We receive a lot of questions about whether it’s advisable to install bicycle hitch and roof racks on RVs, Towed Vehicles, or Trailers. There are several reasons why we don’t recommend it. Let’s delve into the details.
Trailers present two major issues when it comes to carrying bike racks. Firstly, the rack itself can crack, fail, or bend prematurely due to the intense strain it faces. While a bike rack may perform well on a car, the same cannot be said for a trailer. Unlike passenger vehicles, trailers have cheap suspension systems that lack the dampening capabilities needed to absorb vibrations effectively. As a result, the vibrations transmitted through the trailer’s suspension can be exponentially harsher compared to those experienced by a standard vehicle. Thus, bike racks attached to trailers are subjected to a minimum of four times the vibration, significantly shortening their lifespan. We had an incident where a customer used one of our hitch racks on a trailer during a trip from New York to Alaska. Unfortunately, the rack failed in Minnesota, and they lost their bike. Upon investigation, we discovered that excessive vibration from the trailer had compromised the rack’s structural integrity. This failure occurred after traveling just 1,500 miles.
Additionally, trailers have the potential to become airborne, especially when encountering obstacles like railroad tracks. When the trailer lands, it can exert up to 8 Gs of force on the rack and hitch. This force can be significant, especially when considering the combined weight of the rack, bikes, and even additional passengers standing on the rack. Consequently, the rack may face forces equivalent to over a thousand pounds.
Another issue specific to trailers is that mounting a rack on them causes the round holes where the pin slides through to become ovalized over time. This leads to excessive play or slop in the rack, compromising its stability and durability permanently.
RVs, on the other hand, possess proper suspension systems, eliminating the issue of excessive vibration. However, they face a different challenge. The length between the rear axle and the hitch on RVs is significantly longer compared to passenger cars or trucks, averaging up to 12 feet. This length acts as a lever arm, amplifying the force exerted on the hitch rack. For example, a standard 50 lb hitch rack carrying two 40 lb bikes (50 + 40 + 40 = 130 lbs) can withstand up to 520 lbs of force when subjected to our 4G testing. However, if the rack is extended to 96 inches, three times greater than the average distance of 32 inches, the load on the rack could increase up to nine times. In this case, the 50 lb rack with two 40 lb bikes could face an overwhelming force of 4,600 lbs. This force is equivalent to parking a car on the hitch rack.
Drawing from our 30 years of design, testing, and customer feedback, we have acquired a wealth of knowledge regarding what works and what doesn’t. It is crucial to note that certain bike rack sellers are not fully aware of the additional strains placed on racks when used on trailers or RVs. Consequently, they do not provide any limitations for such usage. We have acquired and tested some of these racks and the results were alarming. Unfortunately, many of these companies lack contact information and do not respond to inquiries, leaving customers with zero recourse.
If you have lightweight bikes and drive at moderate speeds, using a rack on an RV or trailer may seem fine. However, it’s important to understand that the rack will inevitably fail, and the only question is when and how severe the failure will be.
At DHPL Travels, we prioritize your safety and the reliability of our products. That’s why we strongly advise against installing bike racks on trailers or RVs. For more information about our travel solutions, please visit DHPL Travels. Travel safely and enjoy the journey!