Inexpensive Home Made Cartop Carrier for A Recumbent Bike

I searched for days on the internet to find a suitable cartop carrier for my new LWB Rans Stratus XP. I wanted a cartop because the Rans would stick out considerably on each side of my small Honda CRV on a rear mount and I didn't want to get whacked by a passing car or a garage door. Most manufacturers seem to have discontinued recumbent-length carriers, and what remained was horrendously expensive. I found only one home made carrier design on line, which was more elaborate than I wanted. So I made my own, which has been perfect for me, and I post the recipe here for anyone who might want to replicate it for him/her self. This bombproof unit is admittedly a bit of overkill, but the bike is brand new and expensive, and I definitely don't want to see it in my rear view mirror!

This design requires a roof rack already in place. Mine is a Thule, but this should work with just about any system. The total cost for making this carrier was about $75, not including a couple of new drill bits for the odd size holes, and it's probably sturdy enough to outlast my Honda.

I hope this is of some use to other LWB riders.


I started with a second grade pine 1" x 12" x 8' board, which I cut to 80" to serve as the platform. I gave the board 2 coats of polyurethane to minimize warping from exposure to the elements.

On the front I mounted a Rocky Mounts quick release clutch to secure the front fork of the bike.

In the back I drilled two 1.25" holes at the base of the rear wheel. The holes needed to be large to get the head of a short heavy duty bungee cord through. I placed two screw eyes at the edge of the platform on the underside of the platform.The bungee attaches to one of the screw eyes, runs up through one hole, across the wheel and down through the other hole. The cord wraps around the wheel 3 times, then attaches to the other screw eye to secure the bike wheel to the platform.

In the center (this is the overkill part) I placed two vertical 24" lengths of iron pipe (plumbing department, Home Depot) with 4" of space (enough space for the bike frame) between them. I screwed two threaded base pieces to the platform, drilling a hole of the same diameter directly below all the way through the platform. I had the pipe cut to size and 3" of thread cut on one end of each piece at Home Depot. This allowed me to thread the pipe into the base unit and keep threading the pipe all the way through the thickness of the platform for additional support. The two pipes support the bike in the middle of the frame. I found a closed cell foam pool toy, which looked like pipe insulation, with about a 3" outside diameter and a 1" inside diameter. I cut this to fit the length of the pipe. I also had to slice it lengthwise to create enough room for the pipe to slide into it smoothly. This provides cushioning for the bike and holds it very firmly. One pipe would probably also work, securing the bike to the pipe with bungee cords.

Finally, to increase rigidity, reduce warping and protect the edges from weather and denting, I added a .75" C profile aluminum edge to each long side, drilling three holes on each side and screwing it into the platform.

I think that if any of the three locking points (front fork, middle frame support, rear wheel) failed, the other two would still be sufficient to carry the bike in safety. However, I am a great fan of system redundancy.

This carrier was designed with one-person loading in mind. Once the carrier is secured by the U bolts to the roof rack, the inside pipe (the one toward thecenter of the car) is threaded into place and the foam protector put into place. The bike's seat and front tire are removed, making even the steel frame XP light enough to lift and maneuver without great difficulty. The bike is lifted to the platform and leaned against the pipe. I usually secure the bike to the pipe temporarily with a small bungee cord, although with the front tire off the bike is not likely to roll around. Then the fork is maneuvered onto the front clutch and the clutch tightened. The rear wheel is secured to the back of the platform with bungees threaded through the rear holes, around the wheel and hooked to the screw eyes under the platform. Then the second pipe is threaded into place and the second foam piece placed. To dismount, just reverse the process.

Be sure to unscrew BOTH pipes or remove the carrier BEFORE you drive into the garage!