What Car For Mountain Biking?

by 57

Hannah wrangles with the question ‘What car for mountain biking?’… and camping trips, and family holidays, and #mumtaxi…

I do not like cars, or driving. I would happily live without a car, but the reality for me is that it makes life very difficult – I have tried. Admittedly, I’ve been forced to try as my car broke down and no one has quite worked out how to fix it yet. I’ve had an electric cargo bike to hand for the duration, but there are some things it can’t do – like transport both my kids at the same time, or take us all to Scotland, or into the Yorkshire Dales for a camping weekend.

As it turns out, it is possible to transport a bike on a cargo bike, but that’s not a practical solution to me getting to test trails and photoshoots that are 40miles or so away. Yes, I could hire something each time I need to get somewhere, but then there’s the booking, and the journey to collect it from the rental place, and the general time consumption that goes with not having a car to hand in a semi-rural setting. My life is logistically complicated enough without filling it with bus, train and car hire schedules. And so, I’ve reluctantly admitted I need to be a car owner.

What car for mountain biking
Wide load tassles

If I’m going to have a car for convenience, it may as well be convenient. That means something that comfortably sits four adults, ideally five, plus luggage. Tall adults need to be able to sit in the back because my travel sick kids need to sit in the front. In an ideal world, tall adults need to be able to sleep in the back (it saves a fortune on hotels and takes the risk out of wet British camping). Putting bikes inside it is a huge plus – with all the different test bikes I ride, plus e-bikes, lifting a bike onto a roof rack is a bit tricky. There’s all the adjusting of the rack to make it fit the length of the bike, or the tyre size, and figuring out where on the frame to clamp it, and then you can’t get into car parks. A tow bar rack would be better, but then bikes tend to stick out the sides of the car, which freaks me out. It’s probably all irrational bad logic, but I am rack-averse. For the big family trip with everyone and a tent in the car a rack would be OK, but for my daily life I’d rather not have the hassle.

These days my miles are almost exclusively semi urban sub 40mph, so I want a petrol (or hybrid) engine. I don’t do that many miles, so fuel efficiency isn’t too critical, but it would be nice if it was reasonably efficient. I don’t give a hoot about how it corners, or accelerates. I’d like it not to be cream fabric on the inside because I’m not even grown up enough to wear white t-shirts. I’d like it not to break down, and I need spare parts to cost less than body parts, so I’m (on the basis of fairly spurious thinking) I’m looking at less than 80,000 miles and newer than 2004.

Must Have

  • Less than 80,000 miles
  • Space for 4 adults with leg room

Really Want

  • Room for a bike inside (easily, without lots of dismantling)
  • Room to sleep
  • Petrol or hybrid engine

Nice To Have

  • Room to roll a whole bike or two inside, maybe removing front wheel
  • Dark interior
  • Fold away seats
  • Chain driven engine
  • Tow bar mount/roof bars/bike rack ready
  • Lift up boot (for rain cover and picnics!)
  • Cruise control for long journeys

I’ve agonised, I’ve googled, I’ve browsed the forums and Gumtree and Autotrader and Facebook and a bunch of small car dealers’ websites. I’ve made a decision, gone to bed, and woken up to revisit my choice all over again. Maybe this round of up deliberations, dismissals and indecision will help you make a choice while sleeping more soundly.

In terms of budget, I’m looking to spend less than £8k. There are definitely some options up at the £20k mark that would suit me nicely if I was going for a camper van style affair, but between those two price points I don’t feel like there’s very much to be gained from spending £14k instead of £7.5k. Sure, there’s more choice, it would be a bit newer, it might have heated leather seats, but these are things I can happily live without. So, budget corner, here we come.

Big Options, with camper potential

I did entertain the idea of going big – getting something I could fit a proper bed into and kitting it out with a few home comforts for weekends away. Maybe I’ll do that in a few years’ time, but right now they’re a bit costly for the amount of days a year I’d use a bed etc.

Volkswagen T5/T4

What car for mountain biking
Spot the T5

No, this is not the answer. Not on my income anyway. Go for your life if you can afford it, they’re popular for a reason, although I do hear you can expect to do plenty of repairs to keep them going.

Ford Transit

What car for mountain biking
Less rusty than many actual Transits

There are petrol options, but they’re rarer than unicorns and out of my price range. In diesel, a double cab transit custom, or even one of the mini bus style vans might well do me, but finding something in budget that isn’t thrashed and made of rust is a challenge. Invariably when looking at ads I’d find something that looked promising, check the MOT history, and discover an ever increasing line up of corrosion warnings.

Vauxhall Vivaro

What car for mountain biking
Popular as camper conversions

The double cab version would do, but it’s about £12k for a diesel one at the upper end of my 80,000 miles target. If you’ve got the money to spend and you really need the bigger van, the Vivaro squeaks in a little cheaper than the Transit equivalent.

If you’re dead set on a camper conversion, then you should check out the Van Grrls feature in Singletrack Magazine Issue 131 – if you’re going to live in your van, you’d best get the choice of motor right!

The Buy What You’ve Got Option

Citreon Berlingo

This is what I’ve got. If it hadn’t broken, I’d have carried on driving it until the government offered me a scrap your diesel deal. Now that I have to look around, a tiny bit more comfort for adults in the back would be welcome, and I’d like to leave diesel behind – I don’t do as many motorway trips as I did when I first got this.

What car for mountain biking
Micro camping, or something.

Plus:

  • You can fit bikes in it, whole
  • You can sleep in it
  • You can put bikes and a rocket box on top for big trips
  • 3 individual back seats for flexible permutations

Minus:

  • Mostly available in diesel
  • For easiest bike fitting, you need to take a seat out – and store it somewhere
  • Basic interiors, very van like
  • Good luck finding one that’s petrol and isn’t a wheelchair conversion!
  • Rear rack options are poor. Invest in a stool to reach the roof.

Apart from the fact that I’ve got one sitting on my drive making me a little bit depressed every time I look at it, there’s not a lot not to like here. I’ve got the XTR trim, which is definitely a bit more comfortable and less rattly than the more basic Berlingo options. I’ve had it for nearly 10 years, I think I’m ready for a change rather than a duplicate. Unless I spot a petrol powered bargain!

See also: Peugot Partner, Fiat Doblo, Ford Tourneo

These are much of a muchness, although some come with a rear double bench seat instead of 3 single ones. If you do need to take out the seats to store them, the larger bench seat might prove tricker to stash at home, and some options will need tools to remove the seats.

What car for mountain biking? My Shortlist

Honda Stepwagon

Plus:

  • You can fit bikes in it, whole
  • You can sleep in it (the seats folds flat-ish)
  • A zillion seat permutations, and no cramped seats
  • Rear side fold seats mean you get bike space without having to remove seats completely and store them
  • Lots of luxuries inside on some models (some are pretty basic too!)

Minus:

  • You might have to pay extra to get in undersealed (as rust protection), to have the display changed from kms to miles, or to have the radio and sat nav switched to UK compatible options (or buy a km to miles display converter off ebay and live without music!).
  • Lots of cream interiors if you buy through a dealer
  • Some seat style options don’t fit a bike so easily
  • Still quite pricey for the age of car you’re getting
  • You’ll need to use a specialist broker to get insurance or the quotes will be silly

Finding the right price/age/interior/milage combination is really about the only thing stopping me going out and getting one of these, and Andi already has one. Some have suggested they can be difficult to get servicing and spares for, but Andi hasn’t struggled so far, and their growing popularity with people in ULEZ neighbourhoods means they’re increasingly popular. A little less thirsty than the also-rans from other brands, and some of the Honda models have the chain driven engine instead of a cam belt. One less expensive job. The 7 seater options are easier for slotting a bike in whole, and unless you go for a higher end model you might feel that you’re not getting a lot for your money compared to the Berlingo type options. But find a 7 seater with comfy captain’s seats and these are an attractive prospect.

See also: Toyota Voxy, Toyota Alphard, Toyota Noah, Nissan Elgrand, Mazda Bongo, Nissan Serena

The bigger engines of the Alphard and Elgrand can be rather thirsty and fuel inefficient, although the space and comfort inside these models is impressive. Watch out for some of the middle seat permutations – if you want to put a bike in whole you want to be able to slot a bike between the middle row seats. The Mazda Bongo is so popular as a camper conversion that you’ll struggle to find one that isn’t already converted, but browsing should certainly illustrate that they can be coaxed into lasting around 30 years. The Nissan Serena doesn’t tick the Toyota/Honda reputation boxes, but has the space you’re looking for.

Toyota Estima

The joy of car shopping was getting to me.

Another import option, a little smaller than the minivan options above, but in a 7 seater version you’ll squeeze your bike in whole with some careful manoeuvring. The rear aperture isn’t as tall as the minivans, so you need a bit of a wiggle to get your bars in without dismantling your bike. It’s available in hybrid and petrol options, though you may need to travel back in time a bit to get a cheap one.

Plus:

  • You can fit bikes in it, whole
  • You can sleep in it (the seats folds flat-ish)
  • A zillion seat permutations, good leg room in middle row
  • Rear seats fold completely into the floor
  • Lots of luxuries inside

Minus:

  • You might have to pay extra to get in undersealed (as rust protection), to have the display changed from kms to miles, or to have the radio and sat nav switched to UK compatible options (or buy a km to miles display converter off ebay and live without music!).
  • Lots of cream interiors
  • There’s a lip on the opening of the boot, so you can’t sit there to change your shoes!
  • Still quite pricey for the age of car you’re getting
  • Difficult to get a bike rack or roof bars for, not all models take a tow bar
  • You’ll need to use a specialist broker to get insurance or the quotes will be silly

Peugot 5008

Image credit: Autotrader

Plus:

  • Proper seats for everyone, no benches
  • Split boot door for easy access
  • A car, with car comforts
  • Fold flat seats (no need to store out of the car to get a bike in)

Minus:

  • Fold flat seats eat up height – you’ll likely have to lower droppers and take off wheels.
  • Room to sleep is limited if you’re tall
  • Rear-most seats have very limited leg room.
  • Petrol is twice the price of diesel version
  • You’ll need to use a specialist broker to get insurance or the quotes will be silly

The petrol powered ones are pretty much the same price as the Stepwagons. If I spotted a bargain diesel option – maybe with roof bars and/or tow bar – I might be tempted to accept the slight faff of bike dismantling, and the diesel maintenance issues.

Ford S-Max and Galaxy

Credit: Autotrader

Plus:

  • Careful packing and you’ll get plenty in
  • Pretty cheap if you go diesel
  • Car, not van based, so more comforts

Minus:

  • A bit of a squeeze with adults and bikes
  • No one really wants to sit in the rear-most seats
  • A little short for sleeping

A bit easier to find than the 5008, there are plenty of these around in diesel guise. I should probably place these higher up my want list than I do, and like the 5008 if I saw a great deal on something with low miles and maybe a nice wipe clean interior, I could be tempted to be practical.

Honda CRV

Credit: Autotrader

Plus

  • Proper seats for everyone
  • A car, with car comforts
  • Fold flat seats (no need to store out of the car to get a bike in)
  • Great reputation for reliability
  • Chain driven, no cam belt
  • Available in petrol and hybrid options

Minus

  • Fits a bike bag easily, but not a bike with wheels on
  • A little short for sleeping, although some more recent models offer more space thanks to clever fold flat seats

My dad is on his second one of these, and since he’s a better class of taxi driver he’s looking for comfort and reliability combined with efficiency. It’s a really nice car to be in and feels roomy. There are some petrol options to be had at reasonable mileages and for £1-£1.5k less than an older Stepwagon you could pick one of these up, especially if it’s been through a few owners. Tow bar conversions are simple to get, as are roof bars, so a bike rack and/or roof box should be an easy option if you need the space for bigger trips.

How To Choose A Good Car

I know practically nothing about cars and this is the first time I’ve been responsible for choosing and buying one. You probably already know lots more than me, but in case you don’t, here are some useful things I’ve learnt.

Check the MOT history

It’s free and easy to go to this website and check out the MOT history of a car. You’ll be able to see if there were lots of advisories in the past, and discern a pattern of whether the owner fixes them, or just does the essentials to get past an MOT. You’ll also be able to see the mileage if it’s not listed in the advert.

Look at the engine

This sounds really silly, but I would have thought there’s no point in looking at an engine if you don’t know what it all does. However, if someone really looks after their car, the engine will be clean with no dust and oily bits. Sure, you can clean all that up as a one off, but it takes some doing. If it’s all mucky, it’s probably not been shown quite as much love as a shiny one.

Is it big enough?

If you’re wondering whether there’s room to sleep in a car, I found this handy site that sells mattress kits for cars – you can use the configurator to see whether you would need a 200cm or 180cm mattress according to their recommendations. Taller folks will likely want to eliminate the 180cm options from their search.

Test drive it and listen

When you’ve found something you think you like, test drive it at different speeds and listen out for weird noises or clonks. Think about how your neighbour’s nice high end lease car sounds compared to your bangernomics bargain.

None of that will guarantee that you don’t buy something that gives up or requires a pile of work, but it should increase your chances of getting to the trails and mountains without an unfortunate tow truck incident.

Slightly scary?

What have we got?

The Singletrack Staff have an eclectic collection of vehicles, and varied advice on the ‘What car for mountain biking’ front:

I ran a succession of £300 Mondeos for decades. You can get 3 bikes and 3 bikers in one of those. When a limited budget was removed from my buying decision (it’s a bike shop tax thing), I went straight to a new VW T6 4Motion van. It has an excellent £600 bed conversion from www.flatoutcamperbeds.co.uk.

A £600 VW 4 bike rear rack on the back and is four-wheel drive. The 4WD is great for escaping muddy campsites. The rear rack has only ever been used for drying tea towels and board shorts. The rack has never carried a bike, as there is so much room inside, which is handy, as it was my home for about 3 months when I started to “successfully complete my marriage”… aka get divorced. My advice is to go cheap and get a high mileage executive spec Mondeo type car or go full bore and get what you really want. The area between these two options is too confusing to bother with.

Charlie

I used to be a petrol head, back in the dark days before I had discovered bikes. Around the time I got my first mountain bike I had a sporty (impractically lowered) VW Polo with wheels that cost as much as a decent carbon trail bike. I put a roof rack on, and in my new-rider ignorance I advertised my bike to all of town with my very recognisable car. From there, I bought a VW Caddy and kept it looking generic. No biking stickers, blacked out rear windows with metal plates behind for safety. I then spent a year choosing to be car free, and I coped just fine thanks to my lack of dependants.

More time has passed, and I now own 50% of a LWB T5. It’s not a tidy looking van, we don’t clean it, we don’t plan to install windows, and we don’t intend to remove the previous owner’s construction sticker from the bonnet because it helps it blend in and not look like it contains bikes. My advice is not to be precious about your vehicle, don’t try to turn heads. If my budget was lower I’d be in an estate, making sure the back seats fold fully flat for the times I can’t be bothered putting a tent up. A car only needs to get you there and back safely, and store valuables. Tents are cosy.

Amanda

I once got three downhill bikes and three people in a red Ford KA. You don’t always need a big car, it’s what you do with it. Also, being good at Tetris helps. Saying that I now have a huge van with a ramp. I know which one I prefer!

Lauren

I had a succession of large estate cars in the noughties. Old Volvo estate, a Citroen BX estate, Sierra estate, Mondeo estate, Skoda estate. All of them, apart from the Volvo cost less than £1000. The BX I swapped for some forks, the Sierra was £800, the Mondeo I swapped for some tyres, the Skoda was £700… They came to me in various states of repair and interior (some pristine, some less so) but they all left me for the scrapyard full of mud, dog hairs and Ginsters wrappers. I was like some kind of car hospice where they all came to me at the end of their lives and were cared for and looked after, but weren’t getting out the other side.

My tip would be to ask around – relatives, co-workers and non-mountain bikers to see if anyone is getting shot of a car. What might be too big a car these days for old uncle Bob might be ideal for you. There are a lot of good, higher mileage estate cars out there that the owners don’t know what to do with, so they end up either scrapped or go off to webuyanycar. In many cases, you can get these for a song as they’re not cool, not SUVs, not 4×4, and probably have petrol engines. Shopping for a mountain bike car I’d pick a £1000 estate car with a roof rack every time… As long as you appreciate that you’re unlikely to be selling it to anyone else, you’re good.

Chipps

I’m an electric convert. I’m on my second electric car right now, mostly charged from home via a combination of solar panels and a 100% renewably sourced electricity supplier. High initial cost aside, I love how easy they are to drive and maintain and range anxiety is mostly a red herring. But they suck at carrying bikes, and that’s a problem. Currently they tend to be small and getting bikes inside is a faff. There are no estate electrics yet and very few van like versions. They aren’t designed for towing and so getting a tow bar fitted can be problematic, although not impossible (Chipps has a tow bar on his Tesla 3). Bikes on the roof do no favours for range and typically a journey with bikes will average out to be longer than the average daily use.

But there’s hope! There are vans coming! You can already get an eNV200 Nissan van and VW are bringing out an electric camper next year with 80kwh capacity that should be good for an easy 250 mile round trip. Mercedes has a hybrid van option now too. So electric options for bike fanatics? The answer is not quite yet… But soon.

Mark

What have you got?

If you think you have the perfect mountain biker’s car, let us know. Or maybe the perfect car has been discontinued, like the Nissan Prairie? Head to the comments, or head to the Forum and search back through the many ‘what car’ threads on there.

What did I get?

Erm… none of the above. After being quite settled on the import option, I discovered the insurance was going to crucify me (after years spent as a named driver my no claims bonus is non-existent). An impending family holiday and the high cost of renting meant I panicked, and just bought Amanda’s old Volvo V50 off her. It barely fits a bike in it, doesn’t have great leg room in the back, and it’s a diesel with nearly 130,000 miles on the clock. It does have black leather seats though. I could have saved a lot of lost sleep and internet time if I’d just ignored my wish list and bought it in the first place. Ah well. Hopefully it will roll along nicely until the rest of you get bored of van life and adventure wagons are cheap once more? In the mean time, I’ll try and work on that no claims bonus.

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 57 total)
  • What Car For Mountain Biking?
  • DickBarton
    Full Member

    Berlingo surely…

    Now I’ve read the article rather than just answering the page title, I see you already have that…

    Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

    @DickBarton do you want another? Could be sold as a ‘special for the enthusiastic home mechanic’ 🙂

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    The answer on here these days is either electric or your not allowed a car.

    DickBarton
    Full Member

    I’m needing to find a newer version of the one I have, but prices are rather too much for me to stomach.
    I can spanner most bike jobs but intend to stop after fuelling vehicle/topping up screen wash and inflating tyres to required pressure so a home mechanic offer is great but would work for me…however, if it is being broken for spares, I’d have an order for some parts…

    Sorry, really not what you want to hear.

    Markie
    Full Member

    Run what you brung, so a Ford Galaxy here – super comfy with an Exped MegaMat in the back!

    https://www.exped.com/international/en/product-category/mats?f%5B0%5D=field_mat_line%3A1123

    rickon
    Free Member

    However, if someone really looks after their car, the engine will be clean with no dust and oily bits. Sure, you can clean all that up as a one off, but it takes some doing. If it’s all mucky, it’s probably not been shown quite as much love as a shiny one.

    I’d be very wary of an engine that is sparkling because it’s been given a steam clean. That is a good sign someone is hiding something bad.

    If you’re buying secondhand and you know nothing about mechanics, get one to look it over for you if you’re keen and concerned.

    rickk
    Full Member

    Very well written piece!

    My brother’s S-Max seemed to be a useful piece of kit. Our Berlingo was great but not so great that we couldn’t kill it. Sounds like you managed the same.

    Fiat Ulysse came after that and was OK but not as roomy as the package suggested and will be superannuated by now.

    There’s a lot to be said for asking around your contacts and see if you might get lucky. I’ve been choosy about cars all my motoring life and I wonder what it’s cost me vs buying whatever is cheap and effective to get the job done.

    Berlingo is the closest we came to this – although ultimately 100,000+ miles in it cried uncle.

    jamesoz
    Full Member

    I’d be very wary of an engine that is sparkling because it’s been given a steam clean. That is a good sign someone is hiding something bad

    Yep, nice honest dirty engine is fine, hopefully with a nice shiney oil filter or dirty paw prints around it.

    trail_rat
    Free Member

    However, if someone really looks after their car, the engine will be clean with no dust and oily bits. Sure, you can clean all that up as a one off, but it takes some doing. If it’s all mucky, it’s probably not been shown quite as much love as a shiny one.

    That’s horse manure and more so an overclean engine bay screams hiding something.

    darksideby182
    Full Member

    Berlingo/Partner

    they were cheap as chips.

    Also the Metro GTA was called a GTA and not the GTI for insurance reasons (this maybe a myth though)

    Munro Biker
    Free Member

    If you have any amount of social or environmental conscience, the smallest car that will fulfill your requirements with a roof rack for the bikes. Probably something Fiesta/Polo to Golf sized for 99% of people. If it has to be new (which it doesn’t), something electric and Golf sized at most.

    LAT
    Full Member

    do hitch mounted vertical racks exist in the uk? they are the business for not seeing your bike sticking out the sides of your car.

    one of those on a mondeo estate would be driving the dream.

    simon_g
    Full Member

    https://www.scorpionracks.com/ ?

    Hard to beat a tall boxy car though. Love our stepwagon.

    jeffl
    Full Member

    Based on a week away with friends I’d say a Vauxhall Zafira.

    merk
    Full Member

    2014 CRV owner here. Faultless for me and ticks most of your boxes. Bikes with a front wheel off go in the back easily when the back seats are down.

    Dark trim, cruise control, comfy interior…what’s not to like.

    RNP
    Full Member

    The answer has always been a Nissan Prairie….


    ajantom
    Full Member

    Yeti with a tow-bar rack.
    Nice(ish) to drive, loads of space, decent MPG.

    Richard Bedford
    Full Member

    It’s age that kills cars, not mileage. Don’t dismiss higher mileage cars if they are newer with FSH (ex fleet type motors) where the majority of miles would be done churning up and down the motorways.

    stumason10
    Full Member

    I’ve been round this loop a few times. From Aygo to T6 and everything in between.

    In the end I got a high spec but 10 year old Vito.

    Then put a pop top on it. As it’s not a VW it’s cheaper to buy. And having had a T6 this is way cheaper and more comfortable to drive too. Much quieter, smoother, ok not as good round corners. But that doesn’t seem to be your desire.

    Not huge either so fits in normal car parks spaces. Without the pop top would go in normal multi stories too.

    Worth a look. Post 2005 they’re all galvanised too so the rot issue many people sight is untrue. Friend who converts many vans says the quality is better than VW too. So worth a look. Very happy with mine.

    Good look with the impossible search!

    snotrag
    Full Member

    Good topic this, as an equal part “car person” as I am a mountain biker, I always enjoy these topics on here I nthe same way I am amused by the bike advice on the Pistonheads forum 😀

    I’m also as much a serial car swapper as I am bike swapper!

    A couple of things jump out at me –
    “Spurious” things such as mileage limits, I think you actually know this is nonsense. I’m glad you at least didn’t pick everyone’s favourite ‘limit’ of 100,000 miles!

    In reality, it’s much, much more complicated than just a number. I’ve had cars where the mileage literally is irrelevant. I’ve also had cars where mileage is very, very important. Very car, and car type, specific.

    See also tax. Tax is a cost that cannot be avoided, just include it in your ‘total’ costs. I’ve had cars that cost £600 a year to tax that cost way less to run/own than cars that were £30 to tax.

    Post March 2006, pre mid 2010s ish vehicles are often utter bargains because of this and an extra 4 or 500 pounds a year in tax might just be basically meaningless in the real world, whole cost of the car.

    Timing chains? Again, a very odd thing, there’s plenty of cars with poor timing chain reliability just as there are many, many cars using belts that are perfectly reliable. Just incorporate the cost of servicing or changing belts into your cost calculations. It’s not often very much anyway. Belts over chains help towards nice light, quiet engines too – that’s why they make them!

    Lots of good suggestions here, some I’m less keen on. No doubt there’ll be a Volskwagen van variant purchase at some point as the default choice. Now I do get it, and I’d certainly buy one had I space a 4th vehicle, but I can to think of anything worse than driving a van as my only car. And don’t kid yourself they drive just like a car either!

    I’m a rare breed that actually enjoys driving still, by which I mean I actually ‘go out for a drive’ quite regularly as much as I go out for a bike ride’.

    As it was asked, current bike carrier/family bus is a W212 E class estate agent, 3 litre diesel as 4 pot diesels have no place in an E class!

    Got a noisy fibreglass Norfolk bathtub for whenever it’s just me though!

    Ozak42
    Full Member

    I’ve had 2 Ford Galaxy’s found them to be great. I could get my very long XL 29er in without taking the wheels off. You can easily fit severa bikes inside, plus fit roof racks and tow bars. They are very comfortable, especially on long journeys. Pretty good on fuel, cheaper to tax, insure, handle well and very reliable. I’m a big fan.

    billoddie
    Full Member

    I have had a variety of vehicles that have been purchased with MTBing in mind.

    From cheap Skoda estates (massive with the seats out, but rusty)to “normal cars” to Toyota Hiace campers.

    Unless you want a camper then probably the best bang for buck/foot was the Ford Focus estate. Massive boot for its length, easy to put bikes on the roof, fine to drive long distances.

    I would avoid the new wave of small SUV type vehicles which seem to mange to combine being quite big with very little boot space. We have a Renault Kadjar bought against my better judgement and it’s been decidedly mediocre.

    We have decided to go one BIG vehicle and one small run around for our family.

    The wife is getting a lease super mini of some description for work (she has to have a newish vehicle as a condition of getting car allowance) and we have just put down a deposit on a new LWB T6 camper made to our spec. It’s distinctly NOT CHEAP but seeing as we had the last camper 14 years it’s probably a worth while investment and it’s going to be AWESOME.

    Pete
    Full Member

    If there was such a thing as a reliable, well made Doblo, it would be perfect.

    My niece’s farm hack 1.9 made it to 190k.
    My 1.3 didn’t 😐.

    harry_the_spider
    Full Member

    In the spirit of recommending what you own… Smax.

    Had 4 bikes and 2 adults in it today. Can do 4 adults and 3 bikes + 1 on the roof.

    Load space is 6’6″ so it will take a bike whole. Also big enough to sleep in if that’s what floats your boat.

    Handles like a car. Comfier than a silk worm’s pyjamas.

    stacee jaxx
    Free Member

    I’ve had vans, campers, estate cars, MPVs you name it….

    Current E91 BMW still works brilliantly but I’m happy putting bikes on roof or towbar. It’s a tad small when I want to do biking AND boarding though.

    I’m getting a van next year and I suspect it’ll be a new Toyota Proace; second hand vans are overinflated and I can get a good deal.
    My last van (T5) was a Kombi but I only need 2 seats now, so ply lining for the Proace and insulation and that’s me done.
    VW Tax and the ‘one life’ image mean other manufacturers are much more appealing; I want my van to be as discrete as possible.
    Good deals on Galaxys but suspect that’s too much of a compromise when I want to fling filthy/wet kit in the back all the time.

    I will add that driving a van as your daily can be hard work, so I’ll always have a car or 2 spare 🙄

    matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    A Galaxy isn’t too short to sleep in. With back seats down it’s 2.15m long. And perfectly flat.

    jca
    Full Member

    The answer has always been a Nissan Prairie….

    That’s what he says, but we all know he now drives a Merc…

    stacee jaxx
    Free Member

    A Galaxy isn’t too short to sleep in. With back seats down it’s 2.15m long. And perfectly flat.

    Interesting, Matt. Might have another look.
    They also do a petrol variant that has appeal….

    thebunk
    Full Member

    Cheating if you’ve got more than one vehicle innit.

    A Zafira should at least be on the list just for the versatility. A car but with van like tendencies and will put you in mind of a skip on wheels (which I think is a good thing if you want a family bike car).

    7 seats for when you’re at a safari with another family and they don’t want to take their nice car through the monkey enclosure. Fold the back seats all of the rest of the time.

    Split fold the middle seats to roll in a whole bike or 2 (or about 4 bikes with the front wheels off), and still have room for 2 or 3 more passengers.

    Fold up the back and middle seats to sleep in it or to fit in a zillion bikes. But it’s still not massive like a van or Ford Galaxy, or even a Mondeo estate.

    Just had a family holiday in Scotland so >1000 miles in 2 weeks with 3 bikes, a paddle board, loads of wetsuits, and all of the other stuff you need for moving around with family. I’d love a nice BMW estate or VW van, but I wouldn’t want all of the mud, drying clothes, car sick, crumbs, sand (+ shells, rocks, bits of crab & other stuff collected from the beach) that we accumulated in that time ☺️

    Our current one cost about £4K a few years ago and has >115K miles on it now, and has cost us very little in repairs. Your £8K could get a low mileage one with FSH and a brand new full-suss bike. Or a Zafira Tourer which is a posh one I think.

    Also anyone that says that Zafira ownership is for people that have given up on life likes cars too much and shouldn’t be trusted 😁

    robertajobb
    Full Member

    What I would say about a Zafira… as an ex owner… avoid the diesel ! All the claptrap to make the exhaust gasses less filthy makes it unreliable and a PITA.
    Unless you like being on 30% power limp home mode on a regular basis.

    Additionally things like the air con sizing and heater etc all seem a bit compromised – to get the cabin space means the engine, radiators, etc are all rather jammed in and just cut down to suit the size available rather than what’s needed for the actual function.

    Having had Modeo estates previously and an Octavia estate now… I’d be loathed to have another Vauxhall based on my experience (pity as the interior was quite nice).

    thebunk
    Full Member

    Both my Zafira’s have been nice clean 1.8 petrol models. Never had an issue with the air con or heating.

    chevychase
    Free Member

    I happily got two bikes, tents, camping equipment, all the gear for two sets of people, spares, my big box of repair equipment, two duvets, pillows, massive thick beach blanket, food and fuel in the back of a civic type-r ep2.

    250,000 miles before it went to the scrappy (with the engine still running well) can’t be wrong. And it didn’t drive like a horrible dog.

    Now I’ve got the luxury of an estate car and the missus’ SUV.

    Basically – “any car you can fit your bike in” is the perfect car for MTB. Probably the one you’ve already got.

    Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    “Spurious” things such as mileage limits, I think you actually know this is nonsense. I’m glad you at least didn’t pick everyone’s favourite ‘limit’ of 100,000 miles!

    In reality, it’s much, much more complicated than just a number. I’ve had cars where the mileage literally is irrelevant. I’ve also had cars where mileage is very, very important. Very car, and car type, specific.

    This. A work acquaintance has a Passat that is now sitting at 560k miles, Apart from consumables, he’s basically had very little done to it. Lives in Kent, travels the country carrying out predictive maintenance for large industry, I really don’t fancy the travelling he does!.

    neilupnorth
    Full Member

    Peugeot Expert Tepee, 2 ltr LWB
    Feel weird driving around Tweed Valley in a van that’s not a VW. Costs about 40% less, six seats and still space in the back for FOUR big bikes, then still space for everyone’s gear. Job done

    thebrick
    Free Member

    “any car you can fit your bike in”

    Plus the people you need to travel with. So maybe not a two seater but you can carry bike on most cars with roof racks etc.

    DezB
    Free Member

    …a Passat that is now sitting at 560k miles

    Ooh, fingers crossed for mine then! Got 110K on it and I keep thinking I need to change it soon. I really don’t want to though, cos it sits on the driveway most of the time costing me nothing.
    (Top tip – ByMiles Insurance for those in a similar situation. Contact me for a referral!)

    555
    Full Member

    It’s vexing that more manufacturers don’t list the seats-down load length in the specifications. They go by volume, which is nae use to naebody who doesn’t cart pallets about. I measured my bike lying flat wheel-on and wheel-off, then took a tape measure with me to any car viewing.

    So many variables, though. I had a VW Golf Plus which isn’t ginormous, but the sliding rear seats left a gap halfway up the load bay that the pedal would just slot into, making it lie flat and not slide around. Marvellous… until the DSG clutches melted.

    DezB
    Free Member

    manufacturers don’t list the seats-down load length in the specifications

    There’s also the hatch opening measurements needed – Wider bars/bigger wheels/longer forks all add up!

    thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    Came here to say Berlingo, but you’ve ruled that out!

    As others have said

    Mileage – not particularly relevent anymore, engines don’t need that sort of looking after anymore. When was the last time you heard of someone getting their engine rebored/honed and can you even buy oversize pistons anymore? Yes the other stuff breaks but a car on 400k with everything replaced shouldn’t be any worse than one at 80k that’s about to need it all for the first time.

    Age – depends where in the country and how it’s been looked after. A Red car in the sunny south will be fadeing and peeling. A poorly protected car in Scotland will rust.

    If most journeys are <40miles then EV really could be an option? Range is a bit crap relative to cars but things like the NV250 are 150miles+ which would do all bar long trips (at which point you can either hire something really big like a camper, or car share with someone else going).

    DezB
    Free Member

    then EV really could be an option?

    Budget was £8K I believe

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