How To Carry Skis On A Bicycle

How To Carry Skis On A Bicycle

Have you ever thought about riding your bicycle to the ski resort? It’s a cool idea, but how exactly do you carry a long, heavy set of skis on the back of your bicycle?

Well, I just happen to ride my bike to the ski resort all the time. It’s less than 3 miles to the nearest resort from my home. I ride there with my boots and skis in tow. Once there, I lock up my bike and hit the slopes. A few hours later I return to my bicycle, mount my skis to the bike once again, and enjoy the downhill ride back to my house. If you live in a place where it’s possible to ride your bike to the ski slopes, the following describes one way of easily and effectively carrying your ski equipment on your bicycle.

Items You Will Need:

  • A bicycle capable of mounting a rear rack and handling snow and ice covered streets
  • A rear rack (the sturdier – the better)
  • 1 plastic PVC plumbing pipe (4.5 inches in diameter x at least 18 inches long)
  • 2-3 metal plumbing ties (also known as “general purpose couplers” or “clamps”)
  • 1 backpack (large enough to hold 1 of your ski boots)
  • 1 pannier (large enough to hold 1 of your ski boots)
  • 1 bike lock
  • 3 pant leg protectors or Velcro straps

Step 1: Configuring The Rack

To carry your skis on the back of your bicycle, you need to pick up a plastic (PVC) plumbing tube at your nearest hardware store. It needs to be at least 18 inches long and wide enough to slide the backside of your skis inside of it. I’ve found that a tube with a 4.5 inch diameter works with most all-mountain skis. A wider tube may be needed for powder skis, etc.

Once you’ve got your tube, you need to mount it to one side of your rear rack. I have my tube mounted on the right side of my bicycle (and I’ll tell you why in a moment). Use 2-3 metal plumbing ties to fasten the tube in place. This is the most important step of the set-up process because the tube needs to be angled at such a degree that 1) when the skis are loaded into the tube they are not hitting you in the back as you ride your bike and 2) it is not angled so far back that your skis fall out when you hit a bump in the road or climb a steep hill. I have the tube on my bike angled at approximately 10 degrees.

Once you’ve got your tube fastened in place, toss your skis into the tube and go for a quick spin. As you ride, make sure that the skis are not hitting you in the back or buttocks… and take note of any severe rattling that may occur. It is normal for the skis to rattle a bit over small bumps and cracks, but they should stay in place for the most part.

If you need to add extra support to your rear rack, try adding another metal plumbers tie to the front of the rack, like shown in the photo here. This will help your rear rack to support the extra weight it is carrying and ensure that the rack doesn’t slip backwards or fall off while you are riding.

Step 2: Mounting Your Gear

The first step to mounting your gear is to slide your skis inside the tube on the rear rack of your bike. Once secured, use two pant leg protectors or simple Velcro straps to attach your poles to the skis. (You will see in the photo at the top of this article that I have a blue pant leg protector holding my poles in place at the top of my skis and a black pant leg protector holding my poles in places at the bottom. I have a third pant leg protector wrapped around my right shin so I don’t get my ski pants caught in my chain as I ride.)

Once you’ve set your skis and poles in place, the next step is to find a way to carry your boots. I’ve tried several different methods here and found that carrying one boot inside a backpack and another boot inside a pannier mounted on the opposite side of your rear rack is the best way to carry the items you need for your time at the ski resort.

The reason I place my skis on the right side of my bicycle and the pannier holding one of my boots on the other side of my bicycle is because 1) the weight of the boot on the left side helps to even out the weight of the skis on the right side of the rack and 2) having the pannier (mine is a bright red color) on the traffic side of the bike, helps to notify drivers of my location alongside the road. If the pannier were on the right (non-traffic side) of my bicycle, passing cars would have a much harder time seeing me… and there would be a much great chance of a passing vehicle hitting the skis which are now protruding from the back of my bike.

Step 3: Securing Your Belongings At The Resort

Now, with your skis and boots in tow, you simply ride your bike to the ski resort and find a place to lock up your rig. Remove your ski boots from your backpack and the rear pannier and put them on. Remove the shoes you were wearing while riding your bicycle and place them inside your backpack. Fold up the rear bike pannier and place it inside your backpack as well. Now lock up your bike, pull your skis out of their holding tube, and hit the slopes!

So, there it is. A quick and easy way to carry your skis on your bicycle. What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how this technique could be further improved? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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0 thoughts on “How To Carry Skis On A Bicycle

  1. Beth Peterson says:

    Would it be possible to fit the poles inside the tube if you put them upside down? I’d be concerned about them sliding out of the pantleg ties (even if the pole handle appears to be stoppping them). It might also cause a tighter fit and less rattling in the tube. Is there 6 inch tubing that could allow for the poles to fit in there, too?

  2. Darren Alff says:

    Beth, it might be possible to fit the poles and skis inside the PVC tube, but it doesn’t work for me. I think it just depends what type of skis you have… and how thick your poles are. I like to use the old fashioned pistol grip ski poles, so they are pretty wide and don’t fit 🙁 Give it a try and let me know if it works for you!

  3. gary says:

    Thanks Darren for this set up. I am going to use your system to carry golf clubs to the course with my bicycle.

  4. Bicycle Touring Pro says:

    Enric,

    I think this could work for hundreds or thousands of miles. I’m not sure I would want to carry a set of skiis that far, but I think it would be done. I would probably 1) use more fasteners to make sure the tube stayed on the rack, 2) be sure to equal out the weight on the rear rack by placing a heavy pannier on the other side, and 3) constantly check to make sure that the rack screws on the rear rack and not coming loose. If you do all that, it should work.

    Wouldn’t it be fun to ride your bike from ski resort to ski resort? That certainly would be unique.

  5. Enric says:

    hi Darren,

    it’s not cycling from resort to resort what I’m planning, although that should be quite fun. I practice ski touring, love travelling by bicycle and…dream about joining both activities. Everything for next winter spring. If it last I will tell you

    thanks

  6. guy says:

    Thanks for putting this up – i was wondering if there where any good ideas out there to solve this problem, i am going to try this at the weekend 🙂

  7. James says:

    Thanks for the info – looks great.

    When it snows here now and again in London I strap touring skis onto my top tube and then cycle to the park, with either a boot in each pannier, or wearing the touring boots which is a bit tricky with clips and straps! My bike also has a low rider on the front for extra capacity.

    Those look like Alpine skis, where do you carry your boots?

  8. Bicycle Touring Pro says:

    James, I carry one boot in a pannier on the opposite side of the rear rack, and I carry the other book in a backpack on my back. Then, when I get to the resort, I put the boots on, put the one pannier into my backpack, and go skiing with the backpack on my back.

  9. Sam says:

    This is really great. I don’t drive and live 2miles from a ski centre. with your great idea, I don’t need to ask my wife’s help any more. I have the freedom to go skiing any time I like.

  10. Dave Kelley says:

    My skis are x-c backcountry and no wider than 65mm at the widest (2.55 inches). How much clearance do you need in the tube? i was thinking a 3 inch tube might work, of course a 4 or 4.5 might get the poles in too? I may need to buy a couple of size tubes to start, lol. thanks for your advice in advance.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Just take your skis to the hardware store and try slipping them into a few tubes. You’ll quickly discover the diameter you need. The people at the hardware store might think you are kind of crazy, but that’s half the fun!

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