Fabricating a Cheap MTB Hitch Rack
A few years ago I decided to start carrying my mountain bike on the front of my Jeep. There's a lot of reasons why I wanted to move it up front... less weight on the tailgate of the Jeep, I didn't like the Jeep options for rear hitch racks and I didn't like the tire mounted racks. But most of all, it was the bumper riders who convinced me that carrying the bike in the rear... wasn't for me.
I spent a few weeks researching various hitch racks trying to find one that fit the bill, but had no luck. So I finally decided, I'll make my own hitch rack.
So back to drawing board I began sketching out what it would look like, how I'd mount the front fork, how I'd secure the rear tire and what I'd build it from. I did quite a bit of browsing around Home Depot and Lowes for steel, ran through a variety of sketches and nothing seemed to work out financially... everything I came up with was just going to cost way too much to worth the trouble. So I mauled it over for a few months... working it over in my mind and researching tubing options. I finally decided the cheapest solution would be to buy someone's used rack, cut it up and weld it back to my specs and rack needs.
I then started browsing Ebay for any used rack options. During my Ebay searches I kept coming across "truck Bed Extenders" and they could be had very cheaply. So I found one listed for $24.00 and placed a bid. A few days later I had won it and a week later I had my 2" square tubing lined up.
With my 2" hitch tubing lined up, I now had to figure out where to go next in building my bike rack. The Truck Bed Extender sat in my garage for about two weeks while I mauled the design some more and after a lot of thought I had it figured out and on paper.
So I jumped in the Jeep and drove to Home Depot, picked up an 8' x 1.625" and a 4' x .75" long round steel pipe, some primer paint and flat black texture paint. Next I ran by the LBS and picked up a fork mount and headed back home. Back home I determined how long I needed the 2" square tubing for the hitch and cut it to length (18"). I then cut the 8' round steel pipe to 51" and cut a second piece to 5". Next I used a saws-all and cut (rounded inward) one end of the 51" round pipe to except the 5" fork piece. I clamped the 5" piece to end of the (51") piece of round pipe and welding it up for the fork mount. Next bored a (1.75") hole through both sides of the 2" square tubing and ground down the rough edges. With my 2" square tubing prepared, I then slipped the 1.625" round tubing into the 2" square tubing and started welding it up.
I now had a nice "T" shaped mount for my bike rack, but I still needed a method to secure the rear tire of the bike. That's where the .75" round steel tubing came into play. I cut the 4' x .75" steel pipe to (32") and used a blow torch to heat up the center of the steel and make it easy to bend around my 51" x 1.625" round steel tubing. Once the center of the (32") of steel was nice and hot, I place it under the 1.625" tubing and bent it around and upward until it was the same width from top to bottom. With the steel hot as it was, it was very easy to wrap around the 1.625" round steel tubing. I then drilled a .25" hole through the rear tire mount and bolted it up.
With everything welded up and ready, I covered it with primer and the texture flat back paint I had picked up a Home Depot. The next day I installed the fork mount and used a strap from an older bike rack I had to insure the rear tire doesn't bounce out of the rear tire mount while going down the road.
All in all I've got something like $74.00 wrapped up in the whole thing and it's stronger than any other rack I've ever owned or seen to date. Note: the Yakima Wheel carrier was added after I made this and is not included in the over all Fabrication cost.
About a year ago I came across a guy who owned a Hollywood Pro Rider Rack
and after staring at it for about 10 minutes, I figured it may be a good solution for a front mount bike rack too. So I picked one up on ebay and when it arrive, it required a minor modifcation to the hitch tubing and was ready to use within 15 mintues. The Modification I made to it was to take a lenght of the 2" square hitch tubing I had left over from my "Truck Extender Rack" and mount it to the Hollywood rack instead of the 2" hitch tubing that came with the Hollywood Rack. I did this because the Hollywood Rack hitch tubing is offset and either set the bike too high or too low once mounted. Using a straight 2" hitch tubing set it at the right hiegth and worked like a charm.
Here are some snap shots of the rack and my material list:
8'x1.625" round steel tubing (Home Depot)
4'x.75" round steel tubing (Home Depot)
Can of Primer and Textured Flat black spray paint (Home Depot)
1 - .25" Nut/bolt with two washers (Home Depot)
Truck Bed Extender (purchased off ebay)
Fork mount (pick up a LBS)