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 considered 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 but found a dual hitch on-line. Below is the hitch that we used. We have since learned that it reduces the overall tongue weight capacity of our vehicle by 50% and another hitch should be used. See E-Trailer response below.
Our receiver caused a tongue weight issue, but according to E-Trailer, a change to a different receiver will enable us to carry our bikes. We would choose Option 1.
Tongue weight limitations should be considered before any additional towing options are implemented. See my post, Tongue Weight–A Cautionary Tale for additional information.
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.
We purchased a Thule Vertex 2, 1 1/4-2 model bike rack. Our bikes weigh about 30 pounds and the rack weighs 70 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 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 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 a couple camping trips and was not aware of issues with this method of transport. We later learned about our tongue weight issue, but a change to a different receiver should solve the problem.
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.