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Old 05-21-2022, 06:28 PM   #1
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Tailgate pad and bikes with trailer

Hi all, hoping for some advice (OR opinions!) after a forum search didn't turn up anything.

I'd built a custom bike rack using some aluminum, and Swagman bike carriers. These worked fine for my kids bikes and my wife's cruiser that had round tubes:
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But we upgraded them to mountain bikes, which have thick square frames. The Swagman racks won't open enough to grab the frame. Similar racks from Yakima won't hold the square frame either.

I'm considering just using a tailgate pad for the bikes. I think they'll fit and avoid the trailer if I keep them on both sides of the truck as I have about 15" of clearance:
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But... we are taking a 2500 mile trip to Glacier NP in June and I'm worried about the pad slipping & rubbing or the bikes bouncing over that many miles.

Has anyone done long-distance carrying of bikes with a tailgate pad?
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Old 05-21-2022, 06:36 PM   #2
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I specifically didn't because I didn't want the damage to my tailgate. I've heard that the it can rub back and forth across the paint and grind hte paint, especially if there is any dirt on it. I just made my own rack from a 2x4.

I cut the 2x4 to the width of my truck bed. I bought two sets of fork mounts and screwed them to the 2x4. I just take the front wheel off of the adult's bikes and lock the forks into the mount, its plenty secure. For the kids bikes I just made some 2x4 uprights that squeeze tight against the wheels and hold them in place. Works great for carrying the bikes on our camping trips. Even better, I have a Softopper cap that the bikes all fit underneath to keep them out of the weather.

The bike mount cost me about $40 total.
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Old 05-21-2022, 07:14 PM   #3
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Agree with spoon059. I won't use a tailgate pad on my truck. Maybe if the truck was old and beat up I would. They are known to rub the paint, and sometimes cause small dents/indentations where the fork contacts the tailgate (my tailgate is aluminum and not very thick).

When not towing the TT, I use a hitch mounted tray style rack (I have both a 1Up and Kuat Sherpa). When towing, I use a roof mounted tray style rack that holds my bike by the front tire. I should mention I have a Yakima bed rack the roof rack mounts on. I avoid all racks that contact the bike frame.

That said, if you are willing to use a tailgate pad, I don't think you would have clearance issues.
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Old 05-23-2022, 10:10 AM   #4
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Thanks EJH and spoon059!! The perspective on the dirt/denting is what I was looking for and worried about. I think I'll go with the wood+fork mount in the back... the clearance is probably OK but it's a bit of a hassle to have the bikes right in the hitch area.


Any recommendation for fork mounts? I see some on eTrailer, but there seem to be a few sizes for different bike axle lengths.
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Old 05-23-2022, 10:38 AM   #5
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I use a tailgate pad from April to August. Never an issue. you just have to make sure you wash the tailgate and wax it before you put it on. Never has damaged my tailgate on my 2020 Tacoma or my 18 gmc. I tow with it also. Never has been an issue.
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Old 05-23-2022, 10:51 AM   #6
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I've got the fork mounts mounted to the front edge of my bed, just below the upper rail, so they fit under my bed cover when not hauling bikes. I may have bought them from Amazon, but it has been so many years ago, I don't remember. They keep the bikes rigidly mounted so they don't bounce around and it's easy to run a cable through them and lock the frames and front tires to the mounts to deter would-be thieves. Just look up truck bed bike fork mount and several options come up. The standard size seems to be 9mmx100mm on the dropout skewer. You can measure your bikes first to see if they are different.
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