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, we will receive a commission fee. The price you pay remains the same, affiliate link or not.

Sharing our website with others and buying products through our links is the best way to say thanks if we were of any help for your conversion! Thanks for supporting us and for keeping this website alive 🙂 Alternatively, use these links to search for any product:

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-

  • Dimensions: 19" x 60"
  • Thickness: 15mm (5/8")

-2 & 3-

  • Dimensions: 3" x 60"
  • Thickness: 15mm (5/8")

-4-

  • Dimensions: 3" x 20"
  • Thickness: 15mm (5/8")

Why Straight Cuts Are Essential

  • SOLIDITY: Glue / adhesive won't work if there are small gaps here and there (that might translate to squeaks in the long run).
  • SQUARE EDGE: The stuff you build can't be more square than your cuts!
  • LOOK: Wavy cuts are an eye catcher.
  • BUILD REGRETS: It's possible to build without fancy tools, we did it with our van, but honestly it was a mistake. There's MUCH more work than we expected; there are literally hundreds and hundreds of cut to make... using the right tools would have save us time and frustration (a LOT). If we had to start over, we would get second hand tools and re-sell them afterward:
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:

  • SOLIDITY: Think EXTREME VIBRATION. You van is like an earthquake simulator. It feels good to assemble parts together, it feels even better when parts stays together years later...
  • SQUEAKS: Wood rubbing against wood produces squeaks (e.g. in joints), and it gets worst with time. Pro tip: turn up the radio volume, or build strong joints to prevent it...

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-

  • Dimensions: 4" x 48"
  • Thickness: 15mm (5/8")

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...

  • 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's only aesthetic though, no big deal…
  • We initially installed the bikes in opposite directions, but turned out the handlebars where taking closet space (faroutride.com/garage). We relocated the bikes so that they're both facing rear; it doesn't really take more room this way...
  • We initially had fork mounts that requires to slide the axle to secure the bike; we just upgraded for the RockyMounts and we wish we found those from the start!
  • After two years on the road (faroutride.com/two-years-vanlife), we're SO GLAD we went for the slide-out system! It makes loading and unloading the bike so easy 🙂

STAY IN TOUCH!

Join 25,000+ followers via Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, e-mail or Patreon:

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!

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

  1. 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
  2. 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

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.