Slide-Out Bike Rack Storage for Van: How-To DIY Build

Slide-Out-Bike-Rack-Heading

Slide-Out Bike Rack Storage for Van: How-To DIY Build

We often say that our Ford Transit DIY camper van conversion is built around the mountain bikes, so a proper bike rack storage is expected! Since the very beginning, we had a few requirements: 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); and as bonus catch dirt/dust/crap and easy to clean… Can we achieve all of that?

We looked around and found that Traipsing About’s slide-out bike rack design was exactly what we were looking for! Here is our adaptation of this mountain bike storage to our own Ford Transit adventure mobile.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click a product link and buy anything from the merchant (Amazon, eBay, etc.) we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not.

Portrait

Time Spent

0 HOURS

Total Cost

$ 0 USD

Material

ItemDescriptionQuantityLink
Fork MountRockyMounts (Fits 12x100mm, 15x100mm, Boost 15x110mm, and 20x110mm thru-axles). 2 Amazon
Drawer Slides (Option A)48″ full extension, 500LBS capacity, locks when fully in/out.1Amazon
Drawer Slides (Option B if “A” is out of stock)48″ full extension, 450LBS capacity, locks when fully in/out.1Amazon
Plywood SheetBaltic Birch (5’x5′), 15mm (~5/8″) thick.1Info
Corner Braces2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm). (10 pack).1Amazon
Corner Braces(20mm x 20mm).1Amazon
Wood Screws#4 x 1in (100 pack).1Amazon
Wood Screws#8 x 1¼in (100 pack).1Amazon
Wood GlueTitebond III Waterproof.1Amazon
Watco Danish Oil1 pint.1Amazon
Polyurethane CoatingMinwax. Clear Finish, quart, Satin1Amazon

(then click "continue" to add all items to your Amazon cart)

Tools

ItemDescriptionQuantityLink
Circular SawDEWALT Cordless Lithium-ion 20V, 7¼ with brake.1 Amazon
Circular Saw BladeDEWALT Precision Finish Blade 60 tooth.1Amazon
Drill DriverDEWALT Cordless Lithium-ion 20V.1Amazon
Screwdriver Bit SetDEWALT, 45-piece.1Amazon
Drill Bit SetDEWALT, 14-piece.1Amazon
Orbital SanderDEWALT, Cordless Lithium-ion 20V, 5″.1Amazon
Sandpaper (Orbit)DEWALT, 220 grit, 5-pack.1Amazon
Sandpaper (Sheet)220 grit, 25-pack.1Amazon

(then click "continue" to add all items to your Amazon cart)

Dimensions

The drawer inner dimensions are 19" x 60":

60" is pretty much the minimum length for two bikes, but it's probably possible to reduce the width depending on how you plan on fitting your wheels...

Van Interior Height Dimensions:

You can adjust the height to your own bikes (measure them!). Maybe just keep a few inches buffer in case you change bike(s) or if you invite a tall friend to join you in your adventures...

Good To Know

Make sure to get extension slides that lock when fully retracted / extended!

So the drawer stays in place when driving or when parked on incline.

The RockyMounts allows to load / unload the bikes without having to slide the axle from the side and they have a key lock.

See them on Amazon: amzn.to/35JJV8X

Let's Build The Slide-Out Bike Rack!

The slide-out bike rack was one of our first project and we didn't think of taking photos of the whole build process. That's why most photos below shows the finished product.

Step 1: Build the Drawer

Cut 4 pieces out of the 5'x5' baltic birch plywood sheet and assemble together:
Camper-Van-Slide-Out-Bike-Rack-Build

-1-

-2 & 3-

-4-

Why Straight Cuts Are Essential

KREG Circular Saw Track Guide

It allows to make precise long straight cuts (50", or 100" with the expansion pack) in plywood, fast and easily. It's portable and can be used with most circular saw. And it's not expensive, so we wish we knew that when we built our van!

Miter Saw

It allows to make accurate crosscuts (square or angled), fast and easily. There are HUNDREDS of cuts to make when building a van, so we wish we invested in one during our build...

Why Good Wood Joints Are Essential:

There are dozens of wood joint types; some are stronger, some look better. But we’re no woodworkers so we want joints that are easy to make (without specialized tools), yet are solid and look good. For the Slide-Out Bike Rack project, we used Titebond III waterproof wood glue and small #4 screws (every 6in of so). The screws provide some strength to the joint, but more importantly they apply a uniform pressure along the joint for the glue to cure properly (if done properly, glue is VERY strong and will prevent squeaks).

Measure twice, cut once...
ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-2
Measure and measure and measure...
ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-5
We added corner braces as well, for more strength...

Step 2: Build the Structure

Cut 2 pieces out of the 5'x5' baltic birch plywood sheet (or what's left of it...).

Don't assemble anything just yet.

-5 & 6-

Step 3: Prepare the wood for finish and protective coating

Sand the drawer and the structure using 220 grit sandpaper. Take this opportunity to smooth out the sharp edges!

Oil (finish coating) highlights scratches, so sanding enhanced the appearance of the wood. Smoothing out the sharp edges will prevent cuts when operating the slide-out bike rack...

Step 4: Apply Finish and Protective Coating To The Wood

We applied 2 layers of Watco Danish Oil:

Bare wood deteriorates with time (dry, swell, get dirty). The finish enhances the appearance of the wood (color), prevent drying, swelling and protects against stains.

We also applied 2 layers of Polyurethane coating.

This is an extra precaution because the tray will sometimes be exposed to water, mud and dirt. As opposed to Danish Oil, Polyurethane does not penetrate wood. It dries on top of the surface and becomes a clear, hard finish that provides an abrasion-resistant seal for the wood.

Step 5: Install the extension slides to the drawer

Mountain-Bike-Rack-Van-Storage-(6)
Mountain-Bike-Rack-Van-Storage-(1)

Step 6: Install the extension slides to the structure

6.1- Put the drawer on the van's floor. Insert a 3/8" plywood between the van's floor and the drawer to create a gap.

The gap is to ensure a smooth operation of the drawer without rubbing against the van's floor.

6.2- Put the structure on the van's floor.

Mate it with the drawer, where it belongs.

6.3- With a pen, mark the location of the extension slides onto the structure.
6.4- Using the marks from the previous step, screw the extensions slides into the structure.

You can do this outside the van, as it will be much easier to work that way (that's why we marked the location of the slides in the previous step).

6.5- Here, we are making a small cutout to the structure so it clears the nose stair:

Step 7: Install the slide-out bike rack to the van's floor

7.1- Along the exterior of the structure, we used 2"x2" corner braces every ~12" or so:
Like it or not, the slide-out bike rack looks like the perfect seat when it's fully extended... You won't do it, but a friend surely will at some point! So don't cheap out on the corner braces; it has to be able to withstand the weight of a person on it (the bikes are not the worst case)!
7.2- Along the interior of the structure, we used 20mm x 20mm corner braces.

The 2" x 2" corner braces wouldn't fit here, because it would interfere with the extension slides.

Step 8: Install the fork mounts

We used #12 x 1" round-head screws (with lock washers):

Step 9: Load Your Bikes

Don't forget to smile, you built that by yourself. Adventures await. Life's good!
Sketchy Clock
Aw snap, we forgot to take a picture... wait for it soon!
The wheels are attached using a Velcro strap. Make sure to protect your frame with foam (or clothes, whatever works) as required.
Sketchy Clock
Aw snap, we forgot to take a picture... wait for it soon!

Step 10: Go ride your &/?*"$ bike!!

On Second Thought...

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about us

Nice To Meet You.

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

66 thoughts on “Slide-Out Bike Rack Storage for Van: How-To DIY Build”

  1. I guess I am a little clueless about the new (to me) thru axles for mt bikes. You haf to take the whole skewer out to get the front wheel off? Is that correct? (What a pain.)

    So to mount the bike on a front fork mount, you need to insert the axel thru the mount (and the front fork) after the bike is on the mount.

    Okay, so the the RockyMounts advantage is that you can put the axels back in and then put the bike on the mounts.

    Do I have it right?

    Reply
  2. Thanks for this tutorial. I’m going to use your concept to make a pull out platform as a place to sit or cook. The *goal* is to build the entire flooring a few inches taller to accommodate the platform and use the space to make a couple extra drawers coming out of the side door.

    Reply
  3. Your build and your website are fantastic!

    The pockets on the doors: What is that product? I’ve been searching for a solution and I’d love your insight.

    Thank You.

    Reply
  4. Hi, love your site and your idea on storing the bikes. We will be following your design , but with a few modifications, as our van is a Mercedes Sprinter MWB, low roof. Instead of placing both bikes side by side on the same slider, each bike will have its own slider. We have 2 x medium frame bikes with 29″ wheels, and 150cm is the maximum length of the slider!

    Actually, i don’t understand how the bike with the forks on the shortest mount fits in with your slider being 60″ (153cm)?? What size wheels do you have?

    And lastly, your fork mounts are way too high for us. You have the luxury of having a high roof van! So we need to find some lower mounts, as with the dropper seat pushed down we only have 90cm clearance to fit the bikes in.

    But again, love your design and you have given us plenty of ideas 🙂

    Reply
  5. Great writeup – thank you!

    I want to build the same slide out system. However, I need to make it wider to accommodate 4 bikes. Seeing as the drawer slide rails can support up to 500lbs, I don’t imagine there would be a problem just making the platform wider. I was wondering if you could share your thoughts? Thanks

    Reply
    • I’ve seen many build with one larger drawer, so it should work. However, if you read the description of the product (on the Amazon’s product page): “Load ratings based on an 18″ slide in an 18″ wide drawer”. So the actual weight rating for the 48″ drawers is lower than 500 pound (not sure how much exactly, but I’d say you’re fine)…

      Reply
  6. Hey,

    Thanks for sharing this build! Would 30″ drawer slides that are 60″ fully-extended work for the drawers? Just curious if you need slides that are close to the length of the drawer. Thanks

    Reply
    • Generally speaking, 60″ fully-extended slides are 60″ long, so it wouldn’t fit on a 30″ drawer. But take a look at the slides specifications to find out.

      Cheers!
      antoine

      Reply
  7. CAUTION: It looks like there may be an error in the instructions when using the slides provided in the Amazon link. The instructions imply that the slides should be attached to the tray first and then attached to the “structure” second. If done in this order, the back 12″ of the tray prevents access to the front 3 screw holes on the outer slide which means that only the back half of the slide can be attached to the outer structure. And the slides components do not detach from each other so that is not an option.

    You can still access all the holes on the inner slide after attaching the outer slide to the the structure so that is probably the best order. Attaching first to the tray, like I did, requires a fix. I haven’t fixed mine yet but I see 2 options:

    1. Remove the slide from the tray, attach the slide to the structure, then re-attach to the tray. Or…
    2. Drill a hole in the side walls of the tray just beyond the back of the slide and access the 3 front screw holes of the outer slide through that hole.

    P.S.- I am using flat-head sheet metal screws for mount attachments: inner slide – #10, outer slide – #14

    Reply
  8. I live this site and hopefully my purchases through your links are contributing. I have a question about step 6.4- USING THE MARKS FROM THE PREVIOUS STEP, SCREW THE EXTENSIONS SLIDES INTO THE STRUCTURE: The inner slide attaches to the tray and the outer slide attaches to the structure… how do you get at the screw holes in the outer slide with the inner slide already attached to the tray?

    Reply
  9. do the Rocky Mounts clamp down onto the spindle holding it tight? doesnt seem much point in having it locked if you can just slide the spindle out.

    Reply
  10. Thanks for the write up! I’m am considering adding this to my van. One question I have is how do you like only having 31″ from the top of the bed to the ceiling? Do you ever feel cramped or wish you had more headroom to lounge on the bed sitting up, etc.? Thanks again!

    Reply
    • We don’t hang out in the bed really, so we don’t mind having only 31″. HOWEVER, if we had to start over we might go with something like 35″ clearance in the garage (instead of 40″). Just double check with your own bike to find the correct clearance that you need 🙂

      Reply
  11. Did you have to bolt your floor down to the metal floor around the bike slide? I’d be worried about the weight of the bikes on the extended drawer slides creates quite the lever to lift your glued down floor.

    Reply

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