bikebritain Says November 26, 2014

The only thing better than a small van.....is a bigger van!

Let's briefly recap. You may recall last year I purchased a Berlingo panel van aka 'Belinda' for the princely sum of £800. Belinda was (and still is) a ‘V’ registration (1999) 1.9 litre diesel white van who had had more owners than I had cars. The previous owners had been Somerset Cricket Club who had upgraded to something bigger and better. One of the owners had ply lined the rear allowing for items in the back to be secured without a fuss. Like a bike. Or bikes. Belinda was 'proof of concept'. If we used the van a 'reasonable amount' (undefined definition), then perhaps next time around we would look to get something more flexible. The only major drawback other than the environmental considerations (she usually started with a plume of diesel smoke being emitted from the back) was that it only had 2 seats. As a consequence outings 'as a 3' were not permissible. 

Belinda provided almost a year’s terrific service. We did over 10,000 miles in her and quickly became the vehicle of choice. She was cheap to run; I could regularly get 600 miles plus out of a tank, fun to drive (once you mastered the elderly suspension) and simple to park. (You could park anywhere, since it was everyone else who was more bothered about you!) It could move 4 bikes at once or a two-seater sofa and a coffee table, although that was at the very brink of being considered legal. After a new stereo, gear box and tyres fitted, by the time I decided to sell, she was running better than ever. According to the tachometer, only 89,000 miles had elapsed when she left my possession. So if Belinda was so good, why sell her? 

In short, opportunity. With my new job came a new car so there was no reason to keep my own 'grown up car'. At 8 years old the Mercedes had started to develop some bugs that were most likely going to be costly to resolve. Also, a friend of mine had made noises about buying the van from me when that time came. One evening an idea popped into my head. I would sell Belinda and trade in the Mercedes against a newer van; a van with at least 3 seats. So I set to work evaluating what 'Belinda 2' would look like.......

I soon decided I wanted a transit-sized van. I didn't necessarily need a huge space at the rear, but it would be optimal if the bikes could be secured without twisting the handlebars. After a while assessing what was available on vantrader, my choice on type had been made; it would be one of the Vauxhall Vivaro, Renault Trafic or Nissan Primostar - fundamentally the same vehicle, just rebadged with slightly different styling inside. My preference would have been to buy a VW Transporter but to buy an equivalent van was going to cost an additional £5,000 - or in other words, too much. 

The crew-cab variant appealed to me. 6 seats, with the rear bench capable of being easily removed to fit more payload. (It transpired there was sufficient room to slide 2 bikes in the width of the van, nose to tail). The space in the rear offers more room, although the handlebars still require twisting. No big deal. I found a Renault Trafic at broadly the right the price in Winchester and set off one late summer morning to take a look, with the intention of purchasing it. It was white, (naturally) in mint condition and had done less than 28,000 miles. It was precisely what we were looking for. After a short test drive, I made an offer that was accepted, part exchanging the Mercedes in the process. 2 birds, one stone! Sold! 

We now own a van with few limitations. We can carry whatever we need, wherever we want. It's already moved the contents of one shed all in one go which would have otherwise taken 2 or 3 runs in Belinda. When it came to participating in the wiggle New Forest sportives in October, instead of bringing just the one bike each, we brought two - with plenty of room to spare. When my son comes to stay, we take the van. He gets to sit up front, high, and it's his job to 'manage' the stereo/navigation remote control (yes, remote control). He loves it and we love. Obviously changing brands meant we were not able to retain the same name.....so the new van is known as Terry Trafic. He looks very 'Terry'. 

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