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Review - 2011 Honda Odyssey Tandem Transport Vehicle

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Review - 2011 Honda Odyssey Tandem Transport Vehicle

Old 02-01-11, 07:36 PM
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regomatic
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Review - 2011 Honda Odyssey Tandem Transport Vehicle

Let me start out by saying that this purchase was a lot more about want and not very much about need.

I’ve gotten a great kick out from photos of tandems strapped on the back of motorcycles, on inflated inner tubes strapped to the tops of cars and car and a number of other tandem transport oddities. I know too, that with a little bit of work and a whole lot more economy, it would not be too difficult to transport our bike in any number of vehicles currently available. Also, when we started tandem riding more seriously, a good friend more experienced in the sport told me “when anyone asks how much your bike costs, you have to include the price of the vehicle you bought to transport it.” On that point I’ll readily admit that our expenditure was a fair bit more than it takes just to go ride a bike.

That being said, I think we’re among a substantial segment of the tandem community that like minivans for day to day transport and convenience when traveling to practice our favorite pursuit.

So, we recently traded our 2006 Honda Odyssey EX for a 2011 Odyssey EX-L.

You can go to the Honda website, Kelly or a number of other sites, as we did, to do your own research on whatever data is most important to you, I’m only going to comment about my impressions on the drivability and features of the new model. The 2011 model is a redesign this year and takes many, but not all, of the best features of previous models and adds a few new ones.

Most noteworthy on the first test drive was the sound. The old van was not particularly noisy and the new one doesn’t quite get to the silence of high end luxury sedans, but there is a noticeable and pleasant improvement. I can see some sort of rigid foam-like material in parts of the doorframe that must contribute to the lower sound levels and would assume that similar treatments in other areas of the vehicle are part of a more complex system to reduce road noise.

Other features that we like, that are also offered on many new models and brands, are the hands free Bluetooth that was very easy to set up and sync with my iPhone, and the back-up camera. I was even surprised at how helpful camera is, providing a wide angle view from the perspective of the rear bumper is especially helpful for backing out of parking spots when the driver’s perspective view is blocked by other vans or SUV’s in adjoining spaces. We did not opt for the on-board GPS. I count five GPS enabled devices in our household of two and I think we could buy about eight Garmin Nuvi’s for the cost of this option on the Honda.

Some of the other improvements on the 2011 model include;

Side door open /close buttons have been added to the pillar for middle seat passengers. We often had passengers that couldn’t figure out that the old vans doors just needed a slight tug on the handle and the door would do the rest of the work. The rear row seats fold into the floor even easier, if you can imagine that, than the previous model. There’s a “cool box” below the center dash area. It just runs off of the A/C so it won’t cool warm stuff very well, but it will keep a couple of cool drinks or a snack chilled and within easy reach on your longer road trips.

The only tandem related negative on the new van, for us, is a reduction of the rear door opening height by about 1-1/4 inches. In the “old” van we were able to, just barely, back our bike in standing up with both wheels on. The only thing we had to remove was the captain’s GPS from the handlebar. We’ll have to remove the front wheel now as we’ve seen on tall bikes in other vans. This shouldn’t be much of a problem and a friend at work made us a pretty cool stand to hold the fork and stow the front wheel. I’ll make another thread with pictures to show the stand.

This is far from the least expensive vehicle for tandem transport or other models in the minivan category, but in our first month of use, we are very pleased with the level of comfort and utility that the new Odyssey affords.


We’ve been off the bike for a couple of months, but we are very much looking forward to riding our “new ride” to rides starting up again this spring. If you see our plate "2CTER" at any event in the SE, please stop by to say hello..
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Old 02-01-11, 07:58 PM
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With those new wheels, possibly I should invite you to come this way for an A1A ride.

Been busy with life, need to say hi to 2CTER and his girl, a true first class tandem team.

JK & PK
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Old 02-01-11, 08:02 PM
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PMK, You're on my "to do " list. I'll call you this W/E.
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Old 02-01-11, 09:56 PM
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Our 2007 Honda Odyssey has been tandem transport nirvana. We have the Touring Edition, which has many of the features you describe.

One doesn't need tandems to find it supremely useful. It is great for half-bikes as well. Indeed, even without bikes it is comfortable and capacious for long trips, economical and reliable.

The Odyssey is useful with the tandem, and the tandem is useful in providing the excuse to have the Odyssey.


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Old 02-01-11, 10:05 PM
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Stoker and I checked the current crop of new vans @ the last L.A. Auto Show as our 2000 Oddy is getting on in years. Quick and dirty synopsis:

1) Nissan Quest: Useless for tandem hauling, IMHO, since none of the seats fold into the floor.

2) Toyota Sienna: Cheap interior materials, second row tracks for seats are cludgy. Otherwise OK.

3) Ody: Reduction in height not a problem as there is still room for the tandem to fit with the front wheel off. Hope we can get it w/o the 2nd row center seat as that screws up the "tandem corridor". Still our #1 choice for a replacement vehicle when the time comes.

Last edited by diabloridr; 02-01-11 at 10:06 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 02-01-11, 10:18 PM
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What's the actual mileage of the subject vehicle at 77 mph give/take? At some point we'll have to change out our diesel Jetta wagon which gets 42+ w/o tandem and about 34mpg with tandem on top (at 77 mph or so). Given the price of gas I wouldn't want to take too much of a hit. While diesel has been more expensive than gas over the last several years it's not clear that there won't be a reversion to the way it was for decades, diesel being less expensive than gas.
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Old 02-01-11, 11:02 PM
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We have a 1997 Honda Station Wagon with 145,000 miles on it.
Still gives us good service/mileage (low 30s @ 65 mph) and are able to haul our tandem + single racing bike on the inside with all our stuff needed for our usual 3 month escape from Tucson's warmer summer temps.
Mentally, if and when our Honda needs replacing, been thinking along the lines of a used Honda Od or VW TDI wagon. Not too sure on the diesel part of the VW as we've never owned a diesel vehicle. But space and mileage are impressive although fuel is a tad costlier. Last ownership of a VW goes way back to a 1960s Squareback . . . and yes we hauled a tandem in it!
Hopefully, our station wagon will hang in there for another 50,000 miles . . .
Have only owned Honda Accords since 1977 and been very pleased with their utility/performance/longevity.
Pedal on TWOgether!
RUdy and Kay/zonatandem
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Old 02-01-11, 11:21 PM
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Regarding VW diesels: We've been very happy with ours, the trusty VE engine, 2002 vintage. The car still runs like a watch at 240000 miles and we do intend to drive it for at least 3-4 more years.This generation of VW wagon is too small to fit a tandem inside especially given the decrease in legroom with the rear seats folded down. The new generation of VW are slightly larger, however. I wish VW would get a Passat wagon approved for sale in the US.

Our weather is pretty mild in Northern California so I'm not all that concerned about putting the car on the roof, but there are times when a bit quieter ride would sure be nice.

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Old 02-01-11, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
What's the actual mileage of the subject vehicle at 77 mph give/take? At some point we'll have to change out our diesel Jetta wagon which gets 42+ w/o tandem and about 34mpg with tandem on top (at 77 mph or so).
I haven't calculated, but with the cruise control on in the high 70's the real-time MPG on the dash reads about 21. I'll be taking a highway trip this weekend, and see if I can't get a reading on the actual mileage.

Mileage doesn't vary whether we carry the tandem, since its inside, and the its weight is under 25 lbs.

The key thing is internal carriage that is convenient, stable, upright, private and secure. That's what you get from the Odyssey and a few other cars, mostly minivans. I can have the tandem in the car at work all day, and leave from work to the cycling destination. If we go to a motel, we leave the bike in the car at night. If we stop at a store, there is no having to keep an eye on it while in the store. We aren't worried about distractedly running it into our garage wall. It is a cinch to load/remove the tandem. There is no damage to the car interior, nor to the bike finish. There is plenty of room for all the other stuff, even with the bike in the car.

So, if you are comparing mileage between tandem transport cars, it doesn't serve to compare the apple of upright internal carriage to the orange of having to use a roof rack. These are two different levels of quality altogether.
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Old 02-02-11, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
.... So, if you are comparing mileage between tandem transport cars, it doesn't serve to compare the apple of upright internal carriage to the orange of having to use a roof rack. These are two different levels of quality altogether.
I couldn't agree more. When I retire I'll weigh the possibility of changing out our (gas) Passat for something large enough to transport the tandem internally. At this point we need the diesel mileage since my wife is putting a good many miles on the car. Certainly, the incremental cost of gas for just the miles involved in transporting our tandem wouldn't be significant.
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Old 02-02-11, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
I couldn't agree more. When I retire I'll weigh the possibility of changing out our (gas) Passat for something large enough to transport the tandem internally. At this point we need the diesel mileage since my wife is putting a good many miles on the car. Certainly, the incremental cost of gas for just the miles involved in transporting our tandem wouldn't be significant.
Not having kids at home anymore, we find that we can get the tandem inside the back of our Prius. And this is a big bike, since I'm 6'3". Dismantling a few of the S+S couplers makes it easier - stoker/passenger seat doesn't need to slide the whole way forward.
So far, this has been adequate for a trip to the Saranac Lake Tandem Rally (4 days with camping) and a 10 day trip to Virginia.

We could in principle take it down the whole way into cases, but that would be way more work.
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Old 02-02-11, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rdtompki View Post
What's the actual mileage of the subject vehicle at 77 mph give/take?
The best MPG I can remember at 75 MPH in out 2000 vintage Ody was about 25. More typical is 22- to 23 MPG.

Supposedly Honda considered a diesel option for the new Ody, but it appears to be off the table, perhaps forever.

I expect the Toyota Sienna to offer a hybrid option, likely within a year or so, perhaps followed later by Honda and Nissan.
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Old 02-02-11, 07:53 PM
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We have a 2001 Ody which will fit 4 solos or the tandem and one or two solos. I'm sad to hear that the newer Odys are lower. This one JUST fits our tandem with the front wheel on. I have a 10" aluminium track which I put up the middle between the seats and use it to guide the front wheel up between the rear seats. The rear seats have to be pulled up a few inches to give clearance for the rear wheel. It slides in and out so easy, and we're ready to go.

I usually ride the tandem 5 mi up to my grandson's school to pick him up, but sometimes I have to pick him up by car. The car lines for pick up are horrible, so I can drive to with in 1 block, park, pull out the tandem, ride over in pick him up, and slide the tandem back in and boom, we're done. 5 min.

When we go north in the summer, we pack it up and put in my solo and the tandem. When the tranny went this summer I was really worried about how we were going to transport our bikes and esp the tandem. I bit the bullet and fixed the tranny.

By the way, I have put the tandem on the Corolla on a bike rack. It fits, but getting the 50 lb bike on there is a p.i.t.a. The van is so much easier.
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Old 02-02-11, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by WebsterBikeMan View Post
Not having kids at home anymore, we find that we can get the tandem inside the back of our Prius. And this is a big bike, since I'm 6'3". Dismantling a few of the S+S couplers makes it easier - stoker/passenger seat doesn't need to slide the whole way forward.
So far, this has been adequate for a trip to the Saranac Lake Tandem Rally (4 days with camping) and a 10 day trip to Virginia.

We could in principle take it down the whole way into cases, but that would be way more work.
Just looked it up on-line. We're going to be in Albany in parts of June and July, but alas, we won't be arriving in time, and no way to change our schedule. bummer!
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Old 02-02-11, 09:58 PM
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We have a 2008 Odyssey EX-L that we use for transporting our triple. With the front wheel removed it fits up the middle, with rear seats down and between the two rows of captain's chairs. I did remove the armrests on the middle-row captain's chairs, as the pedals kept catching on them when I rolled the bike in.

We bought the van before we bought the triple, and were very happy to find that the bike fit inside. Although we only have one child, we really like the many seating options, ability to haul friends and family, and take along multiple bikes.

On long highway trips we've returned around 27-29 MPG, which surprised me. Around town is 20-22. We also have a Subaru Outback, and the Ody gets the same, if not better, MPG than the Subie (and definitely better than when we have bikes on the roof of the Subaru).

I'm not too keen on the way the new Odyssey looks, though. I was also curious about whether the interior height was reduced in the rear.
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Old 02-02-11, 10:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bobthib View Post
We have a 2001 Ody ... I'm sad to hear that the newer Odys are lower. This one JUST fits our tandem with the front wheel on.
Not to worry. The 2001 Odysseys were smaller than the Odyssey's up to 2010. The rear headroom is listed at 38.4" for 2010 and 38" for 2011.

As you can see, the rear tandem business end of the 2011 Odyssey is plenty tall.



If it is only 0.4" less than this 2007, there is still plenty of height for a size large tandem.


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Old 02-03-11, 05:20 AM
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Any idea where to get that fork mount rack thing shown in the last photo, above? Looks very slick.
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Old 02-03-11, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
Any idea where to get that fork mount rack thing shown in the last photo, above? Looks very slick.
Hi Brian- It's called the TRAPS triple track made by Saris. It’s expensive when you add the fork mounts that are sold separately. I made my own with a 1x6 piece of wood and some cheap fork mount cleats that you can get from Performance Bike
I think Performance also sells the triple track. They come in 35" and 47" lengths.

https://www.saris.com/index.php?page=...art&Itemid=153
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Old 02-03-11, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ct-vt-trekker View Post
Hi Brian- It's called the TRAPS triple track made by Saris. It’s expensive when you add the fork mounts that are sold separately. I made my own with a 1x6 piece of wood and some cheap fork mount cleats that you can get from Performance Bike
I think Performance also sells the triple track. They come in 35" and 47" lengths.

https://www.saris.com/index.php?page=...art&Itemid=153
Thanks! Last year I bought a fork mount, planning to make my own track system similar to that, but never got around to it. How do you keep your homemade one from slipping around? Is it anchored somehow to the floor?
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Old 02-03-11, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
Thanks! Last year I bought a fork mount, planning to make my own track system similar to that, but never got around to it. How do you keep your homemade one from slipping around? Is it anchored somehow to the floor?
The Saris Traps Triple Tracks do not need anchoring, but generally stay where you put them if on a flat surface. This makes it easy to put in when you need, and remove at other times. In comparison with DIY wood, the tracks allow easy adjustment, and the low profile makes it unobtrusive. The forks you have already purchased would probably work on the Saris with the right bolt. And you'll probably never get around to making the DIY system, so go ahead and order the Saris!

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Old 02-04-11, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by briwasson View Post
Thanks! Last year I bought a fork mount, planning to make my own track system similar to that, but never got around to it. How do you keep your homemade one from slipping around? Is it anchored somehow to the floor?
The wood ones I've made don't slip around in my cars but if they do you could install small stick on bubber bumpers on the bottom. Like the ones used on kitchen cabinet doors.
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Old 02-05-11, 09:38 PM
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After seeing this picture i decided to see if our Santana tandem would fit in the back of our 2008 Chrysler Pacifica. It does! I can also put my Trek Speed Concept in with the tandem. I need to make an adapter to mount the rear wheel but it will not be hard. I am really happy that you posted this picture.

Thanks!

Wayne

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Old 02-05-11, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by DubT View Post
After seeing this picture i decided to see if our Santana tandem would fit in the back of our 2008 Chrysler Pacifica. It does! I can also put my Trek Speed Concept in with the tandem. I need to make an adapter to mount the rear wheel but it will not be hard.
Why do you need an adapter to mount the rear wheel? My rear wheel simply rests on the aftermarket Weathertech mats.

Post a pic when you get it all set up!
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Old 02-05-11, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Ritterview View Post
My rear wheel simply rests on the aftermarket Weathertech mats
Too fancy for us, we simply have an old movers quilt protecting the rear of our Ody.

I agree on the approach though, one (or two when we haul our singles) wheel rides well on the floor underneath our bike(s).

I did buy a couple of wheelbags cheap awhile ago and use those for extended trips when the bikes are sharing their space with other luggage.
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Old 02-07-11, 07:33 AM
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I've been trying to develop a sliding track for our tandem in our old Dodge Grand Caravan, unfortunately I don't have a photo, but the rig so far consists of a fork mount with a small wheel that rolls in a wooden track I lay in the back of the van. The idea is that I can load and unload the tandem easily by myself, just put the wheel into the track, lift the rear end and roll the bike in. I need to make some modifications because the wheel sometimes binds in the track. I roll the tandem in along the passenger side and loop a seat belt around the stoker seat just to keep it from being launched forward in case of an accident, otherwise it doesn't move at all.
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