Mountain bikes can take you to some pretty cool places. For many of us mountain bikers, we are always seeking for the perfect trail. And when we find that trail, we have the urge to find the next one, and the next one. Sometimes it’s right in our backyard or sometimes we have to travel unknown distances.
Andrew Taylor and I have been friends for many years now and AT is always traveling around the world riding somewhere unique and amazing. This year was a little different. His goals were still the same, but he wanted to change it up. He decided to purchase a vehicle of some sort, fix it up and hit the road. I was able to catch up with him to talk about his bus and goals.
Long: What inspired you to buy a vehicle and travel around the country in it?
AT: It’s crazy to think, but it’s been nearly ten years since the last season of Drop In, where I was lucky enough to have a spot on the bus traveling around to some of the best riding spots along the West Coast with a bunch of awesome dudes. I’ll never forget the memories of waking up in a new location every day and literally just rolling right out of bed. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around the world riding bikes. However, nothing beats the memories of the bus life, so that’s what inspired me to build one for myself.
Long: Why did you choose a short bus over a Sprinter, VW bus or some other van?
AT: Living right next to the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in Santa Cruz, CA I see some of the coolest travel vehicles rolling through on the daily. A lot of what I see are old restored VW buses, so originally I thought that’s what I wanted. After tons of research and scouring the internet my mind started wandering in a new direction. The price tags on old VW buses nearly gave me a heart attack and during my Craigslist “bus” search I kept seeing old short buses pop up. With the price of these being more reasonable and the thought of starting with a blank canvas and having more room for activities, it became a no-brainer to purchase an old short bus, which almost gave my girlfriend a heart attack.
Long: Were you worried about possibly breaking down on the side of the road with it being an older bus?
AT: That was definitely one of my main concerns from the get go, but after doing my homework I knew exactly what I was looking for. Most of the short buses come on a Ford e-350 chassis with one of the most reliable engines Ford has ever put into a vehicle. The 7.3L diesel engine is known to go well over 500,000 miles. Another great thing about buying a school bus is that there are many maintenance requirements from the school district to keep them road safe, so they are well taken care of. When I purchased the bus it came with a thick folder of all the maintenance ever done, so I could rest assure I wasn’t buying a time bomb.
Long: A question that most people are probably wondering at this point, what kind of fuel economy does something like this get?
AT: With it being a shorter bus on the E-350 chassis it does much better than even I expected, with close to 14 miles to the gallon.
Long: It seems like a daunting task to renovate a bus into a livable vehicle. Did you do all of the work yourself? How long did it take you from start to finish?
AT: I bought the bus back in November 2015 and it’s definitely been a lot of work, but for me, this was the most exciting part of the whole process. Being able to start with a blank canvas and build it into my dream rig kept me motivated throughout the entire build. To keep the cost to a minimum I made it a point to keep the build between myself and some close friends that were stoked to help me make it happen. My buddy Alex Dunn is an insanely talented artist and completely blew my mind with the paint job. My long time friend Jordan Nash built one of the sickest custom rear platforms and bike racks I’ve ever seen. Thanks again boys!
Long: Can you give us a cost breakdown as it sounds like a pretty expensive project?
AT: You’d be surprised of the cost! Another one of my main goals with the whole project was to build something that would serve the purpose of an adventure vehicle that I would be proud to call home while on the road but to also stay within a reasonable budget along the way.
AT: The fact that anyone can pick up an old short bus for a reasonable price makes the idea of doing something like this that much more attainable. I really wanted to build something that would inspire more people to do the same and I’m hoping that by having people reading this it’ll do just that.
Long: Where do you plan to go with the bus? Do you have an ultimate destination?
AT: During the build we took it on a handful of weekend trips to get a better idea of how we wanted things set up. The first trip we took once the bus was finished was down to Big Sur for a short weekend getaway. This trip helped us work out the kinks and be ready for our first big trip. In June, my girlfriend and I loaded up for our first long haul. We did a 4,500 mile trip from California up to Canada and back as a test run for the ultimate destination. As soon as I finish this Q&A I’ll be loading up and hitting the road for Alaska.
Long: Sounds like an awesome adventure. How can others follow you on your trip to Alaska?
AT: It’ll be one wild adventure, that’s for sure. I’ll be taking over the Adidas Outdoor twitter @adidasoutdoor along with posting stuff to Instagram @andrwtaylr #AKorBust
Long: Safe travels!!
AT: Thanks buddy! See y'all on the road!
AT would like to thanks his sponsors for making this all possible. Norco Bicycles, Adidas Outdoor, Bell Helmets, Gravity, X-Fusion, e*13, VP, Formula, SDG, Kenda, Smith, Hitcase.