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Old 12-01-2016, 01:27 PM   #1
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Interstate Bike Racks - Ladder vs. Hitch?

Anyone using the Surco Sprinter rear door ladder to carry one or two bikes; especially folding bikes. My wife and I are not in agreement over door vs. hitch options. I want the door as I want regular easy access to the rear. My wife is concerned she will not be able to reach up to hang her bike on the lower ladder rungs. Not finding much on the web. Any experience with the Surco ladder and bikes on it would be welcomed....
I do realize the ladder will limit the ability of the door to fold completely around, but that is not as much an issue as the need to remove the bikes and hitch every time we camp for a night just to get to the chairs, bbq and more that we store in the rear.
Wondering also how much weight one of the rear doors will handle with the ladder, 2 bikes (maybe electric folding) etc...
Thanks
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Old 12-01-2016, 02:14 PM   #2
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Hi, Joe. The issue of carrying bikes (and other items) has been debated extensively on other threads, and I don't recall any single solution being unanimously promoted as the obvious best option.

I will tell you that my husband and I had a similar debate, in that I initially wanted both back doors to remain completely unobstructed, whereas he wanted a rear carrying solution without regard to potential impacts on door usage. His concern focused mostly on optimizing the engineering, not the ergonomics.

We ended up compromising in a way that made us both very pleased. Unfortunately it was not a simple solution. We fabricated a hitch carrier ourselves, which leaves ONE door (the one with the handle) completely unobstructed, and the other door blocked unless we drop our cargo to the ground for the purposes of opening both doors fully while at a camp site.

We customized our carrier to fit a cooler, but we could just as easily have customized it for bikes - in fact, we may go back and make a supplemental insert for the left side of the carrier so that bikes can be easily secured there instead of the cooler.

This series of blog posts describes the carrier and our developmental process, in reverse order unfortunately (blame the Blogger interface).
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Old 12-01-2016, 03:34 PM   #3
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Bikes bouncing around on a rack apply a great amount of force to what they are attached to. After a while, I wouldn't be surprised to have door hinge problems if you go the door route....I have a folding bike. It is about 50% heavier than my steel framed mountain bike. I am sure an electric bike is even heavier.

You can get a hitch mounted bike rack that folds down to allow rear door access.
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Old 12-02-2016, 06:17 AM   #4
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...I wouldn't be surprised to have door hinge problems ....
More likely is sheet metal problems for ladders attached to the rear Sprinter doors. I researched this at length prior to making the decision to go with a hitch solution. While nobody's evidence was incontrovertible, most posters on other forums (not Air Forums threads) believed that there was a significant risk of sheet metal deformation from loading the rear doors with a ladder plus or minus other items. People do it, but the doors simply weren't designed for those kinds of stresses.

A better ladder solution is the kind that attaches to the top gutter and under the chassis, as those are supported by structural elements rather than the sheet metal skin of the vehicle (but of course that kind can't be used on the rear). Aluminess is probably the best known supplier; Outside Van (OSV) also offers their own versions. I screengrabbed this OSV photo from Instagram last night, to show the configuration. People sometimes put two ladders on the sides of Sprinters for the purposes of carrying surf boards. Anything else, like bikes, would probably stick out too far for side carry.

Here is OSV's ladder page and here is the Aluminess product. OSV has been careful to attach the upper portion of their rear door ladder to the very top of the door frame, not the sheet metal.
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:15 AM   #5
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I purchased a Thule Swing Away bike rack last year. It works great. It will allow both doors to open. Although the door with the handle does not open all the way. I'm very pleased with this setup.

https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/bike-...31xt-_-1686826
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Old 12-02-2016, 12:01 PM   #6
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We are avid road cyclists and wanted a stable solution for transporting our bikes. We chose a Thule T2 Pro rack (https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/bike-...9035-_-1689770) attached to a RakAttach (http://rakattach.com). This solution allows for a tray-based rack and a full ability to swing out of the way - to the left as well so that no obstruction when we set up awning, etc. on the right side. Yes, this does require more $ invested, but to me best meets our needs for stability, security, and clearance.
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Old 12-02-2016, 01:02 PM   #7
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Holy cow - that Thule swings left - that's very rare. The Stowaway people told me that under no circumstances would they ever develop or sell any device that swings left - too much liability if someone has to pull to the shoulder of the road and then open their rear door in an urgent situation (because the device would swing into the adjacent lane of active traffic).

That was one of my big stumbling blocks on a commercially-produced device because, with right-swinging devices, almost all of them at least partially block the rear door that has the handle on it. I didn't mind so much having the left door partially or wholly blocked because it's the passive door, but not the right - no way. So all right-pivoting hitch products were off the table for me. Nobody mentioned this product previously, I don't think.
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Old 12-02-2016, 02:30 PM   #8
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Keep the ideas and experiences coming please...

Dear Mr. Golf and Interblog: The Rakattach sounds like a solution, especially if it swings off to the drivers side, so when camped it is out of the way of the passenger - awning side and allows the rear doors to both open 90 degrees to take advantage of fresh air and the great electric screen on the 2016 and 2017 AI. However, as Interblog points out, I too have never seen a hitch that swings to the drivers side. So, how did you do this. I have contacted Rakattach about availability, pricing and swing and will post what I learn to this thread.

I still don't like the added length for all this -- can you tell us how much length the Rakattach and Thule-Pro2 added to your AI?

I think the optimal solution would be the Suco door mount ladder and two 25-30 lb folding bikes that can be put inside the van in bad weather, city stops, etc. However, I'm not succeeding in finding any data on what the AI door can handle with the Surco - which hangs over the top back of the door and bolts to the bottom with 2 screws and bikes and the AI traveling down bumpy roads. I figure with the doors closed and the folders attached to the ladder there should be little to no movement or stress -- but I wouldn't know. Maybe I need to find an engineer, as I don't want to experiment with our new AI; besides my wife would kill me.

Anyway - thanks all for the input. Keep it coming and I will be sure to post my final decisions, etc.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mrgolf View Post
We are avid road cyclists and wanted a stable solution for transporting our bikes. We chose a Thule T2 Pro rack (https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/bike-...9035-_-1689770) attached to a RakAttach (http://rakattach.com). This solution allows for a tray-based rack and a full ability to swing out of the way - to the left as well so that no obstruction when we set up awning, etc. on the right side. Yes, this does require more $ invested, but to me best meets our needs for stability, security, and clearance.
Wow - thanks for posting info on RakAttach. I'm getting one so I can use my platform carrier or a bike rack for my tandem. I stopped using the rear racks because it made it impossible to use rear storage area.

Edit: Looked at the photos on RakAttach web site. They all swing right. Did you modify yours to swing left? Or do they offer a model that swings left.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:23 PM   #10
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I installed a fiamma door mounted rack this summer and it worked flawlessly. Conveniently, you can easily open the door with the bike rack in use without any extra steps. I will try to find a picture for you.

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Old 12-02-2016, 03:26 PM   #11
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:59 PM   #12
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...
Edit: Looked at the photos on RakAttach web site. They all swing right. Did you modify yours to swing left? Or do they offer a model that swings left.
I know! I look it up, too. All swing right. I'm curious as well.
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Old 12-02-2016, 05:50 PM   #13
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If you look closely it appears mrgolf mounted the rackattack upside down. I'm not sure if is engineered for this application!
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Old 12-02-2016, 06:23 PM   #14
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If you look closely it appears mrgolf mounted the rackattack upside down. I'm not sure if is engineered for this application!

? The label is right side up, though. And I specifically verified that the license plate numbers were not mirror image (photo flip) before I made my holy cow comment.
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