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Carrying bikes behind a tiny teardrop trailer

Old 06-09-24, 09:40 AM
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Carrying bikes behind a tiny teardrop trailer

Iím picking up a new to me mini teardrop camper tomorrow.

Its about 900lbs empty, and is essentially a 5x7 or 5x8 trailer that the teardrop is built on.

The only modification I am considering is to add a hitch in the back to add a bike rack.

This got me thinking about trailer sway, which can definitely cause accidents.

Figure that the new hitch, once welded on will add approximately 20lbs to the back. My KUAT weighs probably 30lbs. My MTB is 30, and my wifeís weighs within a pound of that too.

So worst case scenario, I could potentially have 110 pounds of weight well behind the axle. Offen itíll only be a single road bike but I want to make sure this works.

My initial idea is to strap our 8 gallon water jug full, to the tongue. There is already a small auxiliary battery there, which can also stay. Between the two, thatíll add 95lbs to the tongue. When packing the inside, I can put the deflated paddle boards and climbing gear in the front.

My tow vehicle is a Toyota Highlander, which tows 5000lbs, though Iíd never want to. Itís definitely too small to throw the bikes in the back of. Iíd need a crane if I got a roof rack.

Anyone here loading bikes on the back of a trailer? Howís it working?

Bring on the summer!!!
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Old 06-09-24, 09:51 AM
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My initial thought is to keep the bikes in the trailer on the logic that you can't be needing a bike to ride and needing to be in the trailer at the same time.

My second thought is that the weight involved is low enough that you could approximate the trailer handling before you install the hitch by throwing some heavy stuff in the back of the trailer and checking how it pulls.
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Old 06-09-24, 10:50 AM
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People do it, but I've always wondered about the weight distribution when putting bikes behind the trailer. If you are driving on rough or dirt roads, that bouncing could be quite a bit of leverage. I put my bikes in the back of my truck when towing, but my brother has a rack that goes on the tongue above the propane bottles. The bikes might be safer there, I don't know...
I read the rear bumper on the trailer can actually break from the leverage. The bumper on a teardrop might not be able to withstand the forces.

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Old 06-09-24, 10:55 AM
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5x8 is pretty small; storing the bikes inside would mean pretty much putting them on the bunk, I can see why you'd want to rack them on the outside.

Depending on how it's set up, you might have enough tounge weight that the bikes and rack might not upset the balance to badly. You'll have to get hands on it to know for sure though.

I've also seen bike racks mounted on the front of campers, above the tongue, though that's usually been on larger travel trailers.

There's also dual receiver adapters that would mount the rack above the trailer drawbar, but still on the tow vehicle. Not something I'd want to use with a 24-ft bunk house, but shouldn't be much of an issue with a 900 lb teardrop
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Old 06-09-24, 11:21 AM
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I would mount the bikes on the front of the tow vehicle.
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Old 06-09-24, 12:01 PM
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The axle is pretty far back, if that helps from a leverage perspective.
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Old 06-09-24, 12:17 PM
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We have essentially the same set up: 5-wide teardrop trailer (750 lbs empty), Highlander tow vehicle.

We do not have a hitch on the back of the trailer, and I don't want one. Too much going on at the back of a small trailer, and too many things can go wrong (weight distribution is likely not a problem with a teardrop, though). We use a roof rack on the Highlander, and loading bikes is easy. I can do it standing on the pavement, but my wife uses a little step stool.

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Old 06-09-24, 12:22 PM
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you could look at roof racks on the trailer. I have seen that, but have not personal experiences

clc stich and glue trailer with racks

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Old 06-09-24, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse
We have essentially the same set up: 5-wide teardrop trailer (750 lbs empty), Highlander tow vehicle.

We do not have a hitch on the back of the trailer, and I don't want one. Too much going on at the back of a small trailer, and too many things can go wrong (weight distribution is likely not a problem with a teardrop, though). We use a roof rack on the Highlander, and loading bikes is easy. I can do it standing on the pavement, but my wife uses a little step stool.

Honestly, Iím shocked.

Iím 5í9Ē and have to climb just to load skis.

Mines an 09, I know the newer ones are a little bit sleeker.

Iíll definitely fiddle with it when I get it home before I buy anything.

FWIW, I have a KUAT, with their anti rattle knob and the keyed pin, I can mount it in about a minute. I frequently switch it between cars. So yeah, it would definitely get removed at camp.
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Old 06-09-24, 04:19 PM
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This is a frequent topic on the NuCamp teardrop FB page, NuCamp does not provide for nor recommends a hitch on the rear due to an increase in weight that adversely affects the handling “of their trailer”. There are TD companies that do provide for a rear hitch, so obviously it can be done. The NuCamp community typically recommends a JackIt bike rack, can carry 2 bikes, installs on the tongue. That needs consideration as you need to pay attention to what, if anything you are carrying in a tongue box, as well as the tongue weight rating of the tow vehicle. There are also hitch extenders, that provide for a 2nd hitch mounting for a standard hitch bike rack. Those have limitations as well. Or a teardrop roof rack. NuCamp provides on some models a Yakima round bar and Skyline tower system that has a 160 lbs capacity. Getting the bikes up there is equally as difficult as on top of a SUV tow vehicle. I personally would carry a small ladder and use a tow vehicle roof rack, IF I’m not lifting an e-bike with the battery onboard.
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Old 06-09-24, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I would mount the bikes on the front of the tow vehicle.
I was part of a tour where spare bikes were stuck on a rack on the front of two vehicles ... you can mount two bikes on a rack on the front of the tow car and only the electric on the back.

Also you could get someone to weld a 4' piece of channel iron, or (my preference) weld a short steel plate horizontally ... drill a few holes. bolt on a piece of plywood, and perch a bike there and bungee it down. You could have a bike in front, a bike in front of the trailer, and a bike on the back of the trailer and probably be okay.
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Old 06-10-24, 09:07 PM
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Rule of thumb is minimum 10% of trailer weight as tongue weight.1000# of trailer 100# tongue weight
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Old 06-10-24, 10:29 PM
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Ok, so Iíve got the teardrop home. Itís really small and cute, my wife loves it.

I took some measurements and this would fit https://a.co/d/h9Ow1vH

I donít think the ground clearance would be much of an issue, and if it is, risers are readily available.

But wow, now Iím really noticing how heavy this would be. 47lbs for the hitch. Another 30 or so for the rack. Then add the bikes.

I really like the idea of being able to take the bikes somewhere after camp is set up. Meaning, having a detachable rack that will easily fit both the car and trailer.

On the roof of the car sort of makes sense but I hate that. Terrible for gas mileage, risk smacking things, bug guts, and really hard to load for a big bike.

Gotta admit, I donít think Iíd be happy with either solution.
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Old 06-10-24, 10:34 PM
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Photos of the trailer, please.
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Old 06-11-24, 12:10 AM
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My first advice is to check with the trailer manufacturer about adding any sort of hitch their frame or bumper. Many don't allow it because the frame or bumper simply is not made for any modification or any added weight.

There will be a lot of bouncing back there, trailer suspensions aren't made for dampening bouncing like car suspensions, and again, likely isn't designed for additional weight hanging off the back.

The bike will get filthy too.

But my main thing is that I would personally be very, very reluctant to carry a bike of any value at all behind a trailer because of the above, even if it were allowed. I would just figure out a way to carry it inside the tow vehicle or the trailer itself. I'm fortunate in that our trailer is pulled by a pickup truck in the bed of which I have fork mounts to carry two bikes. If I couldn't do that, I'd put one in the back seat of the truck or SUV and one in the trailer.

I know people who always put their bikes on the bed, and I have actually done it with two bikes once or twice when circumstances required it. Just put a old / dedicated sheet or blanket on the bed, lay the bike down with derailleurs up. If two bikes, a thick blanket or piece of carpet between the two will suffice and just place them so the derailleurs and/or levers on the bottom bike don't get damaged by the upper one bouncing a little on it. The only danger is scratching, not actual damage due to road forces as long as they're placed against each other the right way. The bed is an excellent shock absorber.

I understand the reluctance to use a car-top carrier. I have quite a bit of difficulty loading 20 pound bikes up there, even with a step stool. But I'd figure out a way to do that if the choice was between that and hanging bikes off the back of a travel trailer.

Last edited by Camilo; 06-11-24 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 06-11-24, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
you could look at roof racks on the trailer. I have seen that, but have not personal experiences

clc stich and glue trailer with racks

Beautiful trailer and boat! But, get a hitch that will level out the trailer or maybe an inch or two off. Not only is your spare so close to the pavement, this set up is way off just on basic hitch set up standards.

Does a Trailer have to be towed Level or Can it be Off Up or Down | etrailer.com

I have different ones depending on the vehicle and trailer, and of course all can be set up + or -. We have vehicles ranging from a low slung Impreza to a 3/4 ton pickup and trailers ranging from a small wheeled utility trailer to boat and travel trailers with large wheels. The wheel size, along with the height of the hitch receiver, determine the rise or drop needed. The only one I keep at drop configuration is one of the 2". Other than that the other 2" and the 4" and 6" ones are only used for rise. This looks like it might be 8+ inches of rise needed, but you can figure that out by taking some measurements with the trailer level.


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Old 06-11-24, 06:12 AM
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If your Highlander has a 5000 lb. towing capacity, the max tongue weight should be 500 lbs. which should allow you to mount the bikes on the trailer tongue. I think that would be the safest weight distribution solution.
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Old 06-11-24, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by GeezyRider
If your Highlander has a 5000 lb. towing capacity, the max tongue weight should be 500 lbs. which should allow you to mount the bikes on the trailer tongue. I think that would be the safest weight distribution solution.
Yep.

Only issue with the bike on the tongue is when reversing or making tight turns. Just make sure not to jackknife the trailer into the bikes. Otherwise, that's the best place to put them.

I tow a larger TT with a 2500 pick up. I never load anything behind the axles to help avoid any sway issues. I would rather have an extra #100 on the tongue than the rear of the trailer. Especially with a smaller tow vehicle and no sway bars.
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Old 06-11-24, 10:02 AM
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Yes, itís a 500lb tongue weight.

Iím thinking that Iím going to try a double hitch extension. I might need to switch to a swivel jack with it.

Seems like an easy experiment and Iíll keep the receipt.

A road bike wouldnít be a problem to fit inside with a wheel off. Gravel and mountain bikes are heavier, dirtier, have longer wheelbases, and wider handlebars. With a trailer already packed with camping gear, I bet it wouldnít fit well.

Ive got the day off tomorrow, Iíll start working on it (after a ride).
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Old 06-11-24, 10:25 AM
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I’m not getting the opposition to tow vehicle roof rack. Thousands of folks do exactly this. Yeas a hit on gas mileage which happens towing a trailer anyway, so kind of moot issue. Bugs easy to wipe off, access means a small step stool or ladder, which you can throw inside the trailer. Plus having bikes on TV allows yiu to haul bikes to a start location other than the campground.
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Old 06-11-24, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
Beautiful trailer and boat! But, get a hitch that will level out the trailer or maybe an inch or two off. Not only is your spare so close to the pavement, this set up is way off just on basic hitch set up standards.

Does a Trailer have to be towed Level or Can it be Off Up or Down | etrailer.com

I have different ones depending on the vehicle and trailer, and of course all can be set up + or -. We have vehicles ranging from a low slung Impreza to a 3/4 ton pickup and trailers ranging from a small wheeled utility trailer to boat and travel trailers with large wheels. The wheel size, along with the height of the hitch receiver, determine the rise or drop needed. The only one I keep at drop configuration is one of the 2". Other than that the other 2" and the 4" and 6" ones are only used for rise. This looks like it might be 8+ inches of rise needed, but you can figure that out by taking some measurements with the trailer level.

all super good information.... just to note, I pulled this pic from the CLC (they sell the stich an glue kits to make the trailer and the boats in the picture), it is not my set up.

no trailer for me at this point.... just nice thule set up so I can put a bike, a sup and my kayak on top of my A4
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Old 06-11-24, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Iím not getting the opposition to tow vehicle roof rack. Thousands of folks do exactly this. Yeas a hit on gas mileage which happens towing a trailer anyway, so kind of moot issue. Bugs easy to wipe off, access means a small step stool or ladder, which you can throw inside the trailer. Plus having bikes on TV allows yiu to haul bikes to a start location other than the campground.
All good reasons for putting bikes on a roof rack.

One word of caution when camping: watch out for overhanging branches!

Many campgrounds and their access roads don't get the most diligent tree trimming, and a low hanging branch can grab a bike.

We lost a bike once off the rack, due to poor tree trimming. I won't say who was driving at the time.
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Old 06-11-24, 12:02 PM
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I think your worries are completely unfounded. Have you ever studied a boat on a trailer? What do you think a 115 horse outboard weighs? 359 pounds cantilevered off the very rear of a boat and the overhang from center of axle is substantial. FWIW this size motor is appropriate for a 17' bass boat.
The important thing to keep in mind is to balance the gross weight forward of the center of axle. An internet search might give you results of a demonstration video of loading vs trailer sway. It is important but hanging a couple of bicycles off the back of a trailer is not enough to cause an issue, and if I'm wrong the addition of two 5 gallon water cans to the tongue will more than offset it.
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Old 06-11-24, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by squirtdad
all super good information.... just to note, I pulled this pic from the CLC (they sell the stich an glue kits to make the trailer and the boats in the picture), it is not my set up.

no trailer for me at this point.... just nice thule set up so I can put a bike, a sup and my kayak on top of my A4
Ii thought it might be a stock photo. I actually started my post initially by saying it was a stock photo to show an awful trailer set up. But they're pretty cool (trailer and boat).
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Old 06-11-24, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
Iím not getting the opposition to tow vehicle roof rack. Thousands of folks do exactly this. Yeas a hit on gas mileage which happens towing a trailer anyway, so kind of moot issue. Bugs easy to wipe off, access means a small step stool or ladder, which you can throw inside the trailer. Plus having bikes on TV allows yiu to haul bikes to a start location other than the campground.
For me - and I have three different roof racks and a tray type receiver rack - the issue with the roof racks is just getting the bikes up there. These aren't heavy bikes, around 20 pounds. And the car isn't super high - a Subaru Outback. And although I'm 70, I'm not frail and in pretty good shape. But even with a step stool, while it's not that tough to get the bike up, it's very precarious holding it in place while I get the attachments done. With a mountain bike it would be even tougher. It's so much easier to use something else - inside the vehicle, hitch rack, hatchback rack, etc. I'm fortunate that I can put our traveling bikes inside the truck bed, covered by a shell topper, on fork mounts, that I have on a sliding platform so I can slide the bikes in and out on the open tail gate.

Originally Posted by Black wallnut
I think your worries are completely unfounded. Have you ever studied a boat on a trailer? What do you think a 115 horse outboard weighs? 359 pounds cantilevered off the very rear of a boat and the overhang from center of axle is substantial. FWIW this size motor is appropriate for a 17' bass boat.
The important thing to keep in mind is to balance the gross weight forward of the center of axle. An internet search might give you results of a demonstration video of loading vs trailer sway. It is important but hanging a couple of bicycles off the back of a trailer is not enough to cause an issue, and if I'm wrong the addition of two 5 gallon water cans to the tongue will more than offset it.
I've trailered boats for several decades. A boat trailer is made for the balance of a boat with the heavy engine on the back. The axles - and therefore the balance of the trailer/tongue weight - is adjusted to accommodate the weight distribution of the boat. In addition, the transom of the boat is designed to bear that weight in trailering conditions. A travel trailer is probably not designed as such. The axle can't be adjusted to accommodate the change in the overall balance caused by the bikes, and the rear of the trailer is probably not designed for that extra weight. Some trailers are designed to allwo that, but most aren't. That's why I recommended contacting the trailer manufacturer first.
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