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Old 12-31-2019, 04:24 PM   #1
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THOR #15089
Ladder supporting weight of 2 e-bikes

I have a 2018 Thor Siesta 24ST and have just purchased two e-bikes, with a combined weight (batteries removed) of just under 80 lb. I have a Surco 501BR ladder mounted bike rack that holds 2 bikes, which I believe is adequate for the weight, but I've only previously used it on this ladder for a single lighter standard bike.

I've read all the threads with horror stories of ladders being torn loose by the weight of bikes, etc. attached to them during travel. My concern is heightened as I know that the mounting of this ladder is not the best: When brand new, the mounting SCREWS (not bolts) were so stripped that they could be moved with a finger, and the dealer had to remount them when we took delivery (but they're still screws, not bolts with backing plates). I have a hitch mount bike rack that would eliminate the concern, but not only does it add 4 ft to the length of the coach, making parking and maneuvering much more difficult, but eliminates my towing a dolly. The ladder is presently fine for 165 lb me to access the roof, but I suspect the laws of physics would yield a different answer for 80 lb being flung around on a bumpy road at 65mph.

Has anyone had experience in re-mounting the ladder with through bolts and backing plates? My coach layout has a large storage locker at the lower rear that would allow me to drill straight through and access the back side for plate mounting, and the next row of mounting points could, I believe, be accessed if I removed the cushioned bunk headboards against the back wall of the bedroom. I'm contacting Thor as well, hoping they can assure me that drilling at these spots won't sever something vital. Thanks.
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:35 PM   #2
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The bolt through is an an easy thought and easily accomplished mod if you can make access.
You'll likely need some spacers made from the pipe of your choice between the inside and outside walls.

I've done ladders and upper and lower awning Mounts and floor and wall tie downs in a toy hauler. Aluminum diamond plate makes fine backers and is easily cut and bent to contour as needed.


Make sure anyone responding has practical, not IEEE experience before you follow any train of thought/acccomplishment regarding through bolts.

But
I would go farther and have a STEEL ladder built to copy the possibly/probably/almost certainly aluminum tube/decorative grade stainless steel ladder you have.
I wouldn't trust the aluminum/stainless tube to take the jostling.
THIS is where you listen to engineer stuff.
If you can kick it and make it kink, don't use it.
Personally if my new ladder wasn't heavy Guage pipe, I'd pass.

So,
I'm going to say no. My 'no' is not based on the sound logic of through bolts, but on the material generally used on rv ladders.

Expense be damned. You can afford to rv, or you can't.
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:43 PM   #3
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I would agree: I can't see a standard RV ladder holding up to e-bikes at all. I wouldn't even put normal bikes on one (always worry climbing up mine: will I make it this time ! LOL).
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Old 12-31-2019, 04:51 PM   #4
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Exclamation

Using one of these, you could use your hitch-mount bike rack AND still tow your dolly.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Popfla View Post
Using one of these, you could use your hitch-mount bike rack AND still tow your dolly.
It's only rated to 3500 lbs so he'd have to have a mighty light toad.

Here's a 5000 lb rated one that's $24 cheaper:

https://www.amazon.com/HiTow-Receive...QGFC0WQDZGHDP3
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:13 PM   #6
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Ducksface: Thanks; good advice, but it got me thinking about another alternative: Leave the ladder alone, and get a separate bike mount that's through-bolted. I haven't done a search yet, but they must be out there.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by steve2777 View Post
Ducksface: Thanks; good advice, but it got me thinking about another alternative: Leave the ladder alone, and get a separate bike mount that's through-bolted. I haven't done a search yet, but they must be out there.
The cantilever affect of a bolt through bike rack would require it also be bolted/supported by the bumper.


I might take that hitch extension posted, add a riser to it so it clears the hood of your toad.
That would do away with the added length (I understood why you weren't using that hitch extension) you don't want and give you a stable base and a 2inch heavy wall post(receiver tube) to put your bike rack on.
If you are able lift the bike to shoulder height, attaching it to the rack, this would be a compact and certifiable way to do it, hindered only by your personal height and ability.

If you look at sportsmansguide.com you'll find 'deer lifts' that might be close to perfect for your use, or at least give you a good idea.

In general,
Look up
Deer hoist, deer hitch winch... That sort of thing.
There's also a work version for long lumber and canoes that flips upright for long lumber on a truck rack.

(I'd like to see a picture or link to the bikes. Mine weight 65pounds and I'm looking for some lightweights)
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:50 PM   #8
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Ducksface: Thanks, I'll check that out. The E-bikes I've ordered are 2 different Hyper E-Ride models sold on WalMart website for a very reasonable $599 each. Listed weight is under 50 lb but batteries are removable and should have the weight down to about 40.
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Old 12-31-2019, 05:59 PM   #9
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I just noticed some bolt-down bike fork mounts, usually flat mounted in a truck bed, for removing the bike's front wheel and locking down the fork. If I through-bolted these up high (I could access them from the ladder), the bikes would hang straight down, and could be further stabilized by a strap mount at or near the (concealed) bumper. This should eliminate the cantilever issue raised by Ducksface, and the bikes could be further stabilized from right/left movement by a stabilizing line from the ladder. And the front wheels could be placed inside the coach, further lightening the suspended weight. Any thoughts? Thanks.
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Old 12-31-2019, 06:08 PM   #10
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Put a hitch and bike rack on the toad.
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Old 12-31-2019, 06:17 PM   #11
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Using a dual receiver shouldn't be an issue as most dollies put the car far back enough that the front of the car wont come close to the hitch. The dual hitch receiver is going to add to that as well.

As an example our coach/dolly/car:
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There is a good 3' or 4' from the hitch to the front bumper. Will have to look into that for our e-bike rack + dolly.
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Old 12-31-2019, 06:44 PM   #12
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I want to be able to take the e-bikes all the time, but only occasionally take a toad, so whatever I do needs to be mounted on the coach, not the toad. And I could use my hitch mount bike rack if not towing, but I'm trying to minimize overall length for parking purposes, and the hitch mount is going to extend that by about 4 feet. The Siesta has an inset in the rear cap of 2-3 inches, and so a bike (26 inch wheels) attached vertically to the rear will only add 2 feet to the length (and the ladder already sticks out part of this distance anyway). I'm kind of zeroing in on an idea of through-mounting one mount (either a fork mount or a rear wheel mount) up high, with the lower mount (either a real wheel mount or a fork mount being supported from a hitch bracket like the ones advertised for attaching work lights around the outside of the hitch receiver. This would leave the receiver itself open if I'm towing, and a bracket around the receiver providing plenty of support for the weight of the bikes. With line tied between the ladder and the bikes, right/left movement should be minimized.

I'm so grateful for everyone's ideas. I've ended up with a completely different idea than my original ladder mount plan, and I think this may work out far better. Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2019, 06:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve2777 View Post
I want to be able to take the e-bikes all the time, but only occasionally take a toad, so whatever I do needs to be mounted on the coach, not the toad. And I could use my hitch mount bike rack if not towing, but I'm trying to minimize overall length for parking purposes, and the hitch mount is going to extend that by about 4 feet. The Siesta has an inset in the rear cap of 2-3 inches, and so a bike (26 inch wheels) attached vertically to the rear will only add 2 feet to the length (and the ladder already sticks out part of this distance anyway). I'm kind of zeroing in on an idea of through-mounting one mount (either a fork mount or a rear wheel mount) up high, with the lower mount (either a real wheel mount or a fork mount being supported from a hitch bracket like the ones advertised for attaching work lights around the outside of the hitch receiver. This would leave the receiver itself open if I'm towing, and a bracket around the receiver providing plenty of support for the weight of the bikes. With line tied between the ladder and the bikes, right/left movement should be minimized.

I'm so grateful for everyone's ideas. I've ended up with a completely different idea than my original ladder mount plan, and I think this may work out far better. Thanks!
The extra 2 or 3 feet added when towing the toad won't make that much of a difference when parking--you'll still have to find a pull through spot (truck stop, rest area, etc.) as you won't be able to back up. Once camping the dolly will slide under the coach a bit but still stick out further than the bike rack + extension.

I do like the idea of a fork mount up high, however getting the front of the bike up that high might be a bit of a trick (even without the battery and the front wheel). Likely a 2 person job with one person on the RV's ladder guiding the forks.
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:08 PM   #14
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Yeah, that's true: I haven't gotten delivery of the bikes yet, and I might find the lifting involved is just too cumbersome. Maybe I'm over-thinking this thing: My hitch mount bike rack sticks out 4 feet because it's made to hold up to 4 bikes. Maybe I'd be better off with getting a smaller 2 bike hitch mount rack that pivots up when the bikes are off, for easy town parking; then if I am going to tow, use a double receiver with that same rack. Nothing better than putting half a dozen heads together to solve problems; Thanks !!
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:22 PM   #15
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This guy may work out even better (Amazon) as its rated for 7500 lbs.
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Old 12-31-2019, 07:23 PM   #16
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Another classic case of "Saved By The Forum"! Good luck with the setup!
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:17 PM   #17
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Since you're open to ideas :
Etrailer sells a dandily made FRONT HITCH for $109 shipped. I was very very impressed with the build and ease of install (30 minutes) but ultimately had to go with a custom front hitch due to my front coil springs being changed to leaf springs when I did the four wheel drive conversion.

It'd be a fine place to mount a bike rack.

http://www.thorforums.com/forums/f28...run-18996.html

The above link has information on front hitches both ready made and custom built.


Here's mine in the picture. I opted to raise it high and behind the grill since mine isn't for bikes or anything other than emergency use at speeds where opening the hood isn't an issue. The Etrailer unit hides behind and accesses from behind your front license plate.
(also a good place to hook to for a quick tow when stuck)

(people have asked about the light bar. It shines through the bottom slot of the grill and makes a block of light like something out of the Tron movie.)

Click the picture, then click the pop up picture to go full size.
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:31 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ducksface View Post
Since you're open to ideas :
Etrailer sells a dandily made FRONT HITCH for $109 shipped. I was very very impressed with the build and ease of install (30 minutes) but ultimately had to go with a custom front hitch due to my front coil springs being changed to leaf springs when I did the four wheel drive conversion.

It'd be a fine place to mount a bike rack.

http://www.thorforums.com/forums/f28...run-18996.html

The above link has information on front hitches both ready made and custom built.


Here's mine in the picture. I opted to raise it high and behind the grill since mine isn't for bikes or anything other than emergency use at speeds where opening the hood isn't an issue. The Etrailer unit hides behind and accesses from behind your front license plate.
(also a good place to hook to for a quick tow when stuck)

(people have asked about the light bar. It shines through the bottom slot of the grill and makes a block of light like something out of the Tron movie.)

Click the picture, then click the pop up picture to go full size.
Note that the OP has a Siesta on a Sprinter platform which may or may not be condusive to a front hitch.

Actually, looks like it is but at a price ($400+):
https://torkliftcentral.com/mercedes...front-ecohitch
https://www.sprinterstore.com/produc...-sprinter-van/
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:40 PM   #19
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https://www.etrailer.com/vm/Mercedes...inter+3500/fmr
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Old 12-31-2019, 08:43 PM   #20
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I was surprised by the inexpensive $109 for the e350 and E450.
I 3xp3cted it to be $300+ when I was shopping it.

400 bucks is a stupid high price for straight piece of stock and two noncustom angle pieces.
But
By the time we all jack around and committee build him something, he'll be within range of just pulling the trigger on the 400 bucks.

If the op is inventive and able
My front hitch is from a 2001 blazer, flipped upside down and five inches whacked out and welded.

Hell, almost anything fits, even in a sprinter.

A 'winch plate' might be worth a look as an alternative thought. It'll bolt flat to the obvious from the picture of the sprinter front hitch, flat frame rails. Then a 20 buck hitch receiver bolted to it.
But
I'm kinda liking the '400 bucks and no thought needed' direction.
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