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raybo 11-26-15 09:49 AM

Renting a touring bicycle
I've always traveled with my own (S&S coupled) bicycle to all my tours. While this saves on airline bicycle baggage fees, it does mean I have to break the bike down and reassemble it twice and carry/roll/drag it through the airport or train station.

Might there be another option?

I've done a bit of local research and have concluded that for a tour of up to 2 weeks, renting a touring bicycle would be a reasonable option, depending on how you value your time, travel hassle, and shipping fees.

Two weeks would be enough time to ride from San Francisco to LA or San Diego (and ship the bike back) or from Portland down to San Francisco.

I've written an article with cost estimates, links to shippers and local bike rentals, and a discussion of pros and cons of bringing versus renting a bike should you be interested in more detail.

hueyhoolihan 11-26-15 03:35 PM

guy i know just got back from Hawaii. he rented a road bike for the entirety of his vacation. didn't have any complaints as far as i know.

good way to get a little perspective on one's likes and dislikes vis-a-vis things bike, IMO.

and for touring a rent-to-own type of an arrangement (IF they exist) could be very cost effective.

Tourist in MSN 11-26-15 06:27 PM

A friend of mine rented a bike in Europe. Axle broke in the middle of no where. It was a low end bike with low end components. I would not want to rent anything with components lower in quality than the kind of components I would put on one of my own bikes.

I have taken two guided tours in Europe where the bikes were provided. The components were not a high level, but if it broke it was the responsibility of the tour operator to get me a usable bike, so that was a bit different.

djb 11-29-15 10:13 AM

my wife once rented a bike in Hawaii, it was a relatively new road bike, but going from bike rental places I have seen, the bikes generally are pretty crappy, not maintained properly and used by people who beat the poo poo out of them--so to me its just too much of a crapshoot in terms of it being up in the air of the condition of a bike.

I could be wrong, but thats my take on it.

fietsbob 11-29-15 10:50 AM

Rental bikes in western Ireland , the companies I saw, didn't even buy a floor pump to keep the many tires pumped up.

djb 11-29-15 12:19 PM

I remember now a relative of my wife rented a bike when we were at a family reunion, in NY state. We rode away and not long after, noticed the tires were really low. I got out my bike pump as I was on my bike, pumped it up to normal pressures, 50 or 60 for those tires, and booom, tube exploded. Had to walk back to rental place, get another bike. Waste of time and kind of another example of rental places I have seen. Perhaps there are better quality rental places, but I strongly suspect that finding a bike suitable for touring will be rare, and frankly, for anyone who is a biker and will bike 5-6 hours a day or whatever for a trip, riding a bike that either has potential mechanical issues and or just doesnt fit as well as your bike, doesnt seem to me to be a desired route to go.

For me, riding is such a pleasure, and being on a bike that I know and works for me is always going to be worth it to pay to bring. Again, I guess it depends on the destination and the quality of the bike rental place. With the sotry of my wife in Hawaii, I personally called them and was able to tell that the people there really did know bikes, and more importantly, the XS small bike to be rented was fairly new, so the chances of it being in good shape was pretty good, and in the end it was.
Mind you, in this case, the rental period for only for about a week, a bit more perhaps, so I think it was $200 total. For mywife, not having to deal with unboxing her bike when arriving there (I would have prepared it going), dealing with a bicycle box in a taxi or whatever from airport, risk of damage and she has no interest or experience is either fixing things or noticing damage, and then to have to repack the bike properly to come home and doing it properly so not to have any damage (again, she has no interest in this sort of thing) so in the end, it was worth the $200--especially given that there would have been easily $100 or more in oversize fees, not to mention that there were a couple of plane changes--which always is going to increase risk of a damage, and or perhaps more fees from a diff carrier in a diff leg of the journey.

the lucky thing with this case, Hawaii, is that enough people go there to do triathalons and stuff, so there were a couple of good bike stores with good rental bikes---but I'm pretty certain that there were no touring type bikes, just not the market for rentals, and she didnt have to carry any luggage (a supported trip).

I can't imagine that it would be economically viable for places to have touring type bikes, and no matter the type of bikes, it is always going to come down to how conscientious the rental place is about maintaining their rental bikes and turning them over regularly so they are always in good shape, kinda like car rental places.

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