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Does anyone use a decent sized van in place of a car? (Bike transport)

daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,653
edited October 2018 in Road general
Afternoon all,

I am aware of the recent thread on here relating to a smallish van for carrying bikes.

I am after something a bit bigger, with seating for 4-6 people, and room at the back for carrying perhaps upto 6 bikes, fully assembled - appreciate that I would need to fashion a way to keep them secure, so they don't trash each other when corering etc, but that's a bridge to cross at a later date.
I hired and drove a transit - LWB I think, a couple of years ago, and found it really easy.

Currently have a Volvo V70 T5 estate, with an LPG conversion, and although only 120K has been covered, it's now 16 years old, so am thinking we probably have 4-5 years left of mostly reliable running - we have a few ongoing issues at present, and have had an alternator go in the last 12 months, oh and a rear shock absorber recently.

So I am thinking something smallish transit sized, but appreciate there are many makes, though realise designs are shared between a lot of companies - Renault and Vauxhall to start with?

Presumably diesel would be the way to go?
Do they even attempt to put small high efficiency engines in vans?

Any makes, and or models I should look to specifically, and or to avoid?

Our mileage will be pretty low (We both have no use of a powered vehicle to get us to work or the small one to school) being mainly used for one shopping trip a week, and the odd trip to gf's parents 45 miles away, and of course trips out with bikes, and probably one big trip a year through Europe which would be 2K or so.

So if anyone has personal experience of having done this, and what makes and models they found to be a good compromise, I would be delighted to hear.
Also, any drawbacks you have found - ie is parking more difficult?

Thanks

Dan
Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
Scott CR1 SL 12
Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
Scott Foil 18
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Posts

  • 6 people and 6 bikes fully assembled - that's a lot of space, plus any luggage that the 6 people need. When I've been on tours where that number of people and bikes was needed to be carried, the bikes have gone in a trailer behind the van.
  • Mrs D had exactly this challenge as she wants to set up a dog walking business so needed a car/van to take dog crates and still drop the kids off at school etc. And importantly that I could borrow to move bikes around...

    We looked at a lot of the options around e.g. Galaxy sized cars, Mondeo estates, Berlingo style converted vans.
    In the end we went for a Fiat Doblo, because its a 5 seater van to car conversion like the Berlingo, but it has a useful 200 liters extra boot space over that or a Peugeot Partner. Apparently its original marketing suggested you could get 5 downhill mountain bikers plus their bikes in it. Not sure about that, but you could easily get 4 bikes wheels off in the boot plus a bag or two (each standing up).

    Drives OK, we've got the 1.3. multijet engine which is supposed to be the pick of the bunch, fairly decent MPG but still has poke when you're going at motorway speeds. And easy to park - fantastic visibility due to the large amount of glass and comparatively short bonnet. Negatives are the clutch is substantially heavier than a cars and the huge van steering wheel isn't comfortable over long distances.

    If you've got megabucks then VW Transporters look fantastic and could probably do the 6 people plus bikes remit - couldn't justify it for our usage though.
  • You won't get 6 people and 6 fully assembled bikes in anything smaller than a LWB van. A VW Transporter with a 1+2 cab and then a row of three seats won't have enough room in the back for 6 fully assembled bikes. If you want the people to travel in any comfort then it will be a 1+1 cab, three seats behind, a jumper seat in the rear and then there's space for two bikes if you're lucky.

    Prioritise either the seating - and how comfortable you want it to be - or the load space.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • fenixfenix Posts: 5,437
    Who are the 6 people going with you ? Are they paying for the van too ?

    You can always get a transit van and either screw QR's in for the front forks in the deck or bungee cord the bikes to the side ?

    If there's only 4 of you you may as well just get a car with a rack on the back or roof.

    It doesnt sound like you'll get a huge amount of use out of the van ? And putting a wheel on is the work of seconds.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,653
    Thanks all, thought this might be a tumbleweed thread!

    I should have been more clear.

    The capacity for 6 people and bikes is only that, most of the time if we are going to go on a journey with bikes, it will be me, my gf and our daughter - so 3 bikes.
    However, I would like to have the capacity to take perhaps 6 adults in total, with 6 bikes, for those times when my brother, his gf, and my brother-inlaw might want to ride together somewhere a little way away, or even something as mundane as a sportive, or just a group ride.
    And if push came to shove, if it meant we have to take some, or all of the front wheels off, then so be it.

    I'm not thinking as this for a vehicle for long tours for 6 people, the most that would be for would be for 3 people.

    So luggage space for 6 people is neither here nor there in real terms, only for 3.

    Here's an idea, is there a van out there, or setup out there, that has 2 rows of 3 seats, and you can either fold down, or remove the rear 3 if you want extra capacity?
    That would make it super flexible, and the bulk of the time 3 seats would be sufficient.

    Additionally, I now have a Di2 bike, and this has a battery in the seatpost - due to the fairly weird wiring on the bike, if I remove the seatpost, and disconnect the battery, before I refit the seatpost, I need to remove the bottom bracket cover (not sure of the wording but hopefully you know what I mean) using a screwdriver, and then find the cable that is attached to the battery, and pull it down as I insert the seatpost, otherwise it crushes the cable - a design fault me thinks, but it's there all the same.
    I also now have two bikes with disc brakes, and the added risk of a bike with the front wheel out, and the rotor getting bent, or the levers accidentally being pulled and causing an issue, is far increased over bikes with rim brakes.

    When it was just the two of us, with two rim brake bikes, it was easy to pop the front wheels and saddles off, and pop them in the boot attached with bungy cords to either side of the car (With all the seats down) and then luggage could easily fit in the middle. And the front wheels would go in wheel bags and could easily be located.

    Now with a small one, it's a bit more of a battle to fit two bikes in, as they need to go side by side, instead of opposite sides, and of course there is more luggage required, and less space to put it in - the capacity thing is only really applicable for trips to Europe etc, but it is applicable.

    @super_davo - that's pretty interesting re Mrs D's business, as my gf pays for a franchise for baby music classes, which is currently taking off quite well, so potentially she could even buy a van ostensibly for her business, and claim the VAT back - and we could then get some vinyl wrap to advertise her business, whilst also being able to use it for bike related journeys.

    I'm certainly not in a place where I would willingly pay over the odds for a VW Van, I find them overpriced as it is, but something of that kind of size would be useful.

    I've done bikes on the roof, and bikes on a Thule towbar rack before, and they are fine, but I personally am much more relaxed when I have them in the vehicle, away from the elements, and away from prying eyes - thinking about if you wanted to park a vehicle up somewhere for half a day or something, an estate car with bikes on the roof or on the back is a prime target, irrespective of how many locks you out on it.

    I'm wondering if a SWB van might fit the bill, or a minivan kind of thing, i'm thinking something like a Mazda Bongo, but not converted, and I am guessing there are multiple small Japanese vans that might fit the bill, and might have had an easier life in the bargain.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Most SWB will fit the bill. So the T6 crewcab, Peugeot Expert van etc can all be sourced with 6 seats. The SWB space in the rear isn't great but you should get 6 bikes in with some disassembly of SOME of them. But, personally, I'd go for sticking some in the rear and adding a tailgate bike carrier or some on the roof. Say, 2-3 of the bikes. Or even a tow bar one.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • Daniel
    I've run a van for many years, the bus type and kombis. Vw t5 up til a year ago then Renault Trafic LWB "passenger" with 3, 6 or 9 seats depending on which seats I have clipped in.

    With 6 seat format you can fit six full size road bikes in no problem. In an equivalent swb, no way without removing wheels.

    I've lived with both swb and lwb. The lwb can be tricky to park in some supermarket carparks or multi storeys and if you're looking for a spot to park on a street your choices may be limited.

    But other than that the advantages of having a mahoosive van outweigh the drawbacks and my family loves it!

    The benefit of having bikes all locked inside and not on a rack is great.

    Hope that helps.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,653
    Most SWB will fit the bill. So the T6 crewcab, Peugeot Expert van etc can all be sourced with 6 seats. The SWB space in the rear isn't great but you should get 6 bikes in with some disassembly of SOME of them. But, personally, I'd go for sticking some in the rear and adding a tailgate bike carrier or some on the roof. Say, 2-3 of the bikes. Or even a tow bar one.

    Thanks BTR - that's the kind of info I was after, my van knowledge is extremely limited!

    Thanks for those two links, that could well be the kind of vehicle I might well consider - looks like the Toyota can be had as a crewcab with a long wheelbase version, which leaves a load desk, behind the 6 seats, of 2.3 metres, more than enough for a road bike or more than one.
    Daniel
    I've run a van for many years, the bus type and kombis. Vw t5 up til a year ago then Renault Trafic LWB "passenger" with 3, 6 or 9 seats depending on which seats I have clipped in.

    With 6 seat format you can fit six full size road bikes in no problem. In an equivalent swb, no way without removing wheels.

    I've lived with both swb and lwb. The lwb can be tricky to park in some supermarket carparks or multi storeys and if you're looking for a spot to park on a street your choices may be limited.

    But other than that the advantages of having a mahoosive van outweigh the drawbacks and my family loves it!

    The benefit of having bikes all locked inside and not on a rack is great.

    Hope that helps.

    Thankyou BR!

    Can I ask what mde you choose a van - clearly it must suit your lifestyle, but what led you to make that choice, was it a combination of quantity of children and a desire to be able to pop the bikes into explore new places easily?

    Another reason I am considering one, is that next year I hope to be racing on a Velodrome once a week in the summer mnths, so that would enable me to easily put a fully assembled bike or two inside, plus some tools, spares, trackpump and rollers etc.

    I can see how some supermarket car parks could be a challenge, I guess it is the same as living with a campervan really.

    I suppose the thing that appeals to me about the thinner and longer vans, is that they are more car like in dimensions - but it's all about whether that rear load area and critically height are there.

    Lots to be thining about!

    Don't suppose you have any pics of your vans from the past and current day?

    Will have a look at the Renault traffic offerings.

    Have you find them reliable, and how are running costs - in terms of servicing, fuel, insurance and upkeep I guess?
    Can't see why they would overly be more than a car to maintain.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Daniel,

    I originally got a van mainly because pre-kids my life was run by my windsurfing obsession. Then for many reasons I came to realise that a car just can't cut it and is an inferior vehicle to a van in almost every factor that is important to me.

    I've also always had bolt-in/removable cabinets/beds for camping, and I need a van for my job (cabinetmaker), hence removable seats. It makes me laugh that "MPVs" are nowhere near as multipurpose as a standard window van!

    Since family came along (only two kids but we use all nine seats now and again for trips with two families) the windsurfing gave way to cycling and the van came into its own for another purpose - bike carrier and changing room for TT events. Get yourself a portaloo too for the truly smug race night package, no need to pee behind the bushes any more, just do it in the comfort of your van!

    Running costs are the reason I eventually went from VW to renault. The VW had a ridiculously powerful engine and lots of kudos value but was too expensive to run ultimately. The Trafic is less cool but, so far, much cheaper to run and still does 40 mpg on a long run. Servicing and insurance is cheaper too. Not to mention the MASSIVE purchase price difference, used or new.

    I love the driving position of vans too, they are superb for very long distance driving, far superior to cars in my experience. We've done many big continental road trips in ours, and no need for bike racks which a big worry off my mind when I park up somewhere, quite honestly.

    The drawbacks are very few and far outweighed by the benefits, in my experience.
  • Of course, for Renault Trafic, read Vauxhall Vivaro/Nissan Primastar, all three are basically one van rebranded.

    Other brands are available!
  • Yep. Basically other vans than the t5/t6 are available.

    I liked my t5 caravelle but it’s not a patch on my new one

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/gj4ZLJai9t51y6lo2
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,653
    Daniel,

    I originally got a van mainly because pre-kids my life was run by my windsurfing obsession. Then for many reasons I came to realise that a car just can't cut it and is an inferior vehicle to a van in almost every factor that is important to me.

    I've also always had bolt-in/removable cabinets/beds for camping, and I need a van for my job (cabinetmaker), hence removable seats. It makes me laugh that "MPVs" are nowhere near as multipurpose as a standard window van!

    Since family came along (only two kids but we use all nine seats now and again for trips with two families) the windsurfing gave way to cycling and the van came into its own for another purpose - bike carrier and changing room for TT events. Get yourself a portaloo too for the truly smug race night package, no need to pee behind the bushes any more, just do it in the comfort of your van!

    Running costs are the reason I eventually went from VW to renault. The VW had a ridiculously powerful engine and lots of kudos value but was too expensive to run ultimately. The Trafic is less cool but, so far, much cheaper to run and still does 40 mpg on a long run. Servicing and insurance is cheaper too. Not to mention the MASSIVE purchase price difference, used or new.

    I love the driving position of vans too, they are superb for very long distance driving, far superior to cars in my experience. We've done many big continental road trips in ours, and no need for bike racks which a big worry off my mind when I park up somewhere, quite honestly.

    The drawbacks are very few and far outweighed by the benefits, in my experience.

    Thankyou BR for that, much appreciated, and makes a huge amount of sense.
    I wholeheartedly agree with your summation of so called people carriers - yes you can potentially carry 7 people, but naff all luggage, no decent height in the vehicle either - a triumph of marketing over design.
    Like the portaloo trick too!

    Is this the kind of thing you have?

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201710290750042?cab-type=Crew%20cab&make=RENAULT&model=TRAFIC&supplied-price-to=14000&postcode=tw182aa&wheelbase=LWB&sort=distance&advertising-location=at_vans&radius=1500&page=1

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201710220544632?cab-type=Crew%20cab&make=RENAULT&model=TRAFIC&supplied-price-to=14000&postcode=tw182aa&wheelbase=LWB&sort=distance&advertising-location=at_vans&radius=1500&page=1

    Looking at the dimensions according to Auto Express, it would appear the LWB crew van with 6 seats, has a rear load area of 183cm deep X 139cm high.
    My bikes seen to be circa 170cm X 105cm, so that would be about perfect.

    Another option I suppose, would be an SWB, with removable rear seats - then if you are using the rear seats, you have to remove the front wheels. Is it a ballache to remove them do you know, ie do you need to get a wrench out, or is it a bit simpler than that?
    Yep. Basically other vans than the t5/t6 are available.

    I liked my t5 caravelle but it’s not a patch on my new one

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/gj4ZLJai9t51y6lo2

    Like that BTR, what make and model is that?

    Not a fan of VAG stuff personally, versus the competition - the exception could be the Skoda range, I had considered a Superb estate, purely as it's ruddy huge - for an estate, but Vantastic it is not.

    Spookily as this occurred to me only very recently, and I e-mailed my gf to say what I was thinking about this AM - she ended up having a puncture on her Kona which she discovered at 2:30, so had to walk the 3 miles home with it (She doesn't carry all the tools with her as it's a comparitively short journey and it doesn't have QR wheels) which gave me the perfect excuse to state that if we had had a van we could have collected her - the Kona is HUGE and won't fit in the volvo without a fair bit of disassembly, especially with a very well anchored and sturdy childseat taking up a fair bit of space.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
    Cannondale Synapse Adventure 15 & 16 Di2
    Scott Foil 18
  • Mine is a Peugeot Traveller 8 seat. They do those in 9 and 6 too but not in the top spec. It's the same car as the Toyota Pro Ace Verso and Citroen Space Tourer and the Van equivalents of each (Expert, Dispatch and ProAce). The van versions are more likely to get the 6 seat and window options though, I think, Citroen don't offer one.

    Super comfy suspension on them. Punchy and better MPG than VW diesel engines. The only thing is that they're relatively new so there aren't bargains around yet.

    In terms of seat removal, you will need a rugby team to take out VW seats. I can do the Peugeot ones on my own. They're not light but much easier. Pull a strap and they come out of their rails.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • Daniel
    Don't get a crew van or anything with a fixed bulkhead as it reduces versatility massively.
    Google image Renault Trafic Passenger. One of the many benefits is that you can remove all but the front seats for huuuge storage in the back if needed.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    A good value van to consider is the Hyundai i800. It's an eight seater with large luggage capacity and the seats can be folded 60:40 for further load carrying ability. The back and middle rows of seats can, I understand, be unbolted and taken out. There's plenty of low mileage examples on Autotrader etc for around £15,000 or less.

    It has a torquey 2.5 litre diesel engine and is really popular in Australia and the Far East. It has much more simple mechanics and electrics than the latest VW vans and has a reputation for being rugged and reliable. You can have a 136ps six speed manual giving mid-30s to 40 mpg or a quicker and thirstier 170ps automatic. For length, it is between the SWB and LWB Volkswagens. It is also slightly lower than a VW or Mazda Bongo at under 2m which helps with getting under car park and French motorway toll barriers.

    I have one with a Wellhouse camper conversion and it's fine for ordinary day to day driving. It fits into supermarket parking spaces and reversing is pretty easy thanks to rear beepers. It's great round town and fantastic on the motorway with its high top gear while the high seating position helps you "read" the road ahead. You need to be a bit more cautious driving along, say, narrow Cornish lanes than you would in a car. Servicing is cheap but parts like tyres are obviously more expensive than a regular car.

    Another slightly smaller van of this type worth considering is the Nissan NV200. And I also like the look of the new Toyota Pro Ace (Peugeot/Citroen). But whatever you choose, you will get used to them almost immediately and will find them a perfect and practical replacement for a regular car.
  • Both the T5 and T6 are sub 2m height (max 1940mm). Unless you have a lifting roof like wot I does (as I'm another camper driver)!
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • Yeah, t5 is definitely sub 2m even with rails on. That long tunnel in Paris is scary in one though.
    My blog: http://www.roubaixcycling.cc (kit reviews and other musings)
    https://twitter.com/roubaixcc
    Facebook? No. Just say no.
  • Personally I've been looking at vans for a different use but the base vans I've looked at would probably suit. IMHO avoid VW unless you have too much money and want to buy the badge.

    Renault / Vauxhall vans are decent and IMHO good vans too look at. For a bit more money look at fird custom I think. IIRC a bi-turbo is available that's really good to drive for a van

    Do you have any objection to buying a Japanese import? Most are based on UK sold cars, mostly SUVs or full 4x4s. Generally Japanese imports have better kit and extras. Your bikes will appreciate dual zone climate control and let's face it they're worth it! :wink:
  • Personally I've been looking at vans for a different use but the base vans I've looked at would probably suit. IMHO avoid VW unless you have too much money and want to buy the badge.

    Always an interesting comment. Yes they cost more, but the residuals are also massive so the overall cost of ownership is very, very competitive. Both my T5 Caravelle and T6 California have been nothing but 100% reliable and the 150bhp 7 speed auto in the camper is returning 38mpg average despite being used a lot on smaller runs (between trips).

    I know plenty of people who've also got the Renault/Nissan/Vauxhall that love it and others with the asian vans (Hyundai, Mazda and Toyota) that also rave about them. They're all much of a muchness now so it's worth driving a few, doing the sums (residuals included) and making your mind up.
    Trail fun - Transition Bandit
    Road - Wilier Izoard Centaur/Cube Agree C62 Disc
    Allround - Cotic Solaris
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,374
    Both the T5 and T6 are sub 2m height (max 1940mm). Unless you have a lifting roof like wot I does (as I'm another camper driver)!

    Yeah, I worded it badly. But the Hyundai is slightly lower than a T5/6. Even with the pop-up roof, the Hyundai Wellhouse is sub 2m, as is Wellhouse's new Toyota Pro Ace camper. VW and Transit campers generally go over the 2m mark.

    This type of van - whether VW, European and Asian - is a great concept. You have the footprint of a large car or 4x4 but much more space inside for carrying passengers, bikes and stuff for the tip. The only downside is for people who crave sharp performance and handling. The practicality trumps it for me.
  • daniel_bdaniel_b Posts: 8,653
    edited November 2017
    Mine is a Peugeot Traveller 8 seat. They do those in 9 and 6 too but not in the top spec. It's the same car as the Toyota Pro Ace Verso and Citroen Space Tourer and the Van equivalents of each (Expert, Dispatch and ProAce). The van versions are more likely to get the 6 seat and window options though, I think, Citroen don't offer one.

    Super comfy suspension on them. Punchy and better MPG than VW diesel engines. The only thing is that they're relatively new so there aren't bargains around yet.

    In terms of seat removal, you will need a rugby team to take out VW seats. I can do the Peugeot ones on my own. They're not light but much easier. Pull a strap and they come out of their rails.

    Thanks BTR - will look that one, and its siblings, up - seems like all of these van type objects are designed as one platform to save money, and are then used by multiple brands - makes sense I guess.
    Mercia Man wrote:
    A good value van to consider is the Hyundai i800. It's an eight seater with large luggage capacity and the seats can be folded 60:40 for further load carrying ability. The back and middle rows of seats can, I understand, be unbolted and taken out. There's plenty of low mileage examples on Autotrader etc for around £15,000 or less.

    It has a torquey 2.5 litre diesel engine and is really popular in Australia and the Far East. It has much more simple mechanics and electrics than the latest VW vans and has a reputation for being rugged and reliable. You can have a 136ps six speed manual giving mid-30s to 40 mpg or a quicker and thirstier 170ps automatic. For length, it is between the SWB and LWB Volkswagens. It is also slightly lower than a VW or Mazda Bongo at under 2m which helps with getting under car park and French motorway toll barriers.

    I have one with a Wellhouse camper conversion and it's fine for ordinary day to day driving. It fits into supermarket parking spaces and reversing is pretty easy thanks to rear beepers. It's great round town and fantastic on the motorway with its high top gear while the high seating position helps you "read" the road ahead. You need to be a bit more cautious driving along, say, narrow Cornish lanes than you would in a car. Servicing is cheap but parts like tyres are obviously more expensive than a regular car.

    Another slightly smaller van of this type worth considering is the Nissan NV200. And I also like the look of the new Toyota Pro Ace (Peugeot/Citroen). But whatever you choose, you will get used to them almost immediately and will find them a perfect and practical replacement for a regular car.

    Thankyou Mercia man, all good things to consider, had not even heard of the i800, so will take a look - was aware of the NV200, so wil carry out some further investigations.
    Personally I've been looking at vans for a different use but the base vans I've looked at would probably suit. IMHO avoid VW unless you have too much money and want to buy the badge.

    Renault / Vauxhall vans are decent and IMHO good vans too look at. For a bit more money look at fird custom I think. IIRC a bi-turbo is available that's really good to drive for a van

    Do you have any objection to buying a Japanese import? Most are based on UK sold cars, mostly SUVs or full 4x4s. Generally Japanese imports have better kit and extras. Your bikes will appreciate dual zone climate control and let's face it they're worth it! :wink:

    Thanks TM - not going to go the VW route (no offence to anyone) and I know someone with a Custom who loves it, but they do seem a bit on the pricey side and now BR has pointed me in the direction of basically mini buses......!
    I have no objection to a Jap import - suppose my only concern might be the availability of spare parts - I nearly bought a Subaru Legacy Turbo that was imported, but uber rare, and the owener had had to wait months for pasrts on occasion, and had accumulated a load of spares 'just in case' - not sure if that would be an issue in this instance though, and will check out some of the offerings :-)
    I'm sure my bikes will appreciate having their own aircon!
    Daniel
    Don't get a crew van or anything with a fixed bulkhead as it reduces versatility massively.
    Google image Renault Trafic Passenger. One of the many benefits is that you can remove all but the front seats for huuuge storage in the back if needed.


    Thankyou BR - this is where your indepth expertise is coming in so very handy!

    I had not even considered a minibus type affair - a quick look on AT brings up a few options, looks like some have a solid bench of seats, which seems fairly inflexible, but some are like this:
    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201710039918675?supplied-price-to=10000&sort=sponsored-supplied&model=TRAFIC&maximum-mileage=90000&make=RENAULT&radius=1500&postcode=tw182aa&keywords=minibus&advertising-location=at_vans&page=1

    Now to my eye, that is only a SWB model, BUT critically if the seats are fully independent and fairly easy to remove\re-add (?) then you could conceivably run it as a 5 seater - 3 at the front, and 2 down one side, which would then give you approx 2/3rds of the width, but all of the depth for bikes, which I think would work.
    Am I correct in my assumption?

    Struggling to find a mesurement for the rear load area up to the front row of seats though to see whether it is long enough.
    EDIT: Found Nissan dimensions for the SWB Van, which would seem to suggest that the SWB rear load area up to the rear seats is a whopping 2400mm, more than ample for a bike.

    If there ever was an issue with luggage, I have a 340 litre roofbox.

    Is that basically what you have in terms of seating?

    How easy is it to remove and re-install a seat, and do my eyes deceive me, or can you pretty much place the seats whereever you want on those mounting 'rails'?

    The only downside I can see to this arrangement over a van, is the lack of privacy, but I guess you could get around this by fitting curtains........?

    I did think LWB was the way to go, BUT if the added flexibility meant I could get away with a SWB, I might be able to sell it to my gf as a more viable solution.

    The length of the Volvo is 4710mm, a Skoda Superb is 4856, and a SWB Trafic is 4782! (LWB is 5182)
    Admittedly it is wider.
    Felt F70 05 (Turbo)
    Marin Palisades Trail 91 and 06
    Scott CR1 SL 12
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  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 11,001
    Another option - SsangYong Tourismo. I don't have one, but it's absolutely cavernous with the rear bench taken out, and pretty well spec'd too. Prices are pretty good too. Some people might need to get over the latent brand image, but if you can, they are worth a look.
  • Measurements are fun. Mine is shorter and narrower than an Audi q7
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  • I looked at a Mitsubishi van and since I live walking distance from a really good Mitsubishi dealership I asked them about Japanese imports. They have no issues with dealing with Mitsubishi van imports. No issues with parts or anything. Their van isn't sold over here but the 4x4 it's based on is which means the mechanicals are all UK distributed parts. It's the odd part that different (more bodywork related I think) but importing from Japan isn't that bad these days. If parts are needed from Japan they get here, in the van and you're driving out within a week.

    It's not the same for all vans and all ages of Japanese van imports though.

    If you've got the money Hyundai I 800 is a nice van. Toyota proace verso is a very nice van in the current model well kitted out for use as an executive bus. If their panel van version of this is at nice then if I had the money I'd look at it.
  • defeverdefever Posts: 171
    Interesting thread, lots of factors to take in Daniel!

    Our experience with a van: We bought a VW T4 to convert into a camper last year. VW definitely has "scene tax", T4s with 200,000miles still got for £3,000 plus. That's ridiculous money for mileage and age.

    But there are benefits of going with VW. VW is generally reliable (German or Japanese cars are stereotypically renounced for their reliable and robust construction, but equally open to debate!). Customisability (lots of after-market parts / conversions pre-set up for Transporters), VAG (VW Audi Group) parts readily available, many specialist garages throughtout the country, ABUNDANCE of information on repairs, modification, troubleshooting on the internet (you could literally be an expert of these vans with just reading on online forums). Being a mechanic enthusiast, the ability to source parts easily and the abundance of free information was one of the selling point for us to go with a VW.

    We still think VW Transporters are expensive though, but it sort of balances with their versatility. If we ever need a van after our T4, then we'd easily consider much cheaper alternative vans but will look at either German (Mercedes Vito) or Japanese (Toyota Hi-ace, though it's less common in the UK), then Vivaro/Traffic/Primastar.

    Also, I don't know if you have thought about tax and insurance for "panel vans". Vans are different world compared to cars (I found this out after we bought T4) and you are paying "commercial" rate if your van is "panel" van i.e. bog standard builders van without any seats at the back. The insurance scheme becomes different as insurers assume it's used "commercially" and its associated risks (potential theft of the content, damage, etc.). Also motorway tolls / ferry prices are commercial rate, just because it may look like "white van man" vehicle.

    Having said that, unless you "convert" a panel van into say a "camper", or if you are looking for "people carrier" version of a van, then I think they are mostly classified as "car" rather than commercial vehicle. So the above is exempt. Tax, insurance, toll fees are similar if not same as any car.

    Just another consideration for you!
  • Mercia Man wrote:
    Both the T5 and T6 are sub 2m height (max 1940mm). Unless you have a lifting roof like wot I does (as I'm another camper driver)!

    Yeah, I worded it badly. But the Hyundai is slightly lower than a T5/6. Even with the pop-up roof, the Hyundai Wellhouse is sub 2m, as is Wellhouse's new Toyota Pro Ace camper. VW and Transit campers generally go over the 2m mark.

    This type of van - whether VW, European and Asian - is a great concept. You have the footprint of a large car or 4x4 but much more space inside for carrying passengers, bikes and stuff for the tip. The only downside is for people who crave sharp performance and handling. The practicality trumps it for me.

    Yep!
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