Bike Racks For Vans – What You Must Know Before Buying Them

If you own a van and you enjoy riding your bicycle then bike racks for vans are for you! These are great as they allow you to take your ride any where that you want with ease and comfort. If you want to go to the beach and enjoy the warm sun and the ocean breeze then there is no need to rent a bicycle. You can save money by bringing your own in your car. If you want to take the whole family out for a trip and you want to all enjoy a nice ride together, now you can! No matter what the occasion or what you want to do these holders are going to make it just that much easier for you.

Because a van is much larger then the average car you are going to have more room to store things and more space to make everyone who is in your car just that much more comfortable. This goes for the bicycle racks for vans as well. You can easily store and carry your two wheels in the back of the car and go wherever you need to.

If you are going on a particularly long trip then you can always use a hitch and just put the rides in the back or even on top of the car. This is great as it is going to provide more room inside of the car for food, people, or anything else that you may need. Also, the holders that are going to be on top or on the back of the van are going to be safe and secure so you never have to worry about them falling off while you are driving. To add to this, you can also lock everything up securely which is going to guard against thieves.

Because these holders are so popular many different companies make them. This is good news for you because all you have to do is go online to find yourself the best possible deals. Simply take the time to check the reviews of all of the different companies and also search through all of the different websites in order to compare prices, by doing this you are sure to find a deal that is perfect for you and your budget. You can even search for used bike racks for vans as this is going to save you money as well.

Taking Your Bike on European Trains – How to Do It

European bike tours can be extended or shortened by catching a train with your bike. But how do you actually do it? I have travelled with my bicycle on trains all over eastern and western Europe and this is what I have learnt over the years.

The first step is to discover whether the train company will carry bikes on the line and the particular service you are interested in and, if so, whether a charge is made and reservations are necessary. Generally, if the train stops at every haystack then it will take bikes, and if it speeds between cities exuding stainless steel efficiency, it will not. There may be a bicycle symbol printed on the timetable, but otherwise you will need to ask at the ticket office, pointing at your bike if your language skills aren’t up to it. Sometimes bicycles are carried for free (although an advance reservation may still be required), sometimes a ticket must be bought for each journey, and in some countries you buy a daily or weekly bike ticket that will cover all journeys made in that period.

Having purchased your tickets, you will often have to validate them in a machine at the entrance to the platforms. The next stage is to find out what platform the train should be leaving from. Normally this will require you to take your bike and any luggage down a tunnel, up some stairs or up in a lift and along a corridor in the sky. In some countries walking across the tracks is an accepted (tacitly or otherwise) means of accessing the platforms, but with my natural sense of caution and tendency towards being law abiding, that is something I generally avoid unless there is no alternative.

If you have to use a lift you will probably find it is scarcely big enough for one bike and a person. You may need to hold the bike balanced on its rear wheel, and good manners require that you let your fellow passengers have precedence over your bike unless time is really pressing. If you have panniers on the bike, you may well need to remove them to get it to fit in the lift, and that presents a problem if you are on your own. You will somehow have to wheel the bike in on its rear wheel with one hand while carrying your panniers with the other, without running over or squashing any mad fool who opts to share the lift with you.

In the absence of lifts (or if you don’t feel up to the task of getting yourself and your bike in and out of one without mishap) you may be lucky enough to find a staircase with a bike rolling slot along its edge. Resist the temptation to try to ride down either the slot or the steps, particularly with panniers mounted. If there is no rolling slot then you are going to have to wheel the bike up and down the steps, or else carry it. Either way, this will be easier if you remove the panniers first, but you will need to keep your eye on them if you don’t want them to disappear or worse, start a security scare.

Once you have found the right platform, you still can’t relax as last minute platform changes are not uncommon in some parts of Europe. You will need to be on your toes to avoid being left behind. If you don’t understand the language well enough to listen out for the announcements, then you will have to follow the locals and hope for the best. When the train is due any minute so you can be reasonably sure there won’t be a platform change, disconnect your panniers from the bike and remount them, unclipped, back on the rack. Like this, you can move everything easily along the platform but rapidly remove the panniers when you need to board.

Life is much easier if you are catching a train that starts from the station you are at, since then you should have plenty of time to get aboard. But if not, I suggest that you wait at the end of the platform from which the train will come. That way, as the train passes you can look out for bike symbols, a guard’s van or some other indication of where you need to be. When you spot a likely-looking part of the train passing, move swiftly after it — do this at the rear of the platform, or you will bowl over other passengers moving towards the platform edge. The aim should be to reach the right spot before the train comes to a halt, because in most places the guard or station manager will not wait for a passenger to get his act together, particularly a passenger with an awkward, 2-wheeled item of luggage. If, by the time the train has all passed where you are standing you are none the wiser as to which part of it is suitable quartering for your bike, you will need to jog over to the guard (pushing your bike) who probably has his head stuck out of a window and is pretending not to have noticed you. He or she should direct you to the guard’s van or another part of the train that will act as a bike-van for your journey.

If you are lucky, the access to the train will either be at platform height or just above so you can wheel the bike in, but it is all too common to find a narrow, steep set of steps leading up to a wagon about four feet above you. In that case, and there are two of you, then tackle boarding the train like this:

  1. remove all panniers while waiting for other, bike-free passengers to get on and off;
  2. first person (female if in a couple) gets into wagon, taking one pannier, or two if she can comfortably manage them;
  3. second person pushes up the first bike (requires some strength if the floor of the train is high, which is why I suggest it should be the male partner) and first person helps to pull it onboard and quickly leans it somewhere or lays it on the floor if there’s space;
  4. second person pushes up the second bike and first person deals with it in the same way;
  5. finally the second person slings in the remaining panniers and climbs aboard.

Any safety elements, such as doors or drop-down bars, should be put in place and, if appropriate, a wave given to the guard or platform staff meaning, “We are safely on.” The bikes then need to be housed for the journey. The guard may tell you what to do with them or it may be one of:

  • Hang the bikes by their front wheels from hooks in the ceiling (sometimes the rear wheel fits in a slot beneath, which may be on the underside of a seat that has to be tilted up to reveal it).
  • Fit the bikes against a carriage wall or a row of upturned seats with straps to hold them in place.
  • Lean the bikes in a space at the end of the carriage. Often the guard will direct you to position them across the entrance to the driver’s cab right at the front of the train. To do this, it helps if the headset bearing is kept a little loose so you can turn the handlebars sideways, and stacking two bicycles “nose to tail” will mean they take up less room.

In all situations try not to block the train’s exits or corridors, or access to the toilets. Also try not to have oily parts of the bike, like the chain, facing outwards so that those squeezing past risk getting oil on their clothes. You may find a rubber bungee is useful to hold rattling bikes in place. Unless the bikes are travelling in a guard’s van that is inaccessible to passengers, it is possible that bits will disappear from them if you leave them alone for any time. To avoid this, it is wise to remove cycle computers, lights, pumps, etc or else sit where you have a view.

When you are nearly at your destination, rejoin your bicycles — you may need to allow extra time to locate the guard if they are in a locked van — and unhook them or remove straps and bungees. Bear in mind that other passengers may want to get off from your nearest exit, so leave space for them to do so first. Then when your path is clear, swiftly alight, reversing the procedure you used to get aboard. The stronger person should get onto the platform first and take the bikes in turn from the other person, who will only need to wheel them out of the door. As each bike is passed down, it should be laid on the platform a little way away from the train so that it isn’t in the way of other passengers. Before getting down with the final panniers, the second person should have a quick look around to make sure nothing has been left.

When travelling on your own, with luggage, it can be a challenge to get on and off trains quickly enough to avoid delaying the train and incurring the wrath of the railway staff. Give yourself the best possible chance by choosing as your starting station the train’s point of origin. Failing that, choose a station in a larger place rather than one in the middle of nowhere that may not have raised platforms. However, crossing the line at such a place will be easy, if it is simply a matter of wheeling your bike across the tracks. Check street plans to see if there is a rear access route to a station rather than having to use a footbridge. Study the timetables and observe passing traffic at the station to identify which are the most bike-friendly trains. Before the train arrives, approach any staff on the platform to ask where you should stand. You never know, they may even give you a hand when the train arrives, but I wouldn’t count on it. Railway employees, like the general public, seem to think that all cyclists are superfit athletes, not ordinary people who might find lifting 25kg of bike and luggage through a small gap at chest height in the space of a few seconds a little difficult.

Benefits of a Van Roof Rack

You may think that a commercial van would be an ideal form of transport for a family holiday. What better way to get to from home to Dover then over to France than a commercial van? Think of all of the wine that you could bring back. All of that space in the rear that will allow for red, white and rose wine will make the trip worth while. But what if you want more space for things like clothes? Well other than upgrading the van for a larger size, which could cost you more than you wanted to pay there is another way.

A roof rack provides you with the basis to get some extra space that you might need. Factory fitted or one bought from a local motoring supply store, each will enable the used of such things as roof boxes. This is a cost effective way of getting additional space in a van that you have out grown. The extra space that a roof box allows will provide storage for other things that you can’t quite fit in the vehicle.

Of course you don’t have to get a roof box to get the most of the roof rack. Many commercial van users have the roof rack to transport things such as ladders and other tools necessary to do their jobs. It can also be used for carrying timber that you would not necessarily be able to fit into the back of the van. Any materials will need to be securely fastened to the roof rack to ensure it is legal and safe to use.

It’s not only commercial van users that benefit from a roof rack but also people off on holiday. As well as the extra space for wine that the roof rack and roof box combo can offer the roof rack can also be adapted to sit push bikes on top. This is ideal for anyone who likes their biking holidays yet doesn’t want to cycle all the way to the country that they are heading to. You must remember that this will increase the height of your vehicle, so low bridges and multi story car parks might be worth avoiding.

For advice on roof racks, roof boxes and roof mounted cycle carriers speak to a professional.

Ford Release E-Bike Concept

The Frankfurt motor show takes place each year and attending motor companies often use the exhibition to showcase new releases and even concept models to delight the crowds. The Ford motor group are often behind many of the new releases at the show and this year has been no exception. Alongside the many additions and new models at the car giants stall in Frankfurt, a very different sized prototype was on show, with Ford’s latest concept, an “E-bike”.

The project has been designed to show how Ford as a company can translate their design language to a bike rather than a larger 4 wheeled vehicle. Sadly, Ford have stated that they do not have any plans to produce the bike but will continue to study and work on the concept as it may well help with future mobility issues.

The design of the bike was undertaken by a team of people led by Martin Smith who is the executive design director of Ford and ran in partnership with the company “Cyber-Wear”. The bike is designed to appeal to both male and female riders by the team behind many of Ford’s top lifestyle collection ranges. The frame is a trapezium profile and is constructed from both aluminium and carbon materials giving it a lightweight mass but with also an impressive strength. The wheel design features six spokes that give the appearance of them floating around the frames body,

As mentioned the bike is powered by electricity and utilises cutting edge technology to deliver a very minimalistic profile. The drive system is hidden within the workings of the front wheel and is powered by a lithium power cell that is stored within the bikes frame. The e-bike has been tested and is noted for being able to travel 85 kilometres (50 miles approx.) before requiring to be recharged.

Not only have Ford developed their concept bike using engineers and designers from the motor sector, they have also incorporated hardware from already leading cycling companies such as Shimano.

Electric bikes have become extremely popular and are overtaking traditional bicycles in some markets. With over 120million e-bikes in china alone you can certainly see how fast and rapidly the market is developing. Depending upon which country you live in you will find that laws differ when it comes to e-bikes; in some countries they are classed as just normal bicycles meaning they do not have very much legislation attached to them regarding road use.