Monday, March 6, 2017

Fit for Dirt

During this winter, I've been reading too many books on adventure which has left me very antsy to get out and do some extended road tripping. But to do so properly, I need a good vehicle setup. I'm too frugal to buy my dream adventure mobile: a Tacoma truck and a Bambi Airsteam so I've been exploring ideas on how to set up my Honda Fit. It has been great on previous road trips: very good gas mileage, roomy enough to sleep in if I fold down the seat, and best of all, it's paid for. But how do I make it better?

First, I listed what I wanted.

1. Travel with mountain bike inside. Outside rack is not secure so if I need to go inside a store to get food or go to an indoor bathroom, I'm taking a risk of having my bike stolen.

2. Bed area with storage underneath. I travel with my small dog, a mini schnauzer named joonie, so the bed needs to be big enough for me and still have a spot for her. Also, do I sleep with bike inside or outside? Inside might be squishy and outside is risky.

3. Getting in and out of bed shouldn't injure, or worse, kill me.

4. Be able to remove the platform bed with relative ease and store it flat.

This is what I came up with.

1. I put the bike on the passenger side because it's a 29er and I have to move the seat up to make it fit (even with the front wheel off) without the wheel rubbing on anything. I also want to be able to do daily trips with my bike inside.

 2. The bed is a platform style that allows storage underneath. Dimensions are 66" in length and 27" wide.  I'm 5' 5" so I'm cutting it close.  I have to move the driver side seat up while sleeping.

3. To make it easy to get out of bed, I can either go out the passenger door or, if I leave the trunk hatch open, I can go out that way.  It will depend on whether I leave the bike inside or out.

4. IKEA would be proud of me. All pieces can be broken down into two dimensions. I used dowels to hold the frame together and the top plywood platforms on which I sleep.

5. Best of all, I built this using plywood and solid wood I already had. Nothing was purchased in this build.

Pictures below. Note that I have removed seats.


This has three pieces with each one covering a separate storage area.  The head piece is removable while driving.


The lid is easy to remove, which I can slide up toward middle part.  No hinges required.

With bike. 

Front wheel and bike gear will be located in bike area.

I raised the wheel to allow clearance for the chainring.  I also scooted the seat up just a bit.
The next part of this setup will be to take an old stand up tent and configure it so that it can provide privacy and more leg room to move around in.  My plan is to attach the tent to the raised trunk hatch. 

I'm sure after my first road to trip, to Kansas, I'll have more tweaking to do. Or my system could fail miserably and I'll be motivated to purchase that truck.  In the meantime, I'll continue to dream big and far. 

Have any tips or suggestions on improvements?


  1. I hope you have a nice cushion to put on that ply-board!

    1. Definitely. A very cushy Thermarest, which is what I normally used when I reclined the seats.

  2. I'm impressed! (I'd have to clean out my car for this to come anywhere close to working!) And I also want Tacoma...but not gonna happen :-(

    1. Thanks Megan. After my move, I learned to keep on top of the mess. But I'm thinking that traveling with a dog and a bike will fill this car up pretty fast. My first step toward getting that Tacoma.