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Thread: Carrying motorcycle in back of van (long)

  1. #1
    Hittin' The Twisties
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    Carrying motorcycle in back of van (long)

    I've been shopping for a bike for a while now, and have about settled on a Yamaha V Star 1100 (though the V Star 650 still catches my eye too). We live and travel fulltime in a motorhome (an MCI bus conversion) and tow a Toyota pickup with camper shell behind us.

    We have been talking abourt replacing the Toyota with a 3/4 ton Ford cargo van that would have nothing inside but the driver and passenger seats. No seats in the back. My thought was to carry the V Star in the back of the van, using a ramp and electric winch of the type used to load ATVs to get it inside the van, rather than to use the type of rack that mounts on the back of the motorhome. This would keep the bike inside out of the weather and more secure. We would, of course, use tiedowns inside the van to hold it securely.

    There are several reasons not to use the traditional rack used to carry a bike on an RV, including that all old MCI buses spit oil terribly. At the end of a 500 mile trip the first order of business is to wash the truck. I don't wany my bike getting all nasty. Also, like a lot of fulltime RVers, we sometimes find ourselves spending nights in truck stops, roadside rest areas, etc. and I would prefer to have the bike safe inside a van, not outside subject to vandalism or weather. Also, I have seen three cases where racks failed and dumped very nice bikes on the highway. That would just break my heart!

    I was at a motorcycle shop today looking at a V STar and the owner said there is no way to carry anything but a small dirt bike in a van. He said it would be too high (the bike is 43 1/2 inches high) and too wide to fit inside. Has anyone here carried a bike in the V Star/Vulcan/Shadow class in a van?

    Any input would be very much appreciated.

  2. #2
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! A_Pmech's Avatar
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    I can't say I've ever carried a motorcycle inside a van.

    I would suggest you measure the inside of the type of van you're looking for. I've heard of bringing home small cruisers inside minivans, so I'm sure you can fit it in a 3/4ton delivery. Delivery vans tend to have higher ceilings than passenger vans. You might have to rig up a removable windshield for the bike, but that's the only problem I forsee.

    Another option might be a Dodge Sprinter. Fed Ex is using a number of them. An average guy can stand up inside one. They're 1.5 and 2-tons as I recall. I think they're a little longer than a 15-passenger van, but I've never compared them up-close. I can forsee GCVWR problems with a large van like a Sprinter though. Does a coach manufacturer even specify maximum towing capacity?

    In reality, I suspect that a van won't be any harder to load than a pickup. They tend to have lower bumper heights which might offset manuvering within the van body.

    I agree on the rack, they scare me too. 800 lbs cantilevered out the back isn't the most thrilling thing in the world. Chances would be that your tow would break the fall of the bike/rack combo totalling all three.

    Just a few thoughts that came to mind...
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  3. #3
    Contributor 10,000 Posts! Cindy's Avatar
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    My Yamaha Virago 250 fit in the back of a Toyota Previa minivan once we took the mirrors off. I hauled it home from the dealership 250 miles away.
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  4. #4
    Flirting With The Redline Shibby's Avatar
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    I went to pick up my first bike, a Vulcan 500, with a rented enterprise cargo van. It was a 2 hour trip from home and I knew no one with a pick up and driving the bike home wasn't an option so we took the chance of the bike fitting in the van. It was quite a task trying to get the bike into the van at the right angle so that it could fit and be tied down properly. It barely made it and had to take one of the mirrors off. Getting it out of the van proved to be harder than getting it in, but it would have helped if I had the proper ramps too. I don't see why it should work, but double check the height dimensions.
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  5. #5
    Carving the Corners
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    I can help.

    I used to have a Suzuki Intruder years ago. When it needed to go to the shop it fit inside a full size Dodge van. Same set up just front seats, open in the back.

    You will have to measure the height on the bike vs. the height of the back doors of the van. If memory serves I had to remove my mirrors at the time.

    I would get alot of measurements and go from there, it will probably be a very close fit if it fits at all.
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  6. #6
    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Paduan's Avatar
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    Be careful.

    The weight of the bike and the extreme body positions required to wrestle the thing in place increases the chance of a back injury.
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  7. #7
    Mike Watters
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    The bike is likely to be very awkward to get into a standard Van. Height through the door is usually slightly under 4'. I'm guessing that reported 43" height is without mirrors and certainly without any windshield. Door width is considerably under 4', but would likely be wide enough unless you're sticking a HUGE guard or large saddlebags on it.

    I wouldn't use one of those rear racks either. It's one thing to put even a big scooter back there (I've seen several Helix scooters carried that way) - but a massive bike? I'd never do it.

    Have you considered something more along the lines of the Dodge Sprinter? (Also sold under a few other badges). Looks kinda goofy IMHO, but it has a LOT more headroom than a standard van. The rear doors are also MUCH taller and swing fully out of the way so you get the full width of the interior for loading.

    Mike
    Watters

  8. #8
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts!
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    Of no help to you, but when I started to ride for the Bultaco Dist., in Observed Trials comp back in later 60s I stuffed the first bike, minus a removed front wheel, in the back of a CJ5 Jeep. After that I picked up a three rail trailer so I could pop in any comp bike, usually my back-up bike & often the bike of a fellow competitor. Stuffig the bike in the back of the Jeep was a tight fit.
    Remember all the others on the road are crazy & out to kill you!!!!!!

  9. #9
    Divacycle
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    That is how a friend of mine got her vstar 650 custom home. In the back of her Ford Aero star van. All the way from Ohio to Michigan. She use to post her. She said "yes, it will fit in the back of a cargo van."

  10. #10
    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Paduan's Avatar
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    I put an Arctic Cat 500 ATV in the back of my goofy Astrovan.

    It fit just fine except I had to loosen up the brake fluid reservoir and tilt it a bit.

    And the rear doors would close and latch.
    The difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time congress meets.


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