back of an SUV or a camper. These racks are pretty flexible in design and come in several configurations.
The main downside of these racks is that they’ll usually only attach to a spare tire, which may make it harder for you if you hope to also use your RV bike rack on your car by itself.
Does your camper have a large back bumper?
If this is the case, then you can purchase a bumper hitch receiver which would make the back bumper of your Pop-Up Camper compatible with a 2-inch hitch. From here, you could purchase a hitch-mounted bike rack.
Hitch bike racks are more versatile than tire-mounted racks, and there are many options out there. However, you’ll need to factor in the price of purchasing both an additional hitch receiver and racks.
Is it easy to remove your bike’s front tire?
If your bike has an easily-removable tire and you also have a convenient place to store the tire during transit, a fork-mounted bike rack is a great option.
These racks attach to the tongue of your trailer and attach to the fork of your bike after taking off the front tire. The back tire of your bike then rests on the top of the pop-up trailer.
These racks are fairly simple options. However, they require that you lift the bike to the top of the rack and remove the tire.
Do you mind the extra drag or loading difficulty of a rooftop rack?
Many people purchase pop-up campers for their low to the ground profile; most of them sit lower than the back of your vehicle, which reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency.
However, if you don’t mind having a little extra drag on-top, a roof-mounted bike rack is probably the best option for you.
These racks are the same as car roof racks in that they need to be installed on top of your vehicle.
Roof racks require mounting two crossbars on top of your camper. After you have those bars, you’ll be able to attach as many bike racks as you would like. As an added bonus, you can also use these bars to carry other gear as space permits.
You will need to make sure to check the weight rating of your roof; some pop-up campers will be damaged or unsafe when you put weight on top of them. Depending on the make and model of your camper, you may not be able to safely carry more than 1-2 bikes on top.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it hard to install a bike rack on a pop-up camper?
Depending on which style of rack you purchase, the installation process will vary in difficulty.
Fork-mounted and spare tire racks have the easiest installation, as they only require attaching the rack to parts of your vehicle.
Roof racks and bumper hitch receivers will both require more involved installation. Roof racks, as detailed above, require cross-bars, which you’ll need to add to the roof of your camper. How difficult this is varies depending on the construction of your camper.
Hitch bike racks will similarly require hitch-rack installation. Though this is typically less labor-intensive than installing roof crossbars, it may still take some finagling depending on the configuration of your trailer.
How many bikes can I transport on a camper rack?
Most racks will transport 1-3 standard bikes. If you have unusually shaped frames, sand tires, or otherwise non-standard shapes and sizes, you’ll have a harder time finding a rack which can carry all of your bikes at once.
Weight is also a larger concern for pop-up camper racks than it is for car bike racks. You may need to take into account the weight rating of your trailer hitch, the roof of your camper, or other component parts to make sure you won’t cause damage or unsafe situations by installing and transporting a bike rack.
In the case of bike rack setups with more than one component part, you’ll need to take the capacity of both your bike rack and the camper-adapter into account. For example, some camper racks create a location for a hitch rack. If you go for one of these options, you’ll need to calculate the total weight of the rack you choose and your bikes to make sure that the pop-up camper rack can securely support the weight of both combined.
Will a bike rack damage my camper or bike?
Possibly. All bike racks can cause small wear and tear injuries to whatever they’re attached to. Many camper racks require the permanent installation of various hardware, which often involves drilling holes in the roof or side of your camper.
Once the rack is installed, you can generally minimize the possibility of damage by choosing high quality racks which securely fasten down your bikes and reduce the chance of them rubbing against each other or against the vehicle during transit.
Most camper racks have minimal contact with your camper, making them less likely to cause damage compared to car racks as you travel. However, depending on how you install it and the materials your camper is made out of, a bumper hitch receiver has a chance of damaging your camper’s bumper.
That said, many bumpers and aftermarket bumper bars are adequately equipped to work with the receiver without a problem.
Are there DIY camper bike rack options?
It’s definitely possible to jury-rig a DIY bike rack; the easiest way to do this is to create a fork-mounted rack with 2x4s and then strap your bikes down with webbing.
However, we generally don’t recommend doing this, as DIY options vary widely in terms of security. Be aware that a bike flying off at 70 mph is incredibly dangerous for the other people and vehicles on the road. Only attempt this if you are extremely confident in your design and construction skills.
How We Ranked Our List: Factors for Choosing the Best Rack
Pop-up camper racks are a little less straightforward than other types of bike racks because they require the use of multiple products in conjunction with each other.
Some of our choices involve multiple component parts. Often, these can be mixed and matched, but we tried to create combinations which work well both separately and independently.
Secondly, one model might be great for a specific type of camper but not work well on another. There is no scientific way to truly measure what the best rack option is; the features which will be most important to you are largely determined by the configuration of your bikes and trailer.
So, we ranked our list to find the best models to fit a variety of uses. Our list ranks the best pop-up camper racks in order to show which package is the most convenient, reliable and reasonably priced for your next camping trip.
More specifically, we used the following factors to narrow down and rank our final list:
Reliability & Durability
One of the most important bike rack features is stability; this was our top criteria in ranking this list. We considered questions like:
- How secure does the rack feel when loaded with bikes?
- What mechanism is used to hold bikes in place?
- Can the rack hold multiple bikes without compromising functionality?
- Do bikes rub against each other during the drive?
- Does the company offer a lifetime warranty?
Convenience and Installation Difficulty
While ease of installation is somewhat subjective and will vary depending on the specific combination of car make/model and rack, we looked for models which users reported having little difficulty assembling and installing.
We also considered the difficulty of loading and unloading bikes on the rack post-installation.
Some features are worth paying for in terms of durability, convenience, gas mileage, ease of installation, and versatility. When buying a bike rack of any kind, you often get what you pay for in terms of quality, but a name brand isn’t always necessary.
In our ranking, we include a variety of price ranges, but looked for models which provide the best value for their price.
Weight & Load-Bearing Capacity
We’ll also include the rack’s base weight (and its weight capacity, or how much it can hold) to help you gauge how hard it will be to attach the rack to the car, as well as the impact it may have on your mileage and car itself.
Weight and profile are particularly important for roof racks, which can increase drag when they stick up over the top of the car, but is a relevant feature on all racks.
Finally, some of the options on this list are base hardware which require the addition of another rack; weight capacity is a helpful feature here to give you an idea of what size bike rack you could safely pair with each option and how many bikes its likely to be able to hold.
Ratings and Reviews
After sifting through the long list of bike racks out there with these features on our mind, we came up with this list of the four top pop-up camper bike rack picks.
Here’s a list of our top 4 picks, along with some info on each product’s price, weight, special features and what the experts have to say.
Our Number 1 Pick: ProRac 2 Bike Tent Trailer Proformance
- Type: Fork-mounted
- Weight capacity: 2 bikes (~100 lbs.)
- Model weight: 23 lbs.
All-in-one option, easy to install and use without damaging your camper and can hold up to six bikes. Protected from wind to avoid drag of roof rack.
Have to remove front tire to load bikes. Straps can be tedious, model is expensive.
Why it’s a Top Pick:
Though this is a relatively expensive model, you won’t have to purchase an additional rack; all the parts you need are included. It will also work with the majority of pop-up campers and trailers; this rack can telescope up to clear different heights of racks.
It holds virtually all bike types securely, and avoids many of the issues with roof-top racks and other camper racks which require irreversibly altering your camper (which can affect your warranty and cause structural issues).
What the Experts Say:
While this rack is sold on Amazon as a 4-bike hitch rack option, it can hold up to 2 bikes with an expansion hardware set, making it one of the most versatile options and especially well-suited to big families or groups with a lot of bikes.
It’s a favorite for those who want to avoid damaging their camper by installing a permanent piece of hardware which requires drilling.
You won’t need to drill anything into any part of your camper to install this rack. Some people do find that the mechanism on the included straps is hard to use, but once you figure that out, it’s a secure, highly functional rack.
Features and Considerations:
If you need to carry more than a few bikes, you may need to purchase additional straps. It also comes with an optional set of plastic which will adhere to the top of the rack to protect the side of your camper and/or vehicle.
This is a fork-mounted bike rack which will get the job done while leaving a minimal trace on your camper. Like the Bike Bunk, the Proformance rack consists of two vertical support beams and one horizontal bar that attaches to your bike’s fork.
The main downside to this rack is that you’ll have to remove your bike’s front tire to load it onto the rack. As long as you have additional storage available for the front tires and you have the know-how to reinstall the tire after you arrive at your destination, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The Next Best: Stromberg Carlson Bike Bunk
- Type: Trailer tongue/hitch
- Model weight: 15 lbs.
- Capacity: 100 lbs.
Highly versatile, easy to install, and will work with any hitch rack. Inexpensive and durable.
Relatively low weight capacity. Requires separate purchase of hitch rack. Won’t work on short trailer tongues.
Why it’s a Top Pick
The main reason this is a top pick is because of its versatility. There are few hitch racks it won’t work with, and with the breadth of hitch rack options available, it’s easy to find one which will work with this rack and your camper.
It works particularly well with bumper-less campers, but should fit the majority of vehicle-pop-up-camper setups. It’s also a highly durable, easy-to-install option which should do the trick for most users.
What the Experts Say
This rack tends to be polarizing – whether it works for you depends largely on your specific needs and the shape of the back of your vehicle and camper.
This option sits fairly low between your camper and your vehicle. This makes it more aerodynamic, but also can obstruct some camper features like pull-out beds, propane covers, and back bumpers.
It’s quite sturdy, and as it’s bolted on, it’s a fairly permanent, durable option. However, it’s only rated for 100 lbs., which depending on the weight of the hitch rack you choose to use with it, limits the number of bikes you’ll be able to carry regardless of the capacity of the bike rack you use.
In other words, if you try to load more than one or two bikes on this rack, it will start to move around a lot more. It’s possible to jury-rig an extra support bar, but for the price it’s probably worth looking for a sturdier rack if you need to tote more than three bikes.
Features and Considerations:
The Bike Bunk attaches to the tongue of most pop-up campers and consists of two vertical beams and a crossbar with a 2” hitch adapter attached in the middle. This 2-inch hitch adapter will work with most hitch mounted bike racks, making this option incredibly versatile.
If you are trying to save money, you can always go with a cheaper, simpler rack. The one thing to keep in mind with this option is the length of the tongue on your trailer. If you have a very short tongue, then there is a chance that this option will limit your turning radius.
You will need a 3/8” drill bit which can go through metal in order to install this model. If you have the right equipment, however, it’s generally an easy installation process.
On sharp turns, the rack may bump up against the back of your vehicle and cause damage to your car or bikes, particularly if you have multiple bikes loaded. If you have a standard tongue length, however, this will likely only be a concern if you’re backing around a sharp corner or in another extreme situation.
- Type: Roof Rack
- Capacity: N/A (should support any standard rack)
- Weight: 17 lbs.
Can carry boats, cargo, etc. as well as bikes. Clean look, high weight capacity, relatively inexpensive.
Can be tricky to install and requires drilling in the top of your camper and someone to help ensure the bars are centered. Doesn’t come with complete bike rack, so you’ll need to purchase one separately.
Why it’s a Top Pick:
The ProRac Permanent Mount ($260) is a great option for adding crossbars to your camper. The universal crossbars will make it possible to carry a variety of things ranging from roof storage boxes to canoes. With these crossbars, you can then buy any roof top bike rack available on the market.
What the Experts Say:
As far as roof racks go, this option is known for its relatively simple installation. You may need to have an extra person help you center the bars on your roof, but once it’s in place, it’s a durable, highly versatile option.
Features and Considerations:
The only downside to this option is that you have to purchase roof top racks individually. Thus, it will become very expensive to carry four bikes on your camper. On the flip side, if you are only interested in transporting one or two bikes, this option is for you.
- Weight: 3.25 lbs.
- Type: Spare Tire Mount
- Capacity: 2 bikes (~60 lbs.)
Fits most tires up to 12.5”, removable. Tire tread pads prevent wear on your bike. Inexpensive and lightweight.
Only fits 1-2 bikes, some bikes require adapter bar to fit, needs tire to work.
Why it’s a Top Pick:
This is one of the most dependable spare-tire rack options. It will work on most spare tire sizes, including spare tires attached to the back of your vehicle, so you can always take it off your camper and put it on a vehicle instead.
It also locks to your tire, which can help prevent theft, and has built-in cushioning features which can help prevent damage to your bikes.
What the Experts Say:
Yakima is a leading name brand in racks and cargo storage boxes for a reason; this rack comes equipped with Yakima’s famous ZipStrips to secure your bikes to the rack. It holds two bikes securely and can be added and removed to your vehicle quickly and easily.
Features and Considerations:
The Spare Ride is Yakima’s 2-bike spare tire option. The rack fits most stock-sized spare tires, but it’s worth checking out Yakima’s website about specifications before purchasing.
Clearly, this option will only work if your pop-up camper has a spare tire hanging off the back. If it does, then the best and easiest option is to invest in a spare tire rack. This is one of the most secure and dependable options, and includes some extra helpful features for the price, making it a great value.
It’s also very lightweight, which both makes it easier to install and can improve fuel efficiency. Since it attaches to a rear tire, it can also be a more aerodynamic option than roof racks or others with a taller profile.