Bicycle Equipment: Installing A Bicycle Truck Rack

Secure and install racks for bikes. How to build an inexpensive truck rack for a bike.

You can obtain a bicycle truck rack through a number of bicycle catalogs or a major sporting store. Almost all of them come with mounts for two bikes. Some fastened permanently to the truck bed. My suggestion, get one that applies pressure to the sides of the truck bed to secure the rack and obtain two extra mounts, giving you the ability to handle four bikes in your truck. If you do not want to haul four bikes, then stay with the two your rack comes with.

The reason for the screw type of rack, that applies pressure to the sides of the truck bed, is that you can remove it easily when not in use and it leaves no permanent mark on your truck. If you are unsure of its security while away from the vehicle, it can easily be removed and placed inside the cab. It fastens or removes, in just a few minutes. If you get one that is permanent, such as fastening to the bed of the truck with bolts drilled into the truck bed, you could have problems using your truck for other than hauling bicycles, the mounts stick out, inside the bed of the truck. The pressure types also tend to be less expensive. They work on the principle of a screw. The two ends of the bar have a pad that is placed near the top of the bed behind the truck's cab. The bar is wedged against the sides of the truck's bed. By turning the screw device, it expands and because of the pressure placed on the pads, stays firmly gripped to the sides of the truck's bed. You can tell that you have enough pressure by giving the bar a good tug. If it moves out of place, you need to turn the screw device until it is firmly wedged. Set the bar inside your truck bed four to five inches from the front. This way you can place the front wheels that you will remove to mount the bikes in the truck and not have to buy any of the expensive wheel holders for this purpose. Even the compact trucks, with a little care, can fit four front wheels in this manner.

Once the bar is in place, you can position the mounts. If you have four mounts, this will take some careful arranging. Place one mount as close to the side of the truck bed as you can. You will notice that depending on the maker of the rack, you can place the bike mounts pretty much where you want on the bar. It's best to have two bicycles for getting the right amount of space between the mounts. You need enough clearance on the sides so that the bike is in line and not hanging over the side of the truck. Place the mount either up or down, the next mount will go opposite of that. In other words, starting on the driver's side, place the mount so that it's high on the bar. The next mount will go low on the bar. This will give you different heights so that the handlebars of the bikes will fit within each other, if you are carrying four bikes. You can run into a problem fitting the bikes when one bike is larger and one is smaller. Simply switch one of the bikes. It is because the height of the mount makes the bikes come out equal, causing the handlebars to ram each other. Place the next mount opposite in height as the first, about a fourth of the bar in distance away from the first, figuring you are trying to fit four bikes. Use the two bikes to get the distance between them correct, by seeing how they fit when mounted next to each other. Get them as close as you possibly can. Then secure the mount, and do the same thing next that mount. The end mount is easy, far enough away to give clearance but not so much that your handlebars are dangerously outside the truck bed. With a little patience and a couple of adjustments, you will have them correct for your truck and bicycles. When finished, you should have the mounts, one on top of the bar and the next as low as you can on the bar, alternating. Have the bar secured far enough away from the front of the bed so that you can place the front wheels of the bikes, upright behind the bar.

One of the most common errors on all bicycle racks is over tightening the quick release mechanism. You will notice that the mount on the rack, where you place the fork of the bike, has the same release system as your wheels, called a quick release. People feel that the tighter this is the more secure the bicycle or wheel. A quick release works by clamping the sides of the hubs of the wheel to the fork. It should feel snug, so that when you press the handle of the quick release it can, without too much force, be completely engaged and parallel to the bike. If you force it closed, because of over tightening, you will bend the rod that goes through the mount and now the mechanism will not stay closed. If this happens-it's usually because the eagerness of friends in helping you, you can replace the mount with any quick release, either a spare you may have or buying an inexpensive one. You would have to buy another mount from the manufacture to get a quick release like the one damaged, which would be at far greater cost. It is best if you practice with this, so as not to over tighten in the first place.

Security of your truck rack is optional. If you're concerned about it, just release the pressure on the bar by turning the screw device and place it in the cab. At first, this is exactly what I did but found that I never had anyone steal the rack when I left it on by mistake. It's your choice. Remember to check the bar by pulling on it before mounting the bikes. The sides can bulge at first try, so that after a short while the bar is loose and you need to increase pressure by turning the screw once again. You should always check by pulling on the bar before mounting.

You can build an inexpensive truck mount with a piece of two by four. Measure the inside of the cab so that the wood is snug against the sides, you may want to cover the end of this bar with duct tape to keep from scratching the cab. Measure the distance between the inside of the fork mount of your bicycle and cut a piece of wood according to that size. Drill one hole, the length of the wood, through the center. This is for your quick release. Drill two holes one above and one below the hole that goes through the length to attach with bolts to your bar. Mount them, just as in the description for a store bought rack. Place two large washers on the rod of the quick release, so that when engaged, the washers are between the wood and each fork of the bike. Cut two pieces of wood, about five inches in length. Secure to the ends of each bar either by nails or bolts. These will butt up against the front of the truck's cab. Take to "˜C' clamps, and two small squares of wood wrapped in duct tape to keep from damaging the sides of your truck. With the "˜C' clamps, secure the rack to the truck by attaching the clamps to the two small pieces of wood that butt the front of the cab. Use the square wood pieces wrapped in taped against the side of the truck where the "˜C' clamp will fasten. Strengthen the bar by securing a piece of wood to fit in the bed of the truck holding the bar up, at each end. You can also bolt it to the cab but then you have the problem of marking the truck. It's funky but it works, and will cost you far less then the manufactured truck racks.

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