19/10/2020
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Caravan advice: How to fit a bike rack – part two

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Words and photos: Jim Blackstock

In a previous article published in Caravan magazine, we looked at how to carry bikes. In this follow up, Jim Blackstock shows how to fit an A-frame rack

Of the various ways we considered to carry bikes along with your caravan in our last article, the A-frame mounted rack is probably the all-round most convenient and easiest to fit; it’s easy to load and keeps the bikes fairly low and should have a minimal effect on stability.

Fitting one is also pretty straightforward, as we saw when we fitted this Thule Caravan Superb XT Standard rack. Designed for not just bikes but also e-bikes, it can take up to 60kg of weight and is available in both Standard and Short variants, depending on the length of the caravan’s A-frame.

The Standard version we fitted here can also accept an optional rail to add a third bike.

You can read the first part of this series in the October issue of Caravan magazine, available online here

Useful things to know

Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: 1/5
Tools needed: Spanners, socket set, deep sockets, Allen keys
Cost: Thule Caravan Superb XT Standard Rack, £360; Additional rail £78

 

Step-by-step guide to fitting an A-frame rack

 

1. The Thule rack can be fitted either direct to the frame rails or with the front cover in place, depending on your preference

2. We decided to show how to fit it direct to the chassis rails, as we didn’t want to drill the cover and it’s easier to see how and where it fits

3. We started by roughly measuring the distance from the front of the gas locker to the rear mounts to get the rack square

4. One of the four U-bolts was inserted from below into the clamp, with one of its holes either side of the chassis rail, as shown

5. A Nyloc nut was applied to each end of the U-bolt and wound on. We didn’t fully tighten the nuts at this stage…

6. With the nuts still slightly loose, we checked the distance to the gas locker matched on both sides, then tightened the nuts down

7. The front mounts are taller and have plastic cover sections on either side. They also slide across the bars to fit the chassis rails

8. Like the rear mounts, the front ones are held in place on the chassis rails by U-bolts which go either side of each chassis rail

9. We used a deep socket to tighten the nuts onto the U-bolts. These mounts are in the right place, so they were tightened down fully

10. With both front and rear mounts tightened, the base of the rack is now fitted and we’re ready for the next step

11. Before inserting the rear crossbar, a plastic ring is added to each support section where the bar mounts

12. The crossbar is inserted into the base on each side of the rear of the rack. The notched section fits over the existing bolts

13. The holes in the rack base, the crossbar and the plastic collar were lined up and a bolt inserted to hold it all together and tightened up

14. To fit the bike arms, the tightening knobs were removed completely first to allow the bars to be dismantled

15. The clamps which mount to the top of the crossbar can now be removed from the rear of the bike arms and opened

16. The open clamps are fitted to the top of the crossbar, closed and reinserted to the rear of the arm itself

17. The jaws are refitted to the bike arm and the tightening knob reapplied. This then completes each of the two bike arms

18. To load the bikes, the wheel mounts are released and the straps held out of the way while the wheels are put in place

19. The wheel blocks slide on the runners and once in the right position, straps are fitted to the clamps and tightened to hold the wheels in place

20. As each bike is loaded, the jaws on the bike arm are used to hold the frame of the bike steady on the rack itself

21. Each tightening knob includes a locking mechanism that, when locked, means the knob just spins and doesn’t undo to release the bikes

22. With the rack in place and two bikes loaded. There is an optional third-bike rail which can be added if necessary and space permits

23. Releasing these catches – one on each side – allows the entire rack to tip forward. They aren’t sprung-loaded so must be closed before moving off

24. The entire rack can tip forward to virtually horizontal, secured by adjustable steel cables to stop the rack at the chosen angle (see image below)
 

25. This means that the gas locker at the front of the caravan can still be accessed with the bikes in place if necessary

 

Disclaimer
Advice given by consultants and contributors within Caravan magazine is designed to be by way of suggestion only and does not negate a reader’s responsibility to obtain professional advice before acting upon it. Any such advice is not a recommendation on behalf of the Editor or Publisher and is followed entirely at the reader’s own risk. Consequently, the Editor, Consultants and Publisher shall not be responsible for any loss or damage incurred by a reader acting upon such advice.

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