2017 Tesla Model 3: Will an XL-Size Mountain Bike Fit?
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Maybe you've heard: I'm fairly tall. I'm nowhere near the tallest guy you've met, but a height of 6 feet 2 inches puts me in what statisticians call the 95th percentile. As a result, my mountain bike is pretty big. This all came to a head when I decided to go for a ride on a weekend when I was driving our 2017 Tesla Model 3 sedan.
My bike isn't the bulkiest one you've ever seen. For one, it's a hardtail, not a full suspension bike. And it doesn't have those cartoonishly fat tires that are starting to gain, ahem, traction. That said, it is quite literally a giant. Says so in 2-inch letters right on the frame. And it is Giant's XL-size mountain bike frame with 29-inch wheels, too. Call it an XL 29er in front of your biker friends and you'll get knowing nods.
As for the Model 3, it has an all-glass roof. All 3s built so far have one. It's part of the Premium Upgrades package, an option that is mandatory until further notice. Point is, the glass roof spans all the way to the seam where it meets the body sides, leaving no room for the kind of hidden rack receptacles you see on many other roofs. The owner's manual hints at the future existence of a Tesla accessory rack, but it hasn't yet hit the market. I can only imagine what it might mount to.
That leaves the trunk. Unlike the Model S sedan, which was really a hatchback, the Model 3 is a true sedan with a trunk. Like many others of this type, it has 60/40-split rear seatbacks that fold down to expand the load area.
That last sentence is an understatement. The portal that's revealed when you fold the seats is bigger than the trunk opening itself. The seatbacks fold flat into the floor like a crossover SUV. The result is something that even I could sleep on — and probably will in a future episode.
I had to remove the front wheel, but that's standard operating procedure. The biggest problem was not the height of the trunk opening but rather the depth. The bottom edge of that sloping rear window comes back pretty far, which made it hard to get enough leverage to hold the bike horizontal and keep the pedals from dragging on the way in. Great for groceries, less so for this.
Still in all, it was pretty simple if I slid the bike in tail first and chain up. I didn't have to drop my seat post to slip it through the opening either. There was more than enough longitudinal space to slide it in far enough to lay the bars flat at 90 degrees, and in this position the back tire was nowhere near the front seat, even when racked to my long-legged driving position. There's tons of room for gear bags all over the place, too.
It's not perfect. This method only works with one XL 29er bike. That's no deal-breaker for me because I drive solo to meet up with buddies who come in from other directions. I'm more concerned that the cargo area carpet is a little too frizzy. Next time I'll lay out a blanket or a hunk of cardboard.
You can bet there will be a next time. I really like the security that comes with hauling a bike inside, and loading it does not feel like a tedious game of Operation. The whole time I was at it I couldn't stop chuckling at the thought that the Model 3 is much better at bike hauling than our larger Model X ever was. That "SUV" had non-folding middle-row seatbacks and was less suitable. It steers you toward exposed hauling via the hitch. No thanks.
Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing @ 1,112 miles