Sanctioned for RV use, Yakima’s robust hitch-mounted LongHaul bike rack could save you the headache of damaged two-wheelers
Hanging bicycles on a trailer or motorhome is not as simple as it looks. Owners who prefer a more stout arrangement than those afforded by ladder and/or bumper racks generally look at products commonly sold in bike shops or online. While these racks work well among riding enthusiasts, use on RVs can lead to damaged or even lost bicycles because of rough roads and less-than-forgiving suspensions. That’s why the majority of bicycle-rack manufacturers prohibit use on RVs, and will void the warranty and accept no responsibility for damaged bikes. Yakima’s LongHaul rack is approved for trailers and motorhomes when used with Class 3 or 4 hitch receivers.
The LongHaul is designed to handle four bikes, but that is somewhat optimistic. Nevertheless, the four available positions provide versatility when hauling two or three bikes, depending on type and size. The upright configuration has two arms with four sets of cradles that can be adjusted for specific spacing. Once the upright mast is bolted to the stinger, the rack is inserted into the 2-inch receiver and pinned in place with a locking bolt.
A welcome feature allows the arms to fold down when not in use, making it practical to leave on the back of the trailer or tow vehicle when running solo. A large button is used to release the arms, which works smoothly without binding. Integrated into the mast is a retractable cable lock that can be used to secure the bikes. It’s not exceptionally strong, but it will discourage amateur thieves.
While the use of dual arms and cradles is common, Yakima has put some thought into its system to prevent excessive movement of the bicycles while on the road. Any method used to hold bikes secure has a twofold purpose: to keep the bikes solid in the cradles and to make the process of mounting and removing the bikes uncomplicated while requiring little effort. Yakima nailed it on both fronts.
Cleverly designed ZipStrips are pushed into the cradles via a ratcheting mechanism that keeps the bike frame seated tightly. Two cradles on the arms secure the top tube, and a third keeps the seat tube rigid to prevent sway. Once all three ZipStrips are in place properly, the bike cannot come off the rack. To remove the ZipStrips, a button is pushed to release the ratcheting mechanism. While the system works well and builds confidence that the bike will not be launched on the road, it’s easy to lose the ZipStrips, as we did when leaving them on the bumper and driving off. It’s best to return the ZipStrips into the cradles immediately.
The optional TubeTop is needed when the bicycle top tube is sloped. When attached to the handlebar stem and seat post, the TubeTop keeps the bike level in the cradles.
Bikes with large frames (mountain bikes, for instance) and the heaviest models must be loaded first to reduce the leverage on the arms. Also, the bikes must be loaded in a level attitude. Models with sloping top tubes will need the Yakima TubeTop ($49) device that attaches to the handlebar stem and seat post to keep the bike level.
We tried loading four bikes, but as mentioned previously, it wouldn’t work without the risk of damaging the bikes. Three works OK after repositioning the cradles, but two can be carried perfectly. When in the hitch receiver, the rack has plenty of road clearance and can be fitted with a number of covers that are easily obtainable online or at bicycle shops. A Front Wheel Strap is used on the first-loaded bike, and a safety strap is threaded through each wheel and around the mast.
The entire process of loading and unloading is very fast, and acclimation comes quickly. I would be remiss not to mention the bottle opener on the end of the arm for those who need a cold one after a day on the trail.
Using a wrench, the LongHaul can be quickly removed from the trailer hitch receiver and moved to the tow vehicle for added versatility when set up in an RV park. It can also be mounted in a higher position on the back of a motorhome to clear the dinghy vehicle with the use of a dual receiver.
Although the two-page “Read Me First” flyer packaged with the LongHaul can be a little disconcerting to the uninitiated, the part about the lifetime warranty to the original owner makes it a good read. The best part is the confidence owners will gain knowing that the LongHaul can handle adverse treatment from a noncompliant trailer suspension and rough roads — and the bikes will make it to the intended destination safely.
An RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee and publisher emeritus of Trailer Life and MotorHome, Bob Livingston has written countless RV technical and lifestyle articles and books, and created and appeared on the weekly television show RVtoday. A lifelong RV enthusiast, Bob now travels and lives full time with his wife, Lynne, in their fifth-wheel trailer. He continues to be a regular contributor to Trailer Life.