Load and secure your bike without sacrificing any cargo space. Our expert breaks down Rivian’s tailgate bike rack.
Pickup truck owners know — all that cargo space opens up a world of possibility for outdoor adventures. But the key is using the space wisely.
Unfortunately, tossing a couple mountain or road bikes in the back will gobble up all that room, forcing you to leave behind some of your other outdoor toys. Or at least, you’ll have to invest in aftermarket storage accessories, like bed- or hitch-mounted racks.
But the folks at Rivian — not yet a year old and already one of the biggest American car companies by value — concocted an innovative design solution. A recent patent dubbed the “Integrated Tailgate Cargo System For Automotive Vehicle” reveals a veritable plug-and-play solution for carrying a bike without losing bed space.
Here’s how it would work.
Rivian Tailgate Bike Rack
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Rivian playing around with tailgate design. In 2020, we reported on a “swing and drop” patent that would allow the Rivian tailgate to open a full 180 degrees, instead of the typical 90.
But this latest patent offers a whole new level of utility.
In short, the design adds special grooves along the tailgate. These grooves could accept wheel mounts (or other securing hardware) that would then bolt in to stay in place. Assuming the hardware rests in or near the quarter panel when the tailgate is closed, it may not need to be removed.
In the illustration above, you can see this configuration leaves all the bed space open. It also leaves clearance behind the tailgate and over the hitch to mount and tow a trailer (in theory).
How It Works
Our patent expert analyzed the patent to decipher the mechanics of Rivian’s proposed tailgate bike rack. According to them, this design functions “similarly to any other bike rack on the market.”
The key is the tailgate grooves. A front wheel mount would slide into a square or flared (dovetail) groove and bolt into place. Another patent illustration shows the typical articulating arm that would lock over the bike’s front wheel.
The rear wheel mount slides the same way on the opposite side of the tailgate, and could be a simple mount-and-strap to secure the rear wheel.
This patent also provides for the inclusion of a locking mechanism that could keep the mounts secure from theft.
If the grooves are square, the patent proposed a simple threaded bolt running through the mount into the tailgate to hold it in place. If the design is flared, the bolt would not pass through to the tailgate, but instead press against it to push the wheel mount up firmly into the groove.
The patent also outlines some “locking mechanism … attached to the vehicle bumper, to fix the tailgate in a locked horizontal position when the cargo securing system is being used.” So, if you’re carrying your fancy-pants road bike — or two! — there may be a mechanism to keep the tailgate from bouncing and jostling the bikes as you drive.
Last but not least, our expert also notes this system may have application beyond just bike mounts. As the name suggests, “Tailgate Cargo System” could imply devices to carry water crafts, coolers, or other gear.
Integrated Bike Racks on Cars
Will we see this Rivian tailgate bike rack become a reality? Tough to say. Rivian is not the first to propose a new integrated solution to hauling bicycles.
In 2017, Toyota revealed the FT-AC concept SUV that sported a retractable bike tray near the rear bumper. That same year, Ford offered up its own hidden, bumper-based bike rack — in its patent, outfitted on a Mustang.
Even before that, Subaru offered up its own idea of an integrated vertical-hang bike rack on the concept Viziv. And let’s not forget, Opel-Vauxhall has rolled out its own variant to mixed reviews.
We’ll keep our eyes open to see if Rivian follows through on this concept.
Patent research assistance provided by WheelBased.com. Check it out for deeper dives on some of these patents and more.