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I realize this is on the edge of asking for a "product recommendation", and is also likely to be viewed as "off-topic" by some because it's not directly about bicycles, but I need to get a new motor vehicle (both because the old one is about to fall apart and because the new house where we're now living has a uncomfortably tiny garage).

So, what attributes should I look for in a vehicle? Would be nice to have one that could carry my road bike in the cargo area (removing the front wheel if necessary), but it needs to be several inches narrower than my current enormous Honda Odyssey. I don't really want to haul my bike to every auto dealer in town to see if it fits, so some clues as to "fit" might be good.

And, if no specific recommendations, you might suggest one or two to avoid entirely.

(Note that this is in the US.)

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    One requirement to look for (for car/mini-van) is the ability to either remove or stow the rear seating over than just flip the seats. – Max May 28 '19 at 13:05
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    Have you considered a trailer? My brother has a relatively inexpensive trailer set up to carry bikes. This would allow you to look at any vehicle that can pull a light trailer. Some trailers fold up for storage. – David D May 28 '19 at 14:05
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    A minivan or MPV has some advantages over other options, e.g: the bikes are locked inside (much more likely to be insured, and ready for an early start); if the bike goes in upright more of the seats can be used; the footprint can actually be smaller than an estate car for a given capacity. It's an interesting problem, and I'll reserve judgement on the topic-ness, noting that devices for attaching bikes to cars have been regarded as on-topic, so avoiding them in principle should be. – Chris H May 28 '19 at 14:35
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    @Criggie - The long story is that we recently moved from a suburban home with a spacious garage to a "townhome". The new garage barely has room for two VW Beetles. – Daniel R Hicks May 29 '19 at 12:11
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    @DanielRHicks that's big by the standards of many in the UK! I'm lucky that my single garage would allow both doors to be opened just enough to squeeze out of a small car (if I had one, and if the garage wasn't full of toys/tools). – Chris H May 29 '19 at 14:38
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If its just yourself and one road bike, it will fit into the back a majority of hatch back style cars. With the seats folded down and front wheel off, you would be surprised how much space even a compact has.

Look for a car that suits you best then make sure the bike fits. As far as putting the bike in, look for rear seats that fold up quickly and easily, a wide rear hatch opening with a low sill would be important to me. A front passenger seat that folds forward (if a small car) might help.

Another option is some cars allow the rear seats to fold up, meaning the bike could be carried in the rear passenger foot well. In this case you may want a chain cover to prevent oil getting onto the cars interior.

Consider how much time the car is used as a bike shuttle vs other uses and balance the the convenience and costs. For instance a large car that you can leave the wheel on is more convenient but probably costs more to own and run, a small two seat sports car while cool to own, is not very convenient if you have to take front and rear wheels off to carry the bike.

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    The flip side of your last paragraph is that a keen cyclist may well not use their vehicle very much except for transporting things too big to go on a bike, or long journeys (and some sports cars will even struggle to carry a bike even with the wheels off) – Chris H May 28 '19 at 21:36
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The first thing is to consider how big the bike is and how much effort you're prepared to put into prepping the bike for transport. A compact road bike with no mudguards* will fit in a small hatchback if you take both wheels off, dropping at most one rear seat. QR wheels are a big help. You could do that almost daily. My tourer with security skewers and full mudguards takes a few minutes to fit in a large estate; even with all the back seats down you have to take a wheel off and fiddle.

You also need to consider what/who else you will fit in the car at the same time, as this affects what you might do with the back seats.

The vertical dimension is important: if the car is tall and the bike isn't (quite plausible as you're thinking of a minivan) it can go in essentially upright and facing forwards. Knowing the height from the ground to the bars/saddle and taking a tape measure to the car dealer can get you a long way here. Look for a flat floor at the tailgate rather than a lip, and the ability to fold down a single rear seat. Also note the bar width.

Aiming to fit it in the cargo space, consider the "bounding box" of the bike with and without front wheel: the length, height and width. This and a tape measure will allow you to eliminate many cars though a proper test may be required when you're down to one or two candidate vehicles, as you may be able to trade off length vs. width, especially with the front wheel off, and you may need to jiggle the bars to get in through the opening.

As bikes are an awkward shape for loading into vehicles, I suggest that if at all possible you do a real test when you're almost ready to commit.


* Or clip-on mudguards that work well.

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