Meet The Bikemobile

Here’s something you may not know about me: after someone posts comments here for a while or I otherwise get to know them, I start considering what they might think of what I’m writing.

So, yes, sometimes I wonder what Al Maviva might write in the comment section. And I often wonder whether Dug will roll his eyes at a post where I talk sincerely about something.

Or, in the case of today’s post, I can’t help but wonder if Sans Auto and MinusCar will shake their heads in collective disappointment.

Because today, I am going to talk about how much I love my car.

Meet the BikeMobile
I used to be a car guy. I subscribed to several car magazines. I bought cars that were quick, balanced, and very fun to drive (Mazda Miata, Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX, Acura RSX Type S).

To a degree, that changed when I got into biking. I can’t remember if I’ve shared this story (the problem with being both middle-aged and having a blog where you write daily about a single topic for three years is that eventually you’re likely to repeat yourself and not remember whether you’re repeating yourself), but I actually sold my Eclipse to pay for my first serious mountain bike.

But I still love cars. It’s just that now I look for different things in cars. Which is to say, when I shop for a car, I do so asking myself, “Will this be a good car for biking?”

As of last February — yes, I’ve had this car for ten months and have been too embarrassed to talk about it until now — I have what I consider to be a cyclist’s dream car.

Here it is:

ridgeline

Yes, I drive a 2007 Honda Ridgeline. Also known — to me, anyway — as The BikeMobile.

Beauty in Capability
I fully expect at least half of you to be formulating your comments around the “Wow, that’s a weird-looking pseudo-truck you’ve got there.” And by all means, feel free to write them. I know it’s not the most elegant-looking vehicle in the world. I even know it’s not a very cool-looking truck.

The thing is, I gave up on looking cool a looooong time ago, and it’s hard for me to picture a more practical vehicle for a cyclist.

Let me give you a tour.

Indoor Parking
Here’s the back seat of my truck:

backseat1

First off, this means I can seat five adults in my truck — four comfortably enough for weekend trips to Moab.

More importantly, though, the seat cushions flip up and out of the way in one step, giving me a wonderful place to keep my road bike secure and out of the weather:

IMG_0881

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but I don’t have to do any bike disassembly to fit the road bike in there — it fits in easily, and in fact lives there, always ready for me to take a ride.

Oh, by the way: the floor mats are all rubber — hose ’em off and put ’em back in. Or — as is my practice — don’t hose them off and just figure that eventually you’ll get around to it.

A Place for My Stuff
So if I have a bike always at the ready, how about the stuff that goes with the bike — helmet, shoes, clothes, bottles, pump, drink mix, gels, Shot Blocks, lube, rags, tubes, spare CO2 cans, and tools? Yep, I’ve got a spot for that, too. Here’s the truck bed:

IMG_0882

But that’s not where I keep my stuff. All that stuff has a permanent home down underneath the truck bed:

magictrunk

I admit: this trunk-under-the-truckbed thing is what sold me on the Ridgeline. I can — and do — keep all my biking junk in there, where it’s always ready and its magnificent greasy stinkiness doesn’t interfere with the sublime audio experience my passengers can expect from my premium sound system.

Too bad my iPod mostly has 80s music.

Fork Mount
And now we come to the DIY part of my truck. Yes, I actually got all brave and installed a couple of locking fork mounts right into the front of the truck bed. You can see them a couple pictures up, but here’s a closeup of one of them:

forkmount

I took the front bed plate out, drilled holes, reinforced the back with metal plates, and then sealed it all with silicone caulking.

To my delight, these fork mounts are as solid as rocks. I can’t even describe how proud I am of how this turned out. Here’s how the whole setup looks when I’ve got a couple mountain bikes in place:

truckbed2

Road bike in the back seat, two mountain bikes in truck bed, and — as an absentminded middle-aged man, I cannot overemphasize how important this is — I can pull the whole thing into the garage without first removing the bikes from a roof rack. (Those of you who have heard the sickening crunch of a bike on a roof rack colliding with a garage entrance — destroying the bikes, the garage’s fascia, the garage door itself, and the car’s roof in one misery-filled moment — will know what I mean.)

As I said: Dream car.

Other Stuff
In addition to the bikes in the truck bed and back seat area, I can easily put a bike rack in the 2″ receiver hitch, letting me comfortably haul four mountain bikes, their riders, and all their gear. Or if I want to get nuts about it, I can put two more bikes on the roof rack, making it easily possible for me to carry seven bikes at a time.

Also, there are around 70 cupholders.

I Am Not A Car Salesman
Effusive Ridgeline gushing notwithstanding, I’m not really trying to get you to buy a truck just like mine. I know for a fact that Kenny loves his Toyota FJ Cruiser as much as I love my Ridgeline — and in fact, his FJ Cruiser is in some ways a better BikeMobile than my Ridgeline is (The FJ Cruiser is a wonder when off road; the Ridgeline is only so-so).

In fact, I expect a lot of us cyclist types have bought our cars with bike transport considerations as primary criteria. I’m very interested in how others of you have set up your own personal BikeMobiles. What do you drive? How do you carry bikes? What do you keep in the car?

Oh, and MinusCar, and SansAuto: again, I’m really, really sorry.

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