I get a lot of requests for details on the motorcycle and bicycle carriers on the back of our LMTV Bliss Mobil RV. I created a Frankenstein of a hitch receiver tube, Drayton Solutions bike hanging rack and Yakima Frontloader bike trays. And attached it all to the existing Bliss Mobil motorcycle rack. It’s not pretty, but it works.
This solution violates the engineered design of all the components and it’s entirely possible this system will fail! That said, read on for details.
Bliss Mobil Moto Carrier
We ordered the motorcycle carrier option with our Bliss Mobil 15′ habitat. An electric winch operates the lift which carries the Yamaha XT250 (300lbs wet).
In hindsight, we should have asked Bliss Mobil to design a bike rack as part of the lift. Anyone considering ordering a Bliss Mobil unit should consider this during the order/build process.
Check out the last post for a link to a video on the lift in action.
So Where Do We Put Our Bikes?
If you go back to some of older posts, you’ll know that we were pulling a trailer back in the day. Carrying our bicycles was not a problem as they fit nicely on a trailer hitch receiver rack (a Kuat bike carrier we owned pre-RV).
After ditching the trailer (still for sale, btw!!), we were faced with the problem of where to put our bicycles.
We considered several options
Option 1: I asked Bliss Mobil for their advice and they came up with a very nice, correctly engineered solution. Option 1 is the best option but is expensive, parts must be shipped and imported, etc. If you’re ordering a habitat from Bliss Mobil, consider this option during the build process.
Option 2: Attach bike trays to the brush bars on the front of the cab. This might work OK but would reduce our entry angle in rough stuff, parts of the bikes would be in our windshield view and the bikes would get covered in bugs.
Option 3: Figure out how to attach the bikes to the rear of the habitat.
We went with the third option.
Introducing the Bike Hanger
While on the road, I’ve seen vertical bike hangers on other vehicles and did some research to find a low-cost option from Drayton Solutions. I purchased a floor/demo model and got a sweet deal!
A 2″ hitch receiver was welded to the bottom of the Bliss Mobil motorcycle carrier, the Drayton was mounted and I believed I was done.
Not so fast! The bikes swung around like kids on monkey bars, banging against each other and threatening to fall off! Even with many ratchet straps applied a dozen different ways, we didn’t like the way the bikes flopped aroun.
Introducing the Yakima Frontloader
What we needed was something to hold the bikes firm as we bounce the truck around on rough roads.
This is where things get tricky.
The Drayton rack has two cross bars that look (to me!) like they could serve as mount points for a bike tray. We were leaving the Bay Area soon, so I needed something fast! I bought the last three Yakima Frontloader bike trays from the Dublin, CA REI and crossed my fingers they would fit and do the job.
IMPORTANT! Yakima Frontloader trays are designed to hold a bike horizontally on an approved rack! If you copy this solution, you are on your own as this solution violates the design of the tray.
I wanted the Drayton cross bars a bit closer so I drilled a hole higher up on the vertical support and mounted the bottom cross-bar higher up.
I mounted the Yakima Frontloaders by hooking the front of the tray on the top cross-bar and attaching the sliding rear (in my case bottom) locking unit to the bottom cross-bar.
Per the installation instructions, I use ratchet straps from the middle of the Drayton vertical bar to the moto lift. This keeps the whole thing from swaying left to right.
I also tightly ratchet strap each wheel to the bike tray. Finally, I have a series of straps and locking cables strewn around the whole thing.
I’m not using the bike rack systems as engineered.
Everything is ratcheted down tightly and it’s very sturdy (I can see the bikes from my rear camera), even on rough roads and crawling over rocks and bumps.
The Yakima tire holder on top (or front if the tray was horizontal) has plastic stops that hold it place. I worry these will fail at some point. I expect my ratchet straps to secure the bike in this case but it might render the broken Frontloader tray useless.
Ratcheting the Drayton to the vehicle is part of the design but seems to put stress on the receiver bar inserted in to the hitch receiver. I’m careful with how much stress/pressure I’m apply.
In the worst case scenarion, a bike will drop a foot or so and be suspended by a strap/lock/cable until I can pull over and fix it. I keep my right eye on the rear camera at all times.
I will add a hitch tightener to relieve some of the stress around the hitch receiver.
I’ll also continue to think on this problem and eventually will find someone to help me fabricate a more permanent carrier. I want a more solid tire holder on the top of the rack.
Please comment here or contact me if you have questions, suggestions or have solved this problem a better way!
Hi, interesting read. I thought of this rack system when reading your post. Might be a good look if the Yakima fails one day or if you choose to make a switch. These are great rack systems.
These look really solid! Thanks for the pointer. I might make the switch…
Ahhh, I see now! Thanks for sending this. I was thinking vertical rack on the back as well. But it’s obviously not easy!
My long term dream is basically your setup – but long term, because I’m stuck working for the next few years, and our kids are 12 and 14 and we’re not taking them out of school (plus, our 14 year old is already over 6′), so we would be waiting until kids are in college anyways.
Shorter term, I’m thinking about an Alaskan Camper on a crew cab pickup, and was leaning towards a flatbed mounted camper. If I did that, I think I would get the flatbed maker to custom build a spare tire rack and vertical bike rack on the back of the flatbed (door of a flatbed Alaskan would be on the side). The tricky part is that all of that would have to be removeable – since you have to back the truck/flatbed under the camper, so I would need to be able to have a clean back end. But only removeable in the sense of giant bolts that you torque tightly with tools, etc. – not an “on the road” remove. We’ll see..
Take a look at North Shore Racks who have a pretty solid vertical hanger rack. http://www.northshoreracks.com/