There have been many different solutions to transporting mountain bikes that have been used by Forum members. Way back when, I thought I had the great solution when I had Aluminess build a new swing arm for me that would allow fork mounted bike rack trays be attached. It didn't impact departure angle of the van, got the bikes up and out of the way, were lower than having them on the roof and were attached to the swing arm so I could still access the rear of the van easily.
This has served me well for many years, but not without a few drawbacks. The handlebars of the bikes were above the van roofline and subject to getting caught on branches.
Remember when I did this? Ouch!
I also don't like fork mount racks as it can be tough on the fork drop outs especially on washboard roads. Additionally, I plan to go to through axles on my bike, so I need a rack that keeps the wheels attached.
I came across a home brew van about a year ago were the owner had adapted a 1upUSA bike rack to the tire side swing arm of his Aluminess bumper. He raved about the rack, but the adaptation to the standard Aluminess swing arm was iffy at best.
I researched the 1upUSA racks more and after having one for a while (have just been putting it in the standard hitch receiver for local use), I think it is the ONLY rack for those of us to use for off-road transportation of our mountain bikes. It is an absolute rock solid rack.
I absolutely needed it on a swing arm for real trips though. After a lot of pondering, I went and visited the guys at Any 7 Off-Road in San Leandro, CA. I gave them my ideas and they voiced theirs. I dropped the van off last Saturday and a week later, I have my solution.
Without the bike rack attached:
With bike rack attached:
With bike rack folded up:
Loaded (before I painted the new swing arm though):
And the guys at Any7 decided they would cut their logo in. Never thought I'd have a naked lady mudflap image anywhere on my van. My wife was so impressed ...
The latch mechanism uses the now "spare" tab that was the middle pivot of the old bike rack swing arm.
I can now check that project off my list (except I need to buy one or two add-ons for the 1upUSA bike rack so I can carry up to 3 or 4 bikes).