Here at lovely Quarterly Bicycle we recognize that our readers share a passion for the classic randonneuse. It is a thing of beauty, the pinnacle of efficiency and design. We also recognize that not every rider is a Super Randonneur. In today’s busy world so many lack the free time or fitness required to complete a 200 km brevet much less a 1200 km grand randonnée. Many of us are faced with a conundrum: how does one transport a classic randonneuse bicycle without actually having to ride it and get it all mucked up?
Lovely Quarterly Bicycle performed a study to find the optimal solution to this problem. Herein we report our findings from research on various automobile models for suitability in transporting a classic randonneuse outfitted with full fenders, racks and integrated lighting system.
Transporting a randonneuse by automobile is not a simple as it might seem. While the contemporary road and mountain bike can be mounted on a roof rack with ease, the full fenders affixed to the typical randonneuse all but rule out the roof rack proposition.
Materials and Methods
In this study we tested ten different motor vehicles using two main test criteria.
Test criterion #1: Suitability for transport of the bicycle to an urban location such as a café, brew pub, bistro, etc. For the urban driving test, it was a requirement for the host city to have a street layout dating from 19th century or earlier. Indeed, two of the host cities used in this study, Paris and Bordeaux, were built upon a medieval street layout.
Test criterion #2: Suitability for transport to a remote location for the purpose of taking “epic” glamour photos of the classic randonneuse bicycle. It was a requirement for this test to include unpaved and mixed-surface road conditions in a mountainous region.
Each motor vehicle was rated on the QB scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the maximum possible score. The test vehicles were rated for cargo capacity (CC), fuel economy (FE), style (S), off-road capability (ORC) and ease of parking (EOP) in the city.
The data from our motor vehicle research are summarized below.
The construction quality of the Altea vehichle we tested was of poor quality. The AC was not functioning. The vehicle lacked power in the mountains and had poor clearance. Storage of the bicycle in the cargo hold required removal of the front wheel. The car lacked style and we got no respect while driving it.
The 3008 is a fine vehicle. It has enough cargo capacity to fit a fully assembled bicycle as pictured in the photo below. Parking the 3008 was not as easy as we would have liked.
Lancia Delta (3rd Generation)
The Delta is well known for its World Rally Championship pedigree. The 3rd generation Delta is more refined than its predecessors. It was by far the most stylish vehicle we tested, excepting the Citroën HY. It was a powerful vehicle but fared poorly in the fuel economy test.
They HY is a true classic with style galore and enough cargo capacity for an entire flèche team. Too bad we had to park it on the outskirts of town and bike in to the coffee shop. Still, if you don’t mind riding a few blocks, the HY is a viable option for the randonneur-poseur.
Pictured below, the Prius demonstrates its ability to handle dirt road conditions using front wheel drive in the Snoqualmie National Forest. Let’s face it – the Prius is butt ugly. What the Prius lacks in style points it makes up for in fuel economy and cargo capacity. With the rear seat folded down, it was possible to carry the randonneuring bicycles of two poseurs (51 cm and 60 cm) in the cargo bay (some disassembly required). A single, fully assembled randonneuse bicycle was able to fit inside with ease.
The Renault 4 suffered a minor mechanical breakdown during our testing as pictured below. Fortunately, this model is simple and easy to repair on the road, an attribute that any randonneur would appreciate, even a randonneur-poseur.
Renault 4 score: CC6; FE5; S5; ORC5; EOP5
Peugeot 203 Camionnette
We tested the flatbed version of the 203 Camionnette, which offered a plethora of cargo capacity. Unfortunately, it offered no protection from the elements. The suicide doors (pictured below) paired nicely with the inverse break levers of our porteur style randonneuse.
What can we say – the 2CV is a true classic and in our testing it did not disappoint. Any randonneur, whether a poseur or not, should be proud to be behind the wheel of a 2CV. When the full set of data were processed, the 2CV was edged out only slightly by the Toyota Prius.
The Mini is another classic, but really…Forget the randonneuse, bring the Brompton!
We wanted to like the Lada, but it seemed to lack a certain something. This impression was substantiated by our test data.
Once all of the data were gathered we set about to to solve the problem of the optimal motor vehicle. The data were treated as a first order ordinary differential equation with its corresponding vector field:
A plot of the data is shown below. [Ed. note: any resemblance of this image to human ear hair is purely coincidental.]
This study demonstrates unequivocally that the Toyota Prius is the ideal motor vehicle choice for the randonneur-poseur, followed closely by the Citroën 2CV as second best.
The authors wish to thank all who generously donated or loaned test vehicles. Without their generosity our research would not have been possible.
The author drives a Toyota Prius and is a randonneur-poseur.