By Tony Barthel
A lot of us want to bring bicycles with us on our RV travels but the trouble is … where do you put them? I’ve seen a lot of folks mount them to the back bumper of a trailer but almost every trailer I’ve seen also has a warning label from the manufacturer that says not to mount anything to the bumper.
My wife and I enjoy bicycling when traveling and wanted to bring our two “beach cruiser” style bicycles with us. Our previous pickup truck was a mid-size truck with a very, very short bed so there was no putting the bicycles back there.
I was thrilled when I found Lippert’s Jack-It® Double Bike Carrier System.
Installing the Jack-It bike rack was pretty easy – it essentially screws into where the tongue jack goes on the trailer. I simply had to hook the trailer to the pickup, unscrew the tongue jack and then screw it back into place with the Jack-It. Here’s where I ran into the first issue.
The power tongue jack I had installed previously was at a height that the bubble level at the top made it too tall to fit under the Jack-It. My solution was to remove that cap and just tape over it with Gorilla tape – though this was not ideal, I’ll admit. However, this brings up another issue – if ever the electric tongue jack fails and I have to manually crank the jack, I may be out of luck. It seems that I can remove the Jack-It easily enough and get the manual jack crank through there – let’s hope I don’t ever have to prove this theory.
Well, but what about the bike rack itself? It’s pretty flexible in how you can put it together with an arm that can go in two different ways that allow the bike rack to either be extended back away from the tow vehicle or toward the tow vehicle – depending on your trailer, your bicycles and your tow vehicle. It’s actually pretty flexible. You can forego this extension altogether as well – again, depending on the circumstances.
The actual rack itself is well thought out with hooks that can be mounted toward the front or toward the back or, as we’ve done, put one set facing forward and the other facing toward the trailer. It seems you can accommodate a lot of different bicycle configurations as well as some other outdoor gear. Surfboards?
Getting the bikes onto the rack simply involves lifting them up, which is easy enough for me, but my wife isn’t as tall and is more challenged by this. Once the bikes are on the rack there are rubber “straps” that hold the bikes on the hooks. These work very, very well and are easy enough to pop off when you want to get the bike down but do a good job of holding it on as you’re going down the road.
With how flexible the holders are on the bike rack “V” itself you can pretty much accommodate any size bicycle, it seems. While the rack is a bit wiggly that also doesn’t seem to affect how well this works.
What I like about this is that it sits on the tongue, instead of the trailer’s back bumper, and uses space that might otherwise not be used. I also use the Jack-It to hold my portable solar panels when I’m camping, and the fact that I can rotate the rack means that I can have those panels chase the sun around. Not sure anyone at Lippert had this in mind when they designed it but it has worked for me.
The number of various configurations you can utilize with this makes it work for almost any bicycle I can think of. The manufacturer specifies that the Jack-It is limited to 80 pounds of load-carrying capacity and I’ve exceeded this by probably 20 pounds myself – though that’s not a recommendation, just an observation.
I also like that it carries the bikes by the wheels, though you can also do as we’ve done and use it to carry the bicycles by the frame. Lastly, there is zero drilling or modification of the frame of the trailer whatsoever.
I recommend this rack. It was really easy to install and also does the job. Plus I’ve used it for solar panels (not while moving, while camping) and also holding flags while camping as well. Who knew that this one bike rack could do so many things so well?