We have a front hitch mounted bike rack and would like to take our bikes with us to Arizona and beyond.
The trip will be 3000 to 5000 miles.
A complete bag cover would block air flow through the front grill to a degree which heats up my concern.
Is there anything short of a complete bag cover that can be done to protect them from the road dirt, etc.?
We have carried bikes on our front rack, to Alaska, the Florida Keys and just about everywhere in between, with no problem. We wash them off when washing the truck. We do not use a cover but do use a cable lock.
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Slit them down one side, put them on the bikes frame tubes, and secure them from the 65 mph on the road wind with some painters tape or duct tape. Pool supply stores or maybe Walmart.
Also the black foam EPE noodles that plumbers and A/C installers use are already slit, and are at Home Depot.
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I would never put a GOOD bike up front, but if it is a POS $300 hardware store model, just let it hang there naked. Wax will help you get the bugs off later, but it won't protect the frame and components from rock damage. The chain, deraillers and wheel bearings will get washed clean of lube - watch out for rust!
If it's a nice bike, it belongs either on the camper top or behind it, to keep it from getting beat up by grit and pebbles. It will get almighty dirty in back, but it won't get ruined. You can cover it completely in back and you won't have to worry about cooling issues.
Depends on how nice the bikes are. My road race bike always travels inside the TC, the mtn bike rides inside or on the back, if no room inside, as its made to handle more grit.
The front rack has never appealed to me given the amount of dead bugs plastered on the front of the truck and TC after a long trip. Bugs and grit directly hiting the paint job, hubs and derailleurs side-on at speed can't be a good thing. Bugs in your cogs, not a pretty site, nor easy to clean. I'd go with the full cover and see how hot things really get.
If the cover is made of heavy material, you might consider, cutting out the area that covers the forward triangle of the frame, adding grommets and lacing the two sides together after putting the bike inside. Airflow and still lots of protection. If the fabric is on the thinner side, you could go to a sail loft and get some of the dacron pressure sensitive sail repair tape and fold it over the edge to strengthen it before adding grommets.
Even if they are inexpensive beater bikes, with rusted chains, and you don't care about the paint job, and don't use a cover, I'd put a plastic bag over each end of the handle bars and over the seat and tape it, remove the cycle computer (it doesn't like rain at 65 mph), lubricate the chain, put a little spray on waterproof grease on the derailleurs, brake pivot points, and the side of the hubs. Wipe off the grease, wash off the bugs, and lubricate all moving parts when you need to use the bikes.
For my car roof rack I use a bike bra to protect the bike from bugs and debris. Still have lots of bugs on the clipless pedals and cranks to remove. It is a very thin, stretchy lycra that lets some air through. If you wanted to make a complete cover out of the same type of fabric, it might give some protection and some airflow.
Home depot sells heavy duty plastic and foam wrap in
the moving section. It costs less then $10 and comes
with a fast roller wand. You could protect the bike
pretty good by just wrapping the frame and/or important
parts. You could probably wand the entire frame in less
then a couple minutes. Probably take more time to take