How can you transport a bicycle if you own a Mini-Cooper? The answer is simple: purchase the right bicycle.
Mini-Coopers are tiny. I own one and love it. I pull mine behind the Winnebago on a tow dolly and it makes a great runabout vehicle when the RV is parked for weeks or even months in a campground. After 18 months of almost daily use, I have averaged 36 to 38 miles per gallon around town, 38 to 42 m.p.g. on the highway.
Of course, the Mini-Cooper is small, but I don't care. It has lots of headroom and more than sufficient leg room for my 6-foot, 1-inch body. The back seat is tiny with almost no legroom. Since I have no children or pets to transport, I usually leave the back seat folded down all the time. For me, the Mini-Cooper is more than big enough. Most of the time...
The Mini-Cooper is also a blast to drive. I have owned a number of sports cars over the years and can report that the Mini-Cooper is a borderline sports car with snappy handling. I love its very quick steering and its ability to corner easily without leaning, even at speed.
I decided to purchase a bicycle in order to get some exercise. I would love to take the bike to the beach or other places to ride and enjoy fresh air and scenery. There is but one problem: how to transport the bicycle?
The Mini-Cooper wasn't designed for bicycle transportation. My Cooper has a sun roof that makes it difficult to use a roof rack. The back of the automobile isn't shaped properly to accommodate many bike racks that mount on the trunk by using various straps and suction cups. One strap-on bicycle rack that I saw on a car in a parking lot obviously caused deep scratches on the automobile's paint, something I don't want to do.
Probably the best method is to install a trailer hitch onto the automobile (without the "ball" that connects to the trailer) and then purchase a bicycle carrier designed to slide into the trailer hitch's receiver tube. I have used that in years past on other automobiles and found that it works well. However, I haven't found anyone who sells trailer hitches for 2011 or later Mini-Coopers. BMW apparently changed the bumper design that year and none of the Mini-Cooper trailer hitches will fit my 2012 Mini-Cooper. Even the local Mini-Cooper dealer is stymied: the dealer doesn't have trailer hitches available in their catalogs for 2011 or later Mini-Coopers although BMW does sell hitches for earlier Mini-Coopers.
This reminds me of the old saying, "If the hill will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the hill." In this case, if the auto won't carry a normal bicycle, one must obtain a bicycle that fits. Luckily, that is easy to do.
Amazon and many other retailers sell inexpensive folding bicycles that collapse into a small space. To be sure, you can purchase inexpensive bicycles at many chain stores. However, those sold at bicycle shops are generally expensive but contain higher-quality components and workmanship. The 12-speed folding bike I purchased at Amazon certainly qualifies as "inexpensive." It is cheaply made but, at the price, I can't complain. It is almost disposable. If I get two or three years of use out of it, I will be happy. For a few dollars more, I also purchased a 3-year warranty from Amazon. If the bike doesn't last three years, nobody repairs it. Instead, it is simply replaced with a new one.
The folding bike has 23-inch wheels and looks a bit small for an adult. However, the seat easily adjusts for use even by tall people. Unfortunately, the handlebars are not adjustable. Instead, the handlebars are welded in place. Still, the handlebar position seems comfortable to me. I am 6-foot-one. Perhaps a taller or much shorter person will not find the handlebars to be as comfortable.
Folding bicycles are available with several different gear arrangements. Since I do want to go on trips of a few miles, I purchased a 12-speed bike. I see other folding bikes available that are one-speed, 3-speed, or 6-speed. One is even listed as being an 18-speed bike. The more gears available, the better it will be in the hill country.
I noted that there is no brand name on the bicycle or in the included owners' manual. Obviously, this is a generic bike, probably made someplace in the Orient. It is cheaply made, although it does have Shimano shifters.
In short, this is a cheap bike but it fits my needs. I wouldn't recommend this bicycle for long cross-country trips. Then again, I have no plans to do that. For this aging senior citizen, I find the folding bike to be perfect for leisurely bicycling around the campground and the nearby neighborhood to gain a bit of exercise. Best of all, I can fold it up and put it in the Mini-Cooper to drive to the beach, to the mountains, or to a park. Bicycling is a great way to really appreciate scenic beauty.
Folding bicycles are manufactured and sold by many companies and at various price levels. I purchased my inexpensive bike from Amazon at http://goo.gl/02I5A but I know they are also available elsewhere.
Check out the pictures below and then enjoy the exercise!
Click on any image to view a larger picture.
Folded up inside the Mini-Cooper:
Removed from the Mini-Cooper and placed in the driveway:
All set up. Time required: less than 60 seconds: