We often say that our Ford Transit DIY camper van conversion is built around the mountain bikes, so a proper bike rack is expected! Since we first brainstormed about the van, we knew that:
- the mountain bikes must be stored inside the van (for thief and climate protection)
- the bike rack must be quick and easy to load / unload (for sanity)
- the storage solution must leave enough space for the bed above (for comfort)
- catch dirt/dust/crap and easy to clean
We looked around and found that Traipsing About’s design was exactly what we were looking for! Here is our adaptation of the slide-out bike rack to our Ford Transit.
TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 8 hours
TOTAL COST : 280$ USD
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- Baltic Birch plywood sheet, 5’x5′, ½” thick.
- Drawer Slides, 48″ full extension, 500LBS capacity (make sure to select the right length when buying)
- Fork Mount:
- Corner Braces, 2in x 2in. (x8) (Buy from Amazon)
- Corner Braces, 20mm x 20mm, (Buy from Amazon)
- Wood Screws, #4 x 1in length. (Buy from Amazon)
- Wood Screws, #8 x 1¼in length, (Buy from Amazon)
- Titebond III Waterproof Wood Glue. (Buy from Amazon)
- Watco Danish Oil (Buy from Amazon)
- Polyurethane Coating (Buy from Amazon)
- Skills saw (Buy on Amazon)
- Freud Finish Blade 60 tooth (Buy on Amazon)
- Power drill (Buy on Amazon)
- Drill bits (Buy on Amazon)
- 220 grit Sanding paper (Buy on Amazon)
We’re not woodworkers. We’re not well equipped in tools. So this is not a “How-To”. This is just how we did it with our limited knowledge & limited access to appropriate tools. There are probably standards, but we’re probably not following them . That being said, we’re very satisfied with the final result and we are proud of what we accomplished!
First of all, we ensured the location and the function of the slide-out bike rack is optimized. The 3D model layout helped us a great deal with that…
The dimensions of the tray are 60″ long x 19″ wide x 3″ height (built from ½” baltic birch plywood). This provides enough space for the two mountain bikes with the front wheels on the side. (Depending on the fork, the front wheels axis is removed either from the left side or right side of the bike; make sure there is enough clearance to remove the quick release)
This is one of the easiest woodworking project on the van… just cut plywood sheet to size, then glue & screw; the glue provides the bond between the plywood sheets, the screws hold everything together while the glue is curing.
The dimensions of the structure is 48″ long x 4″ height (built from ½” baltic birch plywood). The slide-out bike rack is attached to the van’s floor plywood (underneath the vinyl floor) with #8 wood screws. We used 2″ x 2″ corner braces every 12-13 inches to transferred the load from the tray to the van. The mountain bikes are not that heavy, but a guest sitting on the extended rack is a lot of load… we had to keep that in mind.
The Extension Slides
We wanted the drawer to extend 48″ and after using the slide-out for a summer, we can tell this was a good idea. It makes loading/unloading the bikes so much easier! It also bring a “Wow!” factor at the trail head and is a good conversation starter 🙂
When shopping for extension slides, make sure to select ones that have a locking feature; the locking device will keep the drawer in fully out or fully in position. The van is never leveled…
To install the extension slides, we first installed the slides on the tray. Then, we put the structure on the floor (not screwed yet) and the tray on a 3/8″ plywood sheet: the plywood sheet will create a gap between the tray and the van’s floor to ensure there is no rubbing while the bike rack slide in or out. The structure-side of the slides where then screwed and finally the structure was screwed to the van floor.
The bike hitch
We installed Delta bike hitch for 15/20mm axis. They come with bushings and spacers to work with 15mm or 20mm fork axis. To lock the bike in place, just use the fork axis. Simple and effective! There is no side-play and the bikes are secured. Neat!
When locating the bike hitch, make sure there is enough clearance with the sides of the tray to remove the fork axis… if there isn’t, the hitch could be shimmed to raise it above the sides of the tray; the seat of the bike is the highest point, so this should have barely no impact on height clearance with bed.
The Protective Coating
We were enthusiast by the next step of the van conversion and did not protect the tray right away. This thing will get stained with oil, dirt, etc. So do it now! Polyurethane coating, or a plastic sheet should do the trick.
We did not close the most rearward side of the tray. This way, it’s easy to sweep the dust/dirt/crap out. It prevented us from installing a handle, but the locking devices integrated in the slides provide the perfect grab to pull the tray out.
ON SECOND THOUGHT…
If we were to start over, we would probably reduce the 40″ bike clearance height to 38″; there is approximately 2″ buffer, but removing this buffer would give us 2″ more head space above the bed…
We should have applied a protective coating as soon as the tray was built. We procrastinated and now the tray is stained with chain oil and stuff; it only aesthetic though, no big deal…
The width of the tray (19″) could probably reduced to 17″, but it turns out the tray is very convenient to put the bike gear as well (shoes, shirt, gloves, etc)!
August 2017 update:
While completing our garage before the big departure, we decided to build a closet accessible from the living space. Having Antoine’s bike handle bar in the way was just not suitable. We decided to change how the bikes were mounted on the rack even though they are now taking more place (width speaking). We were lucky the rack was initially too wide!
First month on the road review:
(The following text is extracted from faroutride.com/first-month/)
During the “design” phase of the van, we emphasis on simplifying the repetitive tasks. Loading/Unloading our bikes repetitively is such a NICE problem and we’re glad we went with the Slide-Out Bike Rack system! It allowed us to pack our garage full of gear while keeping access to our bikes! There is no frame at the back, so it’s easy to sweep the dust out of the rack.
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan, sold our house, quit our jobs and hit the road full-time to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!