How To: Store Bikes While Living on the Road
There were no doubts in our minds that we would be bringing our bikes along for our Airstream life. David is an avid cyclist, whilst I’m more of a cruise about town with my bell and basket kind of gal. But we both love our bikes and trying to find a good solution for transporting and storing them while keeping them in good condition proved difficult. Here is a guide to the options that we reviewed, our opinions (take 'em or leave 'em) and some resources to help you make a choice as well! Our solution is definitely not perfect, but is easy, cheap and and gives us the three important S’s: Space, Security and Sanity. (Disclaimer: I totally just made that up but they actually all apply so let’s pretend it’s a real thing 😉).
That’s right – we pitch a tent for our bikes! You know what else is awesome about it? We get to store some other outside goodies in it as well (snowboards during winter when we use them often, string lights, jump ropes, a bike pump, etc), freeing up more of that hard to find space!
Why we chose this solution:
The bikes would be out of sight and less likely to be tampered with or stolen. (Note: this has happened to us in the past - we aren't just paranoid... well, most of the time.)
It would keep them in good condition, and since they aren't beater bikes, that means keeping them away from the elements, UV and road debris. The tent is water, snow, wind and tear proof. (Note on the tent: if it does break I read enough reviews about the company's return policy to know that they would send us a new one in the event anything happens).
Our bike lock cable is easily long enough to run through both bikes' front tires, around frames and back through the tent to secure to a rear stabilizer on the trailer. If you wanted to save a few buckaroos you could probably get a shorter cable.
It is cost effective. Truck and trailer mounted racks can easily cost upwards of $500. Our solution costs about $225 and keeps our bike 100% out of the elements and safe from theft when on the road.
Would this work for you?
While we travel the bikes are stored inside the trailer using the same floor stand we use in the tent. So far we have had no issues with them falling or hitting against anything during the transition. They take up space when sleeping in your hitched trailer while crashing in a parking lot for the night and continuing on the next morning.
The tent needs to be broken down when we travel and put back together when we reach our new destination. We keep the tent partially constructed with the rods on the top threaded to speed this up. Overall it takes less than 10 minutes to tear down and pitch the tent. Obviously, no one loves the packing up and setting up of trailer life and this will add another step. If you only spend a a day or few in one place this may not be the solution for you.
The tent is not pretty. No one will want to see photos of your beautiful Airstream or trailer with this hideous side kick creeping next to it. But you learn quickly that trailer life ain't really pretty... and if you really want to, you can move it for a photo. Or spruce up those Photoshop skills and get editing ;)
It’s not always possible to stake the tent down, and depending on where you stay, some of the nicer "resorts" may not allow it. We have not run across this rule but we have stayed in places where tents were not allowed to be pitched - which this could "technically" be deemed a tent.
Other solutions we considered...
Hitch mount on the back of the trailer.
Good for raised trailers – poor for low bottomed ones like ours. Our Airstream is low to the ground and she has a habit of sometimes bottoming out every now and then. A hitch type rack would definitely hit and would most likely cause damage to our bikes, rack and possibly the frame/bumper.
Rear Airstream bike rack on top of bumper
We liked this design because it alleviated the worries for dragging or breaking the rack in the case of a bottom out situation above. However, there are a few things that prevented us from moving forward with it:
Airstream has stopped offering this rack for future Airstreams.
You would need to bring it to a dealer to have it installed - the installation attaches the rack to the frame of the trailer. We were advised to not to do it ourselves which adds to the already steep cost of the rack.
The bikes have a tendency to block the taillights (an observation made by someone who owns this setup).
Um, it blocks our EMERGENCY EXIT window?! Anyone else a little concerned by this?
Front tongue bike rack
< Crunch time >. There were a number of accounts of people taking tight turns and having the corner of the bed of the truck crush the bikes against the trailer. Could be a possibility if there is only 1 bike – 2 seemed too risky for us.
Over the truck bed rack
We liked this idea and had talked to a few people that went with this solution. Our main concern was that they would need to travel everywhere the truck went and were, once again, very visible and easily accessible. There are plenty of times that we leave the truck on the street or a parking lot and are gone for hours. The bikes would be exposed to both weather and any passerbyers.
Air Forums topic search for Bike Racks: http://www.airforums.com/forums/search.php?searchid=8569566
As always, we try to make it very clear that if you purchase an item through one of our links we may get a small commission. Not all of our links work this way but many do. Keep in mind that you never pay anything additional and that 99% of these links (we haven't actually done the math but we rarely see a need to list something that we're not already using) are for products that we ourselves have purchased AND are happy with.
About the author
Amanda is a coffee addicted, arts and crafts obsessed, digital nomad. She travels the country in her renovated '88 Airstream with her husband Dave and dog Ozzy. If you don't feed her every 4 hours she can't be responsible for her actions.