Teardrop Bike Rack

Bicycles for campers, rvers, or just riding around where ever you are

Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:00 pm

Finally we have a good way to carry bicycles with the teardrop. This is a problem I have been agonizing over since I began the build, and no small consideration since biking trips were the reason for building the teardrop to begin with.

Initially I had planned to put a bike rack on the back of the teardrop that would hold our full size road bikes, but that idea went south beginning with the fact that my welder installed a 2 1/2" tube rather than a 2" tube. Besides that, I later learned that towing on the rear is known to be hard on the bikes and the racks and I had heard of several rack failures that had cost people their bikes. Most rack manufacturers warn against the practice and will not warranty their racks against failure if you use them in this way. And it's impossible to open the hatch with a bike rack on the back so we would have to unload the bikes and remove the rack every time we wanted to access the galley.

We considered carrying them on a roof rack but lifting them up there all the time didn't seem like something I really wanted to do. The back of the truck was already full of camping gear and the road bikes took up too much room on the trailer tongue and would not leave any turning room for the truck.

Getting frustrated with trying to find a way to carry our road bikes we bought two Citizen Miami folding bikes last year. (Very nice bikes, by the way. I would highly recommend them if you're looking for a comfortable folder on a budget.) That made things a bit easier but still was not without its challenges. We had originally thought we could just throw them in the back of the truck, and we can, but they are too tall even when folded to stand upright in the truck bed and still let us close our tonneau cover. That meant we had to lay them over on their sides which made them more vulnerable to damage, and left a lot less room for camping gear. We carried them inside the teardrop once but that meant I had to stack the mattresses and it was difficult to find a way to secure the bikes so they didn't move around and possibly puncture the 1/8" thick plywood skin on the interior walls. Every solution we came up with seemed to have a downside.

But then it occurred to me that the folding bikes were much smaller so would not stick out so far past the sides of the trailer, and the pedals fold in flat so the bikes can be placed much closer to each other on the racks. I decided to give it another shot and see if I could make them fit on the tongue of the trailer. I got a 2-pack of Swagman roof mount bike racks for $46 on Overstock.com thinking I could just bolt them to the tongue, but there were logistical problems with the mount points not working with the tongue frame. I decided to build a small platform where I could create good solid mounting points then the platform could be bolted to the trailer tongue.

First I constructed a plywood platform and used poplar dimensional lumber for attachment areas for the rack. This was necessary because of the bolts and metal lips on the bottom of the rack.

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The plywood was Baltic birch leftover from the teardrop. It is not exterior grade wood and since it would be exposed to the weather I coated it with epoxy resin to waterproof it. Then it was sprayed with black Rustoleum truck bed liner to match my fenders and tongue box. Next the racks were screwed to the platform with stainless steel screws. The platform is bolted to the trailer tongue with 2 large bolts.

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It was extremely important to me that we still be able to use our tongue box. We have found it to be so convenient that we didn't want to be without it. I think I would have abandoned the plan if it wouldn't have fit. It not only fit, it also pretty much hides the plywood deck that the racks are on.

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The rack took no more than a total of 15 hours to build, epoxy, paint, assemble, and install but probably involved a few hundred hours of trying to figure out how to do it over the past 2 years. I am very pleased with the result. The rack is relatively small and unobtrusive, especially once the tongue box was installed, the bikes sit rock solid on it and it can be easily removed in the future if our needs change. I am planning at some point to get some Surlast, Sunbrella, or Cordura fabric and sew a cover for the bikes that will fit over them while they are on the rack. We never ride the folders except when we are camping so they can just live there on the teardrop all of the time and will always be ready to go when we are. And since they are so easy to take on and off, the likelihood is increased that we will ride them whenever there is an opportunity to do so.

If we need additional clearance room for the truck to make tight turns I will get a 12" hitch extension, but it looks like we have finally arrived at a good solution for our bicycles.

Next project....roof racks so we can carry our 8' El Toro sailing/rowing dinghy. (I also got those for a bargain on Overstock.com)
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Fenlason » Sun Jun 08, 2014 4:58 am

:thumbsup: Nice
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby bonnie » Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:31 am

Looks great, Becky. :thumbsup:
Remember, the turtle won. :)
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby aggie79 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:45 am

Very cool! :thumbsup:
Tom (& Linda)
For more on our Silver Beatle teardrop:
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby pohukai » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:12 am

Great idea for the bike rack!

BTW: I'm totally distracted by your 25' Catalina! I love sailing.
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:38 pm

Thanks everyone for the nice comments. And Jim, no sailing going on right now, just a lot of renovating. :)
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby rowerwet » Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:35 am

we use a double hitch extension with the van
97127
I'm considering mounts on the front wall of the tear to hold the bikes. I like your racks but don't have the tongue length.
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Tue Jun 10, 2014 7:30 am

rowerwet wrote:we use a double hitch extension with the van
97127
I'm considering mounts on the front wall of the tear to hold the bikes. I like your racks but don't have the tongue length.


Maybe we don't either. Our truck was in the shop when I set this up last weekend. They are not bolted down yet. We got the truck back last night so tonight I hope to test it out and see if there is plenty of clearance for the truck to turn. If not, options will be a hitch extension like this one below, or leaving off the tongue box (REALLY don't want to do that, but I guess if it came down to a choice between that or that rack, it will be easier to load the stuff in the tongue box into a bin and throw it in the truck than it would be to find another solution for the bikes). I just hope we can have both.
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http://www.amazon.com/Trailer-Square-Extension-Adapter-Extender/dp/B00AP9LI6G/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1402403348&sr=8-4&keywords=hitch+extender+2
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:04 pm

We got the truck back tonight so we were able to hook up and test out the bike rack set up. I am extremely happy to report that it looks like it will work, tongue box and all, without a hitch extension. Lance did a pretty sharp U-turn in the street and there was at least 6 inches of clearance between the back of the truck and the box. The only situation I can imagine where it might be a problem is if it got pretty much jack knifed backing into a campsite. I guess we'll just have to avoid that!
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby jonw » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:39 am

Becky - nice job!

I too have been struggling with the same issue for my Citizens bike and am halfway through a build-on-the-tongue poplar wood platform to which I can strap the folded bike in it's carry bag to. What a PITA! It's much more complicated by my side mounted flip-up tongue jack...

If/when I ever get mine done I'll post some pictures in another thread. Your solution is more elegant than mine plus it holds 2 bikes. Well done.
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:42 pm

Thanks Jon. Keep those Swagman racks in mind on Overstock.com. Quite a deal.
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby McGuffin » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:09 pm

Hi Becky,

Lovely job with the bike rack and tongue box. It must be great to have things finished too. Well done :applause:

Do you know how much the tongue weighs with the bikes and box ready to go?

Larry
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Oldragbaggers » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:51 pm

McGuffin wrote:Hi Becky,

Lovely job with the bike rack and tongue box. It must be great to have things finished too. Well done :applause:

Do you know how much the tongue weighs with the bikes and box ready to go?

Larry


Thanks, and no, I'm sorry I have no idea about the weight. Those bikes alone weigh 70 lbs. though.
Life is sooooo good.........
Sail...camp....bike...repeat
Becky

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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby ae6black » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:28 pm

Just saw something on Walmart's site called a V-Rack Two Bike Carrier. This thing is supposed to clamp around the male part of the hitch if you have two inches between the ball platform and the TV Receiver when your hitch is mounted to the TV. I'g be curious if anyone has any experience with this thing. From the picture, it looks like the only drawback would be you wouldn't be able to open the rear hatch of the TV when this thing is installed. Cost is between $80 and $100.

Art
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Re: Teardrop Bike Rack

Postby Noob » Sat Aug 30, 2014 9:26 am

Oldragbaggers wrote:


If you need that, get ready for headaches ... I used one once to tailgate, I had a big cooler that wouldnt fit in my car with 3 people.

That "adapter" bent down, on the way there ... so I fliped it up, on the way home, and it almost returned to normal, didnt matter, it went in the trash.
Bend the knees, watch the trees, 5$ please.
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