La Vie Velominatus: A Rule #25 Reasoned Decision

More bikes is more better.
More Bikes equals More Better. Photo: Pedale.Forchetta

There was no clear indication that Rick’s car had actually come to a complete stop. It wasn’t that the car hadn’t stopped its forward trajectory – it had – it was just that the car hadn’t actually stopped moving. Long after the vehicle had come to rest in what could only be considered a legitimate parking spot by the most liberal of reasoning, bits and pieces kept clanking about, seeming almost to defy the laws of perpetual motion.

I was more familiar with his car than I wished I was. For one thing, the cafeteria tray on the passenger side that covered the hole between the wheel well and interior was not nearly as effective as Rick supposed, though to be fair, it was hard to discern that particular draft from the various other drafts whipping about the cabin. For another, I was uncomfortable with how the entire contraption shook when it accelerated beyond walking speed. This shaking did not prevent him from punching well beyond the freeway speed limit, usually with one hand on the wheel and somewhere between zero and two eyes on the road.

Once the car had shimmied to rest, Rick climbed out with his usual happy grin and motioned towards the pristine, full suspension mountain bike perched atop the rack affixed to the roof of his car. Without so much of a hint of justification, he pronounced a phrase that stuck with me and eventually evolved into Rule #25: “Hey, the bike’s always gotta be worth more than the car, right?”

This was Rick’s typical flavor of genius: simple and concise, irrefutable in its logic. The car exists only to carry us to The Ride. Beyond that, all it does is suck money away from The Bike. The first cars I owned fell comfortably into this way of thinking, though I was never able to afford the rack required to actually get the bikes on the roof of the car. It was on that technicality, then, with my bikes shoved inside instead of atop my car, that I went merrily along my way knowing the vehicles I drove were only minimally siphoning money from my bicycle fund.

Rule #25 has been a challenge ever since we sold our fun little beater car and bought a nice car. After a few years of wrestling with what to do about our negative Car to Bike Value Ratio (CBVR), I came to the conclusion that we needed to buy another crappy car and use that one to drive out to our riding destinations. After a while, the crappy car sucked so much more than the nice car that we never drove it, so we sold the crappy car and bought a second nice car. Now we were really in deep water from a negative CBVR perspective, if not from the perspective of enjoying locomotion or safety.

The solution, of course, is rather simple. Within the next year, we’ll own both cars, which means they must be nearly worthless as otherwise neither the bank nor the car dealership would allow such a thing as “ownership” to happen. Barring that, owning a nice car simply dictates that one is to buy more and better bikes. This also requires, of course, a rather significant ancillary investment into roof racks for your vehicle if you don’t have any welding or nunchuck skills that you can use to fashion your own.

Just remember that a happy bike is a bike that gets ridden; there is nothing sadder than a loyal steed who sits unused in the basement.

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78 Replies to “La Vie Velominatus: A Rule #25 Reasoned Decision”

  1. I was able to stash away my Yakima roof rack in the sea container when we moved to Belgium and made it fit on my Euro 6 speed manual mini-diesel engine 3 series station wagon.  For some reason the trend over here is to use the European phallic looking trailer hitch mounted bike rack instead of roof racks.  I swear I am the only guy on the road with a roof rack that actually carries a bike.   Thule obviously rules over here so on top of that I get weird looks when they see the giant Yakima logo on the wind faring.  

  2. I have a 15 year old Acura hatchback beater largely for Rule #25 duties.  It’s our second car and we barely need it but it’s not worth the trouble to get rid of.  Reliable Honda machine, no rack, fold down the back seats and toss the bike and gear in, off I go, on the rare occasion I don’t ride from home.

  3. One day I might actually own a car again. For now, bikes power my lifestyle. Though I do need more. The commuter is too much of all rounder- I need something flat/cruiser barred with hub gears for shopping. And a Brompton (by far and away the best folders) for the days I take the train. Possibly a cargo bike for big shopping- that or a trailer. Or both, thus allowing me to move house by bike. N+1 has so many more possibilities when you live car-free. Of course, it helps to live in the right place to be able to do it.

    (obviously there are also several more “proper” bikes that I need)

  4. I felt the same way last year when we finally gave up on the old Honda.  We replaced it with an 11 year old Audi, which has leather seats and seatwarmers and so is, per se, a better car.  But, we got for free from my father in law, though, so by Frank’s logic (full ownership=compliance) and the fact that someone else actually dumped their old car that they no longer wanted on us, I think we’re still Rule #25 compliant.

  5. @Overijse

    I was able to stash away my Yakima roof rack in the sea container when we moved to Belgium and made it fit on my Euro 6 speed manual mini-diesel engine 3 series station wagon. For some reason the trend over here is to use the European phallic looking trailer hitch mounted bike rack instead of roof racks. I swear I am the only guy on the road with a roof rack that actually carries a bike. Thule obviously rules over here so on top of that I get weird looks when they see the giant Yakima logo on the wind faring.

    You may also have noticed that we have to pay for fuel in Europe. Bikes behind the car = less fuel = more money for bikes.

    Ever since two of the kids bikes decided that our car at the time was too crappy to be seen on and got off (mildly alarming at 70mph on a busy motorway) I’ve steered clear of roof racks.

    We used to get by with some pretty cheap racks for the kids bikes but as they get bigger so do their bikes and five thules would probably double the price of the car. I got a trailer off ebay, bolted on a bunch of quick release fork mounts and  big metal box for helmets, tools, camping gear or whatever. It’ll take six bikes and a mountain of other gear that would otherwise have to go in the car and doesn’t use anywhere as much fuel as having them on the roof.

    It’s buried under a mound of shite in the garage at the moment but I’ll post a picture if I ever find it again.

  6. I’ve a feeling we’re definitely in negative CBVR territory but I think the two go together pretty nicely…

  7. @Mikael Liddy Shiny. 

    Frank might as well just re-title this thread as “Excuse for people to post pics of bitchin’ car/bike combos.”

  8. Very timely post…

    So I guess what you are trying to say is that once (if?) I have successfully (hopefully) completed the head gasket job on the #*(&$#*($& 2001 Land Rover Disco II, I need to designated it my official cycling transport. Not a bad idea since I’d have a bike inside the #*(&$#*($& and wouldn’t be stranded the next time it broke down.

    Too bad the #*(&$#*($& guzzles premium gas like there is no tomorrow.

  9. @The Oracle

    @Mikael Liddy Shiny.

    Frank might as well just re-title this thread as “Excuse for people to post pics of bitchin’ car/bike combos.”

    Hey Oracle, welcome back. You been out much n our crappy weather? Looking decent for this weekend . . .

  10. My CBVR was pretty well sorted until my old Audi estate started acting up, and at 250,000 miles it was time to upgrade. Newer Audi put me back in the red, but it’s now a few years older and it only takes #1 and my full susser loaded up to put me back in the black. Harmony has been restored.

    To add to the rack debate; I’m using a Thule 3-bike tow ball mounted rack – a fantastic piece of kit. As said earlier, less drag than a roof rack (and less chance of mishap going under low car park entrances) and the mechanism to hinge it back to access the boot is genius. Given the choice though, #1 still goes inside for warmth and security.

  11. @Mikael Liddy

    I’ve a feeling we’re definitely in negative CBVR territory but I think the two go together pretty nicely…

    Well played sir, that would be my weapon of choice also, Subaru, that is.

    My 1997 Holden Commodore SS has been relegated to C2 and hence the steed resides in the back seat with front wheel in boot.

    I am completely Rule #25 compliant given its sadly worth no more than a postage stamp, still looks the goods, but doesnt back up its looks with dollars on the Assets side of the books.

    My bike definately worth more than my car.

  12. I am fully Rule #25 compliant since bike #1 cost more than 133% the value of my truck. As such I make sure all my bikes ride in style with this very ingenious set up that cost me less than a night at the bar.

    The Niner is longer than the C’dale so I need to put her in like so,

  13. Am I the only one who thinks it’s crazy to put The Bike on the roof of the vehicle? ever had a tiny pebble put a crack in your windshield after being launched toward you at 60mph? Imagine that tiny pebble being launched into the carbon fiber head tube of your precious machine. Bam. New frame.

    6 months ago I bought a 1993 Isuzu Rodeo. Took out the back seats and can comfortably fit mine + my brother’s bikes. Before that I had a 1997 Acura Integra. Took out the passenger seat to do the same. Girlfriend needs a ride? Backseat.

    no roof rack but hopefully I’m still in accordance with Rule #25

  14. I’m probably in accordance after leaving the sunroof open overnight during a rainstorm followed by a quick and hard freeze (electrical is shot throughout the car–worse: the Saab’s ignition box is on the ground so it filled with water and I had to take a hair dryer out with me to start the car in the morning). So Rule adherence done the hard way. Instead, though, I’ve always interpreted this as the bike should always be newer than he car…

  15. I finally ordered a roof rack after years of debating the investment.  I can’t wait to mount it on my car, although the rack itself may be relatively more valuable than my car.  Let alone the bikes that it will carry :)

  16. hmmm, I have a 12 year old Xterra, which can hold a lot of bikes and stuff before I need to get the roof and hitch racks out. It takes premium so I can get to the ride faster. The inside is kept clean as not to blemish said bikes. Same goes for he mini-van.

  17. @MorganFreeman

    I’m with you on this one. I’d definitely want to add a rider to this Rule that acknowledges that whenever possible, the bike should ride inside the car.

    Unrelated, but is Morgan Freeman the Snake Blisken of the 21st century? Every Internet meme seems to want to kill him off. I thought you were dead, man…

  18. This is what the inside of my car looks like.

    Surprisingly, with the rear seats folded down I can fit my bike in (56 cm road bike) without taking the wheels off, by turning the front wheel to the left. It’s been very handy, not having to fuck with a carry system, and I like having my bike locked in my car just in case I need to stop somewhere before/after.

    When @scaler911 and myself carpooled up to the Seattle cogal last summer, BOTH our bikes fit inside after removing the wheels and placing a thick blanket over one frame for padding, with the other frame then placed on top. Ghetto but it worked.

  19. With baby #3 due in April, we traded in our car for a minivan…..I fought it at first but was shrewdly sold on it by mrs. graham d.m. as not only a minivan, but a climate controlled bike carrier….smart lady

  20. 1999 Ford Explorer with copious scabs of body rot on the passenger side doors. My wheels are worth more than the car. The bike rides inside.

  21. @graham d.m.

    With baby #3 due in April, we traded in our car for a minivan…..I fought it at first but was shrewdly sold on it by mrs. graham d.m. as not only a minivan, but a climate controlled bike carrier….smart lady

    climate controlled bike carrier – that’s Lexicon worthy! Bike fits in car!

  22. @gregorio

    1999 Ford Explorer with copious scabs of body rot on the passenger side doors. My wheels are worth more than the car. The bike rides inside.

    1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme — a mother-in-law free car special. My MX Leader could ride with the fork up on the back seat. It will be tough to replace the ‘Bikemobile’ — stopped running 3 months ago.

  23. @graham d.m.

    @Mikael Liddy Congratulations, mate! Yes, indeed, “happy wife = happy life” seems to be a true equation.

    in my case this is true but also she pays it forward by not questioning my 2,3 and 4 hour rides plus having  malted beverage waiting.

  24. Driving to the KT – lots of opportunities will be afforded to contrast the Ridley with the Citroen therefore.

    C4 is the weapon of choice for driving #1 child to training and games so filled with the leavings of a teenage lifestyle as well as all the crap that MTB’s drop in winter.

    Smells of rubber, lube, sweat and that chlorinated damp smell from swimming pool.

    Mid life crisis ended when I realized that I couldn’t get a bike inside a Z4M…

  25. Another vote for in-car storage. You don’t need that rear space anyway if you’re going for a ride. Even my parent’s dinky Honda Jazz fits my 58cm bike with the front wheel removed. Living in a dusty, dry country with frequent sandstorms, I’ve had to clean my bike post-driving way too much times when it was roof-mounted.

    Although, when the whole family heads out to race, it’s three bikes on the Forester, three racers + baby brother in the car and a whole lot of luggage in the rear. Rule #25 compliance achieved by having a custom Magnesium frame, a carbon TT rig and a Dash-adorned Cannondale.

    I’m debating purchasing a car for myself now: Moved to Uni and need my own car to reach the team rides. A small Daihatsu is on my radar – big enough to fit the bike, small enough to be fuel-efficient and Rule #25 compliant. Not sure how I’ll fit the TT rig in there, though – integrated external forks are not very compact.

  26. There’s not a lot about my Pajero Sport that I like (nor dislike, I’m just intensely neutral) other than the fact that it can fit my bike in the back, seats folded, without having to take off a wheel.

    The only other plus point is off-road ability, which I don’t use a lot but enough to be glad of it.

  27. @Chris Yes trailers are wildly popular in Belgium in fact if and when we move back to the US I fully intend to purchase a trailer.  They drive dinky diesel cars with giant 4×8 trailers for Home Depot (Brico here) runs, etc.  Its a really good idea.  However for bikes I like the convenience of a roof rack and am sticking to it.  Putting a bike inside your car is inviting damage for both items.

  28. @mcsqueak

    This is what the inside of my car looks like.

    Surprisingly, with the rear seats folded down I can fit my bike in (56 cm road bike) without taking the wheels off, by turning the front wheel to the left. It’s been very handy, not having to fuck with a carry system, and I like having my bike locked in my car just in case I need to stop somewhere before/after.

    When @scaler911 and myself carpooled up to the Seattle cogal last summer, BOTH our bikes fit inside after removing the wheels and placing a thick blanket over one frame for padding, with the other frame then placed on top. Ghetto but it worked.

    Hey, nothing ghetto about the blanket between two bikes!

  29. @unversio

    @gregorio

    1999 Ford Explorer with copious scabs of body rot on the passenger side doors. My wheels are worth more than the car. The bike rides inside.

    1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme “” a mother-in-law free car special. My MX Leader could ride with the fork up on the back seat. It will be tough to replace the ‘Bikemobile’ “” stopped running 3 months ago.

    I neglected to mention the emergency bottle of Febreze to take the edge of the mildew when we can’t ride with the windows down. Ancient layers of dog hair provide a softer bed my steed.

  30. @DrewG

    Does non-ownership of a car mean +100% CBVR or is it like dividing by zero?

    Clearly there is a hole in the CBVR asymptote.

  31. Ultimate car rack?  At least Morgan was thoughtful enough to use a steel steed

    Morgan @ Geneva Auto Show

  32. Years ago I worked at a bike shop in Salt Lake City.  Me and 3 of my fellow shop rats stopped to get gas on the way to a mountain bike ride.  We had a total of about $14,000 worth of bicycles on top of my buddy’s old Subaru wagon that could not have been worth more than $1,000.  Some guys in a brand new NIssan Pathfinder pulled in next to us with a couple of decent, but maybe $700 bikes on top.  They looked at us, our car, and our bikes and told us we had our priorities straight.  We said, “yes, we know.”  Did not know about Rule #25 then, but certainly followed it as I did not have a car at all and 4 bikes.

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