2016 Honda Pilot: Packing for an Oregon Vacation — and Bringing a Bicycle
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on July 14, 2016
My family ventures north to the Oregon coast to see my parents twice a year. But this trip deviated from the norm in a couple of ways. Only three of us made the journey because one of my daughters had to stay back and work. And we added a side trip to Bend, Oregon, to spend a few days with my wife's sister.
Bend is pretty spectacular when it comes to mountain biking, so I really wanted to bring my bike along. But our 2016 Honda Pilot lacks a trailer hitch for my bike rack. It would have to go inside with us. I liked the idea for the security aspect, but didn't think my XL-sized Giant 29er would play nice with our baggage.
I was wrong. Because there were only three of us, I was able to find a way to fit it in standing up. It was a close-run thing, but in the end there was plenty of leftover space for our luggage.
I quickly discovered that fully folding the unoccupied middle row seat was the wrong approach because it forced the bike onto its side. The key was to partially fold the middle seat and slide it fully forward to create a broad gap for the forks to poke down into.
From there it was a simple matter of tweaking the seatback angle so I could tie the handlebars in place via the headrest pins. I ran a second loose strap from the frame to the outboard LATCH child seat anchor point so the bike wouldn't fall toward my daughter in corners.
Worming the bike into that position wasn't straightforward because of roof clearance. The bike had to go in sideways before I could stand it up, and I first had to remove the bike seat.
But I didn't like the look of the chainring digging into the carpet, so I slid an old rubber floor mat underneath and took the pressure off the gear by sliding a stack of wood scraps under the bottom bracket of the frame. I could only do so much of that before the rear tire bit into the roof, but the contact point was a durable plastic trim piece, not the fuzzy and easily-stained headliner.
The result was more luggage space than the three of us could possibly use. The bike was totally safe during dinner stops and overnight hotel stays, and it had zero impact on aerodynamic drag and fuel economy while underway.
And if there had been just two of us then I could have duplicated this on the other side for a second bike and had more than enough luggage room for two people down the middle.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 14,186 miles