Soon after we began camping, we saw how nice it would be to have bikes with us on our trips. We camp with friends who have much larger equipment and they routinely carry bikes, but it seemed a stretch for us. We rented bikes on a couple of occasions and I was resigned to that option, but my husband kept searching for a solution.
He was considering mounting them on the back of the camper, but we read that it is not a good idea to put a bike on the back. We never saw any great options for an installation on top. He had an idea of a dual receiver and was considering having a machinist make one. Fortunately, we found one on line. Below is a photo of our dual hitch. We purchased it through Wal-mart, but it was shipped by Rage Powersport. It is Model DRH-1. The photo below shows the receiver plus locking pins and trailer hitch that were not included.
Next, we needed a bike rack that would work with both the camper and the hitch. We discussed it in depth with a Customer Service Rep at E-Trailer and she helped us select a rack to carry our two bikes.
She also made us aware of many things to consider and verify. The dual hitch reduces the capacity of the hitch by 50%. If you were to pursue this option, you will need to know the tongue weight capacity for your vehicle and the tongue weight of the camper. Also, the weight of the bike rack plus bikes have to be within the 50% capacity. Our MDX has a 350 pound tongue weight capacity. The dual hitch reduces the tongue weight available for the camper down to 175 pounds. Our camper is a T@G MAX XL and has a tongue weight of 160 with LP and battery. We are within the range, but this could be an issue for heavier campers.
We purchased a Thule Vertex 2, 1 1/4-2 model. Our bikes weigh about 30 pounds and the rack weighs 70 pounds, therefore, the combined weight of 100 pounds is well below the weight limit of 175 pounds. The rack does a good job of carrying our bikes, but it does add extra steps in our hitching and unhitching process.
When we first set it up, the bikes moved around too much, which made me quite nervous. However, they can be secured very well with two short bungee cords (purchased separately) and the adjustable strap that came with the bike rack.
We had to add extenders to our safety chains because the dual hitch is longer than the standard. We purchased the chain extenders and 3/8″ threaded connectors at Lowes. We only use the dual hitch and extended chains if we are hauling our bikes.
Our Steps to Tow Bikes With Teardrop
- Insert dual hitch into tow vehicle receiver using locking pins (one to tow vehicle and other to bike rack).
- Attach camper to bottom receiver using appropriate-sized ball (not included with receiver).
- Attach bike rack to top receiver and insert locking pin (not included with receiver).
- Attach largest bike to rack first and stabilize front and back wheel using a short bungee cord.
- Attach second bike to bike rack and stabilize front and back wheel using second short bungee cord. You may have to move the pedals a bit so they can fit snugly.
- Wrap adjustable strap around both bikes and tighten the straps snugly while pulling bike frames toward the tow vehicle.
- Hitching or unhitching with the bike rack adds approximately ten minutes to the process.
The process is reversed for the unhitch process. We have taken our bikes on several camping trips and have had no issues with this method of transport.
There are, no doubt, other ways to haul bikes with teardrops, but this has worked very well for us. We hope it will help others who are interested in taking their bikes on camping trips.