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Five vehicles with enough storage space for bikes and sports gear

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 May, 2016, 9:21pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 May, 2016, 9:21pm

Most cars can carry bikes, but finding the right roof rack can be problematic in Hong Kong. Several local showrooms refer rack inquiries to their parts’ departments, which may or may not stock what you want. Bike-accessories specialist Chung Yung Cycle offers racks through more than 20 outlets that can be ordered online, with prices starting at HK$780, and tail-racks for two to three bikes from HK$1,380.

Other riders seek simpler stowage in larger vehicles, such as the two-litre Nissan Serena (HK$315,800 to HK$335,800). It’s boxy and has a seating system that is sufficiently versatile to squeeze in up to eight people, carry two adults and four bikes, or accommodate two sleeping triathletes behind the front seats, reclining in “stargazing mode”. The Serena’s seats also have a coating that can be wiped without detergent, and the latest version has improved air conditioning and a Plasmacluster ION generator that is said to moisturise skin and reduce odours. The vehicle has large sliding doors, hill-start assist and a direct injection engine with continuously variable transmission, which could save tired legs from frequent clutch use in traffic. The model’s large windows provide all-round viewing, but they might need curtaining if you park with expensive bikes on board.

The more affordable 1.5-litre Toyota Sienta (from HK$248,150) is marketed to Hong Kong’s outdoorsy types. It seats seven people, or two front passengers and a couple of bikes with the two rear rows of seats folded flat. A large rear hatch and big sliding rear doors ease bike stowage, but the Sienta’s low, 330mm ground clearance might grate on bumpy rural roads. The cabin is spartan beyond a clear 4.2-inch electronic dashboard, and seems roomy, wipeable and comfortable enough over short distances for lithe people under 1.82 metres (6 feet). The Sienta can accommodate two weekend cyclists, but might be a squeeze for the gear of more than one competitive triathlete. The model’s gaping rear hatch eases bike loading, but triathletes often need lots of space for their competition wardrobe and race paraphernalia.

Such loads, and the need to compartmentalise them, might tempt regular athletes into converting an older van into an enviable mobile cycling base. A gas-guzzling 3.5-litre 2007 Nissan Elgrand and a 2004 three-litre Alphard, for instance, were recently sold online for less than HK$60,000. Their engines may have been overworked on the mainland or long-idled in Central, and the annual tax could cost HK$9,124, but you could rip out the old van’s seats and call in a carpenter or boat builder to customise the interior for bikes and competition gear.

An increasing number of marques are customising their cars for cyclists, and a few concept cars show where they may be heading in the near future. Toyota’s 2013 LifeTime Fitness RAV4 concept was arguably a blueprint for triathletes’ motoring must-haves. Designed with the help of Team Toyota triathletes Sarah Haskins, Andy Potts and Hunter Kemper, the concept vehicle included a hot-water shower with a five-gallon tank, a spin dryer, gear-storage compartments, a drain for drying wetsuits and an integrated iPad for race statistics and tracking data, Toyota says. Meanwhile, Honda’s Active Life Concept wowed bikers at London’s Triathlon Show in February. Built to highlight the versatility and 1,668-litre load space of the Honda Civic Tourer, on which it is based, the concept could become a niche order or customisation template in Hong Kong. Its highlights include a rack for two bicycles, with a retractable arm, air pump, lights and bench for repairs and maintenance. Honda also fitted a bottle holder, toolbox, front-wheel holder and water tank in the boot’s sides, and affixed a roof box for riders’ gear.

The 3.2-litre diesel Ford Ranger pick-up truck (HK$319,900) seems the ideal bike transporter with a 1.18-cubic-metre flat bed, but it requires a Class 2 (light-goods-vehicle) driving licence in Hong Kong, according to dealer Future Motors. You might stack your bikes in older estate cars such as a solid 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5 XT, which was being sold online earlier this month for HK$60,000, or a 2005 Audi A4 1.8T Avant, one of which was going for HK$39,8000. Alternatively, you could just flash your cash on the trails with Maserati’s new 430-horsepower sport utility vehicle, the Levante, whose right-hand-drive versions are expected in Hong Kong showrooms next year. Fitted with a twin-turbo V6 engine, an eight-speed automatic ZF gearbox, all-wheel drive and air suspension, the Levante can sprint to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 264km/h, Maserati says. Its cargo options for cyclists include a 410-litre roof box and a lockable carrier for up to three bikes. However, Maserati-loving “ciclisti” might order these accessories to be fitted before delivery as too many Hong Kong showrooms on April 30 seemed ill-prepared for the accessory needs of the local biking niche.