Honda Element and bikes, what am I doing wrong?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Honda Element and bikes, what am I doing wrong?

    OK, I drive a Suburban and carry my size L Blur LT with me everywhere I go. It fits in the back with no problems at all.

    Soo, in the interested of reducing my expenses I decided something like an Element might be great. I desire to have my bike with me as often as possible and I've hear it said the Element fits bikes with no problems.

    I went to the dealership and before driving and/or looking at anything else I told the sales guy I wanted to try my bike out to check for fit. With a large smile he said "Sure thing, you're gonna be surprised."

    Well, he was the one surprised. It was tight, very very tight. Had to put it in rear tire first and lean it over to get it to fit. Also, had to move the passenger seat forward somewhat.

    Also, the rear seats are somewhat of a pain to fold up. Can they just be removed?

    I did drive it and find it to be a very desirable small SUV. I've just concerned that it was a much tighter fit than I've been lead to believe.

    Opinions? Experiences? Any thoughts are appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    Hi Chas,

    Great story about your visit to the dealer. I've had my Element since 2004, and I've found it to be a great car for my needs, including supporting my cycling habits (MTB and road). I have a bike with me for part of almost every day. Let me share some of my observations on loading to help you make a decision.*

    -The rear hatch opening is noticeably shorter in height than the interior. This means that *all* of my bikes do need to be tilted a bit to get into the car, but stand up fine once they are in. (The tallest of my bikes are a 4" rear/120mm front travel Large frame MTB and a 59cm road bike. I'm 6'). It seems awkward at first, but actually helps in 1-person loading -> I push the bikes in front wheel first from the back (tilted over as necessary), and stand them up by wedging the seat in the rear door opening when they get that far. Then I go around to the front door and reach in and grab the handlebars of the upright bike, tilt the seat a bit to clear the door, and wheel it the rest of the way in. A couple of bungees and I'm on my way
    - if I don't have a front passenger, I leave that seat all the way forward so I know it won't interfere with bike loading. If I do have a passenger, I keep it back most of the way, and the bike wheel goes between the front seat arm rests. You'll bang your elbows on it, but it is easy to avoid. Just keep a beach towel handy to cover it if you want, and definitely try this configuration at the dealer before purchase
    - the seats *can* be taken out and, unless you have kids, should be taken out ;-) They are heavy, so doing this regularly would not be reasonable. Have the dealer take them out to show you how big the cargo space gets. *Even taking just 1 seat out of the back opens up a lot of room for bikes and makes loading of 1 or 2 easier. (Those seats take up a lot of room along the sides where handlebars and pedals should be!) BTW, removal/install of a rear seat is a 5 min job, but a back-wrenching one.
    -folding the seats up gets easier with practice, and a few notes about seat configs - (maybe too much detail!) I had both seats out full time until kid #1 came along, and only put the driver-side rear one back when she did. This allowed me to keep the passenger side open for bikes (plural). When daughter #2 came along, #1 was out of car seats, so the passenger rear seat did have to go back in, but there is no child seat on top preventing it from being folded up. This is the current configuration, and I go through several fold up/down cycles of the 1 seat each day w/o problems, but getting 2 bikes into that space takes some planning. 1 bike remains a breeze for me, but sounds like you're riding a big 'un.
    - Mileage is disappointing - wouldn't mention this except that your looking to reduce expenses. I get about 21 mpg with AWD and an auto (I know -> how stoked is the Suburban driver in you! That guy will also love parking one of these...). Still, I don't think there is anything else yet that can keep several bikes inside and intact that comes close to this, but it just seems that a civic mill should do better.*
    -dirt/mud clean up is a breeze - unless they changed the interior materials since 2004, you're pretty much driving around in a big piece of Tupperware, with all of the luxury and convenience this implies.

    Sorry for the long response, but I hope it helps. Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

    Good luck,
    Paul

    My caveat: I don't know how long/tall your bike is, but the LT tells me it must be a tall one. Fork travel, Rear travel and seat height will obviously be factors on whether it fits, but, it does sound like it stood up (?) once you finagled it in? If so, I think all of the above still apply. Frankly, I'm surprised it had to go in rear-wheel first. Try again with at least 1 rear seat removed?

  3. #3
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    JPaul,

    Thanks for your reply with real world experience.

    Yeah, I think the Blur LT is fairly tall, no way would it stand upright.

    I really like your idea about removing the seats, especially just one, say the right one. I do have kids but one is away at college, the other is about to be a driver so I seldom have more than one other person with me. Besides, when the whole family is in a car we seldom take mine.

    In general I am very stoked about the Element. I can't believe they are being discontinued.
    One thing that really surprised me was how easy it is to sit down in. Due to a severe auto accident a decade ago sloughing into and out of most cars on a daily basis cause me to have back pain. Getting into the Element is even easier than getting into a Suburban. I mean the door opening is BIG.
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  4. #4
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    On the Element, if you really want to get some mileage out of it, get the stick and add 6th gear from an Acura. It's around $200-300 worth of parts and some labor, but will get you up closer to 30mpg highway. I had a stick and was considering doing it before we had our 3rd kid and ended up selling.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by chas_martel View Post
    I mean the door opening is BIG.
    That's the reason I generally load bikes in through the side doors, not the rear hatch. I don't have to lean them over and they just roll right in. You do have to tilt the front wheels a bit for them to fit length-wise, but I've fit 3 bikes in easily.

    And the rear seats are easy to take out. Easier to just fold them up if you think you'll be using them, but it's nice to just get them out of the way.

    I truly love my Element. Need to buy a new one soon since they are being discontinued - there's really nothing else I'm interested in at all. Mine is up at 186,000 miles now...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuperJETT View Post
    On the Element, if you really want to get some mileage out of it, get the stick and add 6th gear from an Acura. It's around $200-300 worth of parts and some labor, but will get you up closer to 30mpg highway. I had a stick and was considering doing it before we had our 3rd kid and ended up selling.
    Interesting. Got a link? I have been really disappointed that Honda's manuals (Fit also) have higher freeway RPM than their 5-spd automatics.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by connie View Post
    That's the reason I generally load bikes in through the side doors, not the rear hatch.
    Hmm, that did not even cross my mind. It does make a lot of sense. I'll give it a try again, later this week when I go look at them again.
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  8. #8
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    That's the trend nowadays with rpms for manuals---we have a Mazda5 now and the auto turns fewer rpms than the stick even though they both have 5 gears.

    6th gear: http://www.elementownersclub.com/for...ad.php?t=25635

    That was weird logging in to EOC, haven't been on there in a long time. Join date 8/5/2003. I had one of the first manuals here in Louisville.
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  9. #9
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    I know...

    Quote Originally Posted by zelig View Post
    Interesting. Got a link? I have been really disappointed that Honda's manuals (Fit also) have higher freeway RPM than their 5-spd automatics.
    Car mfgs want there to be 'passing power' in top gear, which is silly, if you ask me. I think those who can drive a stick in the first place know to downshift, and part of the reason they bought a stick in the first place is for the economy. The only car I know that does this these days is the Corvette, which gets like 28mpg.

    For a couple years, the VW Rabbit (like 81 or 82 or so) the labeled the 5th gear 'E' for Economy, and they put a super tall 0.71:1 gear in there. With the 75 hp engine, it had no passing torque, but got like 35 mpg. I put one of these transmissions in my Scirocco, and it was great.

    In this country, I think most mfgs are trying to phase out manuals.

    My A4 is kinda buzzy in 5th gear too. I turn like 3500 rpms at 70 mph. The year after, they came out with a 6 speed, and it was hardly any reduction in top gear... slightly.

  10. #10
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    My brother just bought an Element and keeps his GT with him at all times. What he did was get the fork mount from Performance and bolt it to a 2x6 that sits across the back of the trunk. He takes the front wheel off and puts the back tire up against the driver seat and bolts the front fork to the mount. The bike is secure and just fits with the driver side back seat folded up. It is a great little setup that keeps the bike secure and not rattling around or on its side.

    If you google search, there is an Element forum that has a giant thread about bike transporting.

  11. #11
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    www.elementownersclub.com is THE E site.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by heybrady View Post
    My brother just bought an Element and keeps his GT with him at all times. What he did was get the fork mount from Performance and bolt it to a 2x6 that sits across the back of the trunk. He takes the front wheel off and puts the back tire up against the driver seat and bolts the front fork to the mount. The bike is secure and just fits with the driver side back seat folded up. It is a great little setup that keeps the bike secure and not rattling around or on its side.

    If you google search, there is an Element forum that has a giant thread about bike transporting.
    I did this to my wife's Element but bolted a piece of decking to the plastic floor. My friend saw it and made a more elaborate version with CNC routing (pictured). We load 2 bikes in the back (on Fork Ups) no problem. You'll want to angle the fork mounts slightly so the handlebars don't clash.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Honda Element and bikes, what am I doing wrong?-257734_2053673736693_1090025627_2361181_1525664_o.jpg  

    Honda Element and bikes, what am I doing wrong?-259480_2053673336683_1090025627_2361179_5742810_o.jpg  


  13. #13
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    ^^^ THat's a cool modification. Fo reelz.
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  14. #14
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    I'm another that mounts his bike on fork mounts. I also use a 2x6 that has been trimmed on the ends so that it wedges in the rear. Never tried putting the bike in whole but something tells me I'd have to drop the seat to fit it. Oh yeah, love the "Team Element" etching k1creeker!

    Here's mine though I now have a SportRider 2 hitch rack that I use:




    Here's a couple of threads from EO forums to help.
    http://www.elementownersclub.com/for...ad.php?t=54381
    http://www.elementownersclub.com/for...ead.php?t=5695
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  15. #15
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    I just bought an Element. My 58mm road bike will fit in, tires and all, once I lean it over to put it in. Putting two bikes in was a struggle, so I bought a Hidden Hitch, installed it myself, and now can use my existing Saris 4-bike rack. Of course I can't open the tailgate now.....

  16. #16
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    I've got an 04 element. I've always kept one seat out of the vehicle so i can easily throw by bike(s) in the car. I've transported 3 bikes in the car with one seat in. it was tight fit but they all fit. I usually put the bikes in facing the drivers side and turn the front wheel about 90degrees and then bungie the top tube to the hand bar on the ceiling. I've managed to fit my 29er and my 61cm road bike in with no issues provided that the wheels are turned.

    We've recently been travelling more with our 2 dogs so I'm looking for a roof rack so the dogs have more room but I'm sure i'll be throwing the bikes in the car for short trips without the dogs.

    If I ever buy another car it'll be another used element for sure or at least something similar. It's a shame they're stopping production.

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