T5 owners…is this doable?

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  • T5 owners…is this doable?
  • rascal

    I want a T5 that needs to be a multi-tasker!
    Been looking at getting a SWB to be a bike van.

    A. It needs to carry a minimum of 2 mountainbikes IN it – not ON it
    B. It needs to be able to have 2 adults sleep comfortably in it

    Might need to look at a LWB as struggling to get it all to fit in!

    I was looking at putting bikes in widthways with front wheels off, nose to tail.
    These will ideally go into the very back and be partitioned off so no muddy gets into the ‘living’ area.

    It needs to sleep me and the wife, ideally on some sort of clever bespoke pull out from one side bed.
    If the van had swivel seats maybe these could be utilised to maximise the sleeping area, so obviously when in transit the seats face forward but when sleep time the seats can be used for our heads – hope that makes sense!
    I can post a link for a rough plan I’ve put together.

    Any thoughts on whether a SWB can be made to work given that I’m 6′ (wife shorter).

    I’m really keen on a ‘bike area’ separate from the rest of the van.

    If it can’t then my dream of owning a bike/sleep T5 could be over before it’s began 😕


    Caravelle would do what you propose. Bench folds flat to form the bulk of the bed, your supposed to then fold the middle row seats down to make up the rest but with swivels fitted to the front you can use them as you suggest.


    Sounds exactly like my van….


    Get a Vivaro/Traffic instead. Far better.


    Hey sturdy…tell me more…

    Gary – ‘better’ or better value?


    Here’s me thinking it’s a T5 850 estate that turned Volvo sporty and was probably one of the best looking btcc cars ever and now realise it’s a vdub

    Premier Icon luket

    There’s a lot to be said for the bed being properly flat so I would question the wisdom of using front seat bases as part of the bed. But different strokes for different folks and all that.

    My old T4 could accommodate bikes across ways with a 6′ long bed behind. But the space was between bed and front seats like you normally see, and it was a LWB. And they were 26″ bikes. And I’m short.

    It’s a while ago but I’d guess there was well over 2′ in length to spare though and had I wanted to I’m sure I could’ve configured it bikes at the back. So LWB would afford you a longer bed and space to spare but I’m pretty sure an SWB could’ve accommodated them this way too. Isn’t the SWB load space over 8′ long to carry the standard 8’x4′ sheet material?

    Pop top?

    That’s what I’m doing to my swb kombi at some point. I want to have enough room ‘downstairs’ for all my biking gear, clothes and cooking stuff

    Premier Icon nickdavies

    Yeah you can do it. Standard rock and roll bed installed so it hits the front seats when down gives room to build a bike garage in the back which will take 2 bikes front wheels off. Diagonally facing each other I.e. Back wheels in each corner then use bungees to secure.

    Still gives room for furniture down the side though you won’t get a wardrobe in if you want a full width ‘garage’ in the back and table in the front with swivel front seats to give seating for 4.

    Having a lwb just means you have a regular swb camper layout with the extra space in the front and the overhang forms the garage. The main issue with doing it in a swb means you can’t access the floor or the fridge easily with the bed so far forward when sleeping.


    The Vivaro/Trafic model is slightly wider and you can get a double bed in widthways and sleep a 6′ 1″ person (or 2) without any issues, leaves a huge mid-section for the bikes to be stored.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    This might give some ideas for using the front seats as part of the bed: http://sussexcampervans.com/our-work/paradise-twin/ . The problem is that it’s tricky to make a proper double bed like that, although Kiravans do a swivel thing for a double front seat (ie. 3 seats up front) for the T5 and others so you may be able to make something work.

    Else I’d consider a higher bed that gives room to keep the bikes underneath. It can be a headache to make that work if you want inside cooking/lounging space too.

    Premier Icon simon_g

    Amdro Angel is worth a look too, if you’re ok with taking wheels off – even in a SWB it gives a pretty big fixed boot in the back, and otherwise seems a good layout for sleeping, cooking and lounging.

    Boot area in a SWB: http://www.amdro.co.uk/gallery/index.php?folder=Frank%20T5%20SWB%20Angel#3


    When planning a van (big one) I just laid out the space on the living room floor and worked out what would fit, really helped to visualise what was and wasn’t possible.

    DickBarton – Member
    The Vivaro/Trafic model is slightly wider

    The extra width gives you something for basically nothing in these situations. really increases what you can do with it.


    I have a SWB T5.
    I mounted the R&R bed further forward, so that when extended the bed touches the front seats.
    The R&R has a 6″ cushion at the back which has been removed.
    I use to have a double swivel passenger seat which was the same height as the bed, so used that for my head, its now replaced with a single seat on a swivel, which still works for my head.
    I can easily get 2 bikes in sideways with front wheels off and all the kit in the back.
    I have bought some ply to make a garage that is closed off to the sleeping compartment, but haven’t got round to fitting it yet.
    I have side units with sink/hob, but no tall wardrobe.

    If you want any photos PM me.

    Cheers Doug

    I was unsure whether to buy a LWB or standard, mulled over it for a while, but the only downside of a LWB that I could see was parking.

    So, I park at the outer fringes of car parks, no biggie, worth it for the extra space inside.

    Premier Icon Jon Taylor

    Are you so dead set on a SWB that you will sacrifice the living area inside? Depends on you want a ‘camper’ or a ‘bike van with bed’


    The Vivaro/Trafic model is slightly wider and you can get a double bed in widthways and sleep a 6′ 1″ person (or 2) without any issues, leaves a huge mid-section for the bikes to be stored.

    Not in my LWB trafic. I’m 6ft and the width is not wide enough for a bed. You need a ducato for that.

    Internal bike garage is hard to for into a trafic if you want any kind of wardrobe. When I converted my lwb i couldn’t fit one in and fit a hob, water tank, fridge and wardrobe.


    Are you dead set on a T5?

    I’m hoping to buy a high roof transit custom very soon. The plan is to build a fixed raised double bed (widthways) in the rear leaving a garage space underneath for all the bikes. Will also have room for a (small!) kitchen unit etc. I’ve sketched it all up to scale and should work.

    I don’t want LWB due to the parking issues, so the next best way is to go up. Plus we’ll be able to stand in it.

    I don’t want LWB due to the parking issues, so the next best way is to go up. Plus we’ll be able to stand in it.

    Aye, this is purely to your situation OP, as I said, only affects me at the likes of town centre’s/supermarkets, but fine at home as I have space. If I didn’t have space at home then I would’ve bought the smaller one.

    In terms of standing, mine is a day/bike van which I occasionally (9 or 10 times a year?) sleep in. For a camper, I’d want a high top.


    Sorry Rascal, not quite as my van! I was speed reading late last night but here’s what I have and it would probably tick all the boxes except the partition bit

    SWB, twin captain seat in the front, and a Caravelle rear bench seat on the proper rails.
    Seat folds flat to make a bed but does need an extension platform (also on rails)
    In driving mode you’d have plenty of room and then in sleep mode you’d get at least one bike under the bed and another behind it.

    Comfotable to slep with a matress topper and safe, and comfortable to drive the family around in in my case.


    As ever, I’m going to say ‘Amdro Angel’. Their T5 camper layout leaves a fixed boot space at the back that will take two mtbs (probably need a bit of dismantling if they’re particularly burly though).

    If you went for a LWB the boot space would be mahoosive. FWIW, in a SWB I’ve had two road bikes, two sunloungers, a barbecue, awning, bag of biking kit for two and assorted detritus all in the boot, whilst me and the Mrs have lived/slept comfortably in the main bit.

    It’s a no-nonsense, practical camper design, no bells and whistles really, it just works. Had one for going on six years now, it’s the absolute bollocks.


    He has a few vids on YouTube too showing the layout if you have a search.

    If you’re anywhere near Cirencester you can come and have a look

    Premier Icon tomd

    I’ve got a SWB T5 with a bed in it. IMO it’s not really possible to have a comfortable usable bed and keep 2 mountain bikes inside overnight. It can be done, but mountain bikes get manky and you end up rubbing against them etc. I know roadies that do it but they stick the bikes on the front seats overnight to make space.

    It’s easy to get 2 bikes in with the bed folded up for driving. What I used to do was just lock the bikes outside overnight to the towbar or suspension spring with a big chain. It’s very unlikely someone could steal them without killing you first.

    As above. I’ve got a swb multivan /caravelle and wouldn’t like to try and get two mtbs in with the bed down. You’d be struggling to get in / out of the side door.
    I can get a road bike under the bed with the wheels off, along with the accompanying tat.


    Wow – lots of responses – cheers!

    Just done a skim read and will do so properly later.

    I’m not dead set on a T5 – I would prefer one and a SWB if it can work – some encouraging answers so def sounds plausible. Would consider a Vivaro – wife wouldn’t want a LWB full stop as she’s nervous enough about a SWB – parking etc.

    Don’t mind dismantling bikes to a point – the beauty of a van in theory is that putting bikes in shouldn’t require as much faffing as putting them in a car – taking wheels off is no biggie but front wheel only would be better – cleaner and quicker.

    I’ll be in touch with some of you for pics soon 🙂

    Keep ’em coming!

    Looks possible if you can do a cheap version of this van layout.

    Have a look at a Kombi Bed from Exploria. Ive got one in the back of mine. It makes a fully flat king size bed once its out, but with enough room to put two full size bikes underneath it. I have a two seater kombi seat in front of it, so van can seat 5 or even 6 if you have a 3 person bench yet still take two bikes plus make a bed.

    Exploria Kombi Bed

    Plus the bed and seats can be removed easily for when you want a full size van again.


    I own a SWB. Haven’t bothered putting anything in it. Can’t see how it could hold two bikes with two sleeping on a normal size bed with a partition. I actually like it’s carrying ability at the moment but I may put one single bed along the side. It would act as storage too. It may even fold down off the side. you may get a 4ft wide double in with two bikes along the side but it wouldn’t be partitioned.

    Used to own a LWB high top transit. Built a bed over the bike garage which could hold bikes built up (big attraction of owning a van IMO)and have living space.

    I’d ask yourself how much you intend to use it and when you do use it how long would it be for? Is it a daily vehicle too?

    If you wanted it to be a camper and you have a car I’d suggest getting a bigger van so when you are away you have a much better experience.

    Premier Icon woody74

    I have a LWB T5 and have never had any problems parking. To be honest I can’t see why people would ever buy a SWB version as isn’t more space always good. I guess in carparks a LWB sticks out of the bay a bit, but as it will be your pride and joy you will end up parking it in the quite part of the carpark anyway so it doesn’t get scratched by some numpty car drive!!


    Add 400mm to length dims for LWB


    And the extra 400mm is all in the wheelbase

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    We have a a SWB T5 and as a few people have said already, adding bikes to the mix when the bed is down is a bit messy. You can take the wheels off and stick them on the front seats. Or leave them outside if you feel its safe enough. But if I could start with a blank sheet, I’d go for a LWB with a proper bike garage at the back.

    Another alternative might be to sleep in a pop-top and do without a bed downstairs, in which case you’d have plenty of room, but trying to sleep with two bikes in the main van is always going to be a bit cramped I think.

    but trying to sleep with two bikes in the main van is always going to be a bit cramped I think.

    Its really not, the trade off is that you cant fit a kitchen in as well very easily with a Kombi Bed.

    The other factor to consider with all this is crash strength – to get a fully crash tested rock and roll bed is pretty pricy (but important if you are putting kids in the back)if you use a kombi bed you use VW seats on vw mounting points so get the peace of mind that your seating is good in the event of crash.


    Just to clarify, it’s a bike van that we can sleep in comfortably, as opposed to a camper.
    There won’t be any cupboards, sink or fitted cooker.
    Some kind of pull up/down table/eating surface would be good – we’ll use a cheapo butane gas canister cooker (Go Outdoors) to cook with on that table too which we already have. Or maybe cook underneath the tailgate if weather ok. Water will be a couple of 5L supermarket water bottles.

    A pop-up would be lovely but I don’t want to be chucking shitloads of money at it if I can help it.
    A nice newish T5 with a blank canvas in the back may be my start point. I do want swivel bases for front seats but they can be done later – they could be integral to the sleeping working as per Mr surfbus up there.

    As stated my pref is for a SWB T5 but not ruling anything out at this stage.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog

    Its really not, the trade off is that you cant fit a kitchen in as well very easily with a Kombi Bed.

    I guess I should have qualified it with ‘fully equipped’. I guess if you just want enough space to sleep and store a bike or two, then that should be easy enough, but in general, bikes inside the van tend to be a pain in the butt. If you can do it, a separate bike garage would be a lot more convenient. Depends on your tolerance threshold I guess and how often you’re going to be using it.

    Have a look at Amdro for ideas.
    If the front seats of a T5 fold forward, try building something like this, so the bed is pulled as close to the dash as possible.


    Have a look at the Nomad Ranger for a layout based on a Kombi. Front seats swivel , then a bed frame is put together to go over these and the folded rear seats.
    The space where the kitchen is would obviously be your bike garage.

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