When it comes to bringing bikes along with a fifth wheel, throwing them into the bed of the truck isn’t an option. You can really load up the truck bed as long as you stay below the bed rails (see picture in this post) – it’s just going above the bed rails that becomes problematic.
In this post, I describe the options and the “cons” for most of them.
On top of the truck with a bike rack (Thule or something similar) is an option, but my truck sits 6 1/2′ tall, never mind the roof rack is another 4″ or so off of that. I would need a step ladder to get them up or down. And, an issue would be bugs on the bikes when you got to your destination – but, lots of people have bikes up there.
On the back of the fifth wheel is an option, but requires a significant hitch welded back there (which voids the frame warranty in almost all cases). Plus, most bike racks will have their warranties voided by being used on the back of an RV. Something about the extra bounce/stress being way back there. Lots of people do it, though. DO NOT get a rack that simply mounts to the existing bumper (like shown to the left) – friends of mine did; the bumper welds broke, twisted and let their bikes and spare tire drag down the road (throwing sparks) until someone flagged them down. I’ve heard of this numerous times- it wasn’t a one-time occurrence.
Some fifth wheels come with a bike rack option. Mine did, but already being 42′, I just couldn’t bring myself to add another foot to the back. I’ve also heard that there is generally a lot of movement and you really need to protect the bikes from each other.
A front hitch on the truck is an option. Most people report good success with this, with very little performance difference with them. The challenge here is the bugs and mess on the bikes. My wife would *never* allow it. She didn’t like when I would carry kayaks and she had to see the bow lines. 🙂 I even found a company that made a hitch that connection to the tow hooks. It was supposedly easily removable and a very slick setup. Of course, I can’t find the link!
I think a pin box mount is the cat’s meow but generally requires custom fabrication. This gives you a normal 2″ hitch receiver just above the pin box and the bikes ride. We also have a fancy pin box shroud that makes it pretty, I’d have to figure a way to fabricate around that (as I’d really prefer to not remove it).
And finally, carrying the bikes inside is an option and, in fact, is what we do. Many people complain about dirt, but we haven’t experienced that. One fellow fabricated fork mounts to the underside of his dinette seats and use them for securing the bikes. That was pretty nifty – I’m just too lazy to remove wheels each time. We use waterproof ground cover (aka Neat Sheet but they aren’t made any more (sad face)) between each bike to protect them. We have carried up to 2 adult bikes, a child-size bike, an infant tricycle and a stroller all at the same time.
The dinette bike rack is genius! I predict that idea will be be copied more than just a few times.
Agreed! If I wasn't so lazy to remove my front wheel each time- I'd definitely consider it. I've kicked around the idea of a PVC bike rack mounted to the underside to help them stand up. But, like I said- we carry way too much stuff on the dinette table that isn't bike shaped (stroller, infant trike). Who knows. 🙂
Is carrying them on the rear of the tow vehicle with a hitch mount bike carrier now out of the equation?
I can’t imagine it would work. In turns, I think the bike(s) would make contact with the fifth wheel at either end.