How to Choose the Best Bike Rack for your Travel Trailer, RV, Motorhome, or Fifth Wheel
Are you looking for an RV-approved rack for your travel trailer, fifth-wheel (5th Wheel) or RV? Swagman can help!
We make a variety of bike racks designed for use on travel trailers, RVs, motorhomes and fifth wheels that can safely transport your bikes. From budget-friendly hanging racks to full-featured zero-frame contact platform racks that even support e-bikes, Swagman has a bike rack for your next RV adventure.
Remember back as a kid when you’d sit at the very back of the bus, hoping for the thrilling ride that came along with bumps in the road? That bumpy ride was because of the distance between your seat at the very back and the rear wheels. The longer the distance, the bumpier the ride becomes!
The same forces are at play on a trailer, except instead of fun, it means anything mounted on the rear of your trailer is experiencing significantly more force than it would on the back of a car, truck or SUV. Adding to that, most trailers have less-sophisticated suspension systems, so it can be even rougher than those school bus rides from your youth.
Any bike rack being used on a trailer needs to be engineered to withstand those increased forces to get your bikes to your destination safely. Make sure the bike rack you’re using has been designed, tested, and approved for use on a trailer, RV, motorhome or fifth wheel.
Here at Swagman, we make choosing a rack for this purpose easy — our RV-approved line of racks can all safely be used on the back of any compatible travel trailer or RV. Just look for the RV-approved logo on the rack, packaging, or product listing.
How to Choose the Right RV-approved Bike Rack
If your trailer or RV already has a hitch installed with an adequate weight rating, the first question you need to answer to help choose a rack is what frame material your bikes are.
No hitch? No problem! We sell a bumper adaptor, an Around the Spare bike rack to mount on certain continuously-welded steel bumpers, or an A-frame front-of-trailer hitch adaptor. As always, make sure to consult your RV or trailer manufacturer instructions to confirm compatibility and load-bearing abilities before purchase and installation.
Carbon Fiber Bikes
If you have a bike made of carbon fibre, you want something called a Zero Frame Contact bike rack.
Zero Frame Contact Bike Racks for RVs
A Zero Frame Contact bike rack secures your bike to the rack with an arm that grabs the front tire, keeping your frame pristine and untouched.
*Zero frame contact racks are not compatible with bikes that have front fenders
If you have bikes made of aluminum or other metals, you can use a Zero Frame Contact Rack, Platform Rack, or a Hanging Rack to transport them.*
*Certain frame shapes and sizes may require the use of a Bar Adapter for compatibility with Platform or Hanging bike racks. Bikes with front fenders are not compatible with any Zero Frame Contact rack.
Platform racks have wheel trays to support the wheels. The bike is secured with a frame hook that comes down onto the frame’s top tube, snugly holding your bike in place. Some models have wheel straps for extra security when your bike is installed.
When you place your bike in this type of rack, make sure you adjust the wheel trays to ensure the frame hook contacts the lowest point of your bike’s top tube. Certain frame shapes with an aggressively sloping top tube or step-thru frames require a Bar Adapter to work with these racks.
Hanging racks work like the name suggests — by hanging your bike frame from the support arm on the rack. These racks work best with simple bicycle frame shapes. Models with sloping top tubes, step-thru frames, or other non-traditional shapes may require a Bar Adapter for use on a Hanging Rack.
Once you know what type of bike rack you’re looking for, you need to consider the weight capacity. If you plan on carrying heavier bikes, including ebikes, look for ebike-approved models, which are designed to handle the increased weight of heavier ebikes.
The weight capacities of all Swagman RV-approved bike racks can vary, so be sure to read the product details before you make your decision.
Clearance and Dimensions
Another consideration for your travel trailer, RV, motorhome, or fifth-wheel is how much horizontal and rear clearance the rack has. Departure angles can be a concern, especially on trailers or RVs where the frame extends far past the rear axle. Consider horizontal clearance if you have a rear-mount spare tire, or a trailer or RV that features a rounded rear, extending further rearward than the bike rack mounting point.
Every Swagman RV-approved rack has a clearance-dimensions graphic in the product images – use this to confirm compatibility.
Do you need any extra features from your bike rack? There are a variety of convenience features available on select Swagman racks. For increased security, look for racks that include integrated locking hooks.
If you're planning to transport a fat bike on your trailer, motorhome, RV, or fifth-wheel, make sure your chosen rack is compatible with wider tires. Aftermarket wheel trays compatible with tires up to 5" wide can be purchased separately for select Swagman RV-approved Bike Racks.
Ready to shop for a bike rack for your travel trailer, RV, motorhome, or fifth wheel? Let us help you get started on our webstore.