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  1. #1
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    "Bike Adventure Vehicle" Options

    So I'm getting rid of my Jeep wrangler due to how small it is, and it's incompatibility with my current lifestyle.

    I have moved to a city where I get to ride my bike everywhere except Costco.

    So now I am looking for a vehicle that will pretty much only be used to get to the ski resorts in the winter so 4 wheel drive is a priority, driving to work on blizzard days and for biking road trips where me and a couple of people will be living out of the vehicle for about a week at a time, at bike parks or bike areas states away.

    So the current checklist is:
    4x4
    Large Storage Capability
    Somewhat decent towing
    Not awful in snow
    Not a large format pickup
    Very dependable


    The vehicles on my shortlist are:
    FJ Cruiser
    Tacoma
    Frontier


    Does anyone have any experience with this sort of setup?
    What did you use?
    Are modified vans a cost effective option?

  2. #2
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    What is your budget? Any MPG goals?

    I'm a big fan of vans myself, lots of room inside for hanging out or storing bikes. There are 4x4 vans out there, or you can convert your own. Chevy made the 1500 and Astro vans in AWD as well.

    If you want van info look around here: 4wd (and 2WD) Camper Vans - Expedition Portal

  3. #3
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    Are you sure that short list is based on your check list?

    Get a used van. Nothing can touch a full size van for comfort and convenience while camping and or use in foul weather. Save lodging cost at the slopes. 4x conversions are done by a few groups in the US, but Quigley in Lancaster PA that can do it as a Ford factory option, hence not voiding any warranty and enabling any dealer to service it.

    I'd find a cargo (empty) van and do your own interior. All those cabinets and whatnot that Sportsmobile et al fill up a van with are utility killers, esp for bike people IMO. I like having the outa sight outa mind option in addition to a rack. You might have to go out of state to get a deal.

    We love our FJ, and it does great for what it is, but we take the van on riding, climbing or snow sport safari. I think you'd realize an FJ is really not a space upgrade worth talking about from your wrangler. If not a daily driver? Go big and stop ignoring your checklist.

    Cheers!

  4. #4
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    Xterra? Relatively cheap. Good size.
    How can anyone who's been riding as long as I have, be so slow???

  5. #5
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    The new Chevy Colorado that is supposed to be out in the fall. Small pick up, more power and rumored to be near 30mpg when properly equipped. I imagine that is for the 4cyl standard cab 2 wheel drive. I am checking it out when it is released. I have an f150 right now but it's just so big for the little town I live in.
    I looked at Tacoma's too but they get worse MPG than my f150 17-22 4x4 super crew ecoboost v6.

  6. #6
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    Forester?
    Last edited by PerfectZero; 05-05-2014 at 11:30 PM.
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  7. #7
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    You need a 4 door pickup with a bed cap. Get a 4 bike 1 up hitch rack and turn the inside of the cap into a custom storage/sleeper area.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in southwest Utah

  8. #8
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    Easy, 4 door Jeep.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails "Bike Adventure Vehicle" Options-img_0805.jpg  


  9. #9
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    mine

    interior is still a work in progress 4x4 conversion took a bit of time and cash


    modified Thule Sidearms mounted to some ply


    limo tinted rear window, 6" lift on 35s makes it tough to see what's in the back!

  10. #10
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    why not a "large format truck"?

    all of these threads are like "i want something that does everything trucks are meant to do!" and then the next line is "but not a truck!"

    rodel's van is pretty rad, but might be hard to locate.

    so... buy a truck. if you want it enclosed, get a topper. if not, do whatever. if you want it easy to park, get an extended cab with a 6' bed. if you want to haul more people in more comfort, get a crew.

    the new ford ecoboost is pretty amazing. otherwise, i'd suggest a used superduty with the 7.3.
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  11. #11
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    Years ago, I used a Ford van for this purpose. Now, I have a Suburban. Bikes go on a T2.
    I would get another van if I traveled strictly to ride.
    I like turtles

  12. #12
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    "Bike Adventure Vehicle" Options-image.jpg

    I have a 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser with 349k miles on original motor/trans. Plenty of storage with the 3rd row seating out. It doesn't get great gas mileage and because it has the 3FE engine it is a bit under powered, but it has full time 4wd. The newer 100 series with the V8s are starting to come down quite a bit and there are some good deals that can be found.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    why not a "large format truck"?

    all of these threads are like "i want something that does everything trucks are meant to do!" and then the next line is "but not a truck!"
    I'm sort of in the same boat and I'll tell you why a truck isn't an option. For me, 95% of the time, a truck is a horrible vehicle. Regardless of what the commercials say, they are not comfortable. They are loud, bumpy, big, and clumsy. I travel for work extensively and rent dozens and dozens of vehicles every year. The worst car I've ever rented was exponentially more comfortable than the best truck I've ever driven.

    Obviously, it's all about your use. I do 800 miles of freeway driving and commuting some weeks. For that I want comfort and quiet. It's not worth sacrificing ANY comfort or quiet (or gas mileage, for that matter) for a better mountain bike vehicle for a couple rides on the weekend.

    If I had
    a) 1/10th the freeway driving and
    b) 5x the mountain bike driving and
    c) The need to carry 2000 pounds of gravel or a full stack of drywall like they show on TV

    I'd be a good candidate for a truck.

  14. #14
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    I agree with the truck comments. Especially considering the Tacoma and Frontier get the same MPG as the big trucks.

    How about a Honda Element? Discontinued now, but they're pretty spacious, AWD, rugged interior, and reliable. Even has a picnic table built in. MPG isn't stellar, but better than those trucks.

    I am considering a Subaru Forester myself. AWD, good MPG, reliable, and good amount of cargo space. I have a Landcruiser right now, but gets crap gas mileage and is overkill for 95% of the driving I do.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    ...........

    How about a Honda Element? Discontinued now, but they're pretty spacious, AWD, rugged interior, and reliable. Even has a picnic table built in. MPG isn't stellar, but better than those trucks...................
    They do? I know the CRV from Gen1 and up had the picnic table, but the Element has the spare tire inside so there is no room for the folding table. It was an option but you have to remove the spare.

    I too vote for the Element

    4x4 - AWD (part time)
    Large Storage Capability - check
    Somewhat decent towing - check. 1500lbs
    Not awful in snow - check
    Not a large format pickup - check
    Very dependable - check. It's a Honda

  16. #16
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    I could have sworn it was included (spare tire or not), but could be mistaken.

    Edit: Found all come with the table top, but the "table leg kit" is needed.

    OEM Honda Element Table Leg Kit - 2005-2006 Element Exterior

  17. #17
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    I'd immediately scrap the FJ. It's not much bigger than a 2 door Jeep. And they're stupid (just my .02)

    I'd get either a 4Runner or Xterra before I got a Taco or Frontier. Unless you need a cargo bed, the suv's will have more practical storage. And on that token, if you like your current Jeep and just need more space along with real 4wd capability, the 4 door Wrangler may be the way to go. Wranglers are the real deal offroad, nothing short of a Land Rover Defender or MB G-Wagen can touch them on tough trails.

    As an alternative to the Element, how about a Pilot? A buddy of mine has an '08, and it's actually really nice, and has a surprising amount of room inside. Plus is has a V6, so it will prob be able tow a good bit more than a 4-banger Element. (and you won't look like a nerd, either)

    I like the 4x4 van idea though. I just saw a 4x4 Econoline today, and it looked really nice. Maybe a bit big unless you have a lot of friends or camp often. It's too bad they don't make something like the AWD Astro/Safari anymore.

    A station wagon might do you too... look at the Subie Outback or Volvo XC70. I have a '07 XC70 and love it. I can fit my Salsa in there (this bike is BIG) with both wheels on. It's awd so its great in the snow, and it sits up high enough that it can handle mild dirt trails. It's certainly no rock crawler though. I'm not sure of the tow rating on them though, but I know there's a few guys on the Volvo boards that tow small boats with them. It's also super comfy and gets reasonable good mileage (22-25, more on long highway trips).
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  18. #18
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    huh. i'm surprised about the comfort comments. we use our truck as our road trip machine specifically because its such a comfortable, smooth and roomy long distance interstate cruiser. thats one of the major reasons why we bought it.
    Tim M Hovey

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I'm sort of in the same boat and I'll tell you why a truck isn't an option. For me, 95% of the time, a truck is a horrible vehicle. Regardless of what the commercials say, they are not comfortable. They are loud, bumpy, big, and clumsy. I travel for work extensively and rent dozens and dozens of vehicles every year. The worst car I've ever rented was exponentially more comfortable than the best truck I've ever driven.

    Obviously, it's all about your use. I do 800 miles of freeway driving and commuting some weeks. For that I want comfort and quiet. It's not worth sacrificing ANY comfort or quiet (or gas mileage, for that matter) for a better mountain bike vehicle for a couple rides on the weekend.

    If I had
    a) 1/10th the freeway driving and
    b) 5x the mountain bike driving and
    c) The need to carry 2000 pounds of gravel or a full stack of drywall like they show on TV

    I'd be a good candidate for a truck.
    doesnt sound like you are in the same boat as the OP...
    more like a 'Bike Friendly Commuter Vehicle' boat
    none of your needs sounds like you need or want anything for ADVENTURE.

    i could see how comfort would and efficiency would top your list of requirements! 800miles some weeks? that's crazy!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    huh. i'm surprised about the comfort comments. we use our truck as our road trip machine specifically because its such a comfortable, smooth and roomy long distance interstate cruiser. thats one of the major reasons why we bought it.
    I agree. I think the comfort comments are based on perception, or because of the size.

    If fuel mileage wasn't a factor, I'd be driving a Suburban or a Crew cab/short bed pickup. I love trucks.

    A guy I work has a '12 Silverado 4 door, and he says he finds it much more comfortable on trips than his wife's Accord. I've ridden in it, and it IS a really NICE truck.

    And actually the mpg is pretty damn good on those GM trucks for what they are.
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  21. #21
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    If you're going to consider trucks, at least limit yourself to the ones you can turn into a mobile swimming pool.

    I know some people really liked the old Outback since you could lay down flat in it. Not sure if that's still true in the new version.
    buzzes like a fridge

  22. #22
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    millage would be great if it wasn't for the extra cost of diesel (which just drives me nuts...). we average 18, and the best i've done is 24. fuel millage is pretty awesome, but some people find the maintenance killler. hundred buck oil changes every 3000 miles and whatnot.


    well anyways, to the op... just buy a tacoma or an outback like everybody else.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford View Post
    huh. i'm surprised about the comfort comments. we use our truck as our road trip machine specifically because its such a comfortable, smooth and roomy long distance interstate cruiser. thats one of the major reasons why we bought it.
    X2. For road trips my DD car, and the wifes DD car sit at home. Don't care if I "need" the truck for the trip or not, it's roomy, comfortable, visible. 1/2 ton fullsize trucks do not ride bad at all, my F350 rides good for what it is. When I'm on the highway with 18 wheelers, I'd rather have 9k of truck around me that the trucks can see.

    To the OP, if you are considering something as large as a van, just take a look at some fullsize trucks. One from almost any brand will get near the same mileage as a Tacoma, with a ton more space inside. Forget the Tundra, my buddy has one and doesn't drive it because the fuel economy is so pathetic, around 9 unloaded. But any of the others with the short bed and crewcab will be around the same size as a fullsize van, but offer you the 4wd you want without a conversion, or trying to track down one of the few AWD vans GM made.
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  24. #24
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    Budget and MPG goals will narrow things down. Personally if it isn't driven often I'd rather have a cheaper vehicle, lower insurance, etc, and pay the price on fuel when actually using it.

    I drive a 97 Land Rover Discovery now and it is by far the most practical vehicle I've ever owned. Not much bigger than your Jeep outside but cavernous inside, it can seat 7 normal sized people comfortably, or 3 with 3 bikes inside and backpacks. All wheel drive instead of 4x4 so you never have to stop and shift it, you can turn directly off the highway onto steep muddy back roads seamlessly. Quiet, smooth, comfortable, like an older luxury car with a hitch, roof rack and massive storage area. Extremely easy to work on and repair in the middle of nowhere which beats more reliable but unrepairable newer vehicles in my book.

    Toyota Land Cruisers are also a great option and very similar though more expensive. Down sides to either will be 12-15 mpg and not as powerful as newer suv's but beyond that they are hard to beat. My dad drives an 08 Jeep 4 door and it drives like crap by comparison, very fatiguing on longer trips.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gatorgrizz27 View Post
    Budget and MPG goals will narrow things down. Personally if it isn't driven often I'd rather have a cheaper vehicle, lower insurance, etc, and pay the price on fuel when actually using it.

    I drive a 97 Land Rover Discovery now and it is by far the most practical vehicle I've ever owned. Not much bigger than your Jeep outside but cavernous inside, it can seat 7 normal sized people comfortably, or 3 with 3 bikes inside and backpacks. All wheel drive instead of 4x4 so you never have to stop and shift it, you can turn directly off the highway onto steep muddy back roads seamlessly. Quiet, smooth, comfortable, like an older luxury car with a hitch, roof rack and massive storage area. Extremely easy to work on and repair in the middle of nowhere which beats more reliable but unrepairable newer vehicles in my book.

    Toyota Land Cruisers are also a great option and very similar though more expensive. Down sides to either will be 12-15 mpg and not as powerful as newer suv's but beyond that they are hard to beat. My dad drives an 08 Jeep 4 door and it drives like crap by comparison, very fatiguing on longer trips.
    I agree. I could drive for days in my Landcruiser. Big V8, plush seats, and lots of cargo room. Only downside, as you said, is 12/16 mpg. Those LR's are nice as well. Always admired the DI's. Especially with the 5-speed.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinGT View Post
    I'm sort of in the same boat and I'll tell you why a truck isn't an option. For me, 95% of the time, a truck is a horrible vehicle. Regardless of what the commercials say, they are not comfortable. They are loud, bumpy, big, and clumsy. I travel for work extensively and rent dozens and dozens of vehicles every year. The worst car I've ever rented was exponentially more comfortable than the best truck I've ever driven.

    Obviously, it's all about your use. I do 800 miles of freeway driving and commuting some weeks. For that I want comfort and quiet. It's not worth sacrificing ANY comfort or quiet (or gas mileage, for that matter) for a better mountain bike vehicle for a couple rides on the weekend.

    If I had
    a) 1/10th the freeway driving and
    b) 5x the mountain bike driving and
    c) The need to carry 2000 pounds of gravel or a full stack of drywall like they show on TV

    I'd be a good candidate for a truck.
    When's the last time you drove a truck, 150/1500 class trucks are absolutely the best highway cruisers you can buy today. As good as any full size cadillac. Most especially the RAM trucks and i think Ford which have switched to coil spring rear suspensions. They are tall and wide, and extremely comfortable for bombing down the highways. THeir extra mass also helps with road imperfections and wind. I've driven numerous rental cars(due to work) and trucks from 1500 class all the way up to 5500 class trucks. 1500 class, and even 2500 class trucks are the way to go for highway cruising. They are so extremely comfortable and quiet.

    Watch this video, and see for yourself what a modern truck is like compared to the leaf spring trucks of the early 2000's.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8Ti5I-NJTM



    Back on topic, the honda element is your best bet. All the seats fold flat to make 2 beds, has AWD, and you can get a camping topper for it. ECamper | Ursa Minor Vehicles

    They are about $6k for the conversion, but considering the money you save on buying a used element for less than $10k, a nice camper vehicle is well within budget.

  27. #27
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    If it were me, i'd get a truck camper. You can get them for the tacoma or frontier, but i prefer a full size 1/2 ton truck like the F150 or Ram 1500.

    Check these out, you can get them with a shower and toilet. Hawk Pop-Up (6.5? Short Bed) | Four Wheel Campers

  28. #28
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    A few things to consider.

    1. As mentioned budget.
    2. How often and how far are your bike trips? For me driving a fuel efficient car and staying in a motel is very cost effective when compared driving a larger rig. I have a f150 and a small car and usually drive the car. 1000 miles at 16 mpg (don't let them bs you halfton 4x4 trucks with v8s get 16) is 62 gallons of gas. So a 35 MPG car will save you over 100 dollars in fuel which is easily 2 nights in a cheap motel.

    3. Look for a frontier crew cab long bed. They make 4 doors with a full 6 foot bed that's so much better for bikes and sleeping then a 4 foot bed. The Frontier would be my pick out of what you mentioned because they are les money then a Tacoma.
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