Atera Strada – the Perfect Bike Rack for your Campervan?

atera strada dl3 folded bike rack

We review this fantastic tow-ball bike rack which can carry 2-4 bikes (depending on version) and slide them out of the way of the camper van tailgate…

Why we recommend the Atera Strada DL: German design; Clever slider; Ease of use.

If you own a camper van or tent then it stands to reason that you love the outdoors and might wish to bring along some bikes to use during your time away. There are many bike racks on the market, but only some are suitable for camper vans, whereas all of them can be used on cars – even to the point of putting bikes up on the roof. Normally the manufacturer of your particular car or camper will have a recommended ‘branded’ bike rack, but often these are not the best solution and specialist bike racks can offer improved functionality for less expense.

The Atera Strada DL3 is one such superior offering. On unboxing from its well-protected packaging, a fairly imposing collection of struts, poles and clamps are revealed – that’s German engineering for you! The Atera Strada DL3 we had received to review measured 100cm across by 72cm deep and 25cm tall in it’s folded state and weighed a not inconsiderable 14.4kg. If you’re not the strongest then it may be a two-person job to fit it on to the tow ball.

Atera Strada models

The Atera Strada comes in two main models: the DL2 and DL3. The DL3 can also be extended into an equivalent DL4 by buying an extension rail which clips on to the back of the DL3. Great if you’re a family of four!

DL2

    • depth: 56cm
    • weight of rack: 12.5kg
    • bikes it can carry: two (47kg combined weight)
    • Price: ~£450 (check latest)

DL3

    • depth: 72cm
    • weight of rack: 14.5kg
    • bikes it can carry: three (63kg combined weight)
    • Price: ~£550 (check latest)

Key Components of the Atera Strada DL2, DL3 and DL4

atera strada camper van bike rack overview

The above photograph shows the Atera Strada DL3 with the optional extension bracket fitted to turn it into four-bike rack. The key components of the rack are as follows:

  • Lockable tow ball clamp – the Strada has a rugged lever and lockable clamp to bind the bike rack to your vehicle tow ball. It comes with two master keys which are needed to remove the rack. You cannot remove the keys without locking the rack on. When the tow ball clamp is correctly secured on to the tow ball, a green confirmation button rises up to indicate success.
  • The Strada has 2, 3 or 4 transverse rails for the DL2, DL3 or DL4 versions with clamps and ratchets for both front and rear wheels of each bike to be secured to the frame.
  • atera strada dl3 connectorA central U-Shaped support bar which is folded flat during storage, but lifted up and clamped in a vertical position in use at a 90° angle to the base.
  • Connected to the bar are 2, 3 or 4 ratchet crossbar clamps on different length poles. These are connected to the crossbars of each bike to provide additional stability and security. Each ratchet can be locked with the Master Keys
  • A full set of tail lights and indicators which are connected to your tow ball electrics using a standard EU 13-pin connector
  • A kick bar and safety button which must both be pressed in order to slide the bike rack backwards in order to open the campervan or car tailgate/boot without removing your bikes.

How to attach the Atera Strada to a Camper Van Tow Ball - Video Guide

Advantages of a Tow Bar Bike Rack

We’ve used numerous bike racks over the years and have concluded that you cannot beat the tow ball hitched racks like the Atera Strada for maximum flexibility. Yes they’re more expensive than roof bars because you need to pay for both the rack and a tow ball fitting, but the flexibility you gain is worth it and there is no risk of damaging the bikes or your paintwork. I’ve known two friends destroy their expensive bikes by driving under a low bridge using roof bars! Believe me, I didn’t let them live it down for a while…

Fitting the Atera Strada Bike Rack to the Tow Ball

atera strada dl3 close upThe Strada has a sizeable clamp which must be locked on to the tow ball of your vehicle. This is done by using the key to allow a button to be depressed and the clamp opened enough to slide over the tow ball.

After this is done properly a green indicator rises up to say all is safe. At this point, the clamp is tightened down by pushing it towards the ground into a horizontal position at which point it is locked on using the key. The bike rack is then very securely attached and cannot easily be removed by potential thieves.

The electric hookup between the bike rack and the vehicle can then be joined. 

Fitting the bikes to the Atera Strada bike rack

Your bikes can simply be lifted one by one onto the bike rack wheel rails, starting with the nearest bike to the vehicle first. It is important that the crossbar clamps for the outer bikes are fed through the frame of this first bike so that they are available for subsequent bikes.

Atera Strada RatchetThe shortest crossbar clamp to the first bike is then ratcheted around the crossbar and locked using the key. The wheels are also ratcheted into the rails, front and back. The first bike is then securely in place. Subsequent bikes are added in the same way, but using the next longer crossbar clamp. 

Fitting the bikes is possibly the fiddliest part of the whole procedure, but after a bit of practice, three bikes can be added and locked in about 5 minutes. It takes a bit of strength to lift the bikes up onto the rack and then the feeding through of the crossbar clamps can be a bit of a pain. It’s easy to catch your fingers on the ratchet straps, and I’ve sworn a few times when doing this. However, once the bikes are fixed in place, they are extremely secure and thief-proof. We think it’s worth the pain!

Opening the Camper Van Tailgate with bikes attached to the Atera Strada DL3

When you’re at a service station or campsite with the bikes stored on the back of your car or campervan, you will often want to grab some stuff out of the boot. It’s just the way it goes! If your bike rack is clamped on the boot in some way then there is just no way of doing this.

Atera have come up with a fantastic sliding rail system to accomplish this. It requires two positive actions to be completed before the bikes can be slid backwards. First a small green button must be fully depressed. Secondly a kick rail must be pressed with your foot. At this point, all of the bikes can be slid back as a whole unit.

The mechanism works extremely well and I can see this being a complete game-changer for camping trips away. The only comparable system is the tilting Thule 927 bike rack which is slightly cheaper, but requires more strength. Sliding is best!

Play Video

Video of the Atera Strada sliding mechanism.

Carrying E-Bikes and Negative Points of the Atera Strada DL range

The 63kg weight limit of the Strada DL3 means that it can comfortably carry a couple of electric bikes which typically weigh 20-25kg each. Three ebikes may be a stretch though in terms of both size and weight.

However, there are a few issues with the Atera which need mentioning

  • Trek rail XL falling off bike rackThe width of the Strada is only 100cm and therefore it has a bit of a problem with the largest XL ebikes with 29” wheels and very long wheelbases. We recently tested a Trek Rail XL electric mountain bike for instance, and it could not fit on. Better to search out something like the Thule EasyFold XT 3 which is 123cm wide if you have a very long wheelbase bike.
  • If you have thicker tyres (e.g. a ‘fat bike‘) then using the Atera Strada can be difficult because the wheel straps will not reach completely round. Yes, you can buy longer straps from Atera, but we think it’s hassle you could do without.
  • It is sometimes difficult to thread the crossbar struts through the first couple of bikes on the rack to secure the third. Not a massive niggle, but it does take a bit of dexterity.

Conclusions

We were very impressed with the Atera Strada. The German firm have designed a great technical bike rack with solid engineering and durable materials. Yes it’s not the cheapest option out there, but if you already have a tow bar fitted then to my mind it’s a no-brainer. 

Supply of the Strada is scarce, so keep your eyes open. We’ve found that they are available on Amazon, shipped directly from the supplier. Atera have great customer feedback, and so if there are any issues then it should be simple to get it fixed or replaced. There were no problems with ours though, hence why we highly recommend it.

8.5Expert Score
Solidly built with great design

Loses marks due to the fiddly tightening of the ratchet straps on the wheels as well as the struggle to fit an XL 29'' ebike on board. Notwithstanding this, the Atera Strada is an exceptional bike rack and we do not hesitate recommending it for your future camping adventures if your bike is not a monster.

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