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The Best Way To Transport Bikes In An Airstream

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When it comes to bringing bikes on your RV adventures, your options are limited. You can either attach them to the exterior of your trailer or tow vehicle, or you can put them inside one or the other.

Initially, we couldn’t settle an option that didn’t involve downsides we found unacceptable. Then we found a simple, easy, and inexpensive solution. Yes, you read that right – simple, easy and inexpensive. The elusive trifecta. But before I describe our solution, let’s briefly review the disadvantages common amongst all the most popular bike transportation techniques.

If bikes are attached externally, they will bake in the sun, collect all sorts of road grime, get rained on, and are vulnerable to theft. Plus, the only bike rack officially sanctioned by Airstream has some pretty bad reviews. It doesn’t take much googling to find claims of structural failures leading to bikes falling off while towing. Such an occurrence might be relatively uncommon – and might be caused by people exceeding the recommended weight limits – but it’s not hard to imagine hours of strong, undulating forces against a rear-mounted bike rack eventually causing components to break. For a fleeting moment I considered a roof mounted rack for my truck, but this made little sense on a vehicle that’s already over seven feet tall. With bikes attached, my truck might end up as tall as the Airstream itself. That wasn’t appealing. For one thing, loading and unloading the bikes would surely be a pain. The truck bed was another obvious target for bike transportation, but it too was quickly eliminated for a couple of rather obvious reasons. First, I need the bed for my outdoor stove, camp chairs, extra DEF, folding table, paddle boards, tools, and every other thing that doesn’t fit comfortably in the Airstream. Second, bikes would block my tonneau cover from fully closing, thus defeating its entire purpose, which is to protect things in the bed from theft and the elements.

With external bike storage effectively eliminated, we were left with internal storage. Our Airstream is 30 feet long and we only have two bikes to store, so space wasn’t an issue. However, we were morally opposed to any option that risked accidental deposits of grease, grime, or dirt on to the interior of our brand new Airstream, or that threatened to incur any scrapes, dings, or scuffs. If only there was some sort of BAG we could put our bikes in for travel days.

Turns out – there is! Behold, the Buds Roadbag.

Both bikes in their fabric cocoons, nestled in the back of our Airstream

For about $100, this bag will completely encase a bike in a tough fabric shell. All you have to do is remove the front tire, twist the handlebars 90 degrees, zip it up, and slide it inside your trailer. There’s even a large inside pocket with velcro straps for storing your front tire. It also includes a padded cushion that protects the front fork – and anything it comes in contact with – from blunt force trauma. In particular, I think it saves the Airstream floor from scratches and the bag itself from puncture wounds. As a bonus, the carrying case that comes with the bag can be repurposed as a helmet and/or gear bag. Getting a bike into one of these bags only takes a couple minutes – not much longer than it would take to secure them to a bike rack – and loading them into the Airstream is only a matter of lifting and sliding. You don’t even have to be particularly careful as you do this because the Airstream’s interior is completely protected from the bike’s dirty tires, greasy chain, and sharp gear spokes. In our estimation, these bags represent the very pinnacle of RV bike transportation technology. That is to say, we love them. ❀

It’s so nice being able to stop randomly on travel days without worrying about the bikes getting stolen while the rig is unattended. Storing the bikes inside also keeps them out of the sun and rain and eliminates any risk of accidental detachment, all while still allowing us full use of our bathroom and kitchen. The only “room” that’s inaccessible is the office. Of course, your mileage here will vary according to your rig’s layout.

One word of caution, however. When we ordered our bags, we purchased the “road bag” option. I should have read the descriptions more closely when I placed my order because these bags are intended for (surprise!) road bikes, which have shorter, curved handlebars. The bikes we most commonly travel with have the longer, straight handlebars. Consequently, our bikes didn’t quite fit into our road bags. Had I looked more carefully, I would have ordered the slightly larger MT option which is intended for bikes with straight handlebars. But rather than return what we bought, I decided to just remove our handlebars for transportation. All that is to say, be sure to order the right size bag for your bikes!

It’s also worth noting that if left out in the sun all day long, these bags will fade. The first time we used them was on our trip to Big Chief RV Resort in Burnet, Texas. Although we enjoyed our stay, there weren’t any good places to ride bikes nearby, so they sat in their bags in the pounding sun for a full week. When it came time to pack up, I saw that the sunward facing sides of the bags had gone from black to deep brown. Not the biggest deal in the world, but if I had to do it over again, I would have covered them with a tarp or something to keep the sun off.

Given that I was considering spending upward of $1,000 or more on a truck rack like this that sits above the bed, our $200 dollar solution is particularly satisfying. If you have the interior space to store your bikes during travel, we highly recommend them!

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