While BBR&R is a great resource for finding your options for bicycle rentals in many popular destinations worldwide, there’s more to renting a bike than just getting the address of a rental company and turning up on their doorstep. In “Tips for Renting a Bicycle,” you will learn some valuable tricks and tips for streamlining your bicycle rental experience.
1. Plan Ahead
It goes without saying, since you’ve found Best Bike Rentals and Routes, but it’s helpful to research bicycle rentals for the city you want to ride in before you arrive. Most large cities have more than one bike rental company and often the style of riding you intend to do should inform your decision about which company to choose. The more specific your desires, the more time you should spend researching and even contacting bicycle rental companies.
2. Bike Sizing
One of the most important factors in having an enjoyable rental bike ride is that you get a bike that fits you correctly. After becoming a semi-serious endurance cyclist and working in a bike shop for a while, I began to take notice of the number of incorrectly fitted rental riders rolling around on bikes that did not suit them.
There is a common misconception that cycling is hard on the knees, but the truth is, poorly-fitted bikes are hard on the knees and cycling in general is one of the most knee-friendly sports you can do. So, all that behind us, make sure you understand how a bike should fit, don’t let a rushing employee put you on anything else, and if you think you’ll need an uncommonly-sized bike, call ahead for availability.
3. Guided Tours
If the bike rental company you select has a guided tour, there are a few things you might want to consider. First, do I need/want to be led around? In cities where cycling infrastructure hasn’t been built-out, you should seriously consider joining the guided tour. When my wife and I toured Bogota by bike, we did some things that we’d never do back home, but were necessary to view the city by bike, and felt relatively safe because of the navigational skills of our tour-guide and the mechanic trailing behind us directing traffic.
Another reason you might decide to take a guided bike tour is that bicycles offer the incredible combination of speed and maneuverability that make it easy to visit a lot of sites in a short period, and with the right guide sharing his local knowledge, you can cover a lot of a city’s best attractions in one half-day bicycle tour.
Second, when should I arrive? When a guided bicycle tour is scheduled to leave at 10am, you will find that as stragglers trickle in, that time often gets pushed back. However, don’t be one of those stragglers! In fact, being one of the first to arrive at 9:15-9:30am is the ideal scenario, because you will get first pick of the bicycles, ensuring both a correct fit and one of the newer, better kept models.
Rental bikes take a beating and late-comers may pay for their tardiness in comfort and sometimes even safety levels. Along those lines, make sure you do a thorough investigation of the road-worthiness of your rental equipment (think responsive brakes, secure seat-post, sturdy handlebars, correctly-inflated tires, etc.) before you head out!
4. Collection Point
Often-times bike rental companies will be located close to the heart of the tourist center of the city in which you’re visiting. That doesn’t mean the business will be close to your hotel, or that you’ll want to ride near their location. If one of these situations arises, it’s often possible to have your rentals transferred to and from your hotel or other locations along your desired route. While a fee is usually charged for this service, it can end up being cheaper than taking a taxi to the bike rental location and presents opportunities to ride in less-traveled areas.
If you’re lucky, the bike rental business you select will offer you a good map with an ideal route for their customer-base, but what if the place you want to go isn’t on their map. What if you’re not their average customer? In our increasingly GPS-based society, it’s becoming easier to find information about bicycle-friendly routes and destinations online, but learning how to navigate these data opportunities takes significant time and energy. BBR&R offers a number of trip planning services, including custom route-planning so you can focus on other things. Visit our sister website Independent Travel Planning and leave a message for more information.
While anyone who’s done a fair bit of rental-bike riding can tell you that sometimes you just have to accept what you get and go with the flow, these are some great guidelines to improve your odds of a great experience. Speaking of bike rental experiences, please share yours with us below!