The Perfect Car for Cyclists

Let The LBS Speak
February 26, 2010
Tolerance and Expectations On The Road
March 5, 2010

The Perfect Car for Cyclists

Tartan anyone? Inside the 2010 Volkswagon Golf GTI

Ideally, I’d ride my bikes literally everywhere if I had the choice–to racing, training, to the corner store and likewise commuting for work.

For most, our pedal powered self sufficiency hits a road block when Monday morning arrives and it’s time to don the tin flute.

Chances are, rocking up to a meeting on your Reynolds 501 fixie isn’t gonna win the hearts of those corporate big wigs–especially when you arrive to sign up a multi-million dollar deal. Riding around in a suit and tie isn’t the best look and the sweat soaked shirt isn’t gonna make it through the day.

Work aside, what about kids or weekend trips away. There comes a time in a cyclists life where the necessity for mobility on a broader scale is required. Pretty soon you’re gonna need a car.

The Golden Handcuff

Being no stranger to company cars, I’ve worked in enough pound the pavement sales jobs to fancy myself as an urban version of F1’s Jenson Button (such a cool name). If you ask any of my ex girlfriends, they’ll tell you I’m a genius at reading the traffic and taking corners on a dime. Sure they will.

Recently though, I’ve been given a car allowance for work rather than a company car.

So this is a good and a bad thing. Now for the first time ever, I have an opportunity to buy a car that suits my lifestyle.

Which begs the questions. What is the perfect car for a cyclist?

Factors that may need to be considered.

  1. Needs to fit at least two bikes in or on.
  2. Needs to be zippy.
  3. Comfortable on the open road
  4. Good city driver
  5. I’ll be at lots of country races. It’s would be nice if it had space to sleep in the back.
  6. Good on fuel.
  7. Most importantly. I’m recently single–needs to impress the ladies. Meh, optional.

Volkswagon Golf GTI

Pushing 37 next year, I almost qualify to get this little weapon in midlife crisis red.

Fast, enough room in the back for a bike–with the wheel off. Roof racks are an option for more than one bike. It covers all bases in the looks and comfort departments but I’ll be getting a hotel room when I go country.

Subaru Forester

The Forester is an all wheel drive weapon. Handy on the open road, dirt trails and has plenty of room in the back for bikes. Definitely not as zippy as the GTI–more of family car. Cheaper than the GTI and so far a very good option for a bike rider.

The above mentioned cars are a pretty well balanced across the board. The next two options are more slanted for those weekend trips away. The cycling trips where I just wanna crash in the back of the car.

Volkswagon Caddy

Now this thing isn’t gonna win the girls over in a hurry but what a great car for a bike rider.

I haven’t test driven one yet, so the drive-ability and comfort factors are yet to be assessed. The rear seats can be taken out and from what I’m told, you could easily camp overnight in the back of this puppy.

As you can tell, I have a thing for Volkswagon. There are alternatives with other manufacturers though. The next step up from the Caddy in terms of size is probably something like the Mecedes Vito. Hyundai do a similar sized vehicle in the iLoad. Hyundai lose my vote however, just for using the letter ‘i’ in their badge. It seems every new product to market becomes instantly more salable if you prefix it with an ‘i’.

Mercedes-Benz Vito

I’m not sure about canary yellow, but certainly mid-life crisis red could be a consideration. I’d definitely consider going to a carpenter or a modifications center and decking this out with all sorts of goodies. Benches and maybe a bed in the back. Hooks on the side for the bikes and maybe even a workshop style setup for servicing on the go.

What do you think? What factors are important in your next car?

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  • http://gplama.blogspot.com/ Shane

    Subaru Outback. Not as dopey looking as a Forester, but also not as fast looking as a Liberty. We picked up a 2005 Outback premium 3ltr two years back – best car purchase to date, love it.

  • http://twitter.com/parawolf Ian McGinley

    I went through this a bit over 12 months ago, but I was spending my own money. it just got to the point where we needed two cars. My partner had a work provided car and the secondary needed only be practical, not sexy or agile. Ended up with a Falcon wagon.

    Considered a Vito, but too expensive on the second hand market (hold their value well!) and actually even looked at an ex-ambo Mercedes van.. would have been soooo practical as a cyclist, but for the occasional run to the shops and trying to park would have been painful – not to mention that they have been driven pretty hard.

    When we tripped up to the World Masters Games, we took the work provided Ford Territory Ghia. Everything went inside the car.

    4 bikes (wheels off, in cardboard packing boxes)
    11 wheels (track, TT, road, training)
    2 stationary trainers
    Clothes for 2
    2 dogs
    2 laptops
    lots of other things. Everything fitted in the back of the car.

    putting bikes on the roof is handy but it destroys your fuel consumption. We averaged 8.9L/100km in a comfortable car (albeit aerodynamics of a house brick) with everything in it possible for 3 weeks of training and racing in Sydney.

    Could almost do the same in the Falcon Wagon if it came to it.

  • http://twitter.com/james_foran James Foran

    I have a 2001 Golf GTI which has served me well. Looking to downgrade so I can teach my girlfriend to drive. Automatic all the way. Looking at a not so zippy, but very versatile Honda Jazz. will fit two bikes inside with ease! I am against having bikes on the roof. Just doesn't sit right with me. It goes against everything I believe in, but, in a years time, I will let her have the car, then a new Golf GTI will be on the cards.

  • http://ak.thebigring.com.au/ Atomic Kitten

    Skoda turbo diesel DSG wagon. Zippy, fuel efficient, roomy. Classy looking. TdF sponsor too. Golfs are very common on the road – good for repairs, but too common for my liking.

    http://ak.thebigring.com.au/blog.cfm?blogid=56

  • http://www.cyclingmaven.com/ Cycling Maven

    I'll check it out Shane. I like the look of them anyway.

  • http://www.cyclingmaven.com/ Cycling Maven

    That's a lot of gear Ian. I bet the dogs were pissed at you.

    The Ford Territory was very close to getting a mention in the post. I owned one a couple of years ago and so far, it's the best cycling car I've owned. Very heavy on fuel though.

  • http://www.jxpphotography.com.au/ Jarrod

    “If you ask any of my ex girlfriends, they’ll tell you I’m a genius at reading the traffic and taking corners on a dime. Sure they will.”

    I've seen you drive, no they wont.

    Another car that deserves a mention is the Renault Megane station wagon. Seriously! We spent 8 weeks living in the back of one driving through Europe and it was the business. Went the diesel option and it was cheap as, but still super fast. I get a bit racey in the car, and have a photo of the speedo sitting at 180 while driving along an Autobahn in Germany. And that was after slowing down a bit to take the shot, safety first after all.

  • http://twitter.com/mrfixee mrfixee

    I'd go the GTI (if the GF means anything to you) or the Vito (if GF doesn't matter).

  • Clive Lackey

    If you don't mind its quirky styling the Skoda Roomster ticks all the boxes. It will take bikes upright, is light on fuel, lighter than the Golf and, unlike many of its rivals, has a proper full size spare tyre. Downside is that Skoda failed to market this model so its resale value is poor.