S3E7 Camping with bikes

2015/01/img_0757-0.jpgBikes are a great accessory for our camping lifestyle. Parks often have scenic trails accessible to bikes and they are a fun mode of transportation around the campground and sometimes for close shopping and errands. We will frequently use our bikes if the round trip is less than six or eight miles and we can avoid riding on a busy road.

The bikes are great to have at the campsite but a hassle to travel with. The most common solution – a bike rack on the back of the trailer – can’t work on the Snoozy because of the rear door.

That rear door has one good bike carrying virtue though, it provides a straight shot to wheel the bikes indoors. This is what we did for our first two years camping. I made a wooden bracket that fit into the storage door opening under my bed. Four wing nuts clamped the bracket to the trailer wall. The front wheel of each bike was then clamped to the bracket with plastic pipe saddles utilizing eight more wing nuts.

2015/01/img_0754.jpgThe rear wheels were held down with a cross bar spanning from Sue’s bed to the cabinet door. That took four more wing nuts. After a few trips I realized the wooden brace on the floor wasn’t needed and scrapped it.

2015/01/img_0755.jpgThis worked perfectly. In probably 15-20,000 miles the bikes never once came loose or damaged anything and they were protected from road dirt and larcenous eyes.

The downside though was that it was a chore to stow the bikes, a chore to get them out and they blocked access to pretty much everything but the refrigerator when they were in the trailer. By the end of season two we were discussing maybe the hassle wasn’t worth the benefit and we should leave them home for season three.

We passed through Chicago on our way home at the end of S2 and spent the weekend with our son Matt. He is an avid bicyclist and commutes by bicycle from his home to his office in the loop probably 200 days per year. We whined about our bike stowage chores to him and he suggested we get folding bikes that could ride in the back of the Jeep. What a genius idea!

Folding bikes are pretty rare but we found a few bike shops near Matt’s house where we could check them out. They look weird and are more expensive than a conventional full size bike but they were okay to ride and did fold easily into a small package.

Once we got home more Internet research showed there were lots of options and price/quality points from $200 to $2000. Sizes ranged from 26″ wheels (full size) to 16″ wheels (almost clown bike proportions to my eye). The smallest bikes are meant to be folded and carried inside an office or city apartment. It seemed that most of the folders had 20″ wheels as that’s a good compromise between compact storage and reasonable riding ergonomics.

2015/01/img_0758.jpgWe chose 20″ Tern Link D8’s. Sue’s in white, mine in black. I’ve ridden mine just over a hundred miles (I’m no Lance Armstrong, we got the bikes seven months ago) and still think it rides just fine. It’s not quite as comfortable as my old 26″ hybrid as it has small high pressure tires and no suspension but it’s good. Best of all the two bikes, helmets and the propane grill all fit in the back of the Jeep with the rear seat up. The bikes are so easy to fold and stow in the car that they live there all the time, dry and safe.

2015/01/img_0756-0.jpgThese folding bikes give us all the benefits but almost none of the hassle. It takes less than sixty seconds to get them out or put them away and they don’t impede our access to the trailer at all.

Great idea Matt! Thanks.


5 thoughts on “S3E7 Camping with bikes

  1. I’m glad you’re enjoying them! Wish I could be down in the Florida sun riding with you instead of watching for black ice and freezing my fingers off up north.

    • They do work fine and stashing them in the car is getting even easier as I get more familiar with the process.

      You would be wekcome to visit the sunny south anytime. Whydoncha take a long weekend and fly to Ft Myers?

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