Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Agent of tang
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    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?

    We have a popup camper and are struggling with how to take the bikes and the camper together.

    We have 2007 Nissan Frontier, and one solution I've considered is installing a front hitch receiver and putting the 2 bikes there (I have a 1up hitch rack). Anyone done this? I'm mostly concerned about blocking headlights and turn signals.

    Other options:
    1. Dual hitch receiver: Tried this, the bikes hit the camper. Could extend the hitch ball, but that introduces other problems.
    2. On the roof of the Nissan: Not doing this when I already have the 1up, too expensive and seems pointless
    3. On the roof of the camper: this could mean drilling/installing a rack, or using the Sixnall or ProRac. The ProRac seems fiddly from what I've read, and the Sixnall is installed just with ratchet straps that could damage the camper?
    4. Install a receiver on the rear of the camper: this seems elegant but introduces dangers to towing that I'm not familiar with


    Appreciate all thoughts.

  2. #2
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    I think I'd start with the ProRack and modify the mounting if it doesn't seem stable enough for you. The mounts to the trailer frame look pretty good in the install PDF, though if it gets tall, a bit of triangulation wouldn't hurt, and wouldn't be that hard to do. I'd skip the ratchet strap to the roof one, I'd be scared it would damage the roof from everything flexing going down the road.

    Whats stopping you from just standing the bikes up in the bed? They really wouldn't eat up that much space.

    I can't even stand the though of having my bike as a bumper on either end of the truck or trailer.....................And unless the trailer sits high, and most don't I'd be concerned about the wheels dragging in dips and such, as the bumpers sit low and would make the receiver on the rear of the trailer even lower.
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  3. #3
    Agent of tang
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    Can't put them in the bed because a) there's a topper on teh truck and b) the two 80 pound dogs might object (or get a little dog hair in the drive train).

  4. #4
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    I don't know what a ProRack is, and I'm not sure which pop top camper you have, but we have a small trailer and I've got a shell on my truck, so similar situation.

    I went to Torque Lift Central (Seattle Area) and had them install a hitch rack on the back of our trailer. I explained what I wanted, their response was "Yea, we do hundreds of them." I get the trailer 4 hours later and they fabricated mounting brackets and totally welded up a fantastic system. I was blown away with how good it looked and the work they did. In fact, I called them a couple hours later and told the guy to go back and tell the fabricators they did awesome work. I'm super fussy so the praise was well deserved.

    Regardless of who does the work, I would suggest something similar if it will work on your trailer. It was a little more than 300 bucks, however I can take my Thule 917 rack and put it into the back of my wife's car, my truck, and our trailer. That is a huge convenience, and great peace of mind. They don't sway, bounce or move around. It's solid as a rock.

    I also got keyed alike the hitch bolt, and the arm locks, and put a cover over my bikes in case its outta sight for a few hours.

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-wp_20130524_001.jpg
    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-wp_20130524_004.jpg

  5. #5
    Yeah!
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    If you've got enough tongue, install at the front of the pup. I see lots of stuff there... propane tanks, grills, storage lockers, etc. I've seen a piece of tubing with a hole drilled in it just bolted up to the tongue by the owner so they could use their hitch rack. Be creative.

  6. #6
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    If you camper has a hard top (not plastic) you can do what I did:





    The rack was easy to make. Costs about $120 in parts.
    Grit, spit, and a whole lot of duct tape!

  7. #7
    Agent of tang
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    I ended up finding a ProRac on craigslist, very cheap. A little beat up, and had to do some fiddling, but I think it will work. Same basic set up as the one right above me, just not homemade.

    I spent hours researching the various options, all of which have pluses and minuses. Money can be one of the minuses, which is why I went with the ProRac (it was cheap), not because it was the "best". So if anyone finds themselves in a similar situation in the future and wants the rundown, feel free to send me a PM.

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE=WA-CO;11203503], and put a cover over my bikes in case its outta sight for a few hours.

    What kind of cover is that?
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  9. #9
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    WA-CO:
    Sorry for the old thread bump, how is the setup worked out for you after a year? I was trying to figure out how to haul our bikes, but was warned against "Voiding the frame Warranty" or our Surveyor camper. Did Torklift mention anything around this?

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Can you fit them inside the camper?
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock View Post
    Can you fit them inside the camper?
    Did you not notice OP stated it's a PUP camper?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigflamingtaco View Post
    Did you not notice OP stated it's a PUP camper?
    Yeah, I just wasn't sure if there was possibly room with the top down.

    If not, I would definitely go with the trailer bumper receiver set up. Seems to be the most logical and cost effective.
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

  13. #13
    Agent of tang
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    There's no room inside of a closed popup for a bike.

    That said, last Fall I purchased a small hard-sided camper that already had a hitch receiver on the back. So my issues are solved. Although the ProRac had already solved them, albeit in a somewhat fiddly and annoying fashion. Love having the hitch receiver option now, because if we need to drive from camp with the bikes, I have my bike rack ready to go.

  14. #14
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    Ah yes, the joys of popup tent trailering. I no longer have mine, but I owned one for years. Mine had round Yakima crossbars bolted to the roof of the tent trailer that enabled me to mount various stuff to the tent trailer like my kayaks, or cargo boxes. Mostly I used two Sears Xcargo Sport boxes to carry firewood and camping gear and clothes. To carry the bikes I could have easily gone to a bike tray rack on top of the tent trailer, but I actually got a Valley double hitch mount, then modified my Thule bike rack to work. It was kind of a PITA actually, and would have been easier just to use tray bike mounts on top of the tent trailer's crossbars.

    I gladly sold my tent trailer last year. Camping with it was a pain, especially setting it up and packing it up in the rain when I'd have to get the gear out of the cargo boxes first. Anyway, here are some pics:

    Tent trailer with crossbars mounted on the roof and two cargo boxes:

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-img040.jpg

    Valley double hitch with Thule rack modified to go into the hitch backwards and reassembled so it would still tilt back. Note that I had to trim the side plates to round the corners so it would tilt:

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-motoq9cpictures045.jpg

    Here's a couple of pics with the bikes on and the trailer hitched up:

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-bikesandtrailer2.jpg

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-bikesandtrailer3.jpg

    Towing a camper, front hitch for bikes?-bikeandtrailer.jpg

    Would I recommend this? Not really. I had to improvise because my budget was so limited at the time, and it took me several hours of trimming and grinding the side plates. I also had cut the Thule's hitch mount shorter and to drill a new hole and tap new threads to relocate the hitch pin hole. It took me the better part of a day and a night to make the mods to the rack getting ready for a camping trip. If I had the funds available at the time, I would have just put one of the cargo boxes on top of my Xterra and gotten three tray bike mounts to go onto the crossbars on the popup trailer.

    So bottom line, I'd advise getting crossbars professionally bolted on your popup. I use to put mega amounts of weight on mine with firewood in both cargo boxes and it never affected my Coleman's roof. It adds so much more versatility as to what you can carry camping too and thus is well worth it in the long run. Just make sure when the bars are mounted that the center of mass for the added weight you intend to carry is in front of the axle to give it more tongue weight so the trailer stays stable on the highway.

  15. #15
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    I was considering getting a PUP after the boys are off to college, but I have decided I want simplicity. I like Camp-Inn campers, but want some customization they don't offer. I'll probably build my own so I can have a long tongue with a short storage box with bike trays on top.

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