How can we transport two bicycles on/in a rental car?
October 2, 2015 7:49 AM   Subscribe

We are renting a vehicle (probably a standard SUV) for our vacation. We want to transport two bikes, as well as a large dog, and rather a lot of luggage but we are running into problems.

The rental company ( Budget at RDU airport) doesn't have bike racks for rent. I have a good trunk mount rack, Yakima King Joe, but without knowing the specific vehicle we'll get, I won't really know if the rack is compatible until I have the vehicle. The rental company's example of a standard SUV, the Ford Edge, is not compatible. We're also considering upgrading to a larger SUV (like the Explorer) and trying to shove the bikes somewhere inside. Any Ideas or experience in this?

We really can't afford to buy a new bike rack, so that is out of the question. We are trying to do this as economically as possible.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
We've fit three bikes, three people, and three person's worth of luggage in the back of a ford edge by putting half of the seats down in the back. We took all of the wheels off of all of the bikes and stacked the bikes on top of the luggage.
posted by czytm at 7:57 AM on October 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

In all likelihood the front tires have quick release levers and are easy to get on and off, so if you have the cargo space they should easily fit.
posted by veery at 7:58 AM on October 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Maybe consider changing the rental to a cruise-america rv? We've done a couple family road trips with them and they are surprisingly cheap and fun, with plenty of space for bikes and whatnot.
posted by H. Roark at 8:56 AM on October 2, 2015

If you rent a minivan instead, you can put the bikes right inside. I have a Toyota Sienna and I regularly store my 2 bikes inside the van along the right-hand aisleway with one of the back seats folded down. They just drive right in from the back liftgate - no disassembly required.

I use bungee cords to keep them upright and I keep extra towels in the car to use as padding between the bike and the side wall/window. I use an old vinyl tablecloth from the dollar store as a dropcloth on the floor.

If it's just the two of you and you don't need the seats in back, fold them all down and you can have a whole party of bikes living in the back of the van.

Bonus: they are INSIDE the car, so they are locked up all the time, unlike a rack on the back.
posted by CathyG at 9:50 AM on October 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

To make the bikes even more stackable: if you have bikes with threaded headsets, loosen the stem bolt with a 6mm Allen wrench and rotate the handlebars so they are in line with the frame. Put a blanket between each bike so they don't get tangled up. You can also take pedals off, but that is more of a hassle.
posted by oxisos at 9:59 AM on October 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Seconding a minivan if it will at all work for you. We slide two bikes in the side door of our Caravan no problem and they would also fit in the back if you want the side door for your dogs. In general you get way more cubic footage in a mini van then in all but the largest of SUVs.
posted by Mitheral at 11:17 AM on October 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Easily, IME.

Back seat down. You may want to remove the front wheels and possibly the seats, but that should be all the modification you need to do. No tools needed.

I would not remove pedals or rotate handlebars unless you have the right set of tools and are comfortable doing that yourselves. It doesn't take long to do, but requires a bit of specialist knowledge and tools.

I would bring a blanket to put under the bikes, or buy a cheap (<$10) tarp to fit in the back of the vehicle. You don't want fabric catches or grease marks to mess up your rental return.

Bikes inside are really nice for piece of mind when touring, no worries about theft or vandalism.
posted by bonehead at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2015

Why not buy a new rack, keep the box/receipt, then return it at the end of the trip?

I call this the asshole rental, and fully support doing it at places like walmart. I just asshole-rented a trickle charger i only really needed for like 5 days, and intend to do it to several other things quite soon.
posted by emptythought at 12:29 PM on October 2, 2015

I think the half seat down option in the back will work for the bikes and dog.

Another option is to use National which has Emerald Isle at RDU. You can pick a rental that works for your rack. If there's nothing suitable immediately available, I've had very good luck with asking National to pull a car from the back lot when I needed something very specific. It takes them a few minutes and the car might not be washed, but they will pull from all the stock at the airport if you ask nicely (and tip).
posted by 26.2 at 2:51 PM on October 2, 2015

Are you also renting the bikes? My sister's family did this on a vacation and the bike rental place also rented them a rack for their rental car.
posted by bendy at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2015

Response by poster: No, they're our bikes and our bike rack. I think we are going to try and stuff everything into the standard SUV. Vans are even more expensive to rent than the large SUV and RVs are hundreds of dollars more. We did talk about trying to rent an appropriate bike rack from the bike shop, but we would prefer to put the bikes inside as we will be staying in motels some of the trip.

We've fit three bikes, three people, and three person's worth of luggage in the back of a ford edge by putting half of the seats down in the back. We took all of the wheels off of all of the bikes and stacked the bikes on top of the luggage

This gives me hope for that plan. However a dog is not a person and our Giant Schnauzer will not share her seat row with any luggage. Plus we are taking her dog bed (which is massive), as well as her crate and other dog stuff. So, fingers crossed we can make this work.

Thanks for all of the suggestions.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:57 AM on October 3, 2015

Response by poster: The Ford Edge and the other standard SUVs were much too small. We went with the next size up for about $100 and chose a Dodge Durango. We put the third row of seats down and half of the second row. We took off the front wheels and seats and got the two bikes inside and then packed luggage around them. The dog traveled just fine. She couldn't stretch out but she could still lie down.

We want to do a whole lot more of this and the arrangement was not ideal. We would stop, remove half of the luggage, get the bikes out, put the wheels and seats back on and then put the luggage back in. This took 15 minutes or so and when you have a very excited young dog ready to ride that can seem like an eternity. Of course then we would have to do the whole thing in reverse when we were ready to get back on the road.

The bike rack we have for the Passat will not fit any of the SUVs that were on offer so we will probably either just drive the Passat or buy another bike rack. Although I admit having the bikes in the car when we were at motels was nice.

Picture of the dog checking out the trunk.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:03 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

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