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Old 02-05-14, 07:31 AM   #1
stringbreaker
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Dodge Caravan as a bike hauler

I am considering a Dodge Caravan as a retirement vehicle and think it looks like it would be a great bike hauler. Stow and go seating would give a nice flat floor and leave room for all the rest of our travel gear. From what I can tell it has a nice low real entry height and looks like we wouldn't eve have to take the front wheels off. I don't care that its not real stylish I just want something comfortable and reasonalbly easy on gas. Anyone have a Caravan that would give me the pros and cons.
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Old 02-05-14, 07:48 AM   #2
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Used them for years for hauling our various tandems. I might still own a Dodge Caravan but the stow and go seats wouldn't fit the short version and the long version was a too tight fit for my garage. Now I have a Honda Element which is, in some ways, a similar type car.

Incidentally, a long time ago I owned a VW minivan. My Honda goes faster, has air conditioning and a LOT better heater, requires much less maintenance and still gets the same gas mileage.
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Old 02-05-14, 09:34 AM   #3
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I was once riding with a co-worker in his wife's Dodge Caravan and we happened to notice a lot of other minivans on the road with bashed bumpers and fenders prompting me to comment that minivans are the manatees of the road. I've never owned one but have rented them when traveling with gear and found them to be very practical. One issue in renting them, usually the rental agency wouldn't let me take the seats out and leave them at the agency, which kinda reduced the practical utility for hauling gear.
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Old 02-05-14, 10:58 AM   #4
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Dodge Sprinter is taller so easier to get in the back , ...

If you can find one they came with a Mercedes Diesel and got good fuel economy..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_Sprinter

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Old 02-05-14, 11:07 AM   #5
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I have owned several vans, among them a Caravan... this could haul a lot of bikes.

Now I drive a Sentra sedan which will carry bikes on the roof racks or trunk rack and when it isn't hauling bikes it is a much more economical ride and more fun to drive.
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Old 02-05-14, 11:23 AM   #6
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My issue with ours is height. Some of my bikes won't stand up inside or going through the tailgate.
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Old 02-05-14, 11:29 AM   #7
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I have a 2013 and it is a rather nice vehicle. However, I have yet to figure out how to haul all of our bikes as the tailgate is fairly low and I have a family of 5. That and I trashed the inside of my windstar with dirt and grease from the bikes. Probably more likely to use a roof rack or hitch rack when hauling with this vehicle especially for dirty bikes. IE a muddy cross race.
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Old 02-05-14, 11:46 AM   #8
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I had a '98 Grand Caravan for 8 years. It was the last year they offered a 3 Liter 6. No guts...but great mileage. The most car-like ride of all the minivans we tested at the time. Engine, door seals and dashboard problems started cropping up as is usual for those model year Chrysler mini-vans. And warped front brake rotors (constantly) rear drums were reliable.
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Old 02-05-14, 12:02 PM   #9
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We have the Chrysler version, I believe it is the same thing. Very convenient for hauling bicycles! All the rear seats fold into the floor to allow for storage and hauling. This was the main reason we went with this van and not the Honda! We have hauled a tandem and 2 singles a the same time in the back of the van! We did have to angle the bikes when entering them through the back however once we cleared the back hatch the bike was then straightened, all stood upright with wheels on!
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Old 02-05-14, 12:41 PM   #10
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Pretty good idea now that the Caravan or one of its iterations would work for us.
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Old 02-05-14, 01:11 PM   #11
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we've got a 2011 odyssey.

i can fit a regular bike in the back behind the 2nd row without the front wheel on. with wheels on, there's issues clearing the tailgate area if the bars are too high up.

we normally use a hitch mounted rack to carry our bikes without getting the inside of the car dirty.
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Old 02-05-14, 01:36 PM   #12
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We have a 2000 Odyssey van. With the 2nd row out and the 3rd row stowed, you can fit three assembled bikes on the inside, plus we add four on the outside on a hitch mounted tray-type carrier. We looked at the Dodge back in 2000 and didn't like the quality. The Honda has been fine. We had a warranty transmission replacement at 75,000 miles. Now over 155,000 and going strong. Love that van.
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Old 02-05-14, 02:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stringbreaker View Post
I am considering a Dodge Caravan as a retirement vehicle and think it looks like it would be a great bike hauler. Stow and go seating would give a nice flat floor and leave room for all the rest of our travel gear. From what I can tell it has a nice low real entry height and looks like we wouldn't eve have to take the front wheels off. I don't care that its not real stylish I just want something comfortable and reasonalbly easy on gas. Anyone have a Caravan that would give me the pros and cons.
IIRC, Chrysler used to encourage people to 'test fit' their gear to ensure that it would meet their lifestyle. So just show up at the dealer with your bike(s) and anything (or anyone) else you plan on carrying at once and load up- might use some old blankets or a cheap drop cloth to keep the interior clean.
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Old 02-05-14, 08:32 PM   #14
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I've got a real basic 2006 Caravan. 4 Cylinder and I have to physically remove the seats. I've only got about 68,000 miles on it and that's with 2 trips to Florida (probably around 6,000 miles combined) I haven't had any real issues with it.

I mounted a receiver on the caravan to use my 2 bike carrier. I also mounted a complete roof rack system to haul my kayaks. One downside to the receiver mounted bike rack on the Caravan is the low ground clearance. I've scraped that thing a few times when pulling out of a gas station that has a ramp down to the street.
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Old 02-05-14, 08:34 PM   #15
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We replaced a 2001 Mazda MPV with a new Mazda5 wagon last Spring. The MPV had room to fit a tandem bike right down the middle with the 3rd seat down. Or my long wheelbase 'bent. Plus a smaller bike or two.
With the Mazda5, my short wheelbase 'bent easily fits inside, but the tandem or LWB 'bent rides on the roof rack. Which is OK, as the smaller 'microvan' is much better at everything except bike hauling.
It all depends on what your priorities are.
I know a bike-obsessed couple who picked up a new Dodge van and really like it for hauling their tandem all over. (um.....might be a Toyota, now that I think about it, but similar size, I think)
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Old 02-05-14, 11:46 PM   #16
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I have a 2004 Dodge Caravan, bought used. It's pre-Stow 'n' Go, so taking the seats out is a bit of a chore. (Ingenious latches, but the seats are heavy.) It swallowed my Gold Rush recumbent, my Lightning recumbent, and my streamliner and a weekend's worth of racing impedimenta without a problem.
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Old 02-06-14, 03:30 AM   #17
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Best beater I've ever owned was an 89 dodge caravan TURBO yep. I bought it back in 01 for $800 and just sold it 2 years ago for $500. I kept it so long because it was so handy to have around, it was worth nothing, and everything on it worked. Worked very well for hauling bikes around, helped that I didn't care about the interior.
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Old 02-06-14, 07:27 AM   #18
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Caravan owners was it easy to get the bikes in? Is there enough clearance at the back hatch to put them in upright or do you have to lay them down then get them in to stand up. I want to use some kind of stabalizing stand or rack to secure them while in transport without taking off the front wheel.
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Old 02-06-14, 10:54 AM   #19
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On my 2004 I just lower the seat post and have to tilt the bike some to fit it in. With the 2 rows of seats taken out the space is really big. All my bikes are XL, so M or L might not have to adjust the seatpost.
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Old 02-06-14, 11:08 AM   #20
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Caravan owners was it easy to get the bikes in? Is there enough clearance at the back hatch to put them in upright or do you have to lay them down then get them in to stand up. I want to use some kind of stabalizing stand or rack to secure them while in transport without taking off the front wheel.
I always used a piece of plywood with a fork mount or two bolted to it to hold bikes upright. Sometimes I put a riser under one of the fork mounts so the bike handlebars would nest. I don't remember ever having a problem loading bikes into the Caravan - even tandems with two seats sticking up and a stoker handlebar sticking out on both sides.
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Old 02-07-14, 12:00 AM   #21
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Caravan owners was it easy to get the bikes in? Is there enough clearance at the back hatch to put them in upright or do you have to lay them down then get them in to stand up. I want to use some kind of stabalizing stand or rack to secure them while in transport without taking off the front wheel.
Depends on the size of the bike, but... they'll only fit upright with the front wheel on if it's a fairly small (48-52cm) frame. Otherwise, a fork-mount on a board works great, even for my two very large Easy Racer recumbents.
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Old 02-07-14, 01:03 AM   #22
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Mine fit with the front wheels on no problem with all the van's seats out. I usually left the middle row of seats in my van though so to get the bikes to fit I took the front wheel off and set the fork down over the back of the middle seat.
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Old 02-13-14, 03:06 PM   #23
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We didn't think we'd need our Chrysler Town and Country once are kids were grown so we sold it. Now it isn't but a week goes by that I wish we still had it. Ours had the removable seats not the stowaways. The benefit of that is that you get more room in the back. Always had enough room for two adult bikes plus luggage when we travelled.
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Old 02-13-14, 04:02 PM   #24
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good friend of mine has a Honda Element, PERFECT bike toting vehicle!

A bike will stand up (without front tire) perfectly. he has a homemade wood rack he puts in there with quick release axle's on it that you mount the fork to and tighten. easy load and unload...way easier than minivan.
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Old 02-13-14, 06:35 PM   #25
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I have a '99 Plymouth Voyager (stripped down Caravan). It's one of the most under rated all around utility vehicles on the road. Slow as butt. If the price is right, grab it.
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