By Stefan Abram
You may think you don’t have the space to bring a bike - or that they aren’t worth the space they do take up - but a bike is quite possibly the best campervan accessory there is.
The benefits are far more wide-ranging than any other accessory. A bike can provide simple, functional practicalities, as well as being in itself a vehicle for pure enjoyment. We’ll take you through everything a bike has to offer and how best to go about bringing your bike with you.
What makes bikes the best campervan accessory?
One of the stand-out benefits is the alternative form of transport a bike provides. When visiting a historic town or village, navigating their winding, narrow streets is a stressful affair in a campervan. Then, once you’ve actually made it to the car park, the price is often extortionate.
But on a bike, cycling into even the most intricate maze of medieval streets presents no hassle. Often, it’ll be faster than travelling in even a standard sized car. Parking fees are avoided and getting around town is far easier than having to catch public transport or pay for a taxi.
Back at the campsite, picking up a few supplies for dinner and the morning’s breakfast becomes a far easier task. Going to the shops by bike means that the invariably narrow lanes leading up to a campsite need only be negotiated twice - once on arrival and again on departure.
Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are a great way to really maximise the benefits bikes bring. The pedal assistance they provide allows you to travel significantly further for the same effort. Their prices have been dropping in recent years, making them a far more accessible option than they ever were.
Practicalities aside, the best thing about cycling is the thrill of the ride. Having travelled out to the countryside with your campervan, you can take full advantage of being able to enjoy quiet roads from the moment you set off. Or, if your holiday centres more around walking, just cycling a couple of kilometres opens up a far greater variety of hiking routes than just starting from the campsite.
>>> Read: Best electric scooters
Should you be venturing away from the UK, perhaps into France or Spain, you can treat yourself to a tour of some of the best roads in Europe - without the fuss that comes with trying to take a bike on a flight.
And we're not just talking iconic Alpine ascents - the continent boasts cycle paths unlike few others in the UK. Cycling to get your morning croissant or baguette has never been more relaxing.
On a less physical, but equally enjoyable note, having a bike allows you to make the most of the local bars - eschewing the need for someone to take up the mantel of designated driver.
We don't advocate drinking too much, but enjoying a mid-ride small beer in the French countryside or a caña y tapa in Spain is always a good addition to the day.
While there is no law in Britain that specifies exactly how much alcohol is permissible for a cyclist to drink, it is illegal to cycle “under the influence of drink or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the cycle” (Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). And naturally, if travelling abroad, do ensure you are aware of the relevant local laws.
The best ways to bring a bike campervanning
The simplest way of bringing a bike is to choose a folding model. These collapse down to quite a small size and then can just be popped in the back of your vehicle. They also tend not to be too expensive and have the added benefit of being easy to store at home too.
>>>Read: Best folding bikes
It is worth buying carry bags to put the folding bikes in. Bikes can get quite mucky after a ride in the wet, and the last thing you want to do is then place them inside your nice clean vehicle. Note just how foldable the model of bike you are looking at is, for some pack down significantly smaller than others - a deal-breaker if you’re tight on space.
Mounting the bikes on the outside of your campervan is a more complicated affair, but it does save a significant amount of space inside and allows you to bring full-sized bikes. Many people also choose to transport folding bikes in this way for the same reasons.
Full sized bikes are more enjoyable to ride, letting you ride for longer distances. If cycling is more of the focus of your trip, a full-sized bike on a bike rack represents the optimal choice.
>>>Read: Best electric folding bikes
There are many, many different ways to secure a bike rack to a campervan, depending on exactly what vehicle set-up you have. These are some of the main ones:
Motorhome or caravan
There are a couple of mounting options in this setup, such as mounting on the tow ball or to the body of the campervan.
Mounting to the tow ball offers the benefit of having the rack closer to the ground, meaning you don’t have to lift the bikes as high to put them on. However, pay close attention to the maximum load it can take, as the bike’s weight is effectively placed on a lever. They don't have to be too heavy before the weight limit is exceeded.
If mounting to the back of a motorhome or campervan, make sure that if there is a window, the top part of the rack is installed above it. Adding some wood batten inside the wall skin to bolt the rack to will help spread the weight as well.
If your campervan has vertical doors (i.e., ones that open out to the sides), then it helps to have a rack that is fitted only to the main opening door. This allows you to still access the boot, as the rack can swing open with the boot.
This style of door is fairly straightforward when it comes to mounting a bike rack. Just make sure that the door will be able to open fully without the rack touching the roof before installing it.
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