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Caravan Bike rack - Any advice


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I Have bought myself a new Swift Sprite Major and it has the fittings on the back to take a bike rack so i bought myself one but obviously just now i cant use it but was just wondering if anyone has one and the pro's and cons of having one. Look forward to your replies

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We have one on our Sprite Major 4 EB.

The biggest issue is hitting it with my head or back when standing up after winding the rear steadies! Doubly so if the bikes are on. I also need to leave more clearance between the back of the van and fences etc. to give room to access the bikes.

No discernible impact on stability, but I can feel more buffeting from the bow wave of HGVs and coaches. 

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We have had a Thule bike rack on the back of last 2 Swifts, same as Stevan about banging into it when using the steadys but apart from that have not had any stability problems when towing.

Just a warning don’t ask the same question on Swift Talk.

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Never had a problem carrying my two mountain bikes on our SWIFT Thule bike carrier. Just remember to balance any weight towards rather front of the van to compensate where possible  (awning etc). 

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With the low payloads available I just wonder how it can cope with two bikes;  we just about use it all up with basics let alone with bikes? 

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No matter where you do put the bikes, make sure you have a hefty lock through them and the rack, or they will be "disappeared" when you stop somewhere.

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A pro to have a car roof rack with bike racks is you can use it when not using the caravan... I've always gone down that route. Weight on the car and not in the van.  Allows us to carry a bit more in the caravan, or even the awning.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Fenester said:

With the low payloads available I just wonder how it can cope with two bikes;  we just about use it all up with basics let alone with bikes? 

I think that is an issue with many caravans including this one, with 156Kg payload half of that gone for a battery and mover. 2 bikes and a carrier would surely take it close to the limit with nothing in it.

Edited by Ern

Ern

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11 minutes ago, Ern said:

I think that is an issue with many caravans including this one, with 156Kg payload half of that gone for a battery and mover. 2 bikes and a carrier would surely take it close to the limit with nothing in it.

 

Plus with the mover, the battery and bikes all "fixed" location items, any "balancing" if needed, requires adding additional mass, all of which comes out of that abysmal payload.

 

That's before we look at the increase in the moment of inertia [ the pendulum effect] that adding  the bikes far from the axle bring, together with the inevitable further increase to that, any required weight balancing masses also bring.

The case in point is a single axle van,  so here no mitigating damping is available from the straight line tracking a twin provides.

As an engineer, one is firmly left with the opinion that the only provision made for carrying two bikes on this van is somebody put a rack mount on the rear, overlooking the physics involved if it was used.

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10 minutes ago, JTQ said:

 

Plus with the mover, the battery and bikes all "fixed" location items, any "balancing" if needed, requires adding additional mass, all of which comes out of that abysmal payload.

 

That's before we look at the increase in the moment of inertia [ the pendulum effect] that adding  the bikes far from the axle bring, together with the inevitable further increase to that, any required weight balancing masses also bring.

The case in point is a single axle van,  so here no mitigating damping is available from the straight line tracking a twin provides.

As an engineer, one is firmly left with the opinion that the only provision made for carrying two bikes on this van is somebody put a rack mount on the rear, overlooking the physics involved if it was used.

No dispute over your physics theory, but there must be more to it than that because somehow, in practice, bikes on the back do not seem to actually cause problems!

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1 hour ago, Stevan said:

No dispute over your physics theory, but there must be more to it than that because somehow, in practice, bikes on the back do not seem to actually cause problems!

"but I can feel more buffeting from the bow wave of HGVs and coaches".

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Fenester said:

"but I can feel more buffeting from the bow wave of HGVs and coaches".

 

 

I do not consider that feeling the presence of the caravan and being aware of the effect of other vehicles to be a problem. In fact, I would think that any driver who is not sensitive enough to feel the caravan behind his/her car is a problem!

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There are two problems the weight of the rack and the location. 

You do not say exactly which model of Major you have, but the loading allowance on some is as low as156 kg. If you have a mover fitted this is down to about 126kg and by the time you add the weight of the rack and the bikes you could easily be down below 100 kg. At that point you ae simply not going to be able to keep it below the MTPLM unless you are planning to wear the same clothes all holiday and have very little else with you. if you want to carry bikes then you will almost certainly to get Swift to increase the MTPLM if they are able.

The second problem is that the rack is likely to be in the worst place possible on the back of the caravan. Loads there ae not advised as they can cause the back end to move more than it should and unless you are looking at lightweight bikes they could be a problem particularly for a new comer to caravan towing. It can also make your nose weight light and need things moving forward to correct this. The nose weight should not exceed the car manufacturers limit and be between 5 and 7% of the MTPLM and by law exceed 4%.

It is possible to manage with these, but do be aware that the weight has to come out of the loading allowance, so know your weights, it will need careful loading avoiding anything else weighty at the back and needs the nose weight checking.

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Adding bikes to a rack on the back is not neccesarily wrong. It depends on the geometry of the particiualer caravan. If you measure the distance from the bike (c of g of the bundle of bikes and rack) to the axle and measure from axle to hitch , the maths is easy to do. I did the maths for our caravan and reballancing was not that tricky. I think Sprites now have the spare wheel in the front gas locker so that helps. You need some moveable weight and adequate payload for it. It is the lack of payload which appears to be the issue with some caravans. In this case there is no optional weight upgrade advertised so it may be difficult.

Edited by Ern

Ern

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2 hours ago, Stevan said:

I do not consider that feeling the presence of the caravan and being aware of the effect of other vehicles to be a problem. In fact, I would think that any driver who is not sensitive enough to feel the caravan behind his/her car is a problem!

It was the contradiction that was puzzling, on one hand you say it causes no problems and then you say  the effect of the bow wave is more noticeable. Thus the bikes have an effect; I suppose it is the measure/ severity of the problem you are alluding too. So, the bikes cause more instability, but in your view it is not a problem,

Edited by Fenester
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1 hour ago, Fenester said:

It was the contradiction that was puzzling, on one hand you say it causes no problems and then you say  the effect of the bow wave is more noticeable. Thus the bikes have an effect; I suppose it is the measure/ severity of the problem you are alluding too. So, the bikes cause more instability, but in your view it is not a problem,

I see a big difference between being aware of movement of the van caused by aerodynamic buffeting and instability. After all, even without the caravan I can feel that same buffeting if overtaken by a coach. It is no surprise that when towing a huge, flat sided box the buffeting is both more pronounced and more complex.

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Before purchasing the bike rack, I checked on a weight upgrade and this was indeed possible, giving an extra 61kgs on a 2016 Challenger 480.

 

The biggest problem was one of balance and achieving a suitable noseweight; in my case 80-85kgs.  The Challenger had the spare wheel carrier fitted which I believe, the Sprite does not.  I found that by removing the carrier I saved 7kgs (from memory) and mounted the wheel in the front locker.  

 

When the bikes are on the rack, I travel with water and waste carriers at the front of the van and sometimes, a bag of foodstuff.  Without the bikes, the water carriers can go in the shower and the foodstuff put in fridge/cupboard as necessary.  This seems to work for me, although some further adjustment may be required depending on length of trip and the amount of clothes being taken.  

 

Consideration has to be given to the overall length of the caravan and the overhang behind the wheels.  The 2016 Challenger 480 was somewhat shorter than the current version which no doubt has helped me.  To date, I have had no issues travelling at home or abroad.  Furthermore, I have found fuel economy to be better with the bikes on the rear, compared to on the roof of the car.     

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On 30/11/2020 at 13:00, daveat92 said:

No matter where you do put the bikes, make sure you have a hefty lock through them and the rack, or they will be "disappeared" when you stop somewhere.

 

I suggest that the said lock goes through one or both the handles at the back of the van, not just the rack. Having recently fitted a Thule rack, I found it very quick and straightforward to get to a point where the rack could be lifted off the caravan mountings. Two average chaps could have the rack and bike(s) in the back of a white van in a couple of minutes IMO.

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hawkaye :beardy:

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The point I think you should be aware is that bikes on the back can cause stability problems. As you say the rack is  bought so is nothing to lose by trying it and taking things slowly, to see how it goes. You do need to be sure it has not reduced your nose weight though, and adjust the loading to deal with this if need be.

In general the main problem though is the loss of the loading allowance which may be very difficult to overcome except by loading almost everything in the car.

Not sure what you are carrying, very light bikes could be possible, but heavy ones may be a serious problem.

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25 minutes ago, Wildwood said:

You do need to be sure it has not reduced your nose weight though, and adjust the loading to deal with this if need be.

 

An effect on noseweight is inevitable! If you hang (say) 20Kg on the back you will need to compensate for it somewhere and simply moving (say) a 10Kg  bag of clothes a couple of feet further forward will not do it. You will need to make a substantial adjustment.

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Each to their own......... but I don't want added weight eating into my caravan's payload.

 

I don't want weight high up at the back of the caravan, which was demonstrated to be bad practice by the research done by Bath University.  Goes against safe loading principles.

 

I don't believe that the load doesn't place too great a strain on the rear panel structure.

 

I want a bike transport system that I can use whether or not my caravan is attached.

 

My personal decision............bikes are transported on my car.

Edited by WilliamJames
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Keep active ....be happy...stay safe.

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Swift designs and sells caravans with bike rack fasteners incorporated, and know a lot more about the trength of their caravans than any one else. Provided the user loads the caravan correctly and drives correctly there is no issue. There are many caravans on the road carrying bikes without problems, not just Swifts either.  

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Ern

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1 minute ago, Ern said:

Swift designs and sells caravans with bike rack fasteners incorporated, and know a lot more about the trength of their caravans than any one else. Provided the user loads the caravan correctly and drives correctly there is no issue. There are many caravans on the road carrying bikes without problems, not just Swifts either.  

True, putting a bike rack on the back of a van may not be ideal loading, but the numbers in use across Europe suggest that it is safe enough IF all other factors are correct.

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18 hours ago, WilliamJames said:

Each to their own......... but I don't want added weight eating into my caravan's payload.

 

I don't want weight high up at the back of the caravan, which was demonstrated to be bad practice by the research done by Bath University.  Goes against safe loading principles.

 

I don't believe that the load doesn't place too great a strain on the rear panel structure.

 

I want a bike transport system that I can use whether or not my caravan is attached.

 

My personal decision............bikes are transported on my car.

 

Totally agree.

 

Our caravan, a Swift derivative, has  mounts ready fitted  but will not hang bikes off them for the same reasons.

 

I am fortunate enough though to have a car which allows our bikes to be transported upright within it.

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Stay safe - Griff.  :ph34r:

Wheels at the front - Discovery 4. Wheels at the back - Bessacarr 845.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 29/11/2020 at 17:31, Insuranceman said:

We have had a Thule bike rack on the back of last 2 Swifts, same as Stevan about banging into it when using the steadys but apart from that have not had any stability problems when towing.

Just a warning don’t ask the same question on Swift Talk.

Can i ask. why not?

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