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 theft 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 a 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.
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|Fork Mount||RockyMounts (Fits 12x100mm, 15x100mm, Boost 15x110mm, and 20x110mm thru-axles).||2||Amazon|
|Drawer Slides (Option A)||48″ full extension, locks when fully in/out.||1||Amazon|
|Drawer Slides (Option B if “A” is out of stock)||48″ full extension, locks when fully in/out.||1||Amazon|
|Plywood Sheet||Baltic Birch (5’x5′), 15mm (~5/8″) thick.||1||Info|
|Corner Braces||2″ x 2″ (50mm x 50mm). (10 pack).||1||Amazon|
|Corner Braces||(20mm x 20mm).||1||Amazon|
|Wood Screws||#4 x 1in (100 pack).||1||Amazon|
|Wood Screws||#8 x 1¼in (100 pack).||1||Amazon|
|Wood Glue||Titebond III Waterproof.||1||Amazon|
|Watco Danish Oil||1 pint.||1||Amazon|
|Polyurethane Coating||Minwax. Clear Finish, quart, Satin||1||Amazon|
(then click "continue" to add all items to your Amazon cart)
|Circular Saw||DEWALT Cordless Lithium-ion 20V, 7¼ with brake.||1||Amazon|
|Circular Saw Blade||DEWALT Precision Finish Blade 60 tooth.||1||Amazon|
|Drill Driver||DEWALT Cordless Lithium-ion 20V.||1||Amazon|
|Screwdriver Bit Set||DEWALT, 45-piece.||1||Amazon|
|Drill Bit Set||DEWALT, 14-piece.||1||Amazon|
|Orbital Sander||DEWALT, Cordless Lithium-ion 20V, 5″.||1||Amazon|
|Sandpaper (Orbit)||DEWALT, 220 grit, 5-pack.||1||Amazon|
|Sandpaper (Sheet)||220 grit, 25-pack.||1||Amazon|
(then click "continue" to add all items to your Amazon cart)
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... Note that we have 40" clearance under the bed, but if we had to start over we'd go for around 36" instead.
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.
Go Pro (An alternative to DIY)
Flatline Van Co Pull Out Tray
In the market for a premium, pro-looking pull out tray? Or maybe you prefer to invest your time assembling rather than building? Then you might want to consider Flatline Van Co’s pull out bike tray: it ships fully assembled, it is rated for 500 pounds, it locks in stowed or fully extended position. They even thought of adding a circular cutout to clean the dirt (trust us that’s a feature you’ll use a lot), neat! The dimensions are as follows:
- Inner tray: 59 7/8″ long, 17 3/4″ wide.
- Outer tray: 61″ long, 19 3/4″ wide, 3″ deep.
For more info (features, specifications, photos, installation, shipping, etc.) click the button below:
Let's Build The Slide-Out Bike Rack!
The slide-out bike rack was one of our first projects, and we didn't think of taking photos of the whole build process. That's why most photos below show the finished product.
Why Straight Cuts Are Essential
KREG Circular Saw Track Guide
It allows for precise long straight cuts (50", or 100" with the expansion pack) in plywood, quickly and easily. It's portable and can be used with most circular saws. And it's not expensive, so we wish we knew that when we built our van!
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) that are also 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...
Measure and measure and measure...
We added corner braces as well for more strength...
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 (dries, swells, gets dirty). The finish enhances the appearance of the wood (color), prevents 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
Step 6: Install the extension slides to the structure
6.1- Put the drawer on the van's floor. To create clearance (gap shown in the photo below) between the drawer and the floor, insert a shim (we used a 3/8" plywood piece) between the van floor and the drawer.
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 extension 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" x 2" 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 9: Load Your Bikes
Don't forget to smile, you built that by yourself. Adventures await. Life's good!
The wheels are attached using a Velcro strap. Make sure to protect your frame with foam (or clothes, whatever works) as required.
On Second Thought...
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!