Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack

    Most of our camping trips are based around mountain biking, so we set up a base camp and head out to trailheads. I tow a camper, which negates being able to use a hitch mount rack, and adding a rack to the camper doesn't help if we're leaving camp to head to trails. Loading multiple bikes in the bed of a truck with a topper is problematic, to say the least. The topper window also prevents using a tailgate pad and hanging the bikes out the back. Additionally, the back of the truck is the rolling kennel for 3 big dogs, and the roof of the topper is for other bikes and/or kayaks and canoes.

    I designed and welded up external bed rail mounts for a hacked Yakima Holdup +2. I only used the 2 bike add on system of the holdup, as I did not need the receiver hitch component. The brackets are made out of angle iron and fit under the topper lip. These bolt down through the bed rail, but that alone is nowhere near enough support for the swaying and downward force of bikes. I added an additional support brace that bolts through the wheel well, completely isolating any flex or movement of the bracket. To these brackets, I welded the "factory" bracket pocket of the receiver hitch extension that the individual bike rack component bolts onto, one complete Holdup rack per side. I can shake an F250 with overload springs from the rack itself, so its solid. All the sway comes from the inherent design of the rack itself, and comparable to what I see on every roof and hitch rack out there. I'll add an additional strap from the frame to the topper rails when we're off-roading to isolate the bikes a little more, but otherwise, this is totally solid for highway and interstate speeds as is. The racks don't stick out any further than my mirrors when folded and empty. With bikes loaded, the pedals are still within the width of the mirrors (even less when I extend my mirrors when towing the camper) and the handlebars only a bit further, but up high and out of the way - not significantly more than on car roof racks with the rails full outboard on the cross bars. Its a little wide, but actually doesn't stick out any further than the front and rear wheels do when I have the bikes in a receiver hitch on the back.


    This works solidly with fatbikes, with tires up to and more than 5", but requires a little modification. These "hook" type racks require a fairly firm tire to hold bikes securely, and with fatbikes and winter tire pressures, I'd never trust this rack to hold a 30+ lb bike solid on a balloon with 2.5 psi in it. So, as seen in the pictures attached, I actually choose to run the hook over the top tube of the fatbikes instead of the tires. The plastic tray that the tire fits and attaches to the front metal loop that folds out can be completely removed. This setup will still work with skinny 26, 27.5 and 29er wheels as well, without having to replace the plastic tray the comes stock (not pictured - already removed in photos, but would be on the metal bar at the back of the back fatbike wheel). I may take a heatgun to the remaining plastic trays and spread them a little for fat tire clearance, but for now, it works fine - we'll see what happens when the winter, studded tires go on. This setup also requires that the fatbikes go in 180 from other bikes due to clearance issues of the hook release button and the lowers of the BLUTO - a little to close for comfort, as movement could cause the locking hook to release. Also, due to the height and thickness of fatbike wheels, the lock mechanism at the top of the rotating hook arm prevents sliding the hook up enough to rotate over the tire - 27.5+ might be tight, 29+ maybe not. Not a problem though - the pin that the lock locks onto can be removed, and lock and cable pulled from the arm, allowing the hook to come completely off the arm. Simply rotate into place, slide the hook back on and cinch it down. If you want to use the lock, it only takes about 10 seconds to rethread it and lock your bike up. Of course, the ratchet strap is too short for fat tires, but river straps (seen in blue) are much safer anyway, and less prone to crack and break in cold temps. All other bikes are load and go as usual and as designed, using these when hauling a fatbike only take a few additional seconds to secure. I'm hoping these ride high enough to stay above the mag chloride spray during winter use. Being able to completely pull the hook off the arm also make this future proof, and it should accommodate future "standards" and even wider tires. The shown fatbikes frame fits 5" tires, and there's clearance against the topper side even with platform pedals and the wide Q factor of 197mm rear end fatbike.

    This design has been rattling around in my head for a few years now and finally decided to pull the trigger on the rack and make it work. Couldn't be happier with the way it turned out. While you can make this work for fatbikes with the hook removal trick, I think it would be really tight to try to get multiple fatbikes on this rack if it was configured normally as the hitch mount - like the Thule issues with their new "fat friendly" hold up rack, they adjusted for fatter tires, but not for the increased width of fatbike cranks and forks. Hope this helps someone out or gives ideas for other hacks. I still managed to keep the bottle opener on the rack (the red thing under the fatbike pedal).

    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-holdup-fat-strap.jpgPickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-holdup-folded.jpgPickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-holdup-wheelwell-bracket.jpgPickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-holdup-fatbike.jpg
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  2. #2
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    Awesome! I had this same idea for my Landcruiser but wasn't sure it'd actually work. Looks like you pulled it off and it seems like a smart solution. Congrats on the cool build.

    Would you mind taking another photo of the whole truck (side shot) to see how it looks?
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  3. #3
    RTM
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    that's outstanding.

  4. #4
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    Looks good. I think a fork mounted option would work will for this too and throw the front wheels in the bed.
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  5. #5
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    This was the first version of this idea. These were simply old Thule trays mounted on heavy gauge shelf brackets. The bike tires would "sit" in the trays, but the only way to secure the bikes was to run a strap through the frame and cinch the bike against the topper. We'd put big foam blocks on the inside pedal, and when you tightened down the strap, it would pull the whole bike in, and smash the foam block over the pedal against the topper - thus securing it. Then both wheels would get river strapped down. Once secure, this worked great, the challenge was doing the contortionist yoga strap threading thing to load this by yourself, and on numerous occasions I had a fatbike land on my head. The other issue was if the foam block slid or the cranks rotated, then the whole system came undone. Never lost a bike this way, but came close. I considered the front fork mount, as it would be super stable, but running both fat and normal mtn bikes, there was no fork mount that could handle every rig I had.
    Version 1 - Thule trays, river straps, foam and luck.
    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-fatrack.jpg
    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-fatrack2.jpg

    And here's a full side shot, "normal" bike, new setup.
    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-yakrakrelease.jpg
    Last edited by watermonkey; 08-09-2016 at 12:00 PM.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  6. #6
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    This is kind of a similiar style on how dry wall companies have the racks on the outside. Very creative!

  7. #7
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    Looks great. I was wondering how to do it on my truck. Were you able to do it without causing leaks inside the cab?

  8. #8
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    Bringing this thread back! How has it been holding up?
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  9. #9
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    Great idea.

  10. #10
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    In honor of Halloween, I'm bumping this from the dead!

    Has anyone seen something similar to this from the major rack manufacturers?
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  11. #11
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by PHeller View Post
    In honor of Halloween, I'm bumping this from the dead!

    Has anyone seen something similar to this from the major rack manufacturers?
    I haven't, but I HAVE seen other pickups with similar looking setups. Probably with custom hardware much like OP's.

  12. #12
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    Softopper used to make a fork mount rack that mounted on the side of the bed rail, but I don't see it on their website anymore.

  13. #13
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    This setup is still going strong - love this rack configuration. I still haven't seen anything from major manufacturers, nor do I think you ever will. Pickup beds and sidewalls are now so different between brands and even model years, that even sourcing a topper now requires one to get a model made specifically for your model year. I've seen somewhat similar setups, but they all require removal of the front wheel, with the bikes mounted by the forks.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

  14. #14
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    When I was doing a lot of whitewater kayaking there was a company out of WV, Tygart River Racks, that could carry boats on top and bikes on the sides.
    Pickup Truck side mount, topper friendly, bike rack hack-roof-rack-f350-close.jpg
    This was the setup that I wanted.

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