There are several ways to carry your bikes on an RV, but if your hitch receiver is already busy and you’ve got an RV ladder, an RV ladder bike rack could be a great option.
In this post, we’re looking at a manner of carrying bikes on your RV that’s often overlooked.
- 1) What Is an RV Ladder Bike Rack?
- 2) Are RV Ladder Bike Racks Safe?
- 3) How Much Weight Can An RV Ladder Hold?
- 4) How Much Weight Can a Ladder-Mounted Bike Rack Hold?
- 5) How Many Bikes Can an RV Ladder Rack Hold?
- 6) Additional Thoughts to Consider About RV Ladder Racks
- 7) RV Ladder Racks for Carrying Bikes
- 8) Have You Used an RV Ladder Bike Rack?
- 9) Free RVing Tips, Tricks, Reviews, Giveaways & More
What Is an RV Ladder Bike Rack?
An RV ladder mount bike rack is a mounting system that allows you to carry bikes on a standard RV ladder for the purpose of bringing them along with you on your travels.
Ladder rack bike mounts are designed to securely hold your bikes vertically or horizontally, depending on your setup. Some fold up out of the way when not in use but can remain mounted to the ladder.
We’ve got a couple of RAD e-bikes, and as we noted in our post on different types of RV bike racks, we currently carry ours on the hitch mount of our Honda CR-V toad. We do it this way because we have that area available, so it works well for us.
But if we only had one hitch mount available and it was already in use for a cargo carrier or something else (often the case with long-term RV travelers), we could look to a ladder mount to carry our bikes.
Are RV Ladder Bike Racks Safe?
This is a good question because there are several things to consider when hanging bikes on an RV ladder rack. Let’s look at the most important things you’ll want to consider before deciding whether to carry your bike/bikes on a ladder-mounted bike rack.
How Much Weight Can An RV Ladder Hold?
One of the first things you’ll want to consider when thinking about carrying your bike(s) on an RV ladder is how much weight the ladder is rated to hold. Most RV ladders exist so that a person of average weight can ascend the ladder to reach the roof to perform important maintenance chores like: preventing RV roof leaks with Dicor maintenance; keeping RV slide-outs free of debris; and keeping RV solar panels clean, etc.
So, generally speaking, your RV ladder is probably rated to hold in the range of 200-300 pounds.
However, it’s always important to check your owner’s manual (or check with the manufacturer directly) to learn what the actual weight rating is for your particular RV ladder… and be sure not to exceed it (as that could lead to serious danger).
This is true whether your rig came with a ladder or whether you had one installed or installed it yourself. Before hanging anything from your RV ladder and driving down the road, make sure your ladder can hold the weight of whatever you’re mounting and then some.
How Much Weight Can a Ladder-Mounted Bike Rack Hold?
The amount of weight an RV ladder mount for bikes is rated to hold varies. For this reason, be sure to check the specs for the bike racks you’re considering and compare that with the weight of your bike(s).
And remember – your bike or bikes will be hanging not only while your rig is static but while you’re driving down the road, often at highway speeds.
Never put more weight on any mount than it’s rated to hold. In fact, it’s always best to come in under the rated weight of the rack if possible, to ensure you don’t exceed it’s capability.
How Many Bikes Can an RV Ladder Rack Hold?
Most RV ladder bike racks can hold two bikes at most, so this is a consideration for anyone who needs to carry more than two bikes. For example, a ladder rack mount wouldn’t be the best choice for a family carrying a couple of adult bikes and several kids’ bikes.
It’s also important to remember that bikes have very different weights. Many people today carry e-bikes, which tend to be heavier than many/most pedal-only bikes.
Even if not an e-bike, the frames and tires of all bikes vary widely in terms of weight based on their construction. So, you’ll need to know the weight of your bikes to know how many you can safely carry on a ladder rack.
Bear in mind that you’ll want to add the weight of the bikes and the weight of the bike carrier itself when determining whether your RV’s ladder can hold your setup.
Additional Thoughts to Consider About RV Ladder Racks
If you’ve never used an RV ladder bike rack before, there are a few additional things you should be aware of before buying and using one.
Consider the Weight of the Bike(s) You’ll Be Hoisting Up to the Rack
Bear in mind the weight of the bike(s) you need to carry. This is not only to ensure you don’t exceed the rated weight of the rack itself but also because you’ll need to lift your bike(s) up to mount them onto the rack. Depending on the weight of your bike(s) and your size/ability to lift it(them) fairly high, this could present a serious issue.
Use Velcro Straps to Bind Tires and Frame
Most bike racks come with strapping that enables you to secure each bike to the rack (check to make sure the rack you order comes with straps). Additionally, you’ll want to buy some velcro or other strong straps to hold the tires steady so they don’t spin as you drive.
You may also want to secure the frame or tires directly to the ladder so that if the rack should break free, the bikes will be held to the ladder until you can get to a safe spot off the road to deal with the issue.
Consider the Frame of Your Bike(s)
Some bikes aren’t meant to be held by the frame. For example, carbon bikes are supposed to be mounted by the tires (if mounted by the frame, vibrations transmitted from the mount can damage them). Depending on the type of bike frame you have, you’ll want to take note of any special instructions or recommendations in terms of how they should be mounted to avoid damage.
RV Ladder Racks for Carrying Bikes
Now let’s take a look at a few RV ladder bike racks on the market today that might enable you to carry your bike(s) on your RV’s ladder. We want to be upfront in noting that there aren’t many options on the market.
Of those we found readily available, the reviews were somewhat inconsistent. Some people loved them and used them successfully, while others felt strongly they weren’t durable or sturdy enough to hold their bikes.
We suspect some of this is because RV ladder bike racks are intended to hold one or two lighter-weight bikes. These days, there are some pretty heavy bikes out there, and carrying these bikes on an RV ladder rack might not be the best way to go.
Again, note the weight of your bikes and compare that with the weight for which the bike rack you’re considering is rated. This is very important because these bike racks are built to be lightweight and often use aluminum tubes that might not be strong enough to carry a couple of heavy bikes.
For the best information, contact the customer service department of the company whose ladder bike rack you’re considering to see if your bikes would work well with their product.
With that said, let’s take a look at three RV ladder bike racks!
Camco RV Ladder Mount Bike Rack
Camco’s RV ladder mount bike rack is designed to fit standard RV ladders and to carry up to two standard-sized bikes. (Note that the manufacturer uses the term “standard-sized bikes.” This means that larger OR smaller framed bikes aren’t suitable for this rack.)
Camco’s freestanding rack uses “form fit” cradles to hold one or two bikes, and two bonus straps are provided to hold the bikes tightly to the rack for added security.
The rack weighs 8.2 pounds, has soft-grip handles, and locking pins to keep the rack in place. The rack’s dimensions are 23″ x 11″ x 3.7″.
It folds for easy, compact storage.
- Form fit cradles securely hold standard-sized bikes.Fit Type: Universal Fit
- Easily installs to fit standard RV ladders
Stromberg Carlson LA-102
Stromberg Carlson’s LA-102 model bike carrier for RV ladder racks is made of aluminum and weighs a mere 5 pounds. It has dimensions of 23″ x 18″ x 4″ and has a weight carrying capacity of 50 pounds.
This bike rack can carry up to two bikes, and has pins that, when pulled, will allow you access to your RV’s ladder, a feature many reviewers note appreciating.
Bikes are held in place with strong rubber straps.
- Length from bend to tip of extended bike arms is 13″
- Max distance between bike cradles is 9″
Surco 501BR Ladder Mounted Bike Rack
Surco’s ladder bike rack has dimensions of 24.5″ x 18″ x 3″ and weighs in at just under 4 pounds. Despite its lightweight heavy-gauge aluminum construction, this rack is rated to carry up to two bikes weighing up to 50 pounds.
The rack uses padded cradles to hold the bikes. Per the manufacturer, this rack will fit ladders with a 1″ tube but not those with a 1.5″ tube (be sure to measure your RV’s ladder first).
This Surco RV ladder bike rack offers pivoting arms to allow easy access to the ladder for its normal use.
- Fits on the ladder of any van or RV
- Pivoting arms allow easy access to use of the ladder
Have You Used an RV Ladder Bike Rack?
If you’ve used a bike rack for RV ladders, we’d love to hear about your experience. Please drop us a comment below and let us know which rack you’ve used, the type of bike(s) you carried (and how many), and how well it worked out for you!
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Wednesday 5th of April 2023
I won't carry bikes on my motorhome ladder. I expect the weight and jostling would loosen the ladder's attachment points and compromise the roof's integrity where it's attached.
Monday 3rd of April 2023
I mounted the Surco bike rack pictured in your article to the Surco ladder I mounted to the Right rear door of our Roadtrek 190 Popular 4x4 (Chevy Express) about a year ago. To clear the spare tire mounted at the Left door I drilled out the rack's brackets' rivets, hung the arms of the rack upside down (77 instead of LL), re-riveted the brackets back in place and hung the bike rack from near the top of the ladder. This allows two bikes to be loaded high enough to clear the spare and still be tucked in behind the van even though not centered to the van. The ladder and rack have worked well for our 2 mountain bikes, 2 road bikes or one of each very well. Incidentally, the arms of the rack have removable pins that allow the arms to rotate outward to store almost flat against the van and giving easy access to the ladder for snow removal from the roof of the van. Add one of those steps that can be temporarily hung on the door pins of the front door frames and I do not need to carry a ladder for snow removal from the roof (removal of snow required by law here).
Monday 3rd of April 2023
I used a ladder rack for my bikes. We traveled alot and eventually the shaking and stress loosened the rear panel causing leakage and damage. I DO NOT RECOMMEND using a ladder rack for the bikes. Get a hitch mounted rack.