Best vehicle for mountain biking?

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Best vehicle for mountain biking?

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    • #209526

      What is the best vehicle for the mountain biking enthusiast on the market today? I’m very interested in a different ride in a few years time, and am curious to see what people think works best for balancing daily life, as well as mountain biking.


      I make do with a 15′ Toyota Corolla for it’s reliability factor, and it is a pretty spacious/nice car on the inside. It works great as my daily commuter, but it isn’t the perfect car for the job of moving around bikes. It struggles with mountains, especially with the extra weight of bikes, racks, gear, and friends.


      Let me know what you guys use, or what you think is the best vehicle for mountain bikers. Pictures are good too!


    • #209527

      I bought a full size Dodge RAM 1500 V6 crew cab, added a Retrax locking roll top tonneau cover. I average 23mpg /28 hwy, not great but for a full size pickup it is. I have tons of room. I pull off the front wheels and can put two bikes, and all the gear, tools and still close and lock the tonneau.With a pad over the tailgate I can carry six bikes, five people and gear (actually have a hitch rack also so can actually carry eight bikes) . Could squeeze six people if needed.  When we take trips don’t have to worry about dragging our bikes up to the hotel rooms as they are locked away out of sight in the truck.

    • #209532

      My Murano awd actually has turned out to be great mtb rig.  Have 2 bike carrier on the hitch or I can fit an xl bike easily in the car with plenty of room to spare. So if I am heading to city or something and do not want bike hanging on back, just pop it in the car.  The awd is handy if roads are soft or slighty rocky. The chassis is more of car type maxima chassis, so no crazy trails but for snow, water, dirt trailheads and trips to whole foods….great car.

    • #209533

      IMO, nothing beats a 4×4 truck for hauling bikes.  Throw the front tire over the tailgate and off you go.  And even in a small  truck you can haul up to five bikes easily and gear.  Plus, it’s always good to have a truck around (as a second vehicle for many; for me it’s my first and only) to get some work done and help others.  If you want a little vintage touch and save a boatload of money, go out and get a used Toyota Tacoma.  Unbelievably reliable, tough as nails, and if you get one with a 16″ radius tire, the clearance is amazing too — very helpful getting to those more difficult trails.

      • #209545

        I am with the truck guys on best vehicle.  I own a 04 Silverado SS.  Not the best on fuel but has all the comforts for the long hall with 4 or 5 adults and their bikes.

      • #209634

        Hey Mongwolf.  I have a pickup too, but 8.1 liter beater, 9mpg. Use it sparingly.   You strike me as someone who would have driven a red Toyota pickup in college!….They are bullet proof and roll proof…………..unreal running into you here.  Derek.

      • #209835

        You nailed me AZDB.  Red Toyota 4×4 in college … … Hey wait a minute.  Are you Derek Bresson?  I’ve been trying to track you down for a long time.  If it is you, how the hell are you?  Send me an email at [email protected].  And you would crack up, we now own three of those beauts.  Two gray and Johnny owns a red one.  I even paid for one twice … … now that’s a story to be told.

      • #209836

        That must be you Derek.  I just looked at your profile description — the six knee surgeries tells all.  LOL.  BTW, the entire narrative is a great description of yourself.  Loved it.

      • #209846

        RE Red Toyota……LOL, I wish I was that smart, like Sherlock Holmes!   Saw your email, Ill shoot you one from different email…so great to see you biking in the great beyond.  Small digital world……unreal….


    • #209535

      I completely second mongwolf on this one.  A quad cab pickup can comfortably haul 5 bikes and 5 riders.  4×4 and high clearance make it possible to reach remote trailheads.  My Tacoma has taken some serious abuse and remains reliable.


      For years, I also made due with an old minivan.  with the back seats pulled out it’s easy to haul bikes internally and they are secure when you stop at the brewpub after the ride.  But to haul many, I had to use a roof rack to make room for passengers inside.  It also wasn’t up to the task of hitting some remote trailheads and I bottomed it out a few times.

    • #209538

      Pick up isn’t bad except it’s fuel consumption. AWD wagon would be much better bike hauler and everyday driver. There was no such a trailhead that I couldn’t reach with my Forester. And if I’m traveling and lazy to set up a tent, there’s enough room to sleep inside with rear seats folded. For taller people Outback would be a better option.

      Thats my two cents

    • #209553

      We bought a 1999 GMC conversion van a couple years back for 2k. I stripped out the back and built a bed with drawers, added a linoleum floor, cooler, tv, etc. Its got a hitch rack for 2 bikes. I love it for road trips. It only gets 18 mpg but you save on hotels, food, etc. I even drive it to the local trails so we can change in the back. So, if your looking to keep your current car and want a dedicated biking vehicle a cheap van is a pretty good option.

    • #209554

      its actually the convenience of the truck that makes me think of getting one. Right now I have a pathfinder that I can load 1 bike without any disassembly  by laying all the rear seat down.

    • #209559

      Thanks everybody, loving all the suggestions here! I used to own a 2005 Silverado crew cab, and it was perfect for loading up bikes, but reliability was always subpar, and I never really got better than 18 mpg on the highway. My city average was something like 13. The Corolla came into play because it was a reliable and I really wanted to play it safe for a while. While it may be okay to keep for a while, the lack of AWD and more importantly, ground clearance has made for some difficult commuting, let alone getting to the trails. I’m too scared to even try to get out for fat biking as I know I will get stuck somewhere. Utah has been getting record snow fall this year, and snow tires just haven’t been cutting it 100% of the time.

      The Forester by far is the most attractive option.

    • #209562

      the new Dodge 1500s and the new Ford 150s use VVT, and the Dodge has a 9 speed auto trans, and the Ford a 10 speed auto trans, that is how they get the better gas mileage.



    • #209578

      A pickup truck–pretty much any pickup truck, especially if it has 4×4. Sadly I just sold my trusty Toyota T100, but now I’m in the market for a newer chariot!

    • #209749

      I like a van/minivan idea. I occasionally use a minivan. You can kee the bikes secure while you go out to eat, explore town or whatever.

    • #209751

      And you really have to be driving like a maniac to get pulled over in a minivan…

      The Forester is a good option and the newer ones get pretty good gas mileage with the CVT transmissions. It’s probably the most practical choice. Trucks are fun tho.

    • #209752

      Have to agree with the pick up comments.   I live near the trail system here in Bend, OR.   I have a Tacoma.  Just throw the front tire over the tailgate and go.   Way easier than dealing with a rack – which I had to do prior to owning the Tacoma.



    • #209753

      Some of the new bike racks these days have wires integrated into them to keep your bike safe. It’s pretty cool ’cause it gives you the opportunity to use your truck…… but that sort of defeats the purpose of the truck…. You could always keep some wire in your truck and lock your bikes to the truck….

    • #209762

      this thread makes me think of the old hilux, those thing just runs forever. Now if I can find one…

      • #209834

        There are more than a few of those running around CO.  You should check out Craiglist and other used car sources.

    • #209796

      It’s clear that I’m in the minority with this opinion, but call it food for thought…

      Virtually any small car can pull 1,000 lbs.    An inexpensive trailer (harbor freight has several for under $300) fits more bikes and gear than a pickup bed, and the 99% of your driving that you’re NOT pulling it, you get much better gas mileage than a pickup.

      I would not advise towing with a CVT (and I’m fairly certain the OP’s corolla has one), but when I owned a pickup truck, the bed was usually empty.  I got 16-18mpg in mixed driving.  With my current car (’03-’08 corolla), I can fit 4 people a lot more comfortably than the Ranger ever did, and the car will pull 300 lbs. of trailer, plus 300 lbs. of dirt bikes, 100 lbs. of cooler & drinks, etc.  without  breaking a sweat.  It would probably struggle in the mountains with the motorcycles, but not with bicycles…

      Average economy with my car is 34.2 mpg (I’ve tracked over 40,000 miles with fuelly).  That number drops to about 30 when towing.

      Does that make my corolla the “ideal” mtb vehicle?  Hell no!  But I am not in the camp that thinks a pickup is necessary, or “ideal” either.

      IMHO, the ideal MTB vehicle is capable of fitting 2 bikes inside (for security), has AWD to get you to and from remote trailheads, and gets 30+ mpg.  I’m pretty sure I just described a Subaru wagon. Choose your own variation.  Any of their vehicles can tow an open 4×8 trailer with 4 bikes and tons of riding/camping gear for you and 3 of your friends in the wagon. I bet it would probably get 28ish mpg under those conditions, and surpass 30 in everyday driving.

    • #209800

      I own and my buddies and I always use my Suburban- with the third row out you can fit two bikes easily with gear- and four people, hitch mount and you’re set- if a bunch of us are going we load the roof rack and hitch rack with bikes and ride 7 deep in it with a dvd player and rear ac

      Can’t really bit it-

    • #209830

      Hi Chris,

      <span lang=”EN-US” style=”margin: 0px; color: #333333; font-family: ‘Georgia’,’serif’;”>The best vehicle is a minivan.  I inherited our 2003 Windstar from my wife for my bike and the dog when she got her new vehicle in 2013.  We have owned it since new so we know how it’s been treated.</span>

      <span lang=”EN-US” style=”margin: 0px; color: #333333; font-family: ‘Georgia’,’serif’;”>Why a minivan…?  </span>

      <span lang=”EN-US” style=”margin: 0px; color: #333333; font-family: ‘Georgia’,’serif’;”>The bike fits inside with no hassle.  Bungee tie the bike to one Captains chair to stop it moving in transit.  I have enough room for three assembled bikes, gear and an easy place to change.  The tail gate works as a rain shelter after a ride and a place for a social drink.  The windows are dark, so going to the bar after a ride is not a problem as no one can see in.  With the rear bench seat and one Captains seat removed the gas consumption is pretty low; a lot of weight in them seats.</span>

      <span lang=”EN-US” style=”margin: 0px; color: #333333; font-family: ‘Georgia’,’serif’;”>My friend has nice truck, but you can’t make it dirty, so changing outside when it’s pissing down sucks.  Securing the bikes when we go to the bar is a nervous affair, since the bike could be stolen regardless of his fancy lock.</span>

      <span lang=”EN-US” style=”margin: 0px; color: #333333; font-family: ‘Georgia’,’serif’;”>Yep, the minivan rocks…so long as you don’t mind the smiles and murmured jokes…</span>




    • #209832

      Thanks dpb1997. I think I will pass on the minivan. It’s definitely a great thing to have, and I really would love to have one for the added benefits of hauling bikes, but my fiancé put the kibosh on that a longgg time ago. You know what they say though, happy wife, happy life.


      It sounds like there is a lot of consensus that mountain bikers dig trucks though! I will probably not go that direction, had one, and I never utilized it enough as a truck to justify the ownership.  To me, a small SUV like the Forester, or even a good car with the trailer that was mentioned sounds like the most appealing option to me so far.


      Keep em coming though! I’m still open to ideas that haven’t been explored yet!


      • #209840

        So . . . dude wants a minivan, but the woman doesn’t?  On what planet does your relationship exist 😉


      • #209843

        @John Fisch

        It’s a pretty unique relationship, but I couldn’t be happier! I can look past the minivan thing too, there are still a lot of great car options out there.


    • #209849

      with front wheels off you can easily fit 2 bikes in a folded rear seat mini van. Or you can have u haul install a hitch and you are good to go, a friend did and cost him maybe $200 few years back.

    • #209850

      @bikerboy14 it’s good to see more companies integrating locks into their racks, but cable locks are bare bones in terms of security. If you’re running into to grab a coffee on the way to the trail, it’s probably okay. But if you’re going to be inside a restaurant where you can’t see your vehicle, you really need something heavier duty.

      I use the cable locks on my Yakima and also a u-lock. The cables lock the bikes to the rack and the u-lock locks the bikes together. If someone were to cut the cables, it would be awkward to try to deal with two bikes that are locked together but facing opposite directions. Of course, they could just throw them in a pile in the back of a truck. Which would suck.

    • #209854

      Already been said but my Ford F150, 4 door Crue Cab sits 5 comfortable and I could put 5 bikes over the tailgate. Most of time I just travel with my trail dog and I got the one bike under my tonneau cover out of site. The 305 V8 isn’t great on gas, but I don’t tend to go to far.

    • #209859

      Owning a pickup is about the worst choice for 99% of the general population regardless of what your hobbies are.  I’m not sure I’d buy into MTB folks representing most of the remaining 1% either.  Maybe for those farming or hauling heavy equipment or otherwise living in the center of 40 untamed acres.

      I personally have a station wagon which carries up to 5 bikes and people (though not in great comfort).  90% of the time its just me and a friend.   9.9% of the time its a total of (3) people.  I think I had 4 riders in it twice…ever.   Never tried (or needed) to fit 5.

      And that’s the trap the typical truck owner fall into…that’s its SO convenient for that 1 day every other year when you have to load it to the gills or put something overly large and odd sized into it.  The other 700+ days it just handles, accelerates, parks, and takes up space like the heavy, ill-suited pig it really is.  Is it really fun to drive these things every day and actually pay extra for the pleasure!?

      I know lots of truck owners and they tend to crow about the same one thing…. what they COULD do with it in some fantasy world, not what they ACTUALLY do with it in reality.

      I vote minivan or econo car with small trailer as the best choice.  Wagon is a close second (or best if you don’t ever do more than 3 and don’t need easy inside locking).

      Owning a truck mostly come down to wanting status though.  When you target soccer moms and rednecks (or both!) as your Jones, its easy to fall into this kind of trap.

      Yup, I used to own a pickup.  I get the misguided appeal.

    • #209877

      I have a 2014 AWD Gmc Cargo van (white of course). Used to use it to camp in and the bikes rode on the hitch. Very stressful leaving the bikes on the hitch rack and going to get dinner ect.  Recently bought a small camp trailer. Recycled the thule hitch rack and bolted it inside the van. Two bikes fit nicely including a fridge, porta-pottie, and anything else you would ever want to carry.  Van drives more like a car, has decent clearance, tows well easier to park then a truck. . Driving a van isn’t generally considered cool. I have got over it and embraced the practical aspects.

    • #209881

      Could I get a Prius and put a roof rack on it? Sure could. It would probably get the job done. There is no best vehicle just better options than others.

      Love my truck. Yea it’s a little big but always having the option of throwing something in the back or not getting stuck in snow is worth it. Only live once, might as well enjoy the small things.



    • #209893

      2015 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab (Family Man) here. As far as fuel mileage… I average around 19-20 mpg around town, unless I’m heavy on the GOGO pedal.  Hauls everything I need it to and more.

    • #209897

      I used to drive a Chevy Colorado, then I went with a Subaru Forester. I love the Subie, but I will probably go back to a truck, because nothing beats their utility.

    • #209966

      I wanted a mini van as well.  Wife wouldn’t do it.  “we’re not going to spend $25,000 on something I hate.”   Fair enough.

      …but they are tremendously useful.  Moreso than a truck, IMHO.  As I mentioned, I had a ranger for a few years (i’ll save people the effort of pointing out that a ranger “isn’t a real truck”), and while it moved motorcycles and towed a trailer well, my parents’ mini van could do the same (not towing quite as much) while keeping my cargo dry, clean, and secure.  The mini van even fit 4×8 sheets of plywood between the wheel-wells, which my truck definitely could NOT do.

      I really like my wife’s 2016 Sorento V6 AWD, but sliding doors would be a lot easier to get the baby seat into and out of.  The only the the SUV does better is have AWD, and that’s rarely necessary for us.  I’ve taken my corolla off road more than her nice new ‘truck.’

    • #210045

      I dont have one but I would suggest a Honda Element with AWD it has a rubbermaid interior, it is funny looking but that makes it good for interior space, you could get a hitch rack or keep the bike inside. I think mid 20s for mileage. I have known 2 people who had them and the cars were reliable as heck. They came with a built in inverter. I think the back seats fold down to a bed as well. I think they stopped making them so only option is used.

    • #210046

      The minivan dialogue had me and the wife crackin’ up.  Thanks for the laughs 94, fisch, and rk.  Great forum topic and discussion 94.  Even reconnected with one of my long lost best buds of years ago through this thread.

    • #210048

      Toyota 4-Runner 4×4 or Volvo XC AWD wagon / Subaru Outback are not bad options.  I had a 4-Runner for several years, and hauled friends and bikes all through the White Mountains.  You can place the bikes inside if just 1-2 people, or hitch mount if hauling a group of friends.  Also ran the roof rack on the 4-Runner, but took out a few low branches with the bike, so opted for a hitch mount.  The 4-Runner is super reliable and true 4×4 with low gears.  I currently have a Volvo XC70 AWD wagon.  Same transport options as the 4-Runner, but low enough to put the bikes on the roof as an option.  Not as go-anywhere friendly as the 4-Runner, but more comfortable and better MPG (23-25) on long trips.  Will still get you to 90% of the trail heads.  My friend has an Outback, and just as capable as the Volvo.

    • #210077

      05 Toyota Tundra double cab 2wd!  I can carry a bunch of peeps and bikes (4+), PLUS use it for chores/towing/hauling around the house.  Up until 2016, it was my primary ride.  I now have a company car and the truck gets used a lot less, but its been paid off for years and will continue to be used until the wheels fall off (180k miles and counting).

    • #210144

      Truck all the way. There is going to be that one time that you think you do not need the AWD, or the ground clearance, and you are wrong, mighty wrong and it messes up your car. We have a 2016 GMC 1500 sierra all terrain, this is a great truck, plenty of space, pretty good fuel mileage, then has rancho off-road sus. which is very helpful. truck and 4×4 are the way to go if you are the adventurous type, and want to look bad A while doing it 🙂

    • #210156

      This would be my choice. Throw a couple of bike racks on the coffin sliders. Remember, don’t let your first ride in a hearse be your last.


    • #210267

      In my opinion – one the most useful things to do is lock my bike inside the car, so I can have it available when doing other things before/after my ride like going to work, etc. I have a SUV where the back seats fold flat (RAV4). This is useful as a bed to sleep in (camping) and easy for the bike to get in and out. I also have a bike rack on the roof when the car is packed with camping gear, etc. If I was going biking with 4-5 mates – I would hire a trailer from my local hardware store and chuck all the bikes in there.

    • #210274

      [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1007"]Bike Limo-pisgah Best MTB vehicle ever?[/caption]

      <div id=”ext_searchPromptBtn” style=”top: 9px; left: 871px; z-index: auto;”></div>

    • #210297

      I’m not saying it’s the best, not even close, but it works for me.  I have a Volkswagen GTI with a bike hitch, plus a seassucker suction mount for the roof.  I’ve comfortably hauled 3x full suspension bikes on a 500 mile trip.  Pop the racks off and I’ve got a sporty, fast car on these twisty WV mountain roads.  Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • #210312

      Honda Element was an amazing vehicle for years. It was a company vehicle which they moved away from otherwise I would still have it.

    • #210521

      I have a mazda 3 hatchback and I find its a perfect vehicle for me. Most of the time I ride solo and can fit any of my four bikes in the back of the car by simply removing the front wheel. I even fit my XL fat bike without any issues. I also have a bike rack that fits into my hitch. My mazda is good on gas and over the past three years proved to be very reliable. For those people who ride mostly solo and like to drive far to ride new trails owning a big pick up track is an overkill in my opinion.

    • #210539

      Not the most practical, but my favorite is my motorcycle. I built a rack for my bike on it, and I get to ride my favorite vehicle to go do my favorite hobby! And I have an adventure bike, so I can get to any trail I need to…

      • #210587

        I want to see a picture of your motorcycle with a bike rack. I have never seen anything like that and I have seen a lot.

      • #210591

        I suppose its rare, but I’ve seen at least 1-2 MCs carrying a bike on the back every year.  the most common mechanism seems to be to attach a couple poles to the seat/frame and hang your bike from it with bungees.  Google it, you’ll see 100’s of pix.

        Bikes don’t weigh all that much, so aside from the bulkiness making it look odd, it not much of a big deal.

        My friend up north regularly transports his MTBs on his enduro when hes going to solo ride.

    • #210604
    • #210657

      I absolutely agree that the best mtbike hauler is motorcycle. I carry 2 bikes and ride 2 up (gf rides with me). When everyone else’s ride is over and they squeeze back into their leg cramping cage for the trip home, our ride continues on. We ride to the riding spot, ride, then ride home. No disassembly of the bcycles and we often take the scenic route back to civilation.

    • #210782

      I absolutely agree that the best mtbike hauler is motorcycle. I carry 2 bikes and ride 2 up (gf rides with me). When everyone else’s ride is over and they squeeze back into their leg cramping cage for the trip home, our ride continues on. We ride to the riding spot, ride, then ride home. No disassembly of the bicycles and we often take the scenic route back to civilization.

      [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1459"] The only way to travel[/caption]



    • #211371

      We use either our ’87 Toyota Vanwagon for shorter trips or Dodge Diesel for longer ones. Both easily haul our Huckwagon Bike Trailer. The trailer transports bikes and gear damage free over gnarly fire roads or on epic road trips.

    • #511817

      Hi guys! It looks you are all from the USA. It is interesting to read all these criteria for the truck choice

    • #511924

      Hi guys! It looks you are all from the USA. It is interesting to read all these criteria for the truck choice. I am located in a different part of the world . So I have discovered a lot of new things for me. I need to sit and write a post about what things are important here. Generally, everybody wants to make the best purchase at a reasonable price.

    • #511959

      I am a country boy with a truck. When I started mountain biking I would toss the bike in the bed. I quickly ended up getting mounts for the bed as my bike became too precious not to have safety stowed. Then my family started biking with me and I found the bed would fill up with 4 bikes and all the other stuff a family takes on an adventure. So I moved to a hitch rack and a locking bed cover which works well for us, however, I think a good sized off road capable SUV (with a hitch rack) would be a better fit for my weekender lifestyle. I like the  enclosed/secure back of the SUV (for my precious bike). Not that this hayseed cowboy would buy a SUV… those SUVs are really just station wagons with a lift kit.

      Now a minivan…. hmmm that is a thought.

    • #512059

      Another pickup truck driver here. GMC 1500 4X4 short bed crew cab. I use a tailgate pad, and I’ve had as many as 5 bikes on it. Generally, I can transport 4 riders and gear for a day trip. The short bed doesn’t leave a ton of space to bring anything other than your gear bag and one cooler. Even with the stock tires/rims (I never take off-road) it’s not exactly the most fuel efficient ride in the world. Probably 17mpg highway.

      I’ve been a pickup truck driver my whole life, not sure if I could function in any other vehicle.

    • #512140

      This one is as subjective as saddles and tire pressure!

      ’70’s or earlier Toyota FJ60 or FJ62. The other choice, full sized van that can serve as a work vehicle or bike tripper.

      Nice thread bump by the way…


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