Bicycle Transport options and ideas?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I'm posting this in the E-bike section but it could equally apply to human-powered bicycles as well.

Seeking input/suggestions as to how to transport two bicycles (preferably e-bikes) on our camping trips with our trailer.

Those of you who have seen my other posts may know that 2 years ago, my wife and I got E-bikes after trying out some that belonged to some camping friends of ours. We got Lectric XP folding bicycles.

Lectric eBikes - Electric Bikes Built so Everyone Can Ride

Ours are the version 1 bikes (which I think are no longer made.) They are folding, compact sized bicycles with 20" wheels.

After two years, although I like our E-bikes, I am not completely satisfied with them and I'm trying to brainstorm some ideas on how to improve our bicycling experience.

Here is our situation: Wife and I are both 60, in reasonably good health although we both have "issues" (a chronic pain condition for my wife, multiple knee surgeries and sciatica for me.) We travel in a 2018 F-150 CCSB 4x4 pulling a 20' travel trailer (R-Pod 179.) We camp all over the Western US, typically our trips are less than 6 days because I'm still working (albeit from home) full time. Once I retire (should be in about 18 months) we plan to travel for longer periods of time, possibly as long as 2 months at a stretch. On those trips, it would obviously be very nice to have access to our E-bikes.

For those not familiar with them, the Lectric E-bikes are definitely on the "lower end" of the e-bike market. They sell for around $1000 each and while they are robust, we have some "issues" with them that I'd like to see if I can address. I'd like to try and go with a different type of bike and am wondering what other options are out there, since I know this is a very fast-growing segment of the market.

Here are the issues I'm hoping to resolve with a different bicycle:

1. Weight: This is the big one. These bikes are HEAVY. They weigh almost 70lbs (about 32kg) each. They do fold in half but they do not lock shut and they are still a SOB to move around when folded. Currently, we carry them in the back of my truck (which has a cab-height fiberglass topper) which keeps them out of the weather and safe from theft. But given that the tailgate of the truck is roughly at my waist height, hoisting those bikes up to the tailgate is an unpleasant job, and I have to do it at least twice on every camping trip. Some might suggest removing the battery but that only takes away about 7 lbs. I'd love to find something that is under 50lbs and under 40 would be even better.

2. Bulk: This is an adjunct to the above. The notion of a "folding bicycle" sounds like it would be a space-saver, but in reality these bicycles, even folded up, take up an enormous amount of space. When I have them in the back of the truck, I would estimate that 25% of my total available floor space is consumed by the two bicycles.

3: Riding quality: The Lectric's are certainly "low end" bicycles, which makes them both heavy and also rather cheap in terms of components. The 20" wheels do not provide for a great ride on either pavement or dirt, and the mechanical components (gear sets, shifters, brakes) are pretty much bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, the kind you'd expect to see on a $200 Wal Mart bike.

One thing I am wondering about is if the fact that these are folding bikes makes them heavier than they need to be (in order to accommodate the geometry of the folding frame.)

Our trailer does have a long "hallway" in between the bathroom and the dinette (which we have removed the table from.) Here is the floor plan. Entry door is to the rear of the axle:

fr-r-pod-2018-rp179-fp-001.png

One thing I'm wondering is if we went to more "conventional" style (i.e. non-folding) bicycles we could put them in the "hallway" of the trailer. The dilemma here is that in order to do that, we have to hoist the bicycles vertically through the entry door, then make a 90 degree right turn into the hallway. We have done that with our non-electric bikes, but the heaviest of those only weighed 35lbs - I don't know if I could do that with a 60+lb E-bike. And that puts me back to square one.

Has anyone tried carrying two bicycles side-by-side in a short (5.5' / 167cm) bed? I was thinking maybe I could make a rack for the forks and remove both front tires, that way the bikes would sit at a downward angle in the bed. I just don't know if I would have enough clearance to do this and still keep it inside the topper (I don't have the interior height measurement handy but my guess is that it's 48"/ 122cm or less.) I'm also wondering if removing and reinstalling the front wheel every time I load or unload the bikes would be too much of a PITA to make it worthwhile.

Anyway, I'm just trying to see what other possible solutions there might be for carrying 2 E-bikes in our rig. Currently not planning on replacing either the truck or the trailer, although we may upgrade to a slightly larger trailer after I retire.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Yakima makes modular racks, buy the bits you need and YES remove the front wheel. Most bikes have a quick release hub and brakes.

I use this, mounts to the roof rack crossbars, they also have bed/floor mount options.

IMG_1427.jpeg
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Yakima makes modular racks, buy the bits you need and YES remove the front wheel. Most bikes have a quick release hub and brakes.

I use this, mounts to the roof rack crossbars, they also have bed/floor mount options.

View attachment 731526
Unfortunately, because E-bikes have electronic components that can't get wet, carrying it on the roof top is not an option.

It would be nice if E-bike manufacturers made their bikes waterproof (or had the capacity to easily remove the sensitive electric components for transport) but AFAIK they don't. The motor (typically in the rear hub), controller (usually located somewhere in the frame) and battery all have to be protected from water intrusion so carrying them on the outside of a vehicle when there is a possibility of having to drive through heavy rain is not going to work.

EDITED TO ADD: About the only way I'd consider carrying E-bikes outside would be on a rack on the rear of the trailer. That would shelter them from the worst of the wind-blown rain and also allow me to cover them with a tarp or waterproof cover during transport (being on the rear of the trailer it wouldn't blow off.) Our current R-Pod does not have a big enough rear bumper to carry such weight (we'd be talking 100+ lbs for two lightweight bicycles PLUS the weight of the rack itself) but there are trailers out there that can carry that kind of weight, so it might be a consideration for our next trailer.
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
Even my old school regular bikes the truck bed under the cap is best. The road grime factor especially on long trips is a big one. Not to mention theft ie outa sight outa mind. Which is another reason if I go trailer upgrade its going to be one of the new small toy hauler style to handle the storage issue.

The newer ebikes definitely are getting lighter weight. But $$$$
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
Even my old school regular bikes the truck bed under the cap is best. The road grime factor especially on long trips is a big one. Not to mention theft ie outa sight outa mind. Which is another reason if I go trailer upgrade its going to be one of the new small toy hauler style to handle the storage issue.

The newer ebikes definitely are getting lighter weight. But $$$$
Yes, the toy hauler would likely be my first choice as well but we have a lot of factors to consider and hauling bicycles is just one of them. I would actually consider a rear rack to be acceptable as I feel like I could adequately protect the bikes from either theft or water/road grime. But of course, inside would be preferable.
 

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