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renting bikes instead of traveling with bike

Old 08-13-19, 01:44 AM
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spectastic
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renting bikes instead of traveling with bike

For those of you who travel a lot and like to ride where you travel, have you considered not shipping the bike, but instead renting one at the place you're traveling to, even if it's for up to a week? I've not traveled much with my bike, but I'm considering future traveling. It's kind of expensive and cumbersome to ship bikes back and forth. Most road bikes have similar geometries, and you can probably bring your own stem, saddle, shoes, possibly even handlebar to make the rental bike fit exactly like your regular bike. Anyone have experience renting bikes? How did the experience differ from shipping it?
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Old 08-13-19, 02:05 AM
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I bought two bicycles in Italy during extended trips there (30+ years ago). The first one came back whole. I brought the second one back in pieces over 2 trips.

I rented some cruisers in Egypt for a day trip. That was fun.

I haven't considered rental/leasing for other trips. I did pick up a used Bike Friday Pocket Rocket which I've used off and on. It can be handy to stuff it in a suitcase, and if you an keep your baggage under control, you should get the Pocket Rocket shipped without any special fees.
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Old 08-13-19, 02:30 AM
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There's an app like Air B&B for bikes, skis and snow boards, but I can't remember the name. Nice bikes run about $50/ day. You rent from individuals.
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Old 08-13-19, 04:01 AM
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renting bikes instead of traveling with bike
Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
For those of you who travel a lot and like to ride where you travel, have you considered not shipping the bike, but instead renting one at the place you're traveling to, even if it's for up to a week?

I've not traveled much with my bike, but I'm considering future traveling. It's kind of expensive and cumbersome to ship bikes back and forth. Most road bikes have similar geometries, and you can probably bring your own stem, saddle, shoes, possibly even handlebar to make the rental bike fit exactly like your regular bike.

Anyone have experience renting bikes? How did the experience differ from shipping it?
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
… traveling for business or pleasure is alway disruptive to my usual healthy routines so cycling is how I "stabilize." Besides, IMO, it is the best way to explore a new area.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Do you bike on vacation?

I try to include cycling in on every trip away from home, even including those to go away to professional conferences. Since I don't fly, it's easy to bring my own bike in the SUV.
Usually on my trips, conferences or family activities take precedence, and I only get to ride in the early morning for maybe 10 to 20 miles. So if I don’t bring my own bike, I’m usually satisfied with a hybrid-type rental, a bike-share bike, and I have on occasion borrowed my brother’s heavy duty hybrid.

If I were to follow the rule of ”N+1,” I would consider a folding bike to take in the car, or on the useful Amtrak Rail in the Northeast Corridor.

Here in Boston, my LBS, Back Bay Bikes, located conveniently on the Green Line Subway in Back Bay does rent quality hybrids and road bikes, and I think will attach pedals at least.

A major hassle of renting, is to locate and inquire about rentals, in a city you don’t know, find your way to the shop from where you are staying, and return it and get to your departure point.
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Old 08-13-19, 04:02 AM
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Two good friends went to France on their honeymoon and rented bikes there for a week. They rode in the Pyrenees and the bikes were set up with the gearing for mountain cycling and good brakes for long descents. The rental company was run by a Brit and the experience completely satisfactory.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:16 AM
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I rented in the Pyrenees and in Maui. In both cases, I would have preferred to have my own bike with me. In France, the Kuota they have me was not comfortable, and did not handle well. In Maui, the Specialized I rented was a great bike, but when I got to the top of the Volcano I was left thinking “this would be so much better if I’d brought MY bike.”

If I went on trips like that on a regular basis, I probably would invest in a good bike bag and either pay the travel fees or try and disguise the bag enough to sneak it through.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:30 AM
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Are you familiar with bikeflights.com and shipbikes.com? Much cheaper buying shipping through them (they use UPS and FedEx, respectively) than going through the delivery services themselves.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:42 AM
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I bought a Bike Friday folding bike for travel.
And even though it was custom made and expensive, it has easily paid for itself with all the fees I've saved.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:43 AM
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I've rented a few times before, neither time entirely satisfactory, but for different reasons.

One shop insisted on running some heavy tires that had about as much traction as a dog on a freshly waxed floor. They said it was for puncture resistance, but I had trouble modulating the brakes going downhill - far too easy to lockup on dewy pavement.

The other shop had no such requirement, and the bike performed fine (Specialized Roubaix), I just ended up disliking the bike. Couldn't get used to pogo-ing on the Future Shock, their Di2 'chirped' when shifting, and the saddle nose somehow tore a hole in my shorts. I liked the disc brakes though.

Whatever you do, I would definitely suggest bringing your own saddle and pedals at least - in fact, some bike shops only do pedal-less rentals.
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Old 08-13-19, 09:07 AM
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It depends where I'm going and for how long. Sometimes I bring my bike, sometimes I rent. I agree with what people already said about fit, but I've had some very nice rentals at times. There are places where rentals are easy, but at times getting to the rental place or shop is a major logistical hurdle. And at times, expensive.

Places I've rented bikes. Maybe I'm forgetting one or two. I'm not naming sources here, but all of these were found with google searches, mostly easily.

San Francisco - many times - bike shops at Fisherman's Wharf mostly rent cruisers, but a few have OK road bikes. Ride across the Golden Gate and the world is your oyster.
Santa Barbara - high end bikes available for long-term rentals at reasonable prices.
Las Vegas - very easy to rent a good bike
Houston - nice bikes available from the local big lbs chain, but pricy.
Northampton, MA - nice bikes from an LBS.
Catania, Italy - Nice Pinarello from an LBS a few blocks from my hotel, at surprisingly cheap rates
Oxford, England - was surprisingly hard to find a bike to ride. Found a cross bike for an afternoon.
Ronda, Spain - excellent bike - rental service delivered to my hotel
Girona, Spain ditto.
Lisbon - Had a hard time finding a bike, but partly b/c it was off season. Managed to rent a cx bike for a day and had a nice ride.
Berlin - dead easy to rent a city bike, harder to rent a road bike and a little expensive, but possible. I've done both.
Vienna - easy to rent a MTB and ride along the Danube. Didn't try to find a better bike. Might be a challenge.
Quito, Ecuador. No way to rent a road bike, but with those roads, a MTB was a better choice anyway.
Banos, Ecuador. ditto - and very cheap.

Edit: Almost forgot:
NYC: Hybrid bike for riding along river from an LBS in midtown. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon and better than a citibike.
Nassau County, Long Island - a couple of different LBS rent MTB or cross bikes. Couldn't find a road bike. Somewhat expensive.

Last edited by MinnMan; 08-13-19 at 11:50 AM.
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Old 08-13-19, 11:40 AM
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We rented once on a bike vacation in Italy, which worked out great. Carrying bagged bikes would have been a hassle on trains and buses. If it's a normal vacation, any crappy BSO will usually do.

The main problem with renting, at least domestically, is that it's so damn expensive! It doesn't take long to break even if you ship your bike both ways.
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Old 08-13-19, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by audiomagnate View Post
There's an app like Air B&B for bikes, skis and snow boards, but I can't remember the name. Nice bikes run about $50/ day. You rent from individuals.
https://www.spinlister.com

(disclaimer, I'm not associated with nor have I ever actually used this service.)
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Old 08-13-19, 04:40 PM
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I've rented a road bike in Australia; decent Merida something or another, was pretty much brand new and nice to have a "different" bike than my usual; did take my saddle and pedals, so comfort was OK. Also rented in the Cook Islands, meh experience; mainly as the road is pretty rough anyway; would have been better served with a cross or gravel bike than a road bike (did see a couple of local tri-guys on TT bikes....must have serious pain thresholds). I'm a lot more tempted to take my own bike next time than rent.

I've got some friends that do one or two bike tours a year and they ALWAYS rent bikes. They figure that they'd rather not have a problem (bike didn't arrive on time, or is damaged; also... no bike bags to deal with).

So, two different ways to look at it I guess.
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Old 08-13-19, 08:16 PM
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I've rented and also traveled with my own bike. Of course it's best having your own bike but if you travel to a place with a decent sized cycling community you can find good bikes to rent. If you do rent, make sure you know exactly what bike you are renting and which size. In preparing for one trip I confirmed the rental bike several months in advance. Still, as the date came closer I called again and they tried to put me on a different bike. I insisted that I get the bike I'd reserved and in the correct size. I ultimately got the bike I originally reserved, a Trek c-fiber frame. I would have liked my bike better but the Trek was actually very good.

Bring your pedals and know how you want the bike to fit. A good shop will take care of you. Oh, I've found that some shops have a daily rate, and if you rent for 4 consecutive days they give you the rest of the week for free. Do your homework and ask the right questions and renting is a viable option.
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Old 08-13-19, 09:56 PM
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Originally Posted by on the path View Post
I've rented and also traveled with my own bike. Of course it's best having your own bike but if you travel to a place with a decent sized cycling community you can find good bikes to rent. If you do rent, make sure you know exactly what bike you are renting and which size. In preparing for one trip I confirmed the rental bike several months in advance. Still, as the date came closer I called again and they tried to put me on a different bike. I insisted that I get the bike I'd reserved and in the correct size. I ultimately got the bike I originally reserved, a Trek c-fiber frame. I would have liked my bike better but the Trek was actually very good.

Bring your pedals and know how you want the bike to fit. A good shop will take care of you. Oh, I've found that some shops have a daily rate, and if you rent for 4 consecutive days they give you the rest of the week for free. Do your homework and ask the right questions and renting is a viable option.
Yeah, this is true. In some places I've gone, they've put me on the trainer for a few minutes and adjusted my position professionally. In others, I've had to ask for aa multi-tool so I could adjust to the saddle height myself.

In either case, with a rented bike it's a good idea to have a multi-tool along. That way, if you get a few miles down the road and realize that the bike isn't set up right, you can make adjustments on the fly. OTOH, if you rent carbon, this can be a problem b/c it's probably not a good idea to be adjusting a carbon seat post or seat mast or carbon bars without a torque wrench.
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Old 08-14-19, 04:33 AM
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I'm a renter - never actually shipped a bike when flying somewhere. The cost of the actual shipping part usually isn't the issue - more the hassle of disassembly/reassembly and my feeling that airline shipping is much more likely to muck something up than a bike rental place.

I've rented road bikes in Sweden and Germany, a hybrid bike in Glacier National Park to climb Going to the Sun Road up to Logan's pass, and just did the Seattle to Portland 2 day ride on a rental road bike. For that one, renting the road bike didn't cost me much more than the two way shipping would have and was much cheaper than if I had bike shops do any of the 2 disassembly/reassembly steps. But that is a special deal Pedal Anywhere has for the STP.

For the STP I brought my own seat with me and adjusted the seat position to be just about identical to my home bike - worked great. I would rather be riding my own bike on doing 200 miles over 2 days, but that kept my rear end happy.

It is a personal trade off of cost, hassle and how you feel about riding on random bikes. I've actually never had anything go wrong renting bikes (other than e forgetting to remove my GPS mount before returning the rental bike...) and I feel like that would not have been the case if I had shipped bikes back and forth over all those trips.
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Old 08-14-19, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by jpescatore View Post
I'm a renter - never actually shipped a bike when flying somewhere. The cost of the actual shipping part usually isn't the issue - more the hassle of disassembly/reassembly and my feeling that airline shipping is much more likely to muck something up than a bike rental place.
It's definitely a factor. Before I shipped my bike I practiced disassembling the bike, packing it into the case, then removing it from the case and reassembling and test riding. Disassembly and reassembly can be done essentially using only simple hex wrenches. Having said that, if you're not comfortable with the process or don't want to take the time, renting is probably a better option.
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Old 08-14-19, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by on the path View Post
It's definitely a factor. Before I shipped my bike I practiced disassembling the bike, packing it into the case, then removing it from the case and reassembling and test riding.
I usually pay people when I ship for tours that require a plane ride. LBS packs it. I ship the bike via bikeflights to a LBS where the tour starts/ends. Done several tours from/to Missoula this decades. I ship to the REI there. (When I toured in the Black Hills in 2015 I used a LBS in Rapid City.) The store re-assembles the bike and has it ready for me when I arrive. The store also holds my bike box and duffel bag that carries my gear on the plane. When the tour is over, I give them back the bike and the shipping label, pick up my bag and have some beers. The bike gets boxed and shipped back home. This year I decided to re-assemble myself back at home. Went pretty smoothly, but it wasn't my first rodeo.

This is what it looked like when it arrived back in town. Removed the rear dropout spacer before I took the photo. Hard to see, but lots of zip ties and other straps were used to immobilize the bike and racks. The small cardboard box held the pedal and skewers. I think $58 for packing was worth it, especially after being tired from being on the road for two weeks. (In 2017 it was only $40).

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Old 08-14-19, 08:26 AM
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I travel a bit for work and have rented a few times (only domestically in the states). Mostly with success.

Here are the things I will bring if I know I am renting -

1. Your own Saddle - As others have said. You probably have gone through 4 or 5 trying to find the one that fits you. Why leave it at home and hope the rental saddle is as comfy as your own?

2. Pedals & Shoes - You already have your cleats set up and your shoes are comfy. Easy to pack and pedals can go inside your shoes.

3. Lights - Not a must but some rental companies charge extra for these and they are light and easy to pack. Nice to not to have to worry about.

4. Saddle Bag - I like to have a minimal toolset and spare tube/patch kit with me. Most rental places will give you a patch kit and co2 cartridges but I like having my tools to dial in the bike as needed. Remember - You cannot fly with CO2. Get some from the rental house.

5. Helmet and gloves - I've never packed these but I guess you could if you are particular about fit and comfort.

If you have your saddle, pedals and shoes, almost everything else could be dialed in. I would make sure to take some measurements (Specifically - BB to Saddle and Tip of Saddle to center of hanlebars) and let the bike shop know those before traveling.

If you are just renting for a couple of days to adventure around and no serious riding then most of this is not really necessary. (Although consider bringing a saddle and lights for night riding)

My experiences renting -

1. San Francisco - Practically Free Bike Rentals. These guys are in the warf and a subsidy or Sports Basement. You get your cost of rental as a Gift Certificate to spend at Sports Basement. Not cheap for a week rental (around 140 for 5 days, 180 for 7) but going to buy more cycling gear is always fun.

2. San Diego - The Bike Revolution and Stay Classy bike rentals. Bike Revolution has a full shop full of rental bikes from cruisers to carbon ultegra. They will setup a bike for you and have great support.
Stay Classy was the best deal I have gotten in a rental. It was about 180 for 7 days of a full carbon di2 bike. (This was a free upgrade as he ran out of the bike I initially rented) I dont think Peter has a storefront but will drop off and pick up the bike from anywhere in SanDiego. Solid guy and will setup the bike just how you want it.

Boston - Back Bay Bike shop - Good shop, good support but a little pricey. Community Bike Supply - I dont think these guys had anything but Hybrids and Cruisers for rentals but were great to rent from and not too pricey.

Buying a bike -
San Jose - I was just looking for a daily rider to and from my 2 week project which was about 5 miles from where they put me up and of all the rental places the cheapest rental was over 300$. So I bought a 200$ bike from costco. It fit the bill. After visiting Costco I realized there were some better bike buys in about the 200$ range from other sporting stores in the area. If you are not looking for a high end bike and need a long term rental just to cruise around on sometimes buying is cheaper than renting. I was able to give the bike to a guy that had just had his bike stolen at the end of my stay. So not a wasted purchase. Although returning to Costco did cross my mind

-Sean

Last edited by Wilmingtech; 08-14-19 at 08:32 AM.
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Old 08-14-19, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
San Francisco - many times - bike shops at Fisherman's Wharf mostly rent cruisers, but a few have OK road bikes. Ride across the Golden Gate and the world is your oyster.
In case you're looking for a rental bike in or near San Francisco, I wrote a little search page that lists the bikes offered. It's a little out of date, though.

You can search by bike type, and limit it to bikes available within a radius.

Road bikes to rent in San Francisco Bay Area
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Old 08-14-19, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Las Vegas - very easy to rent a good bike
Where did you rent in Vegas?

I'm often there for work and stuck on the strip. Would be nice to get off the strip and get some rides in on the longer stays.

Thanks.

-Sean
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Old 08-14-19, 08:49 AM
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Lots of factors in play: mode of travel, length of stay, type of destination and available rentals at destination among others.

We've tried both approaches and while it is more comfortable to be on one's familiar steed, it is less of a travel headache to rent at the destination.

That said, what's available at the destination may be painful to ride and even to look at...

My thought is that every situation will be different. For example, we've had good experiences renting at the Gulf Coast of Alabama, but where we stay in the mountains there are no rentals to be had. Others will likely have had similar experiences.

So to quote the Washington Parish Fair, Cajun carnival barker, "Hey mis'ta, you pays you money and takes you chances!"
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Old 08-14-19, 08:54 AM
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I travel within my region a lot for cycling, I didn't grow up here and I'm still enamored with the place. Usually I'll either bring my own bike, or rent an MTB for something different.
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Old 08-14-19, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Wilmingtech View Post
Where did you rent in Vegas?

I'm often there for work and stuck on the strip. Would be nice to get off the strip and get some rides in on the longer stays.

Thanks.

-Sean
McGhie's, in Summerlin, but they have other locations including a MTB rental right at Blue Diamond. There are other shops that also rent, but McGhie's has worked for me.

I never stay on the strip. I stay in the SW corner of Vegas, and I can ride right out to Red Rock Canyon or Blue Diamond.
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Old 08-14-19, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
In case you're looking for a rental bike in or near San Francisco, I wrote a little search page that lists the bikes offered. It's a little out of date, though.

You can search by bike type, and limit it to bikes available within a radius.

Road bikes to rent in San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks. I'll be there again in December.
MinnMan is offline  

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