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  1. #1
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    Renting a car in Europe

    Hello all,

    We are going to Europe with our tandem and need to rent a vehicle (mini van?) that is large enough to transport out tandem from place to place. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions?

    Thanks in advance
    Robert

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    Go to AAA and tell them your requirements. They'll get on the phone to a company that will help. Unfortunately, it'll probably be Hertz or Avis. Those two companies will give good service, but be prepared for LONG lines at the airport. The other thing to consider is you can get a cheap Allen trunk rack, remove the tandem wheels and and drive around like that. Be careful, as it'll probably stick out a bit on either side of the car, but as long as you don't need to lock it to the car, you'll be able to get around fine.

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    Check this thread and you'll find the pic I've got in mind...

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...up-a-Trek-t900

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    Unless thing have radically changed in the last five years, be prepared to pay at least twice as much as in the States.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Homeyba's Avatar
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    I rented a Dodge Grand Caravan in Scotland about three years ago. Sorry, I don't remember how much it cost/day. We had it a week. I don't remember it being appreciably more expensive to rent than a smaller vehicle. I was surprised that they had them! It was expensive to fill up the gas tank though!!!
    It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.

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    I've been to France a number of times,..once with the tandem. I always rent from Europcar http://www.europcar.com/car-rental.html. You can call them directly to discuss the specific vehicle you want/need. They are located in Portland, ME and are easy to work with.

    I usually rent a smallish car,..by our standards,...say a VW golf,..and bring a small folding rack that can easily be strapped to the back of a hatchback. Take the wheels off the bike luggage, wheels etc in the car and bike strapped to rack on back. Really easy,..takes only a few minutes to mount the rack and adjust the straps. Off ya go.

    Good Luck.

    Rich

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    Fair number of smaller European wagons and hatchbacks will fit a tandem with both wheels off, and the back seat down.
    You could fall off a cliff and die.
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  8. #8
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    We travel to Europe at least once per year, and just about always take our tandem (and now, triplet). On the instances where we are not doing a multi-day tour, we rent a car to haul our bike around. We generally rent in Germany. I'd estimate we've rented vehicles 10+ times in Europe with an eye toward having the tandem fit in them. A station wagon has always worked fine for the tandem. Usually we'll get a Ford Focus (smaller wagon) or a mid-size wagon like a Ford Mondeo (works better). The tandem fits inside if you fold down one of the rear 60/40 split seats and put it in diagonally. You'll have to take off the wheels, of course, and depending on your bike you may need to remove the captain's seatpost and stoker bar assembly, and perhaps the rear seat too.

    This year we took our triplet for the first time. It's an S&S bike, so I could have taken it apart each time, but didn't want to deal with those hassles. Surprisingly, the triplet fit inside the Mondeo, sideways, with wheels off, and half of the rear seat folded down (and stoker bars turned sideways). I also made a cheap roof rack: I stopped at a local home store and bought two pieces of wood (like 2x4s). I had the home store cut them to the width of the vehicle. I then simply took some nylon rope (bought at the store) and lashed them securely to the roof-top side rails of the wagon. Worked great! I put the triplet on the rack, laying down (I removed the pedals facing the roof). We drove 600+ miles from Germany to Provence, France, with this setup with no problems. All of this sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn't too bad. Making the roof racks probably took 40 minutes, total, including time spent in the home store getting the parts (cost: around 10 euros).

    Don't be afraid to specifically ask for particular car model when you pick up your car. I've even gone back to the rental desk a few times to get a car that will work better for us. One trick is to go directly to the area where the rental cars are, note what's on the lot for your rental company, pick ones that will work for you (note the space number and even tag number), and take that list to the rental desk and ask for the one you want. Sure, it's a hassle, especially after a international flight, but I figure I'll be using that car for two+ weeks and a bit of time spent up front is worth it in the long run.

    The trick is to get a car that is long enough in the rear, and that has fold-down rear seats. That sounds obvious, but many larger vehicles look like they would work well, but when you look closer they don't have the seating setup or flexible cargo space you'll need. Beware of some minivans in Europe as they lack the flexible cargo space that some American minivans do. The rental agency generally won't let you remove seats and leave them at the rental destination, either. This June the rental agent was going to upgrade me from my reserved Focus wagon to a full-size Land Rover SUV because he thought it would have more space for us. I went to look at it and saw that the Focus wagon actually had more usable space, even though it was technically smaller. Ended up getting the mid-size Mondeo wagon, which worked even better. In an ideal scenario, I want a small to mid-size diesel wagon that is silver outside (doesn't show scratches) and black inside (doesn't show bike grease :-). Surprisingly, with a little bit of work and kindness to the rental desk agent, I quite often get just that.

    Small wagons can be surprisingly roomy. We've fit the following inside a Ford Focus wagon in Germany: one tandem, one Burley Solo trailer, two adults, one child in a car seat, stroller, and requisite baggage/clothes for two weeks.

    We almost always rent from Hertz in Germany and the Netherlands, and have never had a problem. I've also had good luck with AutoEurope, which is a US-based broker. But, I prefer to deal directly with the rental company as it eliminates the middleman hassles if something goes wrong. Hertz's prices in Germany are generally the same as AutoEurope. When traveling on business I have to use Sixt car rental (I work for a German company). I don't have very many good things to say about them and never use them personally.

    Common rental vehicles we've had that have worked fine include:

    Ford Focus wagon (small wagon... we usually get this)
    Ford Mondeo wagon (larger size, works better for the tandem)
    Opel Astra wagon (small wagon)
    Opel Vectra wagon (larger)
    Ford Galaxy minivan (worked great, got a free upgrade to this; has very flexible seating plan)
    Last edited by briwasson; 09-24-10 at 09:25 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtrich View Post
    I've been to France a number of times,..once with the tandem. I always rent from Europcar http://www.europcar.com/car-rental.html. You can call them directly to discuss the specific vehicle you want/need. They are located in Portland, ME and are easy to work with.

    Rich
    I think you are thinking of AutoEurope, not Europcar. AE is a broker for several European rental companies (including Europcar). AE is located in Maine.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all the replies. I'm encouraged to read that it will fit inside a wagon as small as a Ford Focus. Since that is the case we won't have a problem getting a car that will work for us. Since wagons are so popular is Europe I don't anticipate any issues. As long as the bike doesn't get damaged during the flight...

    Cheers,
    Robert

  11. #11
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    I should note that our tandems are Santana "medium" size frames, and that they fit in the Focus without problem. Again, diagonally, with wheels removed, and usually either with the seatposts slid down in the frame or more often removed altogether, along with the stoker stem/bars.

    Also, take along an old sheet to put down in the cargo area to protect it from grease and whatnot.

  12. #12
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    Good points. I thought about the sheet to protect the car. Ours is a Large/Small mountain tandem. I don't mind if I have to remove or adjust the bars and/or seatposts. Probably not much larger than your Santana. I have reserved a Ford Focus (or similar) from Europcar. If we need the next size up I'm sure they will have something available when we get there.

    Robert

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