I don’t know about you, but I am and always was a truck guy. Yea, sure, sedans and SUVs look fancy, but nothing beats the convenience of a truck. However, I must admit it’s a little tricky to carry bicycles on a truck bed as they tend to move a lot during long rides.
Don’t worry! It’s not something you can’t solve by yourself. With a few simple materials and tools, you can build a DIY bike rack for your truck bed. Now the question is— Can I make a DIY bike rack, or will it be too difficult for me?
Well, it won’t be after I show you guys how to make a DIY bike rack for a truck bed.
DIY Bike Rack for Open and Tonneau Cover Truck Bed
A truck bed can either be open or with a tonneau cover. I don’t know which one you have, so I’m going to tell you guys how to make two different bike racks all by yourselves— one for open truck beds and the other one for tonneau covers.
PVC Bike Rack for Truck Bed
So, this DIY carrier is only for open truck beds and not for pickups with a tonneau cover. You can make it yourself using PVC and some other materials and tools. One more thing I would like to add is that such racks are not meant for thru-axles. The bicycles you’re planning to carry must have their front wheels.
Tools and Materials
- Chop Saw
- PVC Glue
- Six ¾-inches elbows
- Four 10 feet ¾-inches PVC pipes
- 18 ¾-inches tees
Step 1: Cutting the Pipes
The first thing you need to do after getting the tools and materials is to cut all the pieces. The length or the size of the pipes will depend on the bed of your truck. I have a Toyota Tacoma 2021; hence, I cut the pieces according to my truck bed’s size.
You can make a rack for two, three, or even four bikes. The carrier I’ve made is meant for holding three bicycles. I could’ve made a rack that is able to hold four bikes, but because of the limited space of my truck bed, I chose not to. So, the pipes I needed or cut for the job are:
- 2-inches pipes x 9
- 6-inches pipes x 6
- 10-inches pipes x 12
- 12-inches pipes x 6
You can use almost any saw for PVC pipes as they can be cut down easily. I used a chop saw for the task, but what you use is totally up to you.
Step 2: Assembling the Parts 1
It will be best if you don’t start using glue at the beginning of the assembly. This way, you’ll know if it will actually fit inside the truck bed, and if it doesn’t, you can just pull the parts out and start again.
As you’ll need to glue the pieces later, it would be a wise choice not to push the pipes all the way inside the elbows or tees. Yes, it will make the rack feel a little bigger than it will be after you push the tubes down entirely, so you need to keep this in mind for later.
Nonetheless, the first things you’ll need to make are the three horizontal pieces. You will build each of them with:
- Two elbows
- Three 2-inch pipes
- Four tees
- Two 10-inch pipes
You’ll first connect one of the elbows to a 2-inch pipe; then, on the other end of the pipe, you’ll attach one of the tees. Afterward, you’ll have to take a 10-inch pipe and put it inside the open end of the tee.
Now, repeat the process and make another piece. Now, you’ll need to connect these two pieces using the remaining two tees and the 2-inch pipe. Attach the tees to the open end of the 10-inch pipes and connect the tees using the 2-inch pipe.
Keep doing it till you have three horizontal pieces in your arsenal.
Step 3: Assembling the Parts 2
Now, it’s time to build the vertical pieces. This is where the tires will go once you’re done making the entire thing. To make one of the pieces, you’ll need:
- One tee
- One 10-inch pipe
- One 12-inch pipe
These pieces are effortless to build. All you need to do is insert a 10-inch pipe on one end of the tee and a 12-inch pipe on the other end. Keep repeating the process till you are done making six vertical pieces for the rack.
Step 4: Assembling the Parts 3
Time to attach the pieces from step 2 and step 3. Take two horizontal and all the vertical pieces. Connect the vertical pieces to the horizontal pieces.
It is a straightforward task. One end of the vertical pieces will go into one of the tees or elbows of the first horizontal piece, and the other end will connect to the second horizontal piece. It should look like a tray once you attach the pieces.
Step 5: Assembling the Parts 4
When you’re done building the tray, you’ll notice that there are six open ends on the tees in between the 10-inch and 12-inch pipes.
Take the same number of 10-inch pipes (six in this case) and connect them to the open end of the tees. Make sure the ends are facing upwards.
Step 6: Assembling the Parts 5
Now, take the last horizontal piece from step 2 and connect it with the open ends of the 10-inch pipes that are facing upwards. It should fit perfectly without any trouble whatsoever.
There shouldn’t be any open slots left on the entire thing, and if there are, then you’ve made a mistake somewhere throughout the process.
Step 7: Glue the Pieces Together
Before putting glue and sticking the entire piece, first, check if the rack fits your truck bed. If it does, then you’re good to go, but if it doesn’t, then you’ll need to readjust the pipes. As you’re dry fitting the carrier in your truck bed, it may seem a little too tight.
However, once you push the pipes all the way, the rack should fit your truck bed perfectly. Now, attach all the pieces using PVC glue. You may need to use a primer for the joints. However, if you have something that is able to prime and glue the pieces together, then you won’t need to use a primer separately.
Step 8: Your Bike Rack is Ready
Now that your carrier is ready, you can simply put it on the truck bed. If it’s a proper fit, then you won’t need to use glue or screws to hold the rack to the bed.
Nevertheless, I will suggest you use ratchet straps or bungee cords to secure your bikes to the rack. It will ensure your bicycles remain safe while driving on the freeway.
DIY Bike Rack for Tonneau Cover Truck Bed
Before telling you what you need for the job and how you’ll do it, I would first like to mention that the DIY rack I’m going to show you now can be used for a tonneau cover and open-end truck beds. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a truck bed with or without a tonneau cover.
Tools and Materials
- Two by Six or a bigger piece of wood
- ½-inch floor flange
- ½-inch tee fitting
- ½-inch nipple fitting
- Two ½-inch closed PVC risers
- Four wood screws
- A saw
- A drilling machine
- A tape measure
Let me give you a few details about building the rack before you go and mark the wood. As you can see, I have mentioned that you’ll need a ½-inch floor flange, ½-inch tee fitting, ½-inch nipple fitting, two ½-inch closed PVC risers, and four wooden screws.
However, you should keep in mind that it is only for one bike slot. If you want, let’s say, two or three bicycle slots on your rack, then you’ll need more materials.
With that out of the way, let me tell you the first thing you’ll need to do after gathering the tools. Measure your truck bed or tonneau cover using the tape and mark the wood according to it. Afterward, use a saw to cut the wood, so it may fit on the tonneau cover.
Now, it’s for you to decide where you want to place the forks or where you want the bikes to attach. Use the floor flange to mark the wood. You can use a pencil or a marker for the job.
Now, it’s time to drill the marked spots. A floor flange has four screw holes, so you’ll need to drill a total of four holes for one bike slot.
Once you’re done drilling the holes, put the flange back in its original position. Make sure to adjust the flange so the holes on it and on the wood align perfectly. Attach the flange to the wooden board permanently using wood glue and four screws.
It’s time to make the actual mount. Take the tee fitting, nipple fitting, and closed PVC risers. First, you’ll have to screw or fasten the nipple into the bottom of the tee fitting. When you’re done, it will look somewhat like a capital ‘T.’ If you have a plier lying around, you can use it to further tighten the nipple.
Now, take the two ½-inch closed PVC risers and attach them to the open ends of the tee fitting. Again, it’s best to use a plier to fasten the PVC risers as well. Your mount is pretty much ready.
Insert the mount into the big hole of the floor flange. You shouldn’t need any tools for this step. Simply put the mount into the floor flange and keep rotating it till it is secured.
Add some hooks and clips on the corner, so you can keep the rack secured to the truck bed. If you have a tonneau cover, then you can try drilling and screwing the wooden board to it.
Remember that the rack you’ve built is meant for fork-mounted bikes. It means you can’t use a bicycle that has a front wheel attached to it. You will need to remove the front wheel and connect the thru-axle to the mount.
Other Forms of DIY Bike Racks You Can Make for a Truck Bed
Except for these two, there are many other methods that you can use to build a DIY bicycle rack. I won’t go through a step-by-step process of how to make these carriers, but I’ll tell you guys a little about these other DIY bike racks.
L Shaped Wooden Bike Racks
These kinds of racks don’t take much of your time to build, and the materials needed for the job can be found almost anywhere. It is an excellent alternative to the wooden bike rack I mentioned a little earlier.
With an L-shaped wooden bicycle carrier, you don’t need to remove the front wheel. You can place the entire bike in the rack, and it is sure to remain safe and secured. Furthermore, they are pretty stylish and look nothing like your average DIY carrier.
Recovered Pallet Bike Rack
Did you know that you can make a bicycle carrier for a truck bed with used palettes? It is an excellent way to make the best out of old palettes that may be lying around in your garage. With a bit of work, you can also make them look slick.
So, the basic is— you’ll first need to split the pallet into equal parts. Afterward, you will need to make a square with narrow openings for the wheels using the parts. With a little re-nailing following a few simple steps, you can turn the palettes into a fully functional truck bed bike rack.
Fat Tire Bike Rack
Next on my list is the fat tire bike rack, which you can make using a steel beam and plugs. Install the shaft at the front of your truck bed and attach as many plugs as you need. It is best to use two plugs only, as fat tire bicycles take up a lot of space.
Once the plugs are connected, you can mount your fat tire bikes (without the front wheel) on them. The bicycles will stand on the rear wheel and stay secured using the thru-axle.
Strap-Based Bike Rack
If a PVC or wooden bike rack isn’t your cup of tea or if you think they are tough to build, then you can always turn your truck bed into a carrier using straps only.
You will need to remove the seats from your bicycles and put them upside down on the truck bed. Now, all you need to do is use bungee cords or ratchet straps to hold the bikes in place.
If all the racks I’ve talked about aren’t enough to satisfy your needs, then you can try making a tailgate rack. All you will need is a yoga mat, some glue, and scrap wood. It’s a very cheap solution, and your bicycles remain at the back of the truck bed and not at the front.
You can also make a tailgate rack using a treadmill carpet and bungee cords. This way, you won’t even need to drill holes into your truck.
Related: Truck Hitch Bike Rack Buying Guide
The Advantages and Disadvantages of a DIY Bike Rack for Truck Bed
There are upsides and downsides to everything, so obviously, it’s going to be the same for DIY bicycle carriers as well.
- A decent bike rack from a reputed brand costs around $200-400 at least; however, a DIY carrier will only cost $20 to $50 worth of materials at best or even less.
- You have the option to be creative and choose your preferred design
- You can add any parts you need or want to your rack
- As you’re the one who is building the carrier, you can be sure of its integrity
- It will help you to better understand how a rack works
- As a DIY carrier is cheap, you can replace it without having to worry about breaking your bank
- Sense of accomplishment
- It is less secure than a standard bike rack
- You may or may not have a tough time building the entire piece
- It takes quite a while to make a bike carrier by yourself
- If you’re not experienced, then you may come across a lot of difficulties making a DIY rack
Don’t make the same mistake I did back in the day. I thought, what could go wrong if I just put my bikes in the truck bed and went on a long trip? I came back home feeling like the stupidest guy ever.
If you don’t have the budget to buy a bike rack for your truck bed or just don’t feel like spending a few hundred dollars, then the next best thing you can do to ensure the safety of bicycles is to make a DIY carrier by yourself.
Now that you guys know how to make a DIY bike rack for a truck bed, why not give it a try and see how it works? Good luck and good day to you.