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Rental Car for Bike Transportation

Old 12-10-10, 02:36 PM
  #1  
cbike
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Rental Car for Bike Transportation

I'm just wondering if anybody has any experience with transporting a bike to the start point or from the finishing point using a rental car. This would mean you don't have a bike rack for the car. Since that would be a pain to take along.

So my questions are:

1) What size of car would one need to rent for a standard touring bike? Please mention if and how much disassemble would be required.

2) What does the car rental company think when you load/unload a bike from their rental car?
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Old 12-10-10, 02:58 PM
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1) I usually take my 60 cm Cannondale in the trunk of a Toyota Corolla or similar-size sedan. The wheels pop off in a few seconds (fortunately no lawyer lips) and it fits in easily. So far I have had no problem with any economy-size rental car. I'd avoid sporty models that sometimes only have a minimal trunk.
2) That their car has been returned and appears to have no damage.
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Old 12-10-10, 03:09 PM
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It depends on your budget, how much fussing with bike assembly/disassembly you're willing to do, and how often you'll have to do it.

If the bike is only going to be transported to a single point and you're willing to do some wrenching, a small or midsize sedan will handle a bike frame with the wheels and seat removed in its trunk, per the post above. These cars are usually the cheapest to rent. It rapidly gets to be a headache if you have to reassemble the bike more than once, though. If you want to transport the bike whole, you'll need to upgrade to a larger class of vehicle like a crossover SUV (Ford Escape, Honda CRV, etc). which will run $100/week or more extra.

I don't recommend trying to fit the bike in the rear seat of a rental sedan, unless that seat folds down and allows passage to the trunk. It's too easy to scratch paint and interior trim with sharp-edged parts of the bike. Believe me I know.

Another option is to rent the cheapest sedan you can, buy a low end trunk mount rack, and put your bike on that. If the car is rented for a week or more, the savings from getting the cheapest rental rate will pay for the rack.

I've travelled with my bikes in rental cars using all these methods.

Last edited by rnorris; 12-10-10 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 12-10-10, 03:47 PM
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Buddy and I rented a mini suv in Florida to get home to Texas/Ark. No problem getting the bikes in as the back seat folded down. We had to do a lot of shopping to find a one way rental that was reasonable. (Daily rates don't apply on one ways and many agencies quote sky high prices.)Then, because the trip involved crossing a franchise line along the way, had to change cars in Mobile, Al.
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Old 12-10-10, 03:54 PM
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I have used rental cars to get from an airport to my start point. Pretty much any rental car can carry a bike with no disassembly beyond removing the wheels. We rented a medium sized SUV for three of us and three bikes once and had to take front wheels off at least one bike if memory serves.

The rental car agency personnel never batted an eye in any of the cases where we used them.
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Old 12-10-10, 06:14 PM
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We got 2 tour bikes and 8 panniers in a mid size. Just took off wheels & seatposts and stuff the frames into the trunk. Another time I rented a compact car and they looked at me and my bike, and just gave me a free upgrade to some small sport ute with fold down seats, I just put the whole bike in without even taking off the wheels.

I think anything except the very smallest will work. If you're worried about damaging the car interior and don't want to pay the damage waiver, bring an old sheet to wrap the bike up in.
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Old 12-10-10, 06:37 PM
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I think a step up from economy or compact will work. We also fit two bikes and 8 panniers in a mid-size car, forget the exact make. It was a tight fit, and one front fender got a bit bent out of shape, but it worked out.


BTW: The only time the rental company said anything about taking a bike was when I mentioned putting a bike rack on the car, they didn't like that idea for some reason. Although they kind of gave me the "just don't tell me" attitude.
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Old 12-10-10, 08:27 PM
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I drove back from Montreal with my bike in the back of a very small economy car. Just put the back seat down, take the front wheel off and it will all fit in.

I always take a couple of garbage bags along with me and I laid the bike on them with the drive side up to stop oil getting on the car. No problem form the rental folks
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Old 12-10-10, 11:50 PM
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We had to bail on the California Coast two years ago due to a family emergency. We got 2 bikes, 6 panniers, 2 rack packs, and 2 bar bags into a Toyota Camry. It was the only car they had. It took some fairly significant work to make it all fit. It isn't that the bikes will not fit; it is just hard on the paint without padding.



This is the Nisson XTerra that we used this year to get back to Crescent City (our end point in 2009). The rental price was about the same as the Camry, and things fit much better. The car rental cost was just about the same as two bus tickets. No boxes, and about a quarter of the travel time.


Last edited by Doug64; 12-11-10 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 12-11-10, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
Buddy and I rented a mini suv in Florida to get home to Texas/Ark. No problem getting the bikes in as the back seat folded down. We had to do a lot of shopping to find a one way rental that was reasonable. (Daily rates don't apply on one ways and many agencies quote sky high prices.)
It usually helps if you can do the one-way rental between airport locations. For example, we do an annual ride down the California coast to a bike rally in Paso Robles but would prefer not to fight the headwinds coming back. Getting a rental car in Paso Robles and returning it in the Bay Area incurs those 'sky high prices' mentioned above. But ride down to San Luis Obispo where there's an airport and agree to return the car to any of the Bay Area airports and you get very reasonable rates with no one-way dropoff fee.
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Old 12-11-10, 02:06 AM
  #11  
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My son throws his triathlon bike in the back of his Corolla wagon.
I fold the back seat forward in my Accord and fit my bike in that way.
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Old 12-11-10, 07:58 AM
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For us gise from Jersey, The Lincoln Towncar is the preferred ride. It has ample trunk space regardless of your needs. The trunk is well insulated and sealed, which can be shall we say, beneficial. The Trunk also has a low liftover lip. Believe me, when lifting heavy loads, dats a usefull feature. The load levers let you keep your heavy cargo carrying jobs your private secret. The car comes with HID head lights and positrak traction should you find yourself in one of dose late night dirt road situations. If you know what I mean.

The Lincoln Towncar- more than just a big black sedan.
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Old 12-11-10, 10:36 AM
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Several years ago I needed to rent a car to get home from Brookings, Oregon. The nearest rental place was at the airport at Crescent City, California. They gave me a Ford Taurus with a fold down rear seat, allowing pass through into the trunk. I think I took the wheels off, but that was it.

Last summer my plan was to end my tour in Missoula, then rent a car back to Portland, where I would take Amtrak home. When I got to Missoula and started calling rental places I started to panic. Either the place I called didn't do one-way rentals, or they didn't have any cars available for one-way rental for a few days. I didn't want to hole up in my motel for a few days. Finally Alamo came through. They had a car at the Missoula Airport I could take to Portland.

I asked for a mid-size with fold down seats. They gave me a mid-size Buick, but with no fold-down - just a small pass through big enough for skis or something like that.

My bike is a 62cm LHT - the biggest frame they make - not good in this situation. I took off the wheels and tried the trunk. No good. I tried the floor behind the front seat - better but it was still a few inches too long. The final solution was to remove the rear rack and the rear fender. Then it would just go in.

Whenever I've rented a car the people haven't even gone out to the lot with me. They sit at the desk, do the paperwork, hand me the key, and tell me where I can find it. No one looks over my shoulder as I'm attempting to make my bike fit. However, they do inspect the car when I drop it off at the end. I buy a thick newspaper or two and some packing tape. I wrap everything sharp or dirty before I even start trying to fit the bike in. I also cover up the seats, etc. with newspaper. I've had pretty good luck at not damaging the car or getting anything dirty. It just takes time and patience. You can't just toss the bike in the car and drive off (at least, I haven't been able to.)
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Old 12-12-10, 08:43 PM
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I've done the car rental thing a bunch of times, most recently this past October to get to and from the GAP trail in Maryland/Pittsburgh. Most small cars nowadays, even sedans, have rear seats that fold down and can pretty easily fit a single touring bike with the wheels off. I've had success with rental cars including a Nissan Versa, Ford Focus, and Chevy Aveo.

In Europe, we almost always rent a car to transport our tandem (and, this summer, our triplet!). We've been able to fit it in most small to midsize station wagons, like a Ford Focus or Mondeo wagon, or a Opel Astra or Vectra wagon. In fact, this past summer, we hauled around our triplet, us two adults, and our son, plus all baggage for two weeks, INSIDE a Ford Mondeo. I was surprised.

Don't forget to check the local offices of major car rental places like Hertz. Often they have better rates than airport locations because you don't have to pay airport surcharges. And, often, they will even pick you up if you give them notice (nice at the end of a tour!).
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Old 12-12-10, 11:33 PM
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With the costs of transporting a bicycle by plane, the one-way rental has started to be an economical alternative. Luckily I live in San Diego, a big enough city that sometimes you can get away without paying a drop off fee. This past year we rented a mid-size car at the Boise airport. By taking off the front wheels and the bike racks off (front and back), we were able to slide both bikes in the back seat. Unfortunately, we couldn't fit the bikes through the trunk to the back seat. We always try to make the reservations as far in advance as possible to reduce the costs. The one-way cost from Boise to San Diego was only $117/day!! (I had reserved the car about three months in advance.) We were able to drive the distance in one-day, about sixteen hours. It was much cheaper than flying with the bikes on an airplane.
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Old 12-13-10, 08:10 AM
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One other point I forgot to make: if the rental car they give you isn't going to work for you, then don't be shy about asking for something else. Look around the lot, see what they have available, and then ask for that specific vehicle (within reason based on the class you are renting). I've found that most rental agents are pretty flexible as long as they have the inventory.
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Old 12-13-10, 11:15 AM
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At the end of my trek, I rented a car to return home to FL from TX. Only rental location available was at a small college town airport. To rent the same day, I had to take an economy type. Drove the car to my bike's location, at a friends house. My 'rig' was a 56cm LHT and a Master Cycle 'toddler trailer'. After a couple of attempts, I ended up placing the frame/saddle in the back seat area (wrapped in my tent ground cover), the wheels in the passenger seat (wrapped in garbage bags, and trailer(wheels removed) in trunk along with camping equipment. When I reached home 800 miles later, I removed same (there were no scratches). Then I returned the car in less than 23 hours 59 minutes, thus paying only one day's fee plus one-way charge.
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Old 12-13-10, 05:20 PM
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Touring cyclist aren't the only one's driving one way. Some companies have cars registered to specific locations. The surcharge covers part of the cost of getting that car back to that location. For example a Hertz car with Florida tags can't stay in NJ for very long before it needs to go back to FL. Some companies offer discounts to renters willing to drive these cars back to a specific location.
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Old 01-07-14, 02:15 PM
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Carry on internal Bike Rack

Having with the same issue when traveling with my bike, I invented CycleRest, a patent pending internal bike transport system that works across a wide range of SUVs and wagons. It attaches in under 2 minutes and can easly be stored in an carry on bag. If interested in keeping track off the launch plans for this April please follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/cycle_rest facebook www.facbook.com/cyclerest and the website www.cyclerest.com




Originally Posted by cbike View Post
I'm just wondering if anybody has any experience with transporting a bike to the start point or from the finishing point using a rental car. This would mean you don't have a bike rack for the car. Since that would be a pain to take along.

So my questions are:

1) What size of car would one need to rent for a standard touring bike? Please mention if and how much disassemble would be required.

2) What does the car rental company think when you load/unload a bike from their rental car?
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Old 01-07-14, 02:39 PM
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Have done it three times to get to the start of a ride. Twice with SUV-type/crossover vehicles and once with a full-size. I like the lSUVs because, with the rear sets folded down, I can put my entire bike in with all the gear and panniers attached. When I get to the drop off point, I simply slide the bike out and it's ready to ride.

I have always piuked up the vehicle and driven it home before loading it, so I have never had to deal with the agency seeing me load a bike, but as long as you don't damage the vehicle, why should it care? If you are worried, bring an old sheet to protect against grease.
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