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  1. #1
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Car/Bike Trip Tips

    We'll soon be heading out on another car camping/bike trip. We'll be meeting our 23-year-old daughter in Las Vegas, then riding in Zion, Bryce and other places in Utah, then dropping her off in Salt Lake City.

    We'll all be our Toyota Echo (three bikes on the roof). We've done it before, so we know that things will fit, but space will be at a premium.



    I thought I'd put the big front packs on the bikes and fill them up while they are on the roof to save some space in the car. OTOH, someone might steal the packs.

    Any tips or suggestions for the trip?
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  2. #2
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    Lot of stuff in a econobox, with 3 people and 3 bikes.

    I'd consider a Thule/Yak/Whomever long roof box for camping stuff, put one bike on the roof, then a trunk rack for the other bikes.

  3. #3
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Bags will kill your MPG even more than just the bikes. It may be worth it, but it will happen.

    Here are my bonus travel tips:
    Measure the height of your car with the bikes on it, and write it down.
    Hide the garage door opener somewhere in the car where you can't reach it
    If you put the front wheels on the rack, add a bungie cord to keep them tight and not spinning. (I lost a front wheel once and I'm now paranoid)
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    Bags will kill your MPG even more than just the bikes. It may be worth it, but it will happen.

    Here are my bonus travel tips:
    Measure the height of your car with the bikes on it, and write it down.
    Hide the garage door opener somewhere in the car where you can't reach it
    If you put the front wheels on the rack, add a bungie cord to keep them tight and not spinning. (I lost a front wheel once and I'm now paranoid)
    +1 that's the fastest way to turn a car that gets 40MPG into one that gets 10MPG. There are a couple of options if the gear doesn't fit, rent a van and put everything in the van, or get a small open car trailer, then you simply attach your rack to the floor of the trailer, put the bags in, beside the bikes, then throw a tarp over top and secure it to the railing of the trailer. This will keep the bikes clean, dry and secure, without using a lot of extra gas.....

  5. #5
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogster View Post
    +1 that's the fastest way to turn a car that gets 40MPG into one that gets 10MPG.
    That may be overstating it a bit. I think loosing 3-4mpg is about what happens to me. And that's when I have "bras" on the bikes.
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  6. #6
    Century bound Phil85207's Avatar
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    That's a great way to see Brice and Zion. We just did them again this year (by RV) the last time was about 15 years ago. Have a great time. and take lots of pictures.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    That may be overstating it a bit. I think loosing 3-4mpg is about what happens to me. And that's when I have "bras" on the bikes.
    At $1.30 a litre, losing even 1MPG is an expensive proposition.....

  8. #8
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    Hide the garage door opener somewhere in the car where you can't reach it
    Plus about a kazillion. This is a time-honored and completely necessary mnemonic device. I use it all the time.
    Craig in Indy

  9. #9
    Senior Member jdon's Avatar
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    I went camping with my daughter and took her Toyota Echo. It was loaded with all the camping equipment and food for a week, 2 kayaks on the roof rack and two MTB's on a trunk carrier. It was crowded but loaded as it was, it was a lot lighter fuel burn than my Jeep or my wifes SUV would have been. Added fuel burn. Who cares, thats the cost of doing the trip.

  10. #10
    I am the Snail~! Peter_C's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
    That may be overstating it a bit. I think loosing 3-4mpg is about what happens to me. And that's when I have "bras" on the bikes.
    With a 2005 Tucson that always gets 23+ mpg on road trips, by adding a soft bag (Rack Sack) on top tied down tightly with no loose material, my MPG for a trip to FL from OH dropped from 23 to 16. This is cruising at the same speeds, etc (65mph max). Am sure that bikes only would not be so bad, but adding a hard or soft 'bag' on top really does lower your miles-per-gallon.

    One minor point? Be sure to check tire pressure just before leaving (when cold - car sitting overnight), and setting them a bit to the higher side will help both with comfort (heavy loaded car) and fuel economy - I would suggest 5PSI higher (but not over the limit on the tires).
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  11. #11
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Putting the bikes on the roof only dropped the mileage by about 5 MPG
    mpg.PNG

    (Trip of September last year).

    There is a lot of space in the echo, here's a shot from our California to St. Louis car/bike trip:



    Top row: Al laptop, Lena big big heavy Imelda Marcos bag, Al cold weather clothes, sleeping bags and pillows, biking bag, Al warm weather, towels and sheet, tent, tent poles, cozy tent bag. Bottom row: dirty clothes, kitchen, Lena laptop, camping bag 2. Not pictured: Adventure bag (jackets and binoculars), electronics bag, chairs, toolbox, cooler, food box, frying pan bag, paper plate bag.
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  12. #12
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    One thing for sure, bikes on the roof or not, driving through Nevada will take forever, but seem like longer.

    roof on day 1 by ccorlew, on Flickr
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  13. #13
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I see you have the protective fabric on your bike. Recommended?
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  14. #14
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
    I see you have the protective fabric on your bike. Recommended?
    Hurts gas mileage. But if you drive a long way through bugs it's worth it.
    WANTED: Not a darn thing. I've got it all. Life is good.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Measure the height of your car with the bikes on it, and write it down.
    Have you come across any situations, aside from your home's garage door, where the bikes were too high?

    P.S. Just saw this post, concerning low clearance at a parking garage. I'll have to be careful when picking up our daughter at the Las Vegas airport. Our bikes will come to 8' 5", and the LV airport short-term parking clearance is 7 ft.

    So I'm glad you brought this up, thanks. I've set my ipod touch to remind me on the morning we pick her up.
    Last edited by TromboneAl; 09-07-11 at 09:44 AM.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  16. #16
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Get a VW diesel. AVERAGES 41-42 mpg all the time. Near 50mpg on the highway. Weight is not much of a factor. Had 4 people and luggage on a road trip to Chicago and pulled into the hotel and the mpg readout said 50 mpg.


    Drill at home and the price goes way down, and produces much-needed jobs
    Last edited by bigbadwullf; 09-07-11 at 09:11 AM.

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  17. #17
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbadwullf View Post
    Get a VW diesel. AVERAGES 41-42 mpg all the time. Near 50mpg on the highway. Weight is not much of a factor. Had 4 people and luggage on a road trip to Chicago and pulled into the hotel and the mpg readout said 50 mpg.


    Drill at home and the price goes way down, and produces much-needed jobs
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  18. #18
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Over here in the UK we have plenty of laybys for travellers wanting to rest but the local councils have got fed up with caravans using them for overnight parking so have put Height barriers on most of them. You can't even get a vehicle as high as say a VW campervan in them now so a car with bikes on top can get expensive.

    Sounds like you have lot of luggage to accomodate and I have used a Roof Trunk for luggage and put bikes on a rack on the back. MPG did not drop much except it was 600 miles of Motorway driving and any decrease was probably due to Excessive speed. Those roof trunks and you must know someone who has one. We asked around and found 3 neighbours had them tucked away at the back of the garage. Used only a couple of times from new.
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  19. #19
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
    We'll soon be heading out on another car camping/bike trip. We'll be meeting our 23-year-old daughter in Las Vegas, then riding in Zion, Bryce and other places in Utah, then dropping her off in Salt Lake City.

    We'll all be our Toyota Echo (three bikes on the roof). We've done it before, so we know that things will fit, but space will be at a premium.



    I thought I'd put the big front packs on the bikes and fill them up while they are on the roof to save some space in the car. OTOH, someone might steal the packs.

    Any tips or suggestions for the trip?
    Yep, I sure do have an idea for ya!

    Get all that funky stuff offa the roof and into one of these.........
    http://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Cargo-...ies/63153.html

    Sure, you may have to put on a trailer hitch and overload rear shocks but the gas MPG savings will pay for them quick!!

    Then all ya have to do is.......
    Plug in the platform to the hitch
    Load platform
    Fill tank w/gas
    Put in suit cases etc.
    Leave for the trip.
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  20. #20
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Yep, I sure do have an idea for ya!

    Get all that funky stuff offa the roof and into one of these.........
    http://www.etrailer.com/Hitch-Cargo-...ies/63153.html

    Sure, you may have to put on a trailer hitch and overload rear shocks but the gas MPG savings will pay for them quick!!

    Then all ya have to do is.......
    Plug in the platform to the hitch
    Load platform
    Fill tank w/gas
    Put in suit cases etc.
    Leave for the trip.
    Adjust Headlamps downwards so you can illuminate the road instead of the Sky
    Added the correction to the problem I can see with this Carrier.

    Not used this type but 30 years ago there was a similar version that had a single rotating wheel to take the load at the back. Turned it into a trailer and it was hinged where it attached to the Car by two brackets. I have no idea why it never caught on but you never even noticed it was there--Till you tried to get into a parking space and found the car was 8ft longer than it used to be.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  21. #21
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    On our trip to St. Louis we had the bikes on the back.





    Never again, because it limited access to the trunk.



    Therefore, at every campsite, whether we rode or not, we had to remove the bikes and lock them to a tree. If we made a mistake and needed something from the trunk during the day, we'd need to remove the bikes, or search blindly from the rear seat area. We even tried opening the trunk with the bikes on it. That worked, but it's not recommended.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  22. #22
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    I figure that if we get 30 MPG instead of 40, and drive 2,000 miles, we will use about 17 extra gallons, for an extra cost of about $61.
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

  23. #23
    Senior Member TromboneAl's Avatar
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    Hi from Nevada. Our mileage for the first two tanks has been 32.4 MPG and 39.7 MPG.

    onTheRoad.jpg

    For the full blog, see: http://pages.suddenlink.net/tripsite/Utah1.htm
    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

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