What Car For Mountain Biking?

by 51

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...

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Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 51 total)
  • What Car For Mountain Biking?
  • Premier Icon DickBarton
    Full Member

    Berlingo surely…

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

    Premier Icon Hannah Dobson
    Full Member

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

    Premier Icon trail_rat
    Free Member

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

    Premier Icon 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    I’m needing to find a newer version of the one I have, but prices are rather too much for me to stomach.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.

    Premier Icon Markie
    Full Member

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


    Premier Icon rickon
    Full 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon darksideby182
    Full Member


    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)

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon simon_g
    Full Member

    https://www.scorpionracks.com/ ?

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

    Premier Icon jeffl
    Full Member

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

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon RNP
    Full Member

    The answer has always been a Nissan Prairie….

    Premier Icon ajantom
    Full Member

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

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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!

    Premier Icon 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!

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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 😐.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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 🙄

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon jca
    Free Member

    The answer has always been a Nissan Prairie….

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

    Premier Icon 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….

    Premier Icon 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 😁

    Premier Icon 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).

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon 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!.

    Premier Icon 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

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Full 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!)

    Premier Icon 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.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Full 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!

    Premier Icon 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).

    Premier Icon DezB
    Full Member

    then EV really could be an option?

    Budget was £8K I believe

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