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4 Trips to Lowe's for a Bike Rack

March 05, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

One of the biggest challenges for us in the planning stages of the bus was what to do with the two bikes that we wanted to bring along with us on our adventures. Being a little under 90 square feet, the inside of the bus was not an option. Our options were as follows:

  • Front hitch mounted bike rack- The pros of mounting bikes to the front was the relative ease and cost of installing a hitch receiver to the front bumper, we already had a hitch mounted bike rack, and we would always have an eye on our bikes while driving. The cons were that we would always have an eye on our bikes while driving, lighting could be hindered up front, and if we needed just one bike off of the rack we would have to remove the other. Plus, gas mileage would more than likely suffer.
  • Rear vertical mounted bike rack- The pros of mounting bikes on the rear of the bus is the relative cheapness of parts, we already owned roof rack trays for a roof rack, and there should be no effect on gas mileage. The cons were that we would have to drill into our bus and the wheels would have to be stored inside, which means less storage for other necessities (yes, bikes are necessities). 
  • Roof mounted bike rack- The pros of mounting bikes on the roof is that they are out of the way and secure from all but the most ambitious of thieves. The cons are that they would require both people to fetch them, the gas mileage would greatly suffer, and they would take up valuable real estate from our solar panels. Plus, I am not too keen on drilling holes in the roof anyways, the less the better.

We ultimately decided on mounting the bikes to the rear of the bus. It seemed like the best compromise and the least expensive in the long run, plus the best location overall for the bikes. 

We started by measuring, albeit incorrectly, the back door for our two pieces of galvanized pipe that would run the width of the rear door. We made our measurements and took off to the hardware store. Thankfully, Lowe's is only about 2 miles from my house as we went back several more times. On our first trip we picked out our 45° elbows, mounting flanges, and pipe and felt good coming back to the bus. That is until we realized that the 30" pipe that we got would not be long enough. Back to the store.

Before our second trip to Lowe's, we measured better. Not perfect, but better. We returned to the store and exchanged our pipe for longer pipe in the 36" variety. We came back to the bus and as fate would have it, this pipe was just a hair too long. Back to the store.

This time, we were right. Our measurements were perfect and we were not going to be defeated by this project. We returned to the store and thankfully had a different cashier than the two times previous. We found a friendly Lowe's associate named Daniel who also happened to be a cyclist and he assisted us with cutting and threading our pipe to the proper length. We exchanged contact information and went back to our project. 

The pipe fit like a dream! The flanges were in the right spots and everything was looking up. We started drilling holes and behold, we had not measured properly for the different thicknesses of the door that we were bolting into. We hung what we could on the door and developed a strategy to return the next day. I went to Lowe's the next morning and returned my incorrect bolts in shame. I found the right ones and tried to get out of there as quickly as possible. 

IT WORKED! All of the bolts and flanges and pipes fit and the bike rack worked! It was an important moment in an otherwise hectic weekend of a hernia, far too many trips to Lowe's and recovering from a hard training schedule. It felt good to get a small win!

The pipe had to be shimmed a little bit to fit snugly within the Yakima bike trays, but nothing a little duct tape couldn't fix. We got the trays mounted and had to throw a bike into the setup to make sure that it works.

The bike fit great and will only require one of us to load and unload. The rack does not interfere with the lights in any way and the rear door still opens and closes as it did before. We will update this post after next weekend when we run the bus through its paces at the Land Run 100 bike race in Stillwater, OK. Thank you so much to those of you that follow along and are reading these blog posts. It sincerely means a lot and we hope you are enjoying the journey as much as we are. As always, follow along on Instagram @okienomads and check out our YouTube channel when you get a chance.


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