Posted by: Steve and Bethany | January 18, 2009



Yup..  it’s been a while

After a fantastic couple years of camping, (The Bullet has 35,000 miles on it now) Bethany got on me about building a bike rack for bringing our bikes along with us. This was always part of the plan, but I wanted some time to think about just how to best pull it off. If you remember right, while building the back wall of the bullet, I welded & installed two threaded receivers, to assist in raising & lowering the spare, which weighs about 180 lbs, in addition to that, I figured at some point I could use these connection points for a bike rack.

I started thinking about this last winter, long enough to realize I didn’t want to hang the bikes as they would bounce around violently while off-roading, which, if you could see the condition of the paint job close up, you’d realize we do quite often. I operate best when the ideas come to me, & no clear solution came to me last year, so I put it off until now. I gave up the existing receivers as a connection point, as I realized I wanted bottom support, keeping the tires stable in something. Now there are several mass produced bottom (tray) support bike racks out there, all of which I looked at, but what lost me was the single point of support (a single 2″ receiver), in addition, if I was to use a mass produced one, it would block my licence plate as it is located directly above my receiver, & sits way too low for our driving style. So once again, I’m off building my own!

This is what I was starting with, you can see the two round receivers above the spare & above the fuel cans

bike rack 002

You can also see the back wall is not flat, as the spare & fuel cans protrude, so I had to keep these in mind

bike rack 003

This was about where I wanted the bikes placed, up & out of the way, & no that’s not my bike !

bike rack 005

As typical with me, I seem to get more out of starting with something & making it into something else.. .. remember, “make new shit out of old shit”!

after looking into Thule T2, Kuat NV 2 & sherpa models, looking for what I could work with the best, I settled on the Swagman XTC2  as my donor. Several reasons why: the rack holds the tires stable, then clamps down on the frames of the bikes, not the tires, these clamps can be locked so there’s really no way to get the bikes out, & it held the bikes just far enough apart not to hit each other, but not so far that the outer bike hung way out.

bike rack 007

from this I would be using parts, but not most of the main frame.

My first order was to make two strong bottom connections, keep in mind this also had to be removable, so I designed two brackets out of 1 1/4″ receivers & permanently mounted them to the rear corner posts on the Bullet

bike rack 006

A test fit to make sure everything fits right (I had to pull the spare to get the mounting hole drilled)(here you can easily see the two round receivers I chose not to use for this project, they are being used as pulleys to raise & lower the spare with the winch)

bike rack 008

I ripped two pieces of wood to determine the exact distance between the receivers, as this was going to be 1 piece of metal, hence, had to be exact

bike rack 010

This picture also shows the amazing flex that these campers & truck frames go through, look at the bumper compared to the camper. This right here is proof that the pivot frame is essential in off road campers. (& yes, my driveway has a lot of twist to it)

While I was having 1 1/4″ square tube bent to the radius & distance I needed, I made the center mounting plates to hold the center post of the swagman rack, this post swings up to hold the frames of the bikes, not the tires, a very important aspect for off-roading.

bike rack 014

then I got the bent tube back

bike rack 016

In this, I drilled & welded threaded couplers, as I planned on bolting this into the receivers to get a 100% stable bottom frame, as opposed to using a cotter pinbike rack 015

& test fit

bike rack 017

after getting everything powder coated, I finally got to assembly this past weekend

bike rack 019

permanently mounted the brackets

bike rack 023

& all assembled.

bike rack 028

remember my required clearance from the back wall,

In this picture, you can also see my third point of attachment, the center post swings up, holding the bike frames, but also connects to a third point on the Bullet, locking in the upper portion making there absolutely no bounce or sway in the bikes at all.

bike rack 029

& with bikes

bike rack 025

I designed this in such a way so that there’s no wasted space, Bethany’s bike’s handlebars are only about 1 1/2″ from the back wall, & our two bikes are only 10″ apart

bike rack 027

& remember, the center post goes down when not in use

bike rack 031


I love having a project to continually tweak.. ..

really the only part of the Bullet that has never been ‘finished’, although it never really bothered me, was the upper four corners where the roof meets the walls. If you remember correctly, the four roof corners on the UHAUL roof differ in that the front two are a radius that radius’s upward (like a quarter sphere). whereas the back two corners start as a 90 degree angle, then curve upward to a full radius at the top.

the front corner exterior       clearance lights 004

& the back corner exterior   clearance lights 001

you can picture what the interior of those shapes looks like, not easy shapes to form out of any material, this led to me never having  done any real finish in these areas

the front inside showing why I didn’t just cover these areas in vinyl when the ceiling was upholstered, I needed access to run all the roof & ceiling wiresroof trim 007

covered with a rough cardboard trim I made four years ago, wrapped in vinylroof trim 009

& the back inside, no wires in this one corner, & a piece of the vinyl cut out so I could match the color in paint (the vinyl ran longer than the aluminum behind by about a half inch)

roof trim 006

this never really bothered me as I never really looked up at it, but knowing it was the only area not finished still bothered me, creating this shape was a mystery until one day this spring.

I finally realized I could draw both of these shapes exactly, in sketchup & have them 3D printed out of plastic. anything was possible now, it just never occurred to me.

the sketchup drawings, & their corresponding realities;

Bullet roof trim frontroof trim 003

Bullet roof trim front a roof trim 004

& the back pieces

Bullet roof trim back2 roof trim 001

Bullet roof trim back2a roof trim 002

if you look close on the sketchup drawings, you can see I added a back tab at the bottoms to fit behind the aluminum trim below & even drew a bump out tab to catch under this existing trim to snap these new pieces in just like a model & hold them in place permanantly

add a little almond paint & viola.. .. the (four years later) finished product.. ..

roof trim 011 roof trim 013


This will be the last of the fussing for this year.. .. I promise,

it’s time to start taking this thing out & getting it dirty.

The only thing on the Bullet that was not “real”, were the hub covers that came with the Rickson wheels, everything else is what it is, & has a purpose. This plus last year I bashed them in while offroad, they stuck out just a bit too far for one particular chunk of bedrock, so I decided to remove the covers, clean up & paint what was behind them & let them be exposed as they are. enough talk, pictures.. ..

the original covers

hubs 001 hubs 003

after I banged them up

hubs 005 hubs 006

painted the lugs

hubs 007

cleaned up & painted the real hubs

hubs 009 hubs 008

& the finished product

hubs 014 hubs 013

no more places for small rocks to get caught



  1. Do you mind sharing where did you source your lifting system mounted pulleys and turnbuckes? Thanks and I must say that your build is perfect!

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