I know it’s a bit weird to have a car review on a bike blog. But I have learned that you don’t have to have a huge car to transport bikes. When Joe and I got married we had two cars and (collectively) five kids, as well as one of our parents. We knew we wanted to move to a car-free lifestyle, but we also knew it would be a process, not a cold turkey kind of thing. (It’s really hard to take kids to horse camp on a bicycle, or to transport a senior on the back of your bike.)
We have just taken a huge step towards being independent of big cars. We have transitioned from our handsome (but honking big) 2005 Mustang convertible to a tiny sub-compact car, the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. The car dealership threw in a rack receiver for our existing Thule Helium 970XT/971XT Bike Rack when we explained that we could not buy the car if it could not transport our bikes. We were amazed to find that the same bike rack that worked on our Mustang could be used on a much tinier car, just by changing the receiver. So even though we are now using a car that is half the size, we can still comfortably transport three bikes when we go out on recreational rides.
In any event, here’s Maggie’s review of the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport:
“For years Joe has been torn between his love for our 2005 Mustang convertible and the statement we were making when driving such a car; especially considering Joe’s bicycle passion and advocacy. My concerns were more pragmatic – the gas pump had now climbed over $70 for a fill! I started noticing a cute little Italian model on the roads recently and took every opportunity to speak to the drivers of these sweet little cars. Everyone raved about them. A seed was planted. This summer we welcomed a new member into our family and said goodbye to an old friend.
We traded in my 2005 Mustang convertible, (5 speed, black leather interior, retro metallic lime green paint) for a red Fiat 500 Sport 5 speed, with a sunroof, leather interior and Bose sound package. I had affectionately named the Mustang “Arnold” as in Schwarteznegger. They are both muscle bound, with a throaty growling voice and both think they are friends to the environment, which sadly they are not. I remember the first week I had him, every time I came out of a store there would be a crowd of people admiring him and trading car stories.
It was hard to say goodbye to Arnold. Despite the loss, I must say that I am in love with Marco, our new Fiat 500 Sport (yes, I named him “Marco”). Fiat have kept the choices simple – three versions – Pop, Sport and Lounge. The difference between Sport and Lounge was negligible so we decided on a sport model. I am not a car person so I can’t tell all the mechanical specs of the car or the rated mileage. I can simply say that our gas bills are less than half of what the Mustang consumed and it still transports four people when necessary in comfort. I took a 100 km trip to a local resort and back with a full car with no complaints from the passengers in the back. While Marco is not the same driving experience as the Mustang he handled well and kept up with the highway traffic, and looked damned good doing it. He has a small cargo space but the back seats fold down if you need to transport something bigger.
The Fiat also comes completely wired for the techie in all of us. Our phones seamlessly pair with the Bluetooth and run on voice recognition which automatically cuts off the sound system to make or receive a telephone call. Our model also came with an integrated Tom Tom GPS system which mounts on the dash. Best of all, our dealer was happy to install a Rack Attack hitch/receiver designed for the Fiat 500 so that we could continue to use our Thule Helium bike rack. Marco looks a little small to be hauling three bikes at a time but he is a trooper. Last week I had to pick up Joe’s Sidney Bionx which weighs a ton, along with my Trek commuter, and Marco handled the load without a hiccup.
The Fiat 500 is called a “City Car” which I think is a brilliant name. Marco is just that – a City Car – great gas mileage, easy to park, enough room for groceries, a sexy little Italian in his own right.”