Can a Mountain Bike Fit in to a Car or SUV?

Mountain biking culture has caught many people’s interest around the world. With hundreds of companies manufacturing mountain bikes and countries investing in adventurous biking trails, the mountain biking community keeps on growing.

Mountain biking is essentially an American tradition. With California being its birthing place research shows that almost 50 million Americans ride mountain bikes annually.

The United States of America alone offers the mountain biking community over twelve thousand mountain biking trails. This abundance of trails means that one can go on a thrilling mountain biking adventure in many different locations across the country.

All you need to do is find the means to transport your mountain bike. Once you have that figured out, you and your mountain bike can set off for many nationwide adventures.   

Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike, Front Suspension, 24-Speed, 29-Inch Wheels, 17-Inch Aluminum Frame, Matte Black/Red

This plan leaves us all with one question. Will a mountain bike fit into a car or an SUV? And what are other options for transporting a mountain bike?

Keep reading this article to learn if and how your mountain bike will fit into your vehicle.

Can You Fit Your Mountain Bike into a Car or SUV?

The answer to this question is yes. However, the process is not that simple and depends on multiple factors.

Mountain bikes are much larger and heavier than regular bikes. Their structural design is meant to allow people to enjoy a rugged landscape, thanks to their heftier tires. This makes their transportation often a challenge.

If the vehicle’s structural design allows the mountain bike to be transported inside, then well and good. Otherwise, you do have other options.

You can either use a roof rack, trunk rack, or hitch rack or transport it via a rented truck. If you’re at a significant distance, you can also transport your mountain bike via bus, ship, or airplane.

Read How to Adjust Front Shocks on a Mountain Bike?

What Factors Determine if Your Mountain Bike Would Fit into a Car or an SUV?

With the increasing popularity of mountain biking sports, numerous manufacturing companies enter the market every year. Different companies design their mountain bikes to have unique shapes, sizes, and properties to survive the competition.

Not all mountain bikes would fit into the same vehicle type. Its design, weight, and other features will decide if a mountain bike can fit into a vehicle or not.

The other main factors determining the mountain bike’s transportability are the transporting vehicle’s features. Not all cars or SUVs would fit a mountain bike.

The primary factor that plays a part in determining if your mountain bike will fit into your car or SUV is as follows:

  • Your mountain bike’s structural design, frame, and shape;
  • Your mountain bike’s weight;
  • Your mountain bike’s tires;
  • The transporting vehicle’s potential, type, size and limitations.

Keep reading below for in-depth elaboration of these factors.

Mongoose Status 2.2 Mens and Womens Mountain Bike, 26-Inch Wheels, 21-Speed Shifters, Aluminum Frame, Front Suspension,a Black/Red

The Mountain Bike’s Structural Design

The market now has a variety of different mountain bikes. They all have their unique features and shapes. Some are designed for extreme ruggedness and adventure, while some are designed for biking over gentle hills and through forests.

If the structure of your mountain bike is such that its frame will not allow it to fit inside a car or an SUV, then you will have to look for other means of transporting it.

Some mountain bikes come with massive bar handles, while some have pointy fenders or protruding pedals. This limits such a mountain bike’s options of being transported inside a vehicle.

Moreover, some mountain bikes have delicate components and hence cannot be loaded into a vehicle that could potentially cause any damage to it.

Read Should I Mountain Bike Alone?

The Mountain Bike’s Weight

A mountain bike is much heavier than a regular bike and can weigh up to 40 pounds.

This property impacts its ability to be transported in a car or an SUV. Some mountain bikes are made of pure steel. This element makes them the heaviest kinds of mountain bikes. Other mountain bikes with aluminum-alloy or carbon fiber frames are much lighter.

If a mountain bike is too heavy, not every vehicle would be equipped to carry it.

The material that goes into its making decides how heavy it will be. Steel-framed e-bikes are the heaviest, while carbon fiber e-bikes are lighter.

The Mountain Bike’s Tires

Mountain bikes have huge tires. These tires are designed to withstand the roughness and harshness of the terrain a mountain bike is designed for.

An excellent tip for fitting a mountain bike inside a car or an SUV is to remove its tires. However, some mountain bike tires are harder to remove and reinstall.

This feature affects your decision of whether you should transport your mountain bike by fitting it inside a vehicle or not.

The Transporting Vehicle’s Type, Size and Limitations

Some vehicles are too small to fit a mountain bike, even after removing the tires. Some vehicles are big but have narrow trunks or interiors and limit the size of an object that can fit into it.

Furthermore, some vehicles are not strong enough to carry heavy weights without enduring any damage. If one tries to impose the mountain bike’s weight onto a vehicle not built to carry it, chances are your vehicle might get damaged. This also speeds up your vehicle’s depreciation.

Moreover, not every vehicle’s seats could be removed. This limits the space available for storing a mountain bike.

Most basic sedans or medium-sized cars can fit one mountain bike into their space; however, doing so requires the mountain bike and the vehicle to be prepared for this activity.

If you have a vehicle with a loader open trunk or an SUV, you can even fit more than one mountain bike at a time.

Schwinn Mesa 2 Adult Mountain Bike, 21 Speeds, 27.5 Inch Wheels, Medium Aluminum Frame, Black

Also, read, How Do Mountain Bike Hydraulic Disc Brakes Work?

Directions and Tips to Fit Your Mountain Bike into a Car or SUV

Do you want to take your mountain bike along on your journey?

You can absolutely do that!

Once you are sure that your car or SUV is equipped to fit and carry a mountain bike, you can get started. Just follow the guideline mentioned below to prepare your bike and car for transport.

1. Get the Necessary Material and Products

To fit your mountain bike in most sedans and SUVs, you need to start with arranging the necessary material needed to prepare your mountain bike for loading.

This preparation would allow your mountain bike to be carried and transported without enduring any damage. It would also ensure that your car’s interior does not get compromised.

  • Get a rag or a thick cloth to wipe your mountain bike before loading. This ensures no grease, debris or mud ruins the insides of your vehicle. Also get a bag or plastic bag for storing the fabric;
  • You can line the insides of your vehicle with foam, thin mattresses, bubble wrap sheet or layers of cartons. This would ensure that your vehicle’s interior does not get damaged by the mountain bike’s frame or design;
  • Wrap your mountain bike up with thin foam sheets, thick large fabric or bubble wrap. This would ensure your mountain bike does not get damaged by the vehicle’s inside when driving on a bumpy road;
  • Pack extra packing foam and sheets if the sheet covering the vehicle’s interior or the bike gets torn or scraped off. This is especially important when travelling on long journeys where you can to unload and reload your mountain bike for biking adventures.

2. Maximize the Vehicle’s Available Space

Once your mountain bike is ready to go, you need to maximize the available interior space to make loading possible and easy. To do this, you should:

  • Avoid carrying any extra luggage or bags that would take up the needed available space;
  • If you have a small sedan that is barely fitting in a mountain bike, refrain from asking people to come with you. Not only would people take up the needed space, but they might also bring additional bags and luggage;
  • If needed and if possible, remove the extra back seats of your vehicle. You can either fold them or completely remove them to make space – if folding is not enough;
  • If your vehicle is too small and the trunk would not close with mountain bike inside, leave it open. Just tie your mountain bike securely to the vehicle’s insides.

Read Can I Mountain Bike Every Day? 

3. Prepare Your Mountain Bike

Fully assembled mountain bikes can go inside SUVs or open trunks; however, this would not be possible for most standard-sized sedans. You might have to take some necessary measures to let the mountain bike fit inside a vehicle. You need to:

  • Ideally, just remove the first wheel of your mountain bike and store it separately, wrapped in a tarp of sheet. To do this easily, make sure your mountain bike is in the smallest gear;
  • If the mountain bike still does not fit in, consider removing the back wheel and storing it with the front wheel. This is much easier to do with the new modern mountain bikes with easy tire removing mechanisms. If your mountain bike does not have this mechanism, you would need tools like a wrench and a screwdriver to remove the wheels. Also, remember to store these tools in your car for when you have to reattach the wheels.
  • A great tip to carrying a mountain bike inside a small car is to place it upside down, resting it on its bar handles. This allows you to remove the wheels easily. Furthermore, since the handlebars need long open spaces, the vehicle’s base would be great for that.

4. Get to Loading

Once the insides of your vehicle and the mountain bike have been prepared, you are ready to start loading. The tip here is to load the mountain bike upside down, with its bar handles parallel to the vehicle’s base.

Remember to properly tie your mountain bike down if you have an SUV with wide-open space for one mountain bike. This measure is to minimize the movement that could damage the SUV’s interior and the mountain bike.

Read How to Know My Mountain Bike Size

What Are the Benefits and Downsides of Carrying a Mountain Bike Inside a Car/ an SUV?

Can I Fit a Mountain Bike in My Car
Can I Fit a Mountain Bike in My Car

With the right preparation and measures, you can fit most mountain bikes in most standard-sized vehicles.

Doing so can offer great benefits to you and security to your mountain bike. However, at the same time, there are some downsides to carrying a mountain bike this way.

The benefits of transporting a mountain bike inside a car or an SUV are as follows:

  • Carrying a mountain bike inside a vehicle means you do not have to buy mounting racks. Hence, this option is more cost-effective;
  • Having a mountain bike mounted on a vehicle’s roof instead of the trunk increases the vehicle’s aerodynamic drag. As a result, fuel or battery efficiency decreases, making this option cost-ineffective;
  • It is safer than having a mountain bike mounted on an external rack. With the mountain bike secured inside your vehicle, chances of theft are minimized;
  • Flying rocks or other dangerous objects could damage a mountain bike mounted on an external rack. Having it inside would ensure this does not happen.

Hence, loading the mountain bike inside your vehicle is the most cost-effective method of transportation it.

The downsides of transporting a mountain bike inside a car or an SUV are as follows:

  • Some mountain bikes are just too big for the available vehicle. Forcing the mountain bike to fit inside would damage both the bike and the vehicle’s interior;
  • If the vehicle is too small, you might have to invest in transporting the mountain bike via a rented truck, bus, or an airplane;
  • If you have to remove and reattach the wheels, time would be wasted;
  • The mountain bike would reduce your rear-view mirror and rear window’s visibility. Driving this way could be dangerous for you and the other vehicles on the road;
  • If your mountain bike takes up the maximum available space, carrying luggage or taking along friends would not be possible.

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Final Thoughts

Californians take pride in their mountain biking tradition, and for the right reasons. This sport is both thrilling and daring.

With the increasing mountain biking community, manufacturers design mountain bikes to be easily transportable. With the right preparation and guidelines, most mountain bikes can be adjusted to fit inside nearly all medium-sized cars and SUVs.