Road Trip Cramming

How much stuff do you take on a cycling road trip?

Before I began my recent gravel grinding road trip, which would encompass North Carolina, Washington D.C., Vermont, and every between, I figured I need to shoot for maximum petrol (or gas if you prefer) mileage efficiency.  Not counting my hotel fee split with K-Dogg and Dr Pain in Marion, NC for Savage CX, I would be traveling solo.

I purchased a Toyota Prius recently, which thus far has proven stellar for being lean on the gasoline consumption.  Jokes about Prius owners are welcome, so submit your cheeky comments!  Apologies to anyone on Facebook who is sick of hearing me talk about the Prius, or posting photos of my dashboard mileage gauges 🙂

Moving along, I figured I’d load the Prius up with a bunch of stuff.  For my trip, everything had to fit inside the car.  No bloody way was I going to disturb the aero flow of the car, with a bike rack on the rear.  Mind you, that would have made life pretty convenient, at least for loading bikes.  If anyone has used a Prius with a rear bike rack, I would like to hear about it.

Jam It In

After cogitating a while, I figured a method to load the car with two bikes, and five pairs of wheels.  Namely, both bicycles would load into the car with wheels removed.  Prius1Bike #1 (Monster Cross), would sit on the rear seat, with suitable protective material in place.  The seats would stay up.  Bike #2 (CX Bike) would into the cargo area, behind the rear seat, beneath the rear hatch.  Two pairs of 29’er wheels would slide into the rear seat area, and three pairs of CX wheels with various tyres, would load into the cargo area.

In the photo above, there is a CX bike beneath three pairs of wheels, helmets, with other crap stuffed into the various nooks and crannies.  I also took the liberty of installing fork and rear dropout protectors, as I didn’t want my frames being all buggered up.

Note: I offloaded my Monster CX bike + wheels for it after my NC race.  So, that freed up a bunch of room.  Many thanks Dr Pain.

What is the Point of this Posting?

Well, I was quite chuffed with myself, that I’d fitted all of the bicycle crap into the car, along with backpacks for bicycle kit, colder weather bicycle kit, regular clothes, laptop, cooler, bog paper, spare parts, and whatever else I could think of.  Best part was, I averaged 54mpg for over 3,000 miles during the trip!

However, my cram job pales into insignificance when you see this Prius below.  This particular vehicle is owned by a bloke who does home remodelling, handy man type stuff, in Gainesville, Florida.  Prius2He’s pretty well known around town.  The bloody thing has been spotted with wood stoves on the roof!  I chatted with it’s owner briefly (yelled across lanes), who reckons he could throw 3,000lbs of weight onto the roof rack… although, I suspect the suspension would probably be knackered.

Is it pretty?  No?  Is it fuel efficient, yes?  Even with a $hit ton of stuff on the roof rack, the Generation 2 beast is still cracking 40+ mpg. Pretty impressive stuff.

If anyone else out there has crammed a ridiculous amount of stuff into a car for a bicycle road trip, they should chime in about it.  Epic photos are welcomed.


  1. Hey JOM, for additional info on gas mileage with a Prius (with and without a bike rack) contact Steve Mace. He has done a lot of miles to races with 2 and 4 bikes on a Kuat rack (3-4 passengers). We have also gone to races where we only had the 2 of us in the car and put the bikes in the back, sans rack, to improve gas mileage. He can provide details but I know the difference was significant. Roger.

    • JOM JOM

      Perfect, thanks Roger, I’ll follow up with Steve.

  2. Avatar Andrew B.

    Howdy Jom,

    That’s some pretty impressive road-trip tetris! A bike rack on the rear (or, heaven-forbid, the roof) would have definitely screwed with the aerodynamics a bit. However, should you not be able to fit everything in the car, a hitch basket or tray ( something like this: ) would probably have a minimal impact on aero, provided you didn’t pile stuff any higher than the tailgate lip (where the two windows meet). In fact, if you got the angle right (or made some sort of enclosure, it could theoretically work as a boat-tail ( see for stuff like that ).


    • JOM JOM

      Andrew, thanks for the tip. I’ve already wasted mega time on haha. For a while there, I was thinking about ditching my rear seats.

      A bike rack with two bicycles slung behind a Gen 3 Prius negatively impacts gas mileage by about 8 – 10mpg! My compatriots and I have conducted road trip testing with speeds varying anywhere from 45mph to 75mph which backed this up.

      I don’t recommend this… but… I drafted behind a semi trailer for 125 miles averaging 67mph. Averaged 73.2mpg!!! Insanity.

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