Best vans for mountain biking

Looking for a van to transport you to the best mountain bike trails? Check out the best bike-friendly load-luggers below

Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
Jul 26, 2022

There are many reasons why some mountain bikers rely on a van to transport their precious bike rather than an ordinary car. A medium or large van could provide enough space for three or four mountain bikes without the hassle of removing the wheels. Less time faffing, more time riding. Especially if you often travel with friends and have a number of bikes to fit in.

Even some small vans are big enough to carry a bike or two in the load area, or you could stick a mountain bike on the roof and use the space for your cycling gear. A fixed bulkhead will ensure that the cab area remains clean and tidy, no matter how dirty things get in the back.

Security is another reason why you might opt for a van rather than a car. With metal panels at the back and a fixed bulkhead obscuring the load area, nobody can see your expensive cycling gear when the van is locked up. One less thing to worry about when you stop for a bite to eat on the way home.

To save you lugging your mountain bike around the country to see if it will fit in a variety of vehicles, we’ve put together a list of eight vans that should cater very well for those who need to transport a bike or four.

Best vans for mountain bikes

1. Volkswagen Caddy

Our pick Volkswagen Caddy 2.0 TDI
Used deals from £11,499
Monthly finance from £190*

If you’re after a van that’s as cool as your mountain bike, look no further than the Volkswagen Caddy. Launched in 2015, the fourth-generation Caddy panel van is the most stylish small van on the market, with the build quality you’d associate with a Volkswagen passenger car.

The large rear door opens to reveal a wide opening and a low loading lip, so you can almost wheel your mountain bike into the back. Once there, there’s no need to remove the wheels, while the anchor points mean you can strap it down to keep it secure on the way to a trail.

All versions come with a sliding side door for ease of access, with a second door available as an option. The little 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is surprisingly good at hauling the Caddy along, but one of the diesel engines would be better for longer journeys and carrying heavy loads.

2. Ford Transit Connect

Ford Transit Connect front three quarters view

Our pick Ford Transit Connect 1.5 EcoBlue
Used deals from £8,990
Monthly finance from £253*

The Ford Transit Connect is like a Caddy without the Volkswagen ‘scene tax’. This means it’s cheaper to buy, although it also means that you’re likely to get less for it when it’s time to sell it.

An adult mountain bike is around 1,750mm to 1,800mm in length, so the L1’s maximum load length of 1,786mm should be just about enough, even if it means turning the handlebars a little. If that’s not enough, the longer L2 offers a maximum load length of 2,152mm.

The Leader and Trend trims might feel a bit basic if you intend to mix business with pleasure in terms of how you use your next vehicle, so take a look at the Limited and Sport models. Both feature heated seats for warming up after a cold or wet ride, while the Sport features dual-zone climate control for cooling down in the summer and the Limited has standard air-conditioning.

3. Vauxhall Combo Cargo

Our pick Vauxhall Combo Cargo 1.5 Turbo D
Used deals from £9,999
Monthly finance from £207*

The Vauxhall Combo Cargo is almost identical to the Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Toyota Proace City. It’s arguably the least stylish of the four, which means it’s perfect if you want to blend in at the mountain bike trail car park.

Open the large tailgate and you’ll discover enough space for an adult mountain bike without removing a wheel. As a bonus, the tailgate provides a handy canopy to shelter you from the elements. Ideal for when you’re getting changed or carrying out repairs to your bike.

The Combo Life can be equipped with a roof rack for carrying two bikes, or a carrier for the back capable of holding four conventional bikes or two electric bikes. Most Combo Cargos leave the factory with a diesel engine, but don’t rule out the frugal and surprisingly quick 1.2-litre petrol models.

4. Peugeot Expert

Our pick Peugeot Expert 2.0 BlueHDi
Used deals from £12,000
Monthly finance from £309*

In Long spec, the Peugeot Expert is large enough to carry two mountain bikes without removing any wheels. There’s even room to spare for your cycling gear, bikes and a bountiful post-ride picnic.

It’s all thanks to the 2,862mm maximum load length, although at 2,162mm and 2,512mm respectively, the Compact and Standard versions should be more than up to the challenge of carrying a couple of bikes without fuss.

You’ll find at least six anchor points in the back for securing your bike, along with a useful 12V socket for when it’s time to break out the tyre compressor. All versions get two sliding doors and a full steel bulkhead for keeping your bike away from prying eyes.

5. Mercedes Sprinter

Our pick Mercedes Sprinter 2.1 CDI
Used deals from £22,990
Monthly finance from £389*

It could be considered overkill to buy a second-generation Mercedes Sprinter to carry a mountain bike. This is a large van for big jobs, not for carrying a bike to a trail. So what’s it doing on our list of the best vans for mountain biking?

Put simply, the Sprinter is ripe for a ‘van life’ conversion. Spend a few moments on Instagram and you’ll discover an array of modified Sprinters, built for overland expeditions and going off-grid. A four-wheel-drive version could transport you to the trails other vans cannot reach.

It’s not the most economical van on the market, especially if you opt for a six-cylinder engine, but few large vans offer the same blend of quality, prestige and space. A short body with a high roof could be just the ticket.

6. Ford Transit Custom

Our pick Ford Transit Custom 2.0 EcoBlue
Used deals from £11,900
Monthly finance from £269*

Not only is the Ford Transit Custom the best-selling van in Britain, it’s also one of the best-selling vehicles of any type, beating the majority of passenger cars in the sales chart. This is good news, because you won’t be short of choice.

The beauty of buying a Transit Custom is that you’re free to create a personalised load area to suit your needs. Fancy building an internal racking system to carry four bikes to a trail? No problem. Alternatively, why not live the dream by converting the load area into a home from home, with space for your beloved bike?

Take a look at the Trail model for increased traction in slippery conditions. It’s the Transit Custom your mountain bike deserves. Just bear in mind that vans of this size are restricted to lower speed limits on certain roads, so it might take you a little longer to arrive at your destination.

7. Citroen Berlingo XL

Citroen Berlingo rear three quarters view with boot open

Our pick Citroen Berlingo 1.5 BlueHDi
Used deals from £10,995
Monthly finance from £272*

Why buy a van for your mountain bike when you can buy a van-based people carrier that is equally suited to transporting passengers as well as bikes when you're not on a cycling trip? The Citroen Berlingo XL is one of the best people carriers, thanks to a car-like ownership experience and a huge amount of load space.

By folding away the front passenger seat, you have access to up to 4,000 litres of space, with a load length of three metres. A neat touch is the luggage cover, which can support up to 25kg in weight. Ideal for hiding your bike when you’re away from the car. There’s also an opening rear window in the tailgate for ease of access.

For some added traction, choose a Citroen Berlingo with the optional Grip Control system, which features a choice of driving modes and hill descent control. An optional Trailer Stability Control system will keep things in check if you decide to tow your bikes to the trail.

8. Mitsubishi L200

Our pick Mitsubishi L200 2.3 DI-D Barbarian
Used deals from £22,499
Monthly finance from £466*

A pick-up makes a lot of sense for mountain bikers. These tough vehicles are built for the commercial market, so they should have little problem coping with a mountain bike or two - plus the rough roads leading to some of the best little-known bike trails. The sixth-generation Mitsubishi L200 is one of the most popular pick-ups in Britain.

The cabin is incredibly car-like, especially if you opt for the Barbarian or Barbarian X models, while the 2.3-litre diesel engine delivers an excellent blend of performance and economy. The six-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and features paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel so you can manually select gears for yourself.

With a canopy on the back, it should be possible to carry up to four mountain bikes with the front wheels removed. Alternatively, if you have an L200 without a canopy, why not invest in a tailgate pad? This will enable you to carry the bikes with the front wheels over the tailgate.

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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