An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Monday, February 23, 2015


My car is a bike-transport vehicle first, and a people mover second.

I usually carry two bikes in the back of my car daily to work, so that I can ride during my lunch hour-and-a-half. Why two? Well, one is for road, one for off-road, and I let weather, temperature, and mood determine which I ride on any particular day. It has just enough room to put the bikes in front first, with the bars wrapped close to the front seats.

So last Thursday, when my 2001 Ford Escape decided to have a melt-down, the cost of which to repair approached the value of the car for a private sale, the time was at hand to replace it.

Oh, what to get.

Obviously bike hauling capacity was the first priority. I put up a thread on the Velocipede Salon forum to get some feedback, and some of the responses were interesting. I'd specified being able to put the bikes INSIDE the vehicle. After some looking around online including a Bicycling magazine article "The Four Best Cars for Cyclists", which included NONE that would take a bike IN the car, my wife and I made a short list of used vehicles to check out, shuttled off the little one to a friend for an afternoon, loaded up the bike as a test-fit object, and hit the road.

First up was a Honda Element. Roomy, infinitely practical for my intentions. Unfortunately the one we looked at was a salvage title, so we passed on that one. A newer Escape was on the list, and while it was newer, the automatic transmission coupled with the 4-cylinder engine made for weak, anemic acceleration on the flattest of roads. I joked that you hit the gas, and then mailed in your request for more speed.

Many vehicles got eliminated right away due to not enough room -- the Chevrolet HHR, the Honda Fit (which a lot of people DO put bikes in, even 2-3 at a time -- I just couldn't get it to work easily), the Mitsubishi Outlander, anything Mazda.

The Dodge Grand Caravan was a good second -- back seats folded down, and the mid seat tilted forward, there was ample room. But it's a mini van... Yes, I had a Plymouth Voyager back in the day, a 1990 that I bought new (one of the few cars in my life I've ever gotten new), and rarely had the bench seat in it. I was racing on a team at the time, and it was often designated the "team car". On one team road trip, I had 13 (I think, that was a long time ago) bikes in the back for a stage race in Oregon, all the road and time trial bikes for the guys.

Anyway, we found a nice Honda Element locally, in good shape, and for a good price (after strong-arming the dealer a bit). Taking out the back floor panel and replacing it with a fitted piece of plywood, on which I bolted some old fork mounts, and I'm ready with two bikes in the back again.

For anyone out there hauling sports equipment, and especially bikes, the Honda Element seems the ideal ride. Too bad they discontinued production just a couple years ago.

Hopefully by the time I'm in this position again, there will be more options out there.

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