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  1. #1
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    Buy or Rent a bike in France or bring my own?

    Hello
    I would like some general bike trip info for an upcoming trip.

    We are going to France in the Spring for 5 weeks. We will have a car and will be traveling from small town to small town, staying two or three nights for each day of travel. I want to ride most of those days while my wife spends time in town exploring. Some days she would go to the next town and I would ride and meet her.
    I currently ride a classic touring bike that has been modified to an Ultegra drivetrain. This is what I would prefer to ride but I have never taken it on an airplane and have the following questions about my options:

    Is it a major struggle to deal with a full sized bike in a box in an airport and then a taxi to our first destination?
    Would it be better to ship the bike ahead of time to our first destination and if so who does this?
    Is it possible to rent a good bike only one way----say Paris to Nice?
    If I were to buy a bike (say a Trek 520 or comparable) in Paris and use it on my trip and then have my brother in law sell it in Nice at his leisure would this cost more than paying the airline baggage fees?
    Are there any recommendations for bike shops in Paris for moderate touring bikes?
    Thank you

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    It can be a bit of a struggle dealing with a full sized bike in a box in an airport, but not too bad. We've done it over, and over, and over, and over .... more than 20 times now. The taxi might be more of a challenge.

    As for airline baggage fees ... that depends who you fly with. Pick the right airline, and it could be free. Also, do some research about flying into Paris vs flying into London. My experience has been that it is signficantly less expensive to fly into London, and then take the train to a ferry, and then take a ferry across to France than it is to fly into France. Check it out.

    How is your French? Are you quite fluent?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dkmatdrum View Post
    Hello
    I would like some general bike trip info for an upcoming trip.

    We are going to France in the Spring for 5 weeks. We will have a car and will be traveling from small town to small town, staying two or three nights for each day of travel. I want to ride most of those days while my wife spends time in town exploring. Some days she would go to the next town and I would ride and meet her.
    I currently ride a classic touring bike that has been modified to an Ultegra drivetrain. This is what I would prefer to ride but I have never taken it on an airplane and have the following questions about my options:

    Is it a major struggle to deal with a full sized bike in a box in an airport and then a taxi to our first destination?
    Would it be better to ship the bike ahead of time to our first destination and if so who does this?
    Is it possible to rent a good bike only one way----say Paris to Nice?
    If I were to buy a bike (say a Trek 520 or comparable) in Paris and use it on my trip and then have my brother in law sell it in Nice at his leisure would this cost more than paying the airline baggage fees?
    Are there any recommendations for bike shops in Paris for moderate touring bikes?
    Thank you
    Why don't you check Ebay and Craigslist for used bike prices in France to see how much a Trek 520 would fetch? Also, you may see if there are any bikes that you could buy and ride there.
    I think that the drop in the price of a new Trek 520 would be more than the airline fees, which could be about $100 or less.

  4. #4
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    Bring it with you. The hassle at the airport will be over in a few hours, the hassle all the other ways is extended. Shipping the bike separately from the flight is way more money.
    ...

  5. #5
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    I would just buy a bike in France. The bikes at Decathalon have an excellent reputation for what they cost.

    imagine riding around on this:

    http://www.decathlon.co.uk/hoptown-7-id_8178889.html

    you can bring it back quite easily if you want and it will fit in any car/taxi easily.

  6. #6
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    here's a great video of the bike:


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    I would just buy a bike in France. The bikes at Decathalon have an excellent reputation for what they cost.

    imagine riding around on this:

    http://www.decathlon.co.uk/hoptown-7-id_8178889.html

    you can bring it back quite easily if you want and it will fit in any car/taxi easily.
    This, in every respect.

    The BTwin and other Decathlon stuff really is quite good and super value. For the cost of taking bikes on planes, you could build a nice little folding tourer. Plus, trust us on this, folding bikes are way more convenient on things like trains.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    This, in every respect.

    The BTwin and other Decathlon stuff really is quite good and super value. For the cost of taking bikes on planes, you could build a nice little folding tourer. Plus, trust us on this, folding bikes are way more convenient on things like trains.
    gotta agree. it's really hard to go wrong with this plan. also, if your gf is bike-phobic, you'll def get her on a folder to ride around town on.

    also, FWIW, it's only €500 in France.

  9. #9
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    gotta agree. it's really hard to go wrong with this plan. also, if your gf is bike-phobic, you'll def get her on a folder to ride around town on.

    also, FWIW, it's only €500 in France.
    500 Euro is $800. I'd give a serious look to what folding bikes you could get here in the states and bring with you in a suitcase (you ought to be able to do this so that you don't have any extra baggage fees). If it turns out it makes sense to buy it in France, then you know.

    Cheers,
    Charles
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    http://RecumbentQuant.blogspot.com

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    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    From my experience, the taxis inParis were too small for a boxed bike. Even the van-like ones. We took them on RER, which was quite a struggle. That was the first trip. After that experience we got folding Bike Fridays and second trip was much easier.

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    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cplager View Post
    500 Euro is $800. I'd give a serious look to what folding bikes you could get here in the states and bring with you in a suitcase (you ought to be able to do this so that you don't have any extra baggage fees). If it turns out it makes sense to buy it in France, then you know.

    Cheers,
    Charles
    +1
    If you decide on folding bike, get something decent. $800 for BiTwin bike in Europe is not cheap. I would probably order a Brompton from a Paris store and have it waiting for me. They seem to be quite a bit cheaper in Europe.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    I would just buy a bike in France. The bikes at Decathalon have an excellent reputation for what they cost.
    Really? The bike mechanics I've spoken to aren't too high on them.

  13. #13
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    They have a MTB for 100 pounds. May be similar to the much maligned big box bikes here.
    http://www.decathlon.co.uk/rockrider...d_8202062.html

    What is/are the major online bike outlets in France?

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    This one is a 600 pound touring bike with what looks like hydraulic brakes.
    http://www.decathlon.co.uk/riverside-7-id_8070411.html

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    You guys are free to do what you wish. Personally, €500 (including 20% VAT or sales tax, so the bike is roughly €420 when price the way you guys in the states do it) is really nothing on a trip. I'd gladly spend €100 to not have deal with taking a bike box on the RER B into Paris from CDG. But, if you want to try and skimp every eurocent, that's up to you. I guess we won't be traveling together.

    If you're doing an 18 month trip around SE Asia, I can see the need to slum it to make the money last. However, I don't see the value in saving a €100 while being aggravated ... it's a vacation after all, is it not?

    Also, I'd love to see you get a different Shimano Nexus7 equipped bike with rear rack / straps / fenders for less than €500 in Paris ...



    But, honestly OP do whatever makes you happy, I'm just providing an alternative suggestion to buying a "trek 520" or equivalent.

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    to whomever suggested the Brompton ...

    http://www.comptoncycles.co.uk/brompton_custom_build/

    you're looking at at least 1000 for a 6-speed with fenders and a rack.

    good luck OP

  17. #17
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    to whomever suggested the Brompton ...

    http://www.comptoncycles.co.uk/brompton_custom_build/

    you're looking at at least 1000 for a 6-speed with fenders and a rack.

    good luck OP
    Yeah, so? The quality is much better than the Decathlon bike. I saw that bike you're suggesting, and wouldn't want to ride it myself. My point is that if OP wanted to look at the Brompton, buying it in Europe would cost him about half of what he would have to spend in US.

    Bottom line is, we don't know if OP would even consider a folding bike, so I'm not sure why the attitude.

  18. #18
    The Recumbent Quant cplager's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    Yeah, so? The quality is much better than the Decathlon bike. I saw that bike you're suggesting, and wouldn't want to ride it myself. My point is that if OP wanted to look at the Brompton, buying it in Europe would cost him about half of what he would have to spend in US.
    Depending on where/how you buy the bike in Europe, it is possible that you can get the VAT returned to you. This can be around 20%, so it is worth figuring out If you can do it and if so, how. Again, the OP hasn't let us know whether or not a folding bike is an option for him or not.

    If a folder doesn't work, then another option is buying a bike when you arrive and selling it when you leave. You'll lose a lot less money if you can buy a used bike, but I can imagine that this will be hard if you do not have any contacts at your place of arrival.

    Cheers,
    Charles
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    Yeah, so? The quality is much better than the Decathlon bike. I saw that bike you're suggesting, and wouldn't want to ride it myself. My point is that if OP wanted to look at the Brompton, buying it in Europe would cost him about half of what he would have to spend in US.

    Bottom line is, we don't know if OP would even consider a folding bike, so I'm not sure why the attitude.
    If only it was that simple with the Bromptons.

    We spoke to St John St Cycles in the UK... as in, in the shop, face to face with the warehouse guy... and he said the delivery time on Bromptons is now 17 weeks. They aren't stocked in shops anymore; you have to order and wait, or get lucky with an order that wasn't finalised.

    The folding bikes were a suggestion, based on the OP's question about whether to take or buy. Based on our experience with full-sized touring bikes for over two months in Europe, including a generous amount of time in France, we would suggest folders for the logistics.

    It is a pain to disassemble and reassemble when arriving and departing, and when dealing with trains, taxis and accommodation (like, being able to take the bikes into the rooms rather than having to store them less secure).

    The VAT refund is a realistic option, too. I think there are offices in airports for processing these refunds, but you do need to have the documentation in order from wherever the bike is purchased, and the spend needs to be over a certain threshhold, I think.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  20. #20
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    If only it was that simple with the Bromptons.

    We spoke to St John St Cycles in the UK... as in, in the shop, face to face with the warehouse guy... and he said the delivery time on Bromptons is now 17 weeks. They aren't stocked in shops anymore; you have to order and wait, or get lucky with an order that wasn't finalised.

    The folding bikes were a suggestion, based on the OP's question about whether to take or buy. Based on our experience with full-sized touring bikes for over two months in Europe, including a generous amount of time in France, we would suggest folders for the logistics.

    It is a pain to disassemble and reassemble when arriving and departing, and when dealing with trains, taxis and accommodation (like, being able to take the bikes into the rooms rather than having to store them less secure).

    The VAT refund is a realistic option, too. I think there are offices in airports for processing these refunds, but you do need to have the documentation in order from wherever the bike is purchased, and the spend needs to be over a certain threshhold, I think.

    It's 12 weeks where I am, just checked on the weekend. When we were in Barcelona this fall, we saw a crazy amount of people riding Bromptons, that's why we got interested and checked out how much they were there. Both stores we went to had a bunch in stock, so maybe it depends on location.

    Yes, it is a bit of a pain, assembling and disassembling, but not too bad. It's just at the beginning and end of the trip. You don't need to do that to get the bike on the train.
    From what we found it was a much better way to travel. In fact, a couple of us suggested Bike Fridays to Machka when you were getting ready for your trip
    Oh, and during our three weeks in France we were only allowed to take our folding bikes up to the room once. Some things seem much better on paper than in practice. Still, wouldn't travel with another bike than my NWT.

    Anyway, back to original question. I hope OP comes back and tells us if he would consider a folding bike.

  21. #21
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    In fact, a couple of us suggested Bike Fridays to Machka when you were getting ready for your trip
    As mentioned before, we didn't go with the Bike Fridays because we couldn't see them before we ordered them.

  22. #22
    Senior Member tourer78's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    It's 12 weeks where I am, just checked on the weekend. When we were in Barcelona this fall, we saw a crazy amount of people riding Bromptons, that's why we got interested and checked out how much they were there. Both stores we went to had a bunch in stock, so maybe it depends on location.

    Yes, it is a bit of a pain, assembling and disassembling, but not too bad. It's just at the beginning and end of the trip. You don't need to do that to get the bike on the train.
    From what we found it was a much better way to travel. In fact, a couple of us suggested Bike Fridays to Machka when you were getting ready for your trip
    Oh, and during our three weeks in France we were only allowed to take our folding bikes up to the room once. Some things seem much better on paper than in practice. Still, wouldn't travel with another bike than my NWT.

    Anyway, back to original question. I hope OP comes back and tells us if he would consider a folding bike.

    +1 on the bike fridays, have done 3 trips including 6 weeks in europe this year on our pocket sports. As for the Bromptons, you are right they are everywhere in Barcelona, also the bike shop (name escapes me) at 95 Atocha in Madrid has Bromptons stacked up to the rafters. They must sell 'em like bread and milk in Spain!!

  23. #23
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    My preference is to take my bike, which is not a folder. We spent 3 months in Europe in 2011, and transported our bikes on planes, ferries, trains, buses, in a small car, and carried them up 6 floors to an apartment we rented in Paris. Sure it is inconvenient, but riding my own bike for 3 months over 2900 miles was worth the hassle. Maybe for shorter trips a folder, rental, or a bike purchased on arrival may be more than adequate.

    A little OT:
    I believe that once you get the techniques down for the getting your bike on the various forms of transportation it just becomes an inconvenience, not a major headache. In Dijon, France we needed to hop a train so I could keep a doctor's appointment in Paris, and also see the finish of the Tour de France. We arrived at the station a little early to try and figure out how to get the bikes on France's bullet trains. We met a Swiss couple who were taking an earlier train. They offered to show us how it was done by letting us help them load their bikes and panniers on the train. When our arrived, we looked like "old hands" loading our bikes.

    Paris


    Friends just returned from an extended tour in Europe. They are very experienced bike tourers, but this trip was primarily public transportation, However, they could not stand it, and rented bikes with panniers, and did a short tour down the Rhine in Germany. They were happy with the bikes they rented. A couple who had toured Thailand on Bike Fridays put on a presentation for our bike club earlier this week. They used a lot of public transportation, and did day trips as well as several multiple day stints on the road. They really thought highly of the Bike Fridays, and the convenience of being able to make a compact package out of them. They also said, " that once you are one one (Bike Friday) you can't tell the difference in ride from a traditional diamond frame bike."

    Having said all that, the folding bike might be attractive if you are transporting it by car almost every day. Putting a full sized bike into a small car is always a challenge. Most cars in France are small!

    My 5' 3" wife can maneuver both our bikes and all our gear in and out of airports with relative ease. A lot of hotels use "Sprinter Vans" as a shuttle to and from the airport. Full size bike boxes are not a problem. You can call or e-mail the hotels to find out what they are using. This may not be an issue, if you are picking up your car at the airport. I do have to admit that we shipped our bikes ahead on the last trip (domestic) and it was a lot more relaxed. The FedX folks are into the shipping business, unlike the airport baggage handlers.

    Last edited by Doug64; 11-04-12 at 09:27 AM.

  24. #24
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    I'm with the Decathlon plan.
    The French stock is a bit different to the UK branches but the Triban 3 has a good reputation as a "starter" roadbike.
    If you want folders, go for the standard 20" Dahon-a-likes. Brommies are 16" wheels for taking on crowded commuter trains, not one of your requirements.
    You can sell the bike at the end of the journey, probably for not very much to a local bikeshop but it will offset some of the cost.
    Bring your own saddle and pedals.

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