by John Brown,
Taking your bicycle when you travel is not always possible, but don’t give up on the idea of riding altogether. Renting a bicycle or e-bike is an easy way to experience new places. Plus, it lets you try a new bike you may want to buy when you get home. So, before you travel, here are a few tips to get you going
In the photo above, a visitor to the Twin Cities is being helped by the staff at One Ten Cycles in Mendota Heights, a couple of miles south of the MSP Airport.
Renting a Bicycle At One of Many Bike Shops
As bike trails and paths become more commonplace, bike shops are entering the rental market. Before you travel, find a few area bike shops and call about renting a bicycle. Be sure to ask about both rental fleets (typically made up of basic mountain bikes, cruisers or hybrids) as well as “Demo” bikes. Many shops that don’t rent bikes have demo units to let potential buyers try before buying. The fee for a demo is usually higher than that of a standard rental, but the bicycle quality is also typically higher.
Renting a Bicycle Consider Rental Companies
In most major cities or tourist destinations, some businesses only rent bikes and e-bikes. Finding one of these companies is as easy as a Google search or asking the hotel you are staying in. Many rental companies have services to deliver a rental bike to the hotel. If you are going to the rental shop, understand they usually operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, so be sure to get there early if you are trying to ride on a busy weekend.
Or Bike Share Programs
Bike shares are becoming very popular throughout the US and abroad. Companies like BCycle, and Citi bike are a couple of the companies that offer options to rent “as you go.” With tons of locations around the US, bike shares are a great option if you are touring a city. Because you can pick up a bike in one location, explore, and then drop the bike off at another docking station any time of day or night.
Renting From A Bicycle Touring Company Is Another Option
Many bike tour companies have bike fleets. Tour companies such as Trek Travel and Backroads offer tours around the globe and supply bikes as part of the cost. The benefit of taking a dedicated tour is support. Lodging, Equipment, route, food, and guides are all included in the cost of the trip.
If you don’t have a bike, ask for the brand and model of the bike from the rental company. Then, try to find a local bike shop that sells that model. If you stop into the shop and explain your situation, they can tell you what size you ride. As a side benefit, If you like the bike you rented, that local bike shop would be a great place to buy one to keep at home.
If you use clipless pedals, remove them from your bike, drop them in a ziplock bag, store them in your riding shoes, and bring them with you. Once you get your rental bike, have your pedals installed. Having a familiar pedal can go a long way to make a new bike feel like your bike at home.
Measure your saddle height. Do this by rotating your pedals until a crank arm is in line with the seat tube of your bicycle. Use a tape measure from the top of the saddle to the middle of the pedal (in line with the seat tube). Also, measure the distance from the tip of your saddle to the handlebars and the height of your handlebars. Once you get your rental, ask to adjust it to be as close to your bike’s measurements as possible. Remember that one bike will never fit exactly like another, so close is great.
After measuring the height of your saddle, remove it from your bike and bring it with you. Having the rental company install your saddle on the rental is a nice way to make an unfamiliar bicycle comfortable.
Have fun on your next trip
It’s amazing what you will see and experience on the seat of a bicycle when visiting a new area.