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Old 01-31-10, 01:48 AM   #1
stevage
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Hire vs bring, for one week tour in Europe

Hi all,
I know this question comes up from time to time, but would be interested to hear any recent perspectives on hiring a bike on the spot, vs bringing your own. My gf and I will be going to Europe for a month (from Australia), probably including a 1 week bike trip, probably in southern France or northern Spain. So...do we bring our own bikes, or hire on the spot?

We both have Specialized Tricross Sport that we're pretty comfortable on, with panniers, and fitting frame bag in my case. I don't really mind hiring a mountain bike for a couple of days, but a week of solid riding is enough to make me wary of a crappy mountain bike.

On the other hand, it will be a drag to pay all the extra fees to carry it on airlines (minimum 3 flights each way), plus the bits of the trip that aren't bike related. Quite possibly more than it's worth.

So, specific questions that could help:
- Is there anywhere in the places I mentioned that hires good quality touring bikes?
- Has anyone had success shipping a bike (ie, not as luggage on a plane)?

The trip will be roughly March 20-April 20, and the bike bit will be the last week probably, for weather. Will surely post more questions about route suggestion etc later...
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Old 01-31-10, 02:19 AM   #2
avatarworf
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I would start by getting in touch with bike shops in the areas you think you might start from. Since you mentioned northern Spain, I can recommend one in Pamplona. Aitor & Ibon are the two brothers who own it. The shop is called 2.ejkua and can be found at Carmen St. 17 in the city, not far from one of the pilgrims hostels for the Camino de Santiago. You can call them by phoning: +34 948 213668

I also did an interview with them.

When we were there in 2007, they were considering hiring bikes because they are on the Camino de Santiago path. I'm sure you could work something out with them. If you have any interest in buying a high-end touring bike and taking it back with you (possibly a good deal because you can reclaim VAT), I can recommend a place in Amsterdam that will help you out. You buy the bike, they have it ready when you get there, and just before you fly out you can get it serviced. Possibly a bit tight for a week though. If you have 4-6 weeks in Europe this is a more appealing option.
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Old 01-31-10, 05:34 AM   #3
MichaelW
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The are companies that do various tour support for cyclists, from bike hire to lugage transfers. Many of these are run by Brits living in France. I found this one but I know there are others.

If you do hire, consider taking your own saddle and pedals.

Traditional English-style touring bikes are very rare in French bike shops (Ive seen one in Grenoble) and never in Spain. The French tour on lightweight day-touring bikes or on hybrids.

Ive ridden in the Eastern Pyrenees and in the Picos de Europas in N Spain and I can recommend both areas.

Last edited by MichaelW; 01-31-10 at 05:38 AM.
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Old 01-31-10, 07:05 AM   #4
philso
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while i know from personal experience that it's pretty much impossible to do nearly the same number of miles per day on a mntbike as on a touring bike, i also think that for a week it would be entirely acceptable. maybe you could consider bringing your own panniers and saddle and buying the cheapest mountain bike you can. with any luck at all you may be able to sell or barter it before you leave.

the last time i remember a similar thread, it seemed that many airlines were charging bicycles as extra baggage or tacking on extra fees. you might want to checkout airline policies. i also recall that advice was given to print up the policy and bring it with you, as the on-line info and the check-in people didn't always seem to operate from the same knowledge base.

hope you have a nice trip

Last edited by philso; 01-31-10 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 01-31-10, 09:57 PM   #5
Feaduin
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Check out this web page: http://www.bikeaccess.net/bikeaccess/Airlines.cfm, then call a couple of airlines. It is possible that you may be able to fly your bicycle at close to the cost of hiring a bike. I have done some recent research on this topic and found that as a general rule the European airlines (with some notable exceptions) tend to have fairly reasonable baggage fees for bicycles.
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