Slide-Out Bike Rack: How-To Build Guide for DIY Camper Van Conversion

Garage DIY Van Conversion Mountain Bike Heading

Slide-Out Bike Rack: How-To Build Guide for DIY Camper Van Conversion

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 of the conversion planning, 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); 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 design was exactly what we were looking for! Here is our adaptation of the slide-out bike rack to our Ford Transit adventure mobile.

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 8 hours

 

TOTAL COST : 280$ USD

 


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MATERIAL:

 




 

TOOLS:

 

PRE-REQUISITE

 

The Tray (the moving part)

The dimensions of the tray are 60″ long x 19″ wide x 3″ height (built from ½” baltic birch plywood).

Note: 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!

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-6
We since relocated the mount so the front wheel of both bikes face rearward of the van. See “On Second Thoughts” at the bottom of this page.

 

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-2
Very first wood project of the conversion! Figuring things out…

 

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-5
Triple-checking that the bikes will fit under the bed

 

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.

We used #4 screws (1″ length) (Buy on Amazon) and Titebond III Waterproof Wood Glue (Buy on Amazon):

titebond-iii-exterior-wood-glue

 

The Structure (the fixed part)

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.

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-13
2″ x 2″ corner braces (Buy on Amazon) every 12 to 14 inches

 

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-15
Smaller 20mm x 20mm corner braces (Buy on Amazon) were also added inside, for additional holding power (the drawer is extended in the picture)
The Extension Slides

We think 48″ extension slide is perfect. It makes loading/unloading the bikes really easy. 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:

full-extension-slide-48in-with-lock
Get these from Amazon.com

 

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!

delta-bike-hitch-15mm-20mm
Get it delivered to your door from Amazon.com

 

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-4
The Pike (Buy on Amazon) is locked in place in the Delta hitch

 

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.

 

Maintenance

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.

 

 

ford-transit-camper-van-conversion-slide-out-bike-rack-1
Final result! 48″ of travel with lockout.

 

 

And now LET’S RIDE!!

Road Gap Van Island
Roads are meant to be gapped! (Vancouver Island, June 2018)

Squamish, BC (May 2018).

 

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!

Slide-Out Bike Rack Van

 

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.

 

 

You Might Be Interested In:

 

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

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!

 

 

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CHEERS!

 

 

 

38 thoughts on “Slide-Out Bike Rack: How-To Build Guide for DIY Camper Van Conversion”

  1. Hi- I am starting a slide-out-bike-rack for tow mountain bikes. Why did you change the orientation of the mountain bikes? One forward-one backward to both forwards?

    • The reason we changed it to make more room for our closet; the handlebar facing the front of the van was taking too much space so we couldn’t fit as much clothes. Both orientation seems to work well from our experience!

      Good luck!

  2. Great article. One thing I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around. The 48″ and 60″. I realize the FIXED part is 48″ and the MOVING part is 60″ so that means?… eh… hmmmm… the sliding part extends back behind the fixed part when its “closed”? So on your floor, when its fully pushed in, it goes further back into you van than the track? Your pictures don’t ever show a fully closed version without gear or I could possibly understand better.

    I have a larger space in my van so using this logic I could install a 70″ drawer on a 48″ fixed piece (like you did) and that would be ok, it would just limit the extension to no more than 4 feet? Correct? So using this logic, the extension slides don’t limit the size of the slide at all. just how far it goes out? Thanks for any clarification. I read through the comments and I just need a little more mental reinforcement before I attempt this. Thank you again for taking the time to create such an article.

    • Billy,

      Your logic is correct. A 48″ extension will slides-out 4″ out. So you could have a 70″ drawer attached to a 48″ fixed piece; that drawer would slide 48″ out.

      Hope that helps!! Good luck.

  3. To reduce screws coming loose from vibrations in the van, I’m planning on using t-nuts where possible and lock washers. I also plan on using loctite thread locker. I also plan on using these fasteners for the fork mounts. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll probably be building my bike slide out in a few weeks.
    Cheers and happy building.

  4. For anyone following this build. DO NOT “install the extension slides, we first installed the slides on the tray.” You need to install the slides on the structure first then you can screw it into the tray. You will be missing 3 screws in the front of the structure if you do tray first.

  5. Hi, I’m in the process of building something similar to your tray. You state that the length of the tray is 60 inches. Looking at your pictures it seems like the slides (48 inches) go all the way along the length of the tray. So how does it this add up to 60 inches. ? I must be missing something.

      • Thanks. I now see the tray extends past the fixed structure.
        Was it difficult to screw the 20mm braces to the floor? It doesn’t look like there is much room to get the drill in there.
        And what size screws did you use to secure slides to side of tray?

  6. Did you secure the fixed part to the floor with PlusNuts?

    Guessing you secured this through the 3/8 plywood too, right?

    I have a Sprinter so not really sure if the Transit comes with a wood floor in addition to the metal. I could have missed that in the write-up somewhere but didn’t stand out to me.

    Thank you for your write-up.

  7. Hey guys Driving Nanook here, so we built pretty much the exact same pull out system as you, it works so great for two mountain bikes. We’ve been on the road for about a month and notice the screws holding the slides to the tray have come loose. I think they are #8×1/2 pan heads. Have you noticed anything with yours. I’m thinking I might have to use bolts instead of screws. Just wondering what you guys have found. Thanks.

    Ryan.

    • Not these ones, but we had some screws here in there in the van coming loose. Vibration doing it’s work! We re-screwed them with a bit more torque this time and it seems to do the trick.

      Happy travels!

  8. I’m working on my slide out right now and I’m realizing that when attaching the slides to the structure since the drawer is longer than 48 inches long I can’t access 3 of the screw holes to mount the slides to the structure. Did you add more holes in the slides to get more attachment at the rear to compensate? Or just skip them all together. Thanks!

    • Oh boy, it’s been a while… what if you install the slide to the fixed structure first, then to the moving-drawer in second? I think that’s what we did, then in the end we installed that assembly onto the floor.

      • I think it is still blocking where the two structure and tray overlap. But I will double check! Another alternative would be to mount the drawer slides so that they are flush with the back end of the drawer… further to reach the unlocking mechanism but doable. I’ll figure it out! Thanks again for all your info and response. Hope the recovery is going well! I will post a pic of mine when it is done.

  9. Hey Antoine: you mention “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.”

    Would you not screw down the side pieces to the floor, and then attach the tray with your 3/8″ plywood underneath to create the gap, attach the tray to the side pieces, and then pull our your 3/8″ plywood spacer? I’m no expert on drawer sliders, and I’m not an engineer 🙂 I was a little confused about what the structure was. Cheers

    • If I recall correctly, it won’t work in the sequence you are proposing because you won’t be able to screw some fasteners. The “structure” is the fixed-part of the slide-out system; the one that is screwed to the floor.

      I think once you actually get to the installation you will figure it out 🙂 Let me know!

      antoine

  10. Thanks for the writeup! What size mountainbike wheels are you running and do you both have dropper posts? We were hoping to have even less than 38″ vertical clearance under the bed if possible! Appreciate any tips 🙂

    • Hi Colin,
      We have 27.5″ bikes with dropper post. You could remove the front wheel of your bike and measure the distance from the ground to your seat; that will give you the true vertical clearance you need. It’s a good idea to leave a buffer in case you change your bike or if you want to go ride with a friend with a different bike!

      Cheers!

  11. From your photos it looks like you used the Accuride slides. If so, where did you guys purchase them? Those particular slides are tough to source.

  12. Hey, Im starting to engineer our pull outs on our Transit high roof. I think we will do 2 side by side pull outs that will the whole width between the wheel wells. The question is, 48″ or 60″ slides, (our bikes are 63″ without front wheels)? Cost is pretty similar, but as Im sure you know they only lock all the way in or all the way out. After living with it for a while which would you go for? Thanks!!

    • I find 48″ to be the perfect length, unless you plan on making a very long pull out… Also consider that 60″ will create much more up force on your floor when the slide is fully opened (make sure a friend don’t sit on it!!). I’m not saying it’s not feasible, just make sure your anchors are strong enough. Cheers!

  13. This is the exact set up I plan to do, what is your plan for the front wheels? Ive seen people strap them to the rear doors, strap them to the under side of the bed, and many other options. I haven’t figured it out yet, my wife and I ride our fat bikes a lot, so they take up more space. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
    Tyler

  14. I like the sliding bike rack. Thank you. Thinking of a similar set-up. How much headroom do you have left from the top of the platform bed to the roof?

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