We have a long history of bicycling – including bicycle camping – so we naturally wanted a way to transport our bicycles on our Roadtrek. We could open the rear door and roll them down the aisle. We did that once with our tandem, but it makes it difficult to use anything in the Roadtrek with bicycles inside. Although we own more bikes that either of us care to admit, we only needed to carry two at a time. And if we took our tandem, the aisle would be the solution.
We installed a hitch receiver and in 2009 purchased a nice Stowaway2 Swingaway Cargo Carrier and Bike Rack. It is pictured at the left with our mountain bikes on the rack. It would swing out of the way far enough to completely open the rear door. The silver box shown was custom made to carry a Honda EU2000i generator and the generator could be run inside the box. Our Roadtrek was not originally equipped with an Onan generator. The Honda is a great generator, but using it was not at all convenient. We eventually installed an Onan – that is a very long story – but we are happy with the outcome.
The swingaway bike rack worked well, but in 2010 we decided to purchase the Max Cargo Box to handle the oversize stuff we wanted to bring on trips. There seemed to be many happy users of the Stowaway2 Max Cargo Box on the Yahoo Roadtrek email list (including Campskunk). It seemed we were often needing extra space for kites or caving gear. Now we had a problem of what to do with the bikes.
We saw a Roadtrek in Gulf Shores, Alabama with a rack on the front, and that seemed like a reasonable solution. We had a Reese 2 inch hitch receiver bolted to the front bumper. With an extra strap for bracing, it was sturdy enough for a bike rack. Notice that the rack arm has a rise to it. If it had been straight it would have carried the bikes too low.
Next we needed a more versatile bike rack than the Stowaway2 version. We had a variety of bikes we wanted to take at different times. The mountain bikes or the road bikes or the folding bikes. We like the folding bikes for casual riding and we don't fret over their safety and security like our more expensive bikes. Some racks just don't work well for some types of bikes. After looking at a lot of rack styles, we concluded that the best solution would be a rack that the wheels sat in, and then a clamp was lowered down on the bike frame. That style of rack could handle the folders and the mountain bikes as well as the road bikes. At a visit to the local Performance Bike Shop found a sale in progress and we got a XPort rack (now called Transit) that held 2 bikes. It folds up when not in use. The wheel holders fit all the wheel sizes we have and are easy to adjust to fit the different wheelbases of our bikes.
We worry about transporting our bikes outside any vehicle. We would rather not subject them to the weather and the risk of being stolen. So if bicycling is not the major focus of our trip we take the folding bikes. They are much easier to replace if stolen or damaged. And they are great campground bikes and are fine for rides of under 15 miles. The more upright position is great for sightseeing, but not so good for covering miles.
We have both Dahon and Downtube brands. We actually prefer the cheaper Downtube for our Roadtrek travels. Small wheel bikes tend to have touchier handling characteristics compared to normal size wheels. But this varies with the frame design. The Downtube Nova had a more stable ride than either of our Dahons, which is great for casual riding. The folding bikes have the advantage of being easy to put inside the camper for ferry crossings and other occasions the extra length is a problem. It is easy to throw the bikes on the front for a trip and not worry about them. If you want a folder that fits inside the camper, you will probably want to look at 16″ wheel folding bikes. But the good ones, like the Brompton, are really expensive.
If you want to transport valuable bikes out of the weather, Let's Go Aero has bike mounting kits for their giant GearSpace 34 telescoping cargo carrier. It just might be big enough to carry everything you want on the back! Just be careful your don't exceed your weight limits. Happy Bicycling!