A few years ago when I bought my first RV bike rack, I went into it a bit recklessly.
I have to admit I was naive in thinking that a bike rack is a bike rack, it holds your bicycles securely to the back of your vehicle. Right? Well, no...
When it arrived, and I realized that the one I'd ordered was about as useful to me as an elastic band, I knew I needed to do a bit of research so I wouldn't make the same mistake again.
That's why I have created this shortlist of the best bike rack for RV use. And written an informative buyers guide to help you select the best one for your needs.
Our Picks: Best Bike Rack For RV
*Our Top Pick*
Swagman Traveler XC2-RV 2
- RV approved
- Bumper attachment
- 1 or 2 bikes
Stromberg Carlson (CC-275)
- Up to 4 bikes
- Highly compatible
- Sturdy construction
Yakima RoadTrip Bike Rack
- RV certified
- Carries up to 4 bikes
- Easy installation
Swagman RV Ladder Rack
- Easy to install
- Secure dual arm design
- Corrosion resistant
Swagman 2-Bike RV Bumper Rack
- Simple design
- Great value
- Fits any bike
Picking The Right RV Bike Rack - FAQ and Features
There are various designs and features on the market when it comes to bike racks for RVs and cars. You need to do some due diligence to get the right product for your needs. To be sure you get the right bike rack for your camper, you need to ask yourself the following questions...
How much carrying capacity do you need? Or, how many bikes do you have to carry?
For your information, the minimum capacity of the average bike rack available on the market these days is usually two. You can find single bike racks, but two is always a better option. If you travel with family, a larger four bike rack is the ideal choice. Racks with capacities beyond four are also available, but not very common. Fixing on a number from the start will help narrow down your choices quite a bit.
Do you have similar size bikes, or are they different styles and sizes?
This can be an important consideration, as not all racks have adjustable settings. Adult sized bikes are compatible by default, but some sizes or designs may cause issues. Lady bikes and kids bikes will often need adapters for secure mounting on most racks.
How tall/fit are you? Or, who will be mounting and removing the bikes?
Not all folks are created alike, and not all bike racks designed for people of all ages or sizes. Some models may be unsuitable for seniors. Others may be more suitable for tall people. Ladder racks, about which we will talk in detail in the coming sections, are notoriously difficult for people under five feet to handle easily. The alternative is a bumper mount. But there is a trade-off here: bumper mounts may provide less security than ladder mounts.
How often do you plan to use your bikes?
This is related to the question above. If the racks are difficult to reach, they may not be suitable for bikes that are intended for daily use. But if you plan to use your bikes sparingly during the trip, you might want to prioritize security over easy access. Ladders and roof mounts are ideal for this, while bumper and hitch mounts are best for easy access.
Do you want a wheel mount or frame mount rack for your bikes?
Different types of racks connect to your bike in different ways. A ladder rack uses the bike wheels to connect. Hitch mount racks often allow you to pick either wheel mount or frame mount. If you have a preference in this matter, check individual rack models to ensure that they support the same before buying.
Read Also: Best Portable Gas Grill for RV
What are the mount options you have on your RV?
In the case of RVs, there are two main types of bike racks: front mounted and rear mounted. If you have fifth wheel kingpin or a travel trailer with an A-frame, the front mount option might work. For the rear section of an RV bicycle rack options include hitch mounted, ladder mounted, bumper mounted, and spare tire mounted. I will speak in detail about these in the next couple of sections.
Front Mount Racks
A-frame mounts are also commonly called trailer tongue mounts. They are not very popular due to a few common complications. These usually have to sit high above the propane tank in that part of the trailer. So you have to be extra careful about their installation. And mounting and removing the bikes is also harder. They can usually hold two bikes.
Ladder Mount Racks
These are inexpensive options for mounting a couple of lighter bikes. Since they too sit rather high above the ground, accessing the bikes may be a challenge for shorter individuals and seniors. Of course, your RV should have a ladder that is capable of handling all that extra weight as well!
Bumper Mount Racks
These racks often involve quite a bit of prepping on your RVs. You will probably need to install a bolt-on receiver (or a bumper mount receiver) to your rear bumper to be able to use one of these. And if you bumper cannot handle heavy loads, you might have to reinforce them with extra welding. Some bumper racks can handle up to four bikes.
Hitch Mount Racks
These are by far the most popular option. They sit parallel to the trailer, and there is less chance of any damage or scratches to the trailer body. These racks can carry up to 5 bikes. It is comparatively easier to access the bikes on hitch mount racks. These are a great option as long as you have a compatible hitch or receiver on your RV.
Do note that a lot of bike racks designed for cars also use a hitch or receiver. This does not automatically mean that any hitch mount rack can be used on a trailer or RV. The suspension setup and rear axle configuration on trailers are much different from cars. The result is a much bumpier ride that many car-based racks cannot safely handle.
So always check with the manufacturer before buying a hitch mount rack that is not designed specifically for RVs, trailers, or fifth wheel campers.
Other Mount Options
If your trailer has a spare tire at the back, you can use a very cheap tire mount rack for holding up to two bikes max. There are some issues with such racks. They may require additional support to handle the extra weight. These racks might block your brake lights as well. If all else fails, a roof mounted rack is always a viable option. They require professional installation. Also watch out for vehicle height and weight limits, as these racks tend to change those figures significantly.
To get an idea of the sheer amount of work required to make incompatible bike racks work with your RV or trailer, check out this YouTube video from a hardcore RV enthusiast..
RV Bike Rack Reviews
Swagman is one of the leading names in the business of making bike racks for RVs and trailers. What makes the XC2-RV 2 such a good choice is the fact that it has been rated specifically for RVs. That means that you can use these carriers with total confidence. Many other models will have their warranty voided if you hitch them to an RV or trailer. These, on the other hand, will work perfectly on a trailer, Motorhome, or 5th wheel.
Versatility is what truly sets this Swagman carrier apart for me. While most other racks make do with one mount system, the Swagman Traveler offers two. On the one hand, you get the default 2-inch hitch receiver. And on the other, a bumper mount as well. The latter is immensely useful if your RV has a larger 4-inch hitch. As long your bumper is strong enough (4.5” continuous steel), you can attach this bike rack on to your RV.
Another feature I like about these racks are the adjustable hooks on board. They are very useful for mounting your bikes by their frames. This ensures that the rack can handle bikes of different sizes. With the ability to carry two bikes, this rack feels like a great choice for solo travelers and couples.
The Stromberg Carlson is the unicorn in the pack. It is a front mount rack receiver for those happy campers who want to foist their bikes onto this section of the trailer. If you have an A-frame trailer, this is probably one of the best trailer tongue mount adaptors in the business.
Take special note though. This is not an actual bike rack. This is an adaptor that you can use to attach any standard hitch mount rack in the front portion of the trailer. Now you might wonder why an adapter is doing in this review of the best bike rack for RV.
The reason is pretty simple. There are dozens of popular hitch mount racks out there. But good quality models that have been rated and certified for use with RVs and motorhomes are much harder to come by. This nifty adaptor allows you to circumvent that. Using this bike bunk tray, you can attach pretty much any 2-inch hitch mount bike rack.
There are several advantages to this particular position. The front portion of the camper or trailer has a smoother ride than the rear, due to the favorable position of the axle and suspension. Most car mount racks are not rated for RV use because of the bumpy ride quality. The Stromberg Carlson circumvents this limitation and makes more bike racks compatible with your motorhome or 5th wheel trailer.
Yakima does have some better reviewed and rated models elsewhere, but those do not have RV certification. But the RoadTrip series, on the other hand, has been specially designed and developed for RVs and motorhomes. I cannot stress enough the importance of using only bike racks that have been tested and rated by manufacturers for RVs. And this Yakima model fulfills that requirement and deserves a spot on my list.
As for the specifications, you get a bike rack that is compatible with most standard 2-inch hitch receivers. Once nice feature is the availability of a hitch lock to secure the entire rack to your vehicle. This can be helpful in thwarting any attempts to steal your bikes along with the rack. But do note that this is only an optional accessory that you have to buy separately. Still, I feel that security is a significant aspect that many bike rack manufacturers d not seem to take very seriously. So full marks for Yakima on that front.
The cradles on this rack have several enhanced features like an anti-sway design, and zip strip cradles. The result is a rack that prevents damage to bike frames and enables swift loading and unloading. As it is capable of holding up to four bikes, the RoadTrip rack is best suited for families or groups of friends.
Swagman could easily have all five products on this list. But to keep things on an even keel, I have picked some of their best offerings, from different niches in the RV bike rack market. If the earlier one had a hitch and optional bumper mounts, this one comes with a simple ladder mount. This is an excellent choice for RVs since most of them have decent ladders by default.
A highly simplified hook design is probably the highlight of these racks. I find them incredibly easy to work with. The installation and removal process is an absolute breeze on these racks as a result. For the safety and security of your bikes, this rack comes with rubber straps. They can securely anchor your bikes in place. That, combined with a dual-arm design, ensures that your bikes are kept out of harm's way.
The build quality is also top notch on these Swagman racks. Aluminum is the metal of choice here. That has allowed them to keep the weight to a minimum. Aluminum is also highly corrosion resistant, which is a handy feature to have on a product that is bound to catch a lot of rain and sunshine, among other things.
Often, the most straightforward option to stow a couple of bikes is to use a couple of long bolts on your bumper to install a bumper mount bike rack. The Swagman RV camper bumper bike rack is a very sturdy piece of equipment, with a corrosion resistant powder coated finish. For a very affordable asking price, you get a very durable and practical piece of equipment.
The package itself is very comprehensive. It comes with a rack and steel u-bolts. So the entire installation process can be handled without any major hiccups. As long as you have solid 4-4.5” square bumpers, these racks should work well.
Versatility is one of the major strengths of this bike rack from Swagman. Most racks struggle to accommodate a lot of different bike models. And the Swagman does a better job than most of the other bike racks out there. It is by no means perfect, but it can support a lot of different frames, wheels, and sizes.
The supports hold the bikes securely in place. I noticed very few rattles, if any, during rides. There are tire slots that firmly hold the wheels of the bikes. This, I feel, does a better job than the usual hook designs out there. But you might still have to use a couple of bungee ropes just to be extra safe!
Hopefully the information here has helped you choose the best bike rack for your RV. The shortlist of products presented here are just recommendations based on my knowledge and experience.
Based on your RV design and requirements, you may have to look at other brands and models. But in my opinion, Swagman products are the best out there for RVs and motorhomes at the moment. And the Traveler XC2-RV 2 Bike Carrier gets my vote as the pick of the lot. Always remember one thing though: when a manufacturer says that a particular model is not rated for use on RVs or trailers, please heed that warning. Using a bike rack not rated for RV's could potentially cause a serious accident.
Best Sellers In 'RV Bike Racks'
- 4-bike rack fits vehicles with a 2-inch trailer hitch only . Vehicle will require professionally installed Class III or IV 2" hitch to use this product
- 22-inch long carry arms individually secure bicycles with Allen's patented tie-down system
- Folding carry arms quickly drop out of the way when rack is not in use
- Fits all bike frames
- 80 pound load rating
- Will not void chassis warranty
- Carries 1 or 2 bikes
- Fits: 2 inch hitch receiver or bumper mount
- Max load: 35lbs per bike
- Brand: Swagman
- Part Number: 80630
- Bike Ladder Rack
- Carries up to 2 bikes
- Mounts around most spare tires
- Anti-sway cradles prevent bike-to-bike contact
Last update on 2019-04-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API