This 4 bike rack fits in a small trailer or pickup.
Here were my requirements for this project:
1. Hold 4 bikes
3. Fit in my 4x8 trailer
4. Hold the bikes safely and securely
5. No bike disassembly or wheel removal
My three kids and I like to ride bikes a lot and are getting bored with the local trails. We now are able to
transport the bikes to other locations and explore. I have both a fat bike with 4" wide tires and a regular
mountain bike with 2" tires. Since I only transport one a time, the rack had to transport four bikes.
It had to be cheap. Most of the lumber was already on hand leftover from previous projects. The most expensive
parts was the metal hardware which cost me about $65 dollars. I used 3/8" bolts, but wish I had used 1/4" bolts instead to save money.
My trailer has a 4x8 bed, but the rack does not use the entire length of the bed. This design can also be used in a pickup bed. It could also be made for a different number of bikes.
Since the bikes are a light load in a light weight trailer, it tends to bounce a lot while going down the road. The bikes must be safe, secure, undamaged, and not even scratched.
It must be a quick job to load and unload the bikes without having to remove any wheels. All I have to remove is
one seat to make room for the handlebars of the bike next to it.
Step 1: Horizontal Beams With Clamping Boards
After much thought I dreamed up a design with horizontal and vertical supports, all made with 2x4 lumber.
The horizontal supports are held at each end by two narrow pieces of plywood that span the entire width
of the trailer. The beams are about 10" to 12" apart. The bike tires are clamped in place with a piece of 1/2" by 4" board. The holes through the support beams and clamp boards are oversized at 7/16" to compensate for the holes not being drilled perfectly straight. My 3/8" bolts are 5" long and have a wing nut and flat washers at each end. You might need different length bolts depending on the width of tires and thickness of clamping board.
One of the places has 7" bolts to accommodate the fat tire bike. When transporting the bike with narrower tires a piece of 2x4 is used as a spacer. Both are pictured.
It is amazing at how little torque is needed on the wing nuts to hold the bikes in place. If a 10 year child twists them down you may not be able to lift the bike out of the clamp. Hand tightening is all that is needed. You do not have to use a wrench to tighten.
I can't give exact measurements for the pieces of lumber or hole placements because I just did it all by "eye". Kind of like playing a song by "ear". After you start, it is possible that you will need to exchange some hardware for a different size so keep your receipts.
Step 2: Vertical Supports
I originally built it with permanently fixed vertical supports, but that forced me to lift the bikes over them. It also made the rack impossible to store. It is much more convenient to use with the removable vertical supports that can lift off easily.
A 2x4 "T" framing bracket (I don't know the exact name) is attached to the base beam and has a flange sticking up. Two small angle brackets on the vertical support are used to secure the base of the support to the "T" bracket by wrapping around the flange. The picture shows a second support laying on the ground next to the rack. This shows the two angle brackets and how they were held slightly away from the 2x4 when it was screwed on. This small gap allows the angle brackets on the vertical support to slide up and down easily on the flange. The vertical support will be held down with a strap so it will not jump off when you hit a bump.
The top tubes of the bikes are secured to the top of the vertical support with a short bungee cord. A piece of hot water pipe insulation is used to protect the bicycle paint from scratches.
To place the bicycles this close together it is necessary to alternate them. Bikes 1 and 3 face forward and bikes 2 and 4 face backward. This is to keep the handle bars from hitting each other. The pedals must also be placed 1/2 turn different than the next bike to keep the pedals from hitting each other.
This design requires that the vertical supports line up with each other when looking at it from the side. This is because the tie straps that hold everything in place are connected with a spring. Notice this on the next step.
Step 3: Strap It In
Notice that each vertical support has an eye bolt screwed into the top. There is a spring and short length of chain that connect two vertical supports. That is why the vertical supports must be lined up. The spring and chain are connected to each other and to the eye bolts using strong carabineer clips. The other end of the tie down straps attach to the trailer using eye bolts screwed into the trailer sideboards. The tie down straps are pulled tight with about 50 pounds of tension. The springs keep the straps tight and allow for small movements during transport.
Again, I must emphasize that blueprints cannot be provided for placement of clamping boards and vertical supports. That is because it was custom made for our bikes. Your bikes might be larger or smaller. It is kind of add hock and allows for lots of your own improvisation.
Step 4: Put It Away.
When not in use it is stored above the garage door very close to the ceiling. The vertical supports are removed and clamped securely into the rack using the clamping boards.
Four eye bolts were installed in ceiling studs. Then four small hooks were screwed into the base beams of the rack the same distance apart as the ceiling eye bolts. The rope was directed through a fifth eye bolt in the corner of the garage. Two coat hangers were installed in the corner below the fifth eye bolt and used to wrap up the slack in the rope when the rack is lifted.
If I had used pulleys, then maybe one person could lift the rack into place by pulling on the ropes. To save money, I use hooks and eye bolts.
The rope is pulled down and place in the hooks. There is a lot of friction so the rack cannot be lifted by simply pulling on the rope. This requires one person to pull and hold the ropes while a second person lifts the rack.
It takes us about 15 minutes to lower the rack, put it in the trailer, and load and secure the bicycles. It takes the same amount of time to unload the bikes and put the rack away.