One might imagine that the easiest way to transport your bicycle somewhere would be just to throw it on the back of a truck or load it onto your Jeep; and, while a Jeep Gladiator read about here are certainly up to the task, it’s not necessarily best for your bike. Unless you put it on plenty of padding, it will move around, get scratched and damaged, and could even be snatched at a traffic light by an opportunistic thief. In addition, it is out there, exposed to the weather, so it could get wet and it will definitely get dusty and dirty. None of these are the best options for an expensive bike. So, what about transporting it inside your vehicle?
The best vehicle for transporting a bicycle
A mid-size SUV like a Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best vehicles for transporting your bicycle. Flip down some rear seats and you can just lay the bike down without even having to remove any wheels. It is out of the weather and away from prying eyes. If you don’t have passengers to transport, this is ideal, but it would still fit in the trunk of a three-row SUV with the last row folded, even if you have to remove the front wheel first. This way, you can still transport people in the first row, and your bicycle. Despite having somewhat worse fuel economy than a sedan, a mid-size SUV has so many advantages. Let’s review a few of them:
- Plenty of space for people and cargo and the ability to add a roof rack, if needed.
- Its increased ride height will allow you to take on bad roads to get to that mountain bike event.
- There are so many models to choose from in terms of size, number of seats, seating configurations, 2WD or AWD drivetrains, automatic transmission types, engine choices, horsepower ratings, and other features.
- If you go on many adventures, consider a full-size, three-row SUV. It has space for up to six people with the back seat folded and a huge trunk for bicycles, luggage, and the like.
- The best vehicle for the job will depend on your usage pattern and how much you are willing to pay. A full-size SUV might not give good miles per gallon, but you might save in the end by not having to take two cars to your destination.
Inside is always the first prize
Top tip: It’s best not to transport your bicycle outside your vehicle if you can help it; a bike rack or on the roof is fine for shorter journeys, though. Inside is generally safer and leaves you with less to think about. Some risk of transporting the bike outside of your car include:
- It’s exposed to weather and flying stones and debris kicked up by your car, especially on gravel roads or when it’s wet.
- If it’s on a rear-mounted bike rack, someone can tail-end your car in traffic and write off your bike.
- If you are using roof racks, you might forget your bike is on the roof and it could snag on tree branches or you can pass underneath a low entrance and destroy your bike, while seriously damaging your car.
But if you drive a small car or a sedan and it won’t fit in the trunk?
Transporting your bicycle in a sedan
The trunk opening might be too small and even if you can get it in, the trunk itself would usually be too small. And, even if the seats can fold, the opening in the rear bulkhead might be too tight for a bike. A hatchback’s trunk will never be able to accommodate a bicycle. So, you could transport it on a bicycle rack on the back, but these usually require a tow hitch to be attached, too. Alternatively, some bike racks strap to your tailgate. Either way, you can scratch or damage the bike, the car, or both, and the bike will still be out in the elements. What about using the back seat? Here are some tips for making this happen:
- Clean the bike. If you’re going to transport your bike inside the car, clean it properly first, or you’ll soil your upholstery or carpet.
- Store the front wheel in the trunk. Remove the front wheel and transport it in the trunk. Your bicycle is going in crosswise and won’t fit with the front wheel attached.
- Placing the bike. Place it on the floor behind the front seats with the chain facing away from the rear seat. Rotate the pedal facing the rear seat to the top position to stabilize the bike on the rear seat. Place the chain on the smallest chainring in front to lift it off the carpet.
- Padding. Place padding on the transmission tunnel where the chain may stain it, and underneath the pedal resting on the rear seat. The fork won’t be able to go down into the rear footwell like the bike’s rear wheel, because the handlebars will push it away from the footwell. So the fork will end up on your back seat, where it can stain or puncture the upholstery. Place proper, thick padding underneath it.
- Remove the water bottles. You don’t want water or juice to escape and ruin your interior.
- Safety precautions. Don’t put children on the back seat with the bicycle. It’s full of sharp edges and might injure them. Properly secure the bike, so it doesn’t fall around in transit. Move the front passenger seat back to gently squeeze the bike in place, placing the appropriate padding to protect the seat and taking care not to damage the bike.
The right car gives you options
You might have been used to your sedan for many years, but if you are new to cycling or you have taken up other adventure sports, you might need a more practical car. An SUV or crossover SUV could be ideal and can do so much more in comparison to a sedan. It is bigger, can traverse bad roads, and is configurable. Its gas mileage might not be so great, but your sedan will seriously cramp your style if you are the adventurous type because it simply leaves you with fewer options.