Hauling Bikes in a Pickup

Some health related setbacks in the tri training area this week, so let’s talk about something more interesting: Bikes!

In particular, hauling bikes around to training and races.

When my wife started with the triathlon scene, I was still just a regular ol’ bike rider. But it seems that some triathletes like to train with friends — and sometimes a husband likes to tag along. Suddenly having the ability to haul around more than 1 or 2 bikes became very interesting.

I already had the pickup bed, so with very little creativity, threw together this little wooden bike hauler one afternoon. The parts list is pretty simple:

  • 4 treated 2x4s
  • 4 nuts and bolts and 8 washers to tie it all together at each corner
  • 4 fork mounts (I used these from Amazon)
  • Optional: Fork adapters to mount up bikes with disc brakes/threaded axles. (I use this one from Amazon)
    • You can see one in action on the QR tri bike in the 2nd image below. One end clamps into the fork mount and the other end to the bike fork.

In the first picture below, you can see what it looks like. I cut the ends of the horizontal pieces and used them as spacers to raise them up a bit. Drill a hole through all 3 pieces and bolt it together on each corner. I used wingnuts thinking that would be easier to manage over time, but it turns out that after 3 years I have never had to disassemble this thing — it is easy to lift out or put back in without much farting around.

The trickiest part was eyeballing the spacing on the mounts to make it easy to have 2 bikes facing forward and two facing to the rear. And even that wasn’t all that hard. I could add one more mount to the front to go for 5 but the few times I’ve needed to move more than 4 we just sort of nestle the extras in there and use foam or towels.

The front wheels can sit at the very front of the bed where the front cross bar helps keep them in place or ride in the cab in the rear area. For long trips I’ll usually use some gnarly thick cable locks to run through all the bikes and wheels and secure them to the bed frame.

Nothing really holds the bike rack to the truck. I have some little “L” brackets that mount to the rear crossbars and slide into a pre-existing bed loop, but I don’t really know if the make much difference. I drove around for a month or two without them and things still didn’t go anywhere. This rack has been there for over 30,000 miles now and I wouldn’t be surprised if at least 10k of those had bikes mounted to it — I’ve hauled bikes all over the country this way!

I should mention that I have the 6.5 foot bed on my truck. Things would be a lot tighter with the 5.5 foot option. Could likely still do it, but would have to move that rear cross bar all the way back, for sure and carefully measure placement of the front one to avoid handlebars hitting the rear window…

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