Life With 2013 Tesla Model S: Some Bikes Don't Fit

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

I've now had my 2013 Tesla Model S for six weeks since it was delivered in late February, and I'm getting used to living with it.

I've recharged at the Supercharger network, measured its vampire current usage at night, tested the impact of speed on range, and even experienced my first software update.

According to Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA], one of the original clean-sheet-of-paper design criteria for the Model S was that the rear cargo area--with seats folded down--should be able to accommodate a bicycle without removing the front wheel.

As an avid cyclist, this was one of many factors in my purchase of the car.

But it doesn't apply to my bicycles, it turns out.

At 6'2", I'm a tall guy, and both my road bike and my mountain bike have large frames and high seat posts. 

With a bit of carefully choreographed manipulation and the passenger's seat pushed all the way forward, each bike just barely fits into the back of my Chevrolet Volt.

But to my surprise, the rear hatch opening of the much larger Model S is actually a smidgin narrower than the Volt's. That smidgin makes the difference.

Unless I want to push the bike forcefully against the Model S's soft interior material--and risk ripping it--the bikes simply won't fit in the back without removing the front wheels.

The road bike has a quick-release front wheel that pops off in a second or two, so it's no big deal to remove it.  But my mountain bike's front wheel is maddeningly designed to be virtually impossible to remove by hand, apparently for liability reasons.

So no mountain-bike excursions in the Model S.

Maybe that's not so bad after all. Do I really want to be loading a greasy, muddy mountain bike into the back of my pristine Tesla? Not really.

At least not until the new-pet-car syndrome wears off.

If it ever does.

David Noland is a Tesla Model S owner and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.


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Comments (21)
  1. I'll admit that I was cringing at the thought of you putting a nasty dirty mountain bike in a brand new Model S.

  2. Maybe that mountain bike is best left for a rear hatch bike rack?
    If you have the Pano roof, you can also get a roof rack for the Model S

  3. My advice is, consider Folding Bikes. They've worked wonders with me. After around 7 months of using one, it's like the bike version of the Twizy, everyone looks, wants to try it, and a few murmur to themselves or friends 'That's clever' when getting out of public transport, especially the Luas which prohibits bikes unless the collapse.

    There are even full sized Folding bikes, even Folding mountain bikes. They may be useful to your problem, and especially don't need a roof rack, which hampers fuel economy, and range significantly for EVs.

  4. Totally agree, besides aero losses, an external rack has theft risk too. I have both a Birdy folder and a BIke Friday. I have to admit the Bike Friday is completely worth the price. Heck once I got even the Birdy I quit using my titanium frame mountain bike for commuting. Do NOT waste time and money on any of the cheapo folders however.

  5. I tested a Bike Friday many years ago, and found it to be amazing--just as efficient and fast as my expensive full-size road bike. But I think I can live with popping off the quick release front wheel on my current road bike.

  6. Man, sorry Mitchell. I'm not trying to contradict or insult you in anyway, I didn't see your comment while writing my previous one.

  7. A bike shop can lace a new quick release hub into the wheel on your bike. And/or the handlebars can probably be made into a quick release?


  8. This is one of the reasons I won't get a Model S. Well, that and the minor detail that it is well out of my price range. I really wish that the car had a rear trailer hitch mount, even a small 1 1/4" would work for bike racks. Hitch racks are easier to install and remove than roof racks.

    I would think that the hitch mount would have to be built-in to the vehicle frame, as an aftermarket hitch would mess up the smooth under side aerodynamics, not to mention lack of underside mounting locations.

  9. Just a minor detail, lol. Actually, the X should be much better for things like bikes and stuff.

  10. Somewhat disagree. The X is a virtual disaster for the outdoor sports-minded. Is is not an SUV, but a UUV (urban utility vehicle). Let me count the ways:

    1. Falcon doors = no roof rack = no surfboards, windsurfers, kayaks.

    2. Falcon doors = no roof rack; skis/snowboards inside (sucks) or on a stupid rear rack, which = more road crap on your stuff, higher theft risk, and longer effective vehicle base.

    3. Falcon doors means when you are skiing in a snowstorm, or coming out to your car after one, and you open the door with decent wind, you get 6" of snow in your rear seats. Awesome. Not.

    4. Falcon doors = no roof rack means your bike goes inside (could be OK) or rear rack = high theft.

    Great for trail runners though. Or golf.

  11. hahaha. :)

    Most so called "SUV" today aren't doing what you listed 1-4 either... I think model X is aimed at Lexus RX350 market...

  12. Totally agree with you. Living here in San Francisco area, most people with SUVs who buy it "for skiing" wouldn't go skiing in a snowstorm anyway because it's too cold/inconvenient.

    I guess the Model X is simply calling out the farce of the "Sports" Utility Vehicle concept by making it virtually incapable of being used for lots of sports. I don't have an issue with that per se, just that they should either have a NON-FALCON WING MODEL or take the darn S out of SUV.

  13. You could add a hitch rack.

  14. Great tips. For a second I thought Mr. Noland had a point because Model S has no towing capability so I assumed no hitch would be available. Turns out it is, so Model S can haul your bike the way that befits a car like that: on the outside, rather than ruining your nice interior.

    How many people driving up market sport sedans would even consider throwing their dirt bikes in their cars even if you could find a model in this class you could fit one in to?

  15. Phew! I thought you meant remove the wheel from the Tesla! LOL
    Just kidding.
    That's an interesting fact about the Volt having a slightly larger access space to the cargo area than the S.
    I am guessing the Model X will be just the type of car to fit these needs. Then again, I am sure it will still be a shame to get it dirty.

  16. There is at least one company that makes non-towing / recreational accessory hitches for electric vehicles. e.g: ECOhitch has no-drill, bolt on models for LEAF, Tesla Roadster & S, in addition to many other EVs & hybrid vehicles.

    Pictures & videos are on their website:

  17. Time for a external (removable) bike rack!!

  18. Rear Bike rack. I would not want to risk dirtying up or scratching up the interior of my car. I am waiting for the Blue star sedan coming hopefully 2015. Hopefully it will be offered in a hatchback design. I have a hatchback Hyundia Elantra and it is an amazing cargo carrier too.

  19. Even more reason for a Model X or a Model S station wagon....

  20. I load my Santa Cruz Heckler into my Grand Am trunk at least twice each week by enclosing it into a plastic tarp -- always with the muddy side facing the same direction. Rear seats still look like new. Better weather and theft resistance than a roof or rear bumper mount for a minor inconvenience of carrying the tarp.

  21. Those little tabs are affectionately known as " lawyer locks". A couple minute with a Dremel will fix the problem. Bike racers have been filing these off for years.

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