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  1. #1
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    What is a good first car (type/model) for a bicyclist?

    I have little experience with cars and have never owned one. I have ridden bicycles all my life. But lately, I've been thinking of buying a car, mainly for greater independence and relatively unlimited, fast, physical-effort-free long-distance mobility. I am wondering what type of car would appeal to a bicyclist like me (and you). Can some of you provide me with evaluations of good cars from a bicyclist's perspective? I mean, what should I look for? Manual or automatic? Small or medium size? What should I prize: fast acceleration, high top speed, low fuel consumption, good handling, hybrids? To be sure, I cannot afford expensive models and will go for a used car if I ever buy one. And I don't want to make the investment and buy a car only to find out that it does not appeal to my bicyclist mentality/personality.

  2. #2
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Well, start with each question:

    Manual or automatic? Anyone can learn how to drive manual, but you'll need to get some seat time to get comfortable with it before driving one in traffic. Automatics are very good these days, achieving fuel efficiency as good as a smartly-driven manual. There are also "semi-automatic" transmissions that don't require you to manipulate a clutch but let you choose which gear to use.

    Small or medium? I'd say to get one that'll carry your bike, yet will easily park where you need it. "Small" and "medium" seem to vary by location, too -- a "small" car in the US, like a Civic or a VW Golf, is very much a "medium" or average car in most of Europe. You can get a bike rack to carry the bike off the back of the car, but I think it's simply nicer and more secure to put it inside the car. And, just because a car might be small doesn't mean the driver knows how to park:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cCtoPmeaHo

    Acceleration vs. speed vs. fuel efficiency vs. handling vs. hybrid? Those should all be secondary to RELIABILITY. It doesn't matter how fast or efficient a car is if it's spending three months per year getting stupid things fixed. I know car enthusiasts who drive and race Mini Coopers, enjoy their good efficiency, practical cargo capacity, agile handling and quick responses, and get rid of them as soon as the warranty runs out. They don't want to have to start paying for all the repairs and replacements that they were getting taken care of for free under warranty.

    There are plenty of small-medium cars out there with good efficiency and easy practicality. Some brands have a better reputation for reliability, though.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    For me I have a small suv: Suzuki Xl-7.
    Its perfect for me as I' am a cyclist as well. If i want to try new places i fold down my seats and put my bike in the back and hit the road.
    the downfall is my mpg. Horrible. So i' am looking for a newer car as well.
    So far i have the nissan rouge, toyota rav-4, honda cr-v, and Hyundai Tuscon in mind. small little suvs with big trunk space to put a bike!
    research them and see what you like. what appeals to me wont to others!

  4. #4
    Senior Member CNY James's Avatar
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    Honda Element as long as you dont need seating for > 4 people. The versatility is unmatched, there is a Honda Accessory interior bike mount, you can also get the tent that attaches to the Element so you can use it as a camper (all seats fold flat to make for a decent bed. IMO, it really is the perfect car for anybody with an active lifestyle.



    you can also mount it to one side or the other so that you can run 2 bikes or keep one of your seats in the car (or not folded up) the bike rack attachment is somewhere in the neighborhood of $100, IMO well worth it for a secure storage/transport for the bike.

    I wouldnt know what to do without my element!

  5. #5
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    1978 Honda CVCC hatchback.

  6. #6
    mosquito rancher adamrice's Avatar
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    Honestly, bikes and cars are different enough that asking this question is kind of like asking "what sort of music would I like if I enjoy books by Elmore Leonard and Carson McCullers?"

    That said, reliability should be your top priority. After that, you probably want utility (something that can haul your stuff) and economy. I'd look at a compact station wagon or a "one box" like the Honda Fit or Nissan Cube.

    I personally drive a Subaru WRX wagon, which is OK on economy, has been very reliable and utilitarian, and is fun. It can hold one bike with the front wheel off, or two bikes (plus gear) with more disassembly.

    Don't worry about top speed. Almost any car sold in the past 10 years can go well above the legal limit (though I've driven a few anemic 80s models that ran out of steam around 63 mph). Acceleration is an issue when, say, negotiating short on-ramps.

    As with a bike, you want to test-drive a few. Doesn't cost you anything.

  7. #7
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    IIRC, I've got a Honda hatchback -- my third, in fact. The first one, an '86 Civic DX, got totaled in 1995 when a driver ran a red light and nailed it in the right rear. It was a shame it got hit, because it had crossed 150,000 miles and was still going strong. I replaced it with another '86 Civic hatch, an Si model, and kept that until 2002 when I bought a new '02 Si hatch. I sold the '86 to a coworker, and it changed hands a couple more times, going well beyond 250,000 before it got neglected to death. I should have bought it back when I had the chance and turned it into a race car.

    Which brings me to a point -- any car will eventually give up on you if you treat it like crap. Some people around here get themselves a junk car, treat it like junk, and whine about how it's falling apart. Well, DUH. Get something good, maintain it properly, and it's gonna last a long, long time.
    Last edited by BarracksSi; 01-09-10 at 12:37 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  9. #9
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    Or that. ^^^ That would be awesome. It's so cool that it's worthwhile even when it's not being driven.

    I'd buy this one if I lived there -- just like the one I have now, except it has the engine that should be in my car:
    http://www.karanouhmotors.com/ItemDe...asp?ItemId=166

    Man, those are some clean cars. Must be nice not having to deal with winters and road salt.

  10. #10
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    Get a car light enough that you can tow it with your bike.
    12' SuperiorLite SL Pro w/ Sram Rival | 10' SuperiorLite SL Club w/ Sram Force | 06' Giant FCR (Dropbar) w/ Shimano 5700 | 10' GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

  11. #11
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    ok the honda element is soooo ugly. sorry no offense personal opinion. especially the new models.
    you want attractiveness, reliability, and economy all in one. id rather drive a tractor than drive car that looks like a lego!

  12. #12
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrizzleDizzle6 View Post
    ok the honda element is soooo ugly. sorry no offense personal opinion. especially the new models.
    you want attractiveness, reliability, and economy all in one. id rather drive a tractor than drive car that looks like a lego!
    Personal taste, therefore utterly worthless as advice.

    Just sayin'.

  13. #13
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    I have a Toyota Matrix. Very economical and utilitarian, and fun to drive. Has tie-downs in floor and the back seat & passenger front seatback fold down. I can place my LWB recumbent bike inside it and still close the rear lid. Same as Pontiac Vibe, but better visibility all around. You could even sleep inside it. Mine has over 130K miles and never a bit of trouble.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Personal taste, therefore utterly worthless as advice.

    Just sayin'.
    wow. so what if it's my personal opinion. he'll see what i have to say and then judge himself by others opinions. ur cars were ugly too. except the newer one now. those are amazing. The 80's model civic hatchbacks are ugly, weak, and small. i pass cars like that on purpose. no matter how much u try to make it look like a race car, its just a rice rocket! just sayin.

  15. #15
    Pro Paper Plane Pilot wunderkind's Avatar
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    Not sure if anyone notices, but OP is from Lebanon. Not sure what is available there. Maybe a Fiat 500 perhaps? How about a MINI. Cooper S if exists. If you want to carry it inside your car, maybe a Lada? Does Honda sell automobile in that region?
    If you are in North America, I would recommend a used Subaru Impreza wagon. Cheap to run, dead reliable, AWD, wagon format is really useful. If you can swing the cash and want some zoom, go for a WRX wagon.
    Honda Element is not only ugly, but it is heavy. CRV is a better alternative. But I suppose, the plastic interior makes it easy to maintain if you are a DH/trail rider. Aerodynamic of a brick makes it horrible for hwy mpg. But if you do not worship at the Temple of VTEC, there are loads of alternatives which i would heartily recommend over. But if you must... I have seen folks bike racks on S2000. Great choice IMHO for that warm pleasant mediterranean climate! Too bad the NSX has its engine at the back, so it may melt your bike tires. Not cool.
    Last edited by wunderkind; 01-09-10 at 04:48 PM.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
    Not sure if anyone notices, but OP is from Lebanon. Not sure what is available there. Maybe a Fiat 500 perhaps? How about a MINI. Cooper S if exists. If you want to carry it inside your car, maybe a Lada? Does Honda sell automobile in that region?
    If you are in North America, I would recommend a used Subaru Impreza wagon. Cheap to run, dead reliable, AWD, wagon format is really useful. If you can swing the cash and want some zoom, go for a WRX wagon.
    Honda Element is not only ugly, but it is heavy. CRV is a better alternative. But I suppose, the plastic interior makes it easy to maintain if you are a DH/trail rider. Aerodynamic of a brick makes it horrible for hwy mpg.
    i just noticed hes from lebanon too.
    haha thanks for backing me up on how ugly the element is!

  17. #17
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wunderkind View Post
    Not sure if anyone notices, but OP is from Lebanon. Not sure what is available there. Maybe a Fiat 500 perhaps? How about a MINI. Cooper S if exists. If you want to carry it inside your car, maybe a Lada? Does Honda sell automobile in that region?
    downtube42 posted a link to a used car dealership in Lebanon. They've got a few Hondas and a couple Toyotas, among others.

    I would NOT recommend any new Mini, and also would hesitate to recommend a Fiat, unless it came with a spectacular warranty that covered everything that will go wrong.

  18. #18
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrizzleDizzle6 View Post
    wow. so what if it's my personal opinion. he'll see what i have to say and then judge himself by others opinions.
    The thing is, there's a difference between opinion and fact. It's pointless to go back and forth about whether a car is ugly or not, because everyone's got different tastes. And, if everyone agrees that a particular car looks hot, but it's about as reliable as a cardboard box in the rain, then what good is it as an automobile? It has to work, unless you're happy with it posing in your driveway while you save up for a new engine.

    Go for reliability record first, then whether it fits your needs, then think about its looks.

  19. #19
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    The thing is, there's a difference between opinion and fact. It's pointless to go back and forth about whether a car is ugly or not, because everyone's got different tastes. And, if everyone agrees that a particular car looks hot, but it's about as reliable as a cardboard box in the rain, then what good is it as an automobile? It has to work, unless you're happy with it posing in your driveway while you save up for a new engine.

    Go for reliability record first, then whether it fits your needs, then think about its looks.
    Looks is top on my list and im sure im not the only one too.
    then reliability then whther or not its fits my needs.
    sure a car can be super reliable but if it looks like a cardboard box then i aint driving in it.
    and your so right everyone has different tastes, i just happen to say that the element is ugly. thats my taste.
    the op might agree might disagree. thankss

  20. #20
    Day trip lover mr geeker's Avatar
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    geo metro
    instant human: just add coffee
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  21. #21
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    If the Honda Element or similar vehicle is available in your area- a great choice.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ChrizzleDizzle6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    If the Honda Element or similar vehicle is available in your area- a great choice.
    "personal taste, therefore utterly useless advice."-BarracksSi

  23. #23
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    How about a Subaru product? I mean, I only have my permit, but many cyclists I know have Subaru's. Compact or medium sized, Subaru's seem to offer reliability and fuel efficiency. Those are the main things I'd look for in a car...

  24. #24
    Senior Member travelmama's Avatar
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    OP, the work is easy for you to do. First check out what most people are driving and do the research on those cars then decide for yourself. We can all tell you that a Yugo is the best car on the market but you may be out of luck there in Beirut.
    Two Wheels One Love

  25. #25
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    Cars like the PT Cruiser, Chevy HHR, Scion XB, Toyota Matrix and such by other manufacturers are good choices for a car. If you can get one in Diesel outside of the US even better. While taking the wheel off of your bike allows you to get a smaller car being able to leave it upright is a big plus and being able to lock it inside is another big plus. People that ride a lot only use the vehicle for trips too long for a bike and they tend to take the bike with them. Racers and Century riders are the same and not having to take the bike apart is a bit of a plus. For me however being able to lock two bikes inside and still seat two people and all their bags for a trip are more important than the absolutly best fuel mileage. Diesel can be the best of both worlds. It doesn't matter much on a road trip if you get a stick or automatic. Once at speed neither are shifting.

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