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Not quite a tent and not nearly a campervan pop-up campers are only getting more and more popular.
They are a low cost entry into the world of campervans with all the same freedom and practicality.
The only thing that can make camping out in the wilderness better is being able to bring your bike along. With space at a premium a good quality bike rack that is compatible with pop-up campers is essential.
In this article we look at pop-up camper bike racks to do just that.
Our quick top picks:
- Thule T2 Pro XT 2-Bike Hitch Rack (Best Hitch-Mounted Rack)
- Yakima FrontLoader (Best Roof Mounted Rack)
- Swagman XC2 (Best Budget Option)
Top 9 Best Bike Racks For Pop Up Campers Reviewed
1. Thule T2 Pro XT 2-Bike Hitch Rack (Best Hitch-Mounted Rack)
- Type: Hitch Mounted
- Weight: 52lbs
- Weight Capacity: 120lbs
- Bike Capacity: 2
No matter the Thule product, it is always reassuringly Swedish in its practicality and ruggedness. The Thule T2 Pro XT is no exception even if the price tag is also distinctly Swedish.
The universal cradle of the Pro XT can accommodate two tow bikes, including kid’s bikes with 20-inch wheels.
The HitchSwitch Lever makes loading and unloading bikes even easier as it gently tilts the entire rack. The 12-inches of space between loaded bikes gives plenty of space from loading and helps to prevent bikes swaying and damaging each other out on the road.
Security is also a strong feature of the Pro XT. With the rack locked onto the vehicle, a strong and well positioned cable lock can be passed through the bikes to keep them secure.
The Pro XT is a sturdy rack that justifies its price tag out on the road. An add-on kit can be purchased to increase the carrying capacity to four bikes.
- HitchLever – great feature for tilting the rack allowing for easier loading and unloading as well as better access to the trunk.
- Robust security – the rack and bikes can be locked to stop opportunists.
- Great spacing – with 12-inches of spacing between bikes there is less chance of damage.
2. Yakima FrontLoader (Best Roof Mounted Rack)
- Type: Roof Mounted
- Weight: 13lbs
- Weight Capacity: 40lbs
- Bike Capacity: 1 per carrier
If installing a rack on the roof of your vehicle or pop up camper is an option, the Yakima FrontLoader is a great option.
It has been designed to be compatible with round, square or aero cross-bras through its universal mounting system. Attaching to the roof rails is done without the need of any tools.
The propriety Same Key System (SKS) from Yakima helps to keep the rack and bikes secure. The rack is first locked to the vehicle and an integrated cable lock loops through the bike frame. This should be enough for any opportunists to think twice before finding an easier target.
Bikes from 20-inch to 29-inch wheels can be carried by the rack and to make bike installation even easier, the tire sizes are printed on the side. Loading is therefore quick and easy.
- Same Key System – this is a great feature for keeping your bike secure on the roof.
- Compatibility – can fit aero, round or square cross bars.
- Easy installation – no tools required and stores flat for storage when not in use.
3. Swagman XC2 (Best Budget Option)
- Type: Hitch Mounted
- Weight: 28lbs
- Weight Capacity: 70lbs (35lbs per bike)
- Bike Capacity: 2
The Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack is a great, budget friendly rack that shares a lot of great features of the more expensive Thule T2 Pro XT.
As with most hitch mounted racks, the front and rear wheel of the bikes sits in the mounting points and a central mast pushes down on the top tube to secure.
The mounting points are easily adjusted to accommodate a wide range of wheelbase lengths.
This is quite a compact rack, with only around 6-inches of clearance between the two bikes when loaded. This is still an ample gap and there is no issue loading the bikes or of potential damage to the bikes in transit.
If you do attached the rack between the towing vehicle and the pop up camper, the fact that the central mast can be lowered is a major advantage. With the bikes off the rack this means that you have much better access to the rear trunk without having to take the entire rack off.
- Cushioned grips – excellent for preventing frame damage.
- Compatible with wheel sizes 20-inch to 29-inch.
- Central mast – makes loading bikes easy.
4. Pro-Series 63124 Eclipse
- Type: Hitch mounted
- Weight: 1.94lbs
- Weight Capacity: 120lbs
- Bike Capacity: 4
The Pro-Series 63124 Eclipse is a hitch-mounted, hanging bike rack. Unlike conventional hitch-mounted racks, here up to four bikes are secured at the top tube rather than the wheels.
The bikes can be loaded and unloaded quickly into the loop and hoop straps and soft rubber cradles to protect the frames.
Once they are off the rack, the rack can be tilted to allow for easy access to the trunk.
The reflector at the rear of the rack is a nice additional safety feature if you plan to install behind the pop up camper.
- Hanging bike rack – great for bikes with a conventional top tube deign otherwise an adaptor will be needed.
- Rear reflector – extra visibility and safety.
- Soft rubber cradles – protects the bike frames.
5. Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack
- Type: Hitch mounted
- Weight: 35lbs
- Weight Capacity:
- Bike Capacity: 4
Like a lot of Yakima products, the Yakima RidgeBack 4-Bike Hitch Rack comes fully assembled and doesn’t even require a single tool to get it set-up and ready to go.
Unlike most hitch mounted racks, the RidgeBack is a hanging style rack. This means that bikes are secured across the top tube with no support for the wheels.
Security is also a strong feature of Yakima racks in general and this one uses a unique SpeedKnob to keep the rack locked in the hitch receiver. Once this is locked, the knob will spin freely without actually loosening the rack.
The central mast that is used to hold the bikes securely in the mast has a nice, gentle curve that stops it getting in the way of pedals and delicate sprockets. It is a simple feature but it is surprisingly effective.
Due to the nature of the hanging rack design, there is more scope to damage bikes when loading and unloading.
- Yakima signature bottle opener – nothing beats a cold beer after a day of epic cycling.
- SpeedKnob – locks rack to hitch for additional security.
- UpperHand Lever – allows the rack to tilt down to give better access to trunk.
6. Inno RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack
- Type: Truck Bed Bike Rack
- Weight: 4lbs
- Weight Capacity: Weight of bike is on truck bed.
- Bike Capacity: 1
If your tow vehicle is a pick-up truck then you could potentially forego the need for a rack altogether and use the space in the bed to securely carry your bike.
The Inno RT201 Truck Bed Bike Rack is a more elegant and secure method compared to a standard tailgate pad and certainly safer than just throwing your bike in the back.
Two mounts secure to the rails and then rubber grippers hold the bike upright at the front and rear. Doubling-up, you could secure one bike on either side of the bed.
The two mounts are super versatile and you can basically secure them to any part of the bike and can therefore work with pretty much any and every bike design.
- Easy installation – no tools or drilling required.
- Secure – ratcheting straps hold the bike securely and are a more elegant solution than just putting them in the bed of the truck.
- D-Rings – Built in feature to secure a cable lock.
7. Swagman RV Approved Around the Spare Deluxe Bike Rack
- Type: Bumper Mounted Bike Rack
- Weight: 22lbs
- Weight Capacity: 60lbs (30lbs per bike)
- Bike Capacity: 2
If you want to transport your bikes along with your pop up camper then sometimes you have to think outside the box. If you have a suitable bumper but need to avoid a spare wheel, the Swagman RV Approved Around the Spare Deluxe Bike Rack is a great option.
The rack can fit most square continuously welded 4-inch to 4.5-inch steel bumpers. There is nothing ground-breaking or fancy about this rack but it is a solid option for carrying two bikes securely.
The anti-sway cradles do a great job of protecting the bikes.
- Mounts around most spare tires.
- Anti-sway cradles – prevent bikes from hitting each other and getting damaged.
- Release pins – top part of rack can be removed to give access to the spare wheel.
8. SeaSucker Talon
- Type: Roof Mounted
- Weight: 6lbs
- Weight Capacity: 45lbs
- Bike Capacity: 1
If you want to carry bikes along with your pop up camper, sometimes you need to be prepared to think outside the box. Enter the SeaSucker Talon. This is a roof rack that doesn’t require any roof rails.
Instead of attaching mechanically to roof rails, the SeaSucker Talon uses innovative suction cups to secure the rack to the roof of your vehicle.
You might not like the idea of relying on suction to secure your pride and joy but the system has been stress tested to its limits in the Tour de France without failure.
Securing the suction cups to the roof is straightforward. With the front wheel of the bike removed, it is held in place at the front forks using a Quick Release mechanism. A separate suction cup at the rear holds the rear wheel.
The rack can carry road bikes, mountain bikes and everything in between.
- Innovative suction technology – a bike roof rack that doesn’t need roof rails.
- Easy and quick to install.
- Separate mount available to store front wheel.
9. Kuat Sherpa 2.0 Bike Rack
- Type: Hitch Mounted
- Weight: 32lbs
- Weight Capacity: 80lbs (40lbs per bike)
- Bike Capacity: 2
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 Bike Rack is a hitch-mounted tray-style rack. It is simple and lightweight and the powder coat finish looks great.
Once the bike has been lifted onto the tray, a ratcheting front wheel clamp holds everything in place.
The rack also tilts to allow for easier loading and access to the trunk and it is operated using a convenient foot release at the hitch mount. Being hands free is a big bonus in the middle of try to load and secure bikes.
For storage, the Sherpa folds down to be ridiculously small.
Due to the tray design, it is only suitable for bikes with a 3-inch maximum tire size so is not the best option if you like to ride fat bikes.
A locking hitch pin keeps the rack secure on the vehicle and a non-integrated cable lock should be enough to keep the bikes safe from opportunists.
- Foot assisted pivot – can drop the rack hands-free to allow access to the trunk.
- Security – robust integrated cable lock.
- Lightweight – aluminum rack that is easy to install and remove.
Types Of Bike Racks For Pop-Up Campers
Generally there are three main categories of bike rack available:
- Hitch Mounted Racks
- Roof Mounted Racks
- Trunk Mounted Racks
Of these, the hitch and roof mounted racks are the most suited for using with a pop up camper.
Since access to the rear of the vehicle is limited once the camper is hitched, trunk mounted racks are impractical and even if you could get access, there may not be enough space to load the bikes between the rear of the vehicle and the camper.
Towing a pop up camper means that you may have to use a bit of imagination and choose a non-traditional rack. If you are driving a pick-up truck then securing your bike in the bed of the truck is an option as long as there is space.
Hitch Mounted Racks
Hitch-mounted racks are amongst the most secure and easy to use racks available. If you are towing a pop-up camper then the obvious issue with using a hitch-mounted rack is not having a hitch available.
All is not lost as there are other options for mounting a hitch rack even when pulling a pop up camper.
Some popup campers have a hitch mount at the back where a hitch bike rack could be installed. You have to be careful of the additional load as it can cause the pop up camper to sway to the side on the road.
Another solid option is to mount the hitch bike rack to the towing vehicle and then, with an appropriate rack, receive the pop up camper. This is a secure option but the pop up camper does limit access to the rack making it harder to load and unload bikes.
Some towing vehicles may also have a suitable hitch at the front where a hitch mounted bike rack can be secured. This is a great option as it still allows easy access to the rack which is their main advantage in the first place.
Of course, this would not be an option if it reduces visibility on the road or distracts the driver. Since it is an unusual place to mount bikes it is also easy to forget about the extra length of your vehicle.
Read more: Best bike racks for cars with no hitch
Roof Mounted Racks
As the name suggests, roof mounted racks can be used to secure bikes on the roof of your towing vehicle or indeed on the pop up camper itself.
It is a great way to transport bikes since it does not take up any valuable real estate in the vehicle and doesn’t restrict access to the trunk.
The downside is having to lift bikes onto the roof and the increased fuel consumption due to the drag.
If you plan to use a roof rack on your pop up camper there is also the issue of compatibility. The nature of their design means that the roof of pop up campers may not be rated to take any additional loading. Always check this before going ahead with a roof rack.
Other Rack Types
If your towing vehicle is a flatbed pick-up truck then a simple solution, if you have the space, is to put the bikes on the bed. Using a bike rack designed for pick-up trucks is a more elegant and safe solution than sticking them in and hoping for the best.
Other racks mount to the spare wheel and are welded to the tow bar between the vehicle and the pop up camper.
What Features To Consider For On Bike Racks
Thieves love bikes and having them on display is an invitation to any opportunist. You might think that they are safe on a rack whilst you grab a coffee from the gas station but they can be gone in seconds.
A good rack is also a secure rack.
Both hitch-mounted and roof-mounted racks offer the best security for bikes, typically having integrated locks that secure the rack to the vehicle and a cable lock to secure the bikes to the rack.
This should be enough to deter most opportunists if you are only away from your vehicle for a short time.
Number of bikes
Roof mounted bike racks typically hold one bike each so every bike will need its own rack. The amount you carry is then dependant on the amount of space you have available on the roof or the maximum load if you plan to carry on the roof of the op up camper.
Hitch racks usually hold at least two bikes with some models allowing up to four bikes. Some models have a modular design allowing racks to be hitched together to increase the capacity.
How many bikes you can carry on a hitch rack will also depend on where the rack is mounted and any loading concerns.
Types of bikes
Roof and hitch mounted racks can carry almost every type of bike. Most can easily accommodate kid’s bikes down to 20-inch wheels but this should be confirmed with whatever rack you chose.
With E-Bikes becoming more popular there are now specific racks available to handle the weight of e-bikes. Standard roof and hitch mounted bike racks cannot typically transport e-bikes.
If you are using a hanging style rack, these are more suited to bikes that have a straight top tube. If you have a bike with a non-standard top tube then you may need to get an adaptor to use this type of rack.
Ease of use
Hitch-mounted racks are the clear winners when it comes to ease of use. Their convenient height above the ground makes it easy to load and unload any bike and some even tilt slightly to make this operation even easier.
Roof racks suffer from the opposite problem and trying to secure heavy mountain bikes on the roof of a vehicle can frustrate even the most patient of riders. Cyclists, after all, are even a little proud of their lack of upper body strength.
Both roof and hitch mounted bike racks usually fold flat for easy storage when not in use.
Whilst you could leave the roof rack on the vehicle or pop up camper when not in use, it will still have a significant impact on fuel economy and wind noise out on the road.
Most modern hitch-mounted racks can tilt forward to allow the rear trunk to be opened. This saves you having to remove the rack every time.
How To Install Your Bike Rack On A Pop-Up Camper
How long is a piece of string? With so many different rack options to go with your vehicle or pop up camper it is hard to say how exactly your rack will fit on your set-up.
For hitch mounted racks you will obviously need a hitch mount either at the rear of the pop up camper or a way to use the towing vehicle hitch for the rack and the camper itself.
Hitch mounted racks are typically compatible with both 1-1/4-inch and 2-inch standard hitch mounts.
Roof mounted racks are usually compatible with aero, square or round cross bars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Do You Mount Pop Up Camper Bike Racks?
The most common place to mount a bike rack on a pop up camper is at the hitch of the vehicle of the camper itself.
Are There DIY Camper Bike Rack Options?
Campers are nothing if not practical and there are plenty of examples of DIY bike racks for pop up campers. A simple example is using some 2×4 wooden beams as a roof rack for bikes on top of the pop up camper. The bikes are then secured through the axles once the wheels are removed.
It is vital that if you do plan to copy this, that you check the loading limits of the pop up camper before causing damage. Without the proper weather treatment the wood can also become warped and less secure over time.
Another example of a DIY bike rack is welding a rack to the bar between the towing vehicle and the pop up camper. This should of course be done by a qualified welder.
Video: DIY Bike Racks
Is It Hard To Install A Bike Rack On A Pop-Up Camper?
If you are using a hitch mounted rack, then installation is no more difficult than on a normal vehicle.
Roof racks are potentially easier to install on the pop up camper due to their lower relative height.
Will A Bike Rack Damage My Camper Or Bike?
Most racks, no matter the type, go to great lengths to ensure that bikes are kept safe from damage.
When installing a rack on a pop up camper it is vital to check any loading restrictions, particularly on the roof.
Can You Put A Roof Rack On A Pop-Up Camper?
Since most pop up campers don’t come with their own roof rails most people go down the DIY route and physically fix some bars to their camper. There are lots of great examples out there showing how this can be done.
With the right cross bars in place all you need to do is find the best roof mounted bike rack for your needs.
Pop up campers are great for exploring without the burden and expense of a full size campervan. Where the pop up camper goes, so to should the bike for the ultimate experience.
The problem is, how do you actually bring you bike? There is no space in the camper and you can’t leave the family behind to fit it in your vehicle. The best solution is a bike rack.
As you have seen, there are different styles of rack out there and there will be one that is just right for your set-up.
If you are able to use a hitch rack, the Thule T2 Pro XT is a solid choice and more than lives up to its price tag. It will keep on carrying bikes as long as you keep on camping and the added security features offer peace of mind.
If you like the idea of hitch rack but not the price tag, the Swagman XC2 Hitch Mount Bike Rack is a great budget option. Hugely versatile it just lacks the security of the T2 Pro XT.
Thinking outside the box usually comes easily to folk who love pop up campers. If you have explored every option and not found a suitable rack, the SeaSucker Talon could be a saviour. The rack is held securely in place using suction cups so it really comes down to having the roof space.
Whatever rack you manage to use with your pop up camper, being able to bring your bikes along will add another dimension to any trip.
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