Top tips for bicycle hire on holiday
Are you sure bicycle hire is the best option?
You’ve decided not to take your bike with you on your next trip. Even after we spent hours putting together our detailed guide to stress-free traveling with bikes, and our handy info graphic on bike luggage charges for air travel. It’s fine. We’re not offended.
The truth is, bike rental in Mallorca, Lanzarote, or any other cycling-friendly destination is easier than ever. For not much more than airline charges to ship your bike box, you could rent a carbon beast worth double the bike you have left at home.
If this is your first venture into bicycle hire on holiday however, there are a few things you should bear in mind.
Our simple guide to bicycle hire on holiday
1. Make sure the hire bicycle fits. It seems fairly obvious, but don’t accept anything that is too big or too small. If you need an unusual size, it is best to phone ahead and make sure they can accommodate you before you arrive. I happen to be quite tall. One of my riding buddies is particularly small. We always call ahead.
2. Bring your own shoes, pedals, and Garmin mounts with you. Many people will bring their own saddle on holiday too. You probably won’t notice little differences in frame geometry, but if you are spending all day in the saddle it needs to be comfortable. Bringing your own removes any risks.
3. When renting carbon bicycles, check for signs of frame damage. If you are renting the latest Dogma from the Pinarello store in Mallorca, you can expect it to be in pretty good shape. Most hire bikes however have been around for a couple of seasons, so don’t be surprised if the factory finish has worn off.
Scrapes and chips on the paintwork of a carbon frame usually aren’t anything to be worried about. Have our look at blog about carbon bikes if you’ve got questions, but as a general rule, if there are any marks or dings on a carbon frame you are worried about, push firmly on them with your thumb. If the carbon is firm and hard, you should be good. If the carbon bends or compresses under your finger, there is likely a fracture and you are best off asking for a different bike.
4. Give the components on your hire bike a quick safety check. There are a few things to look over before taking a hire bike on holiday out for a spin. Like kicking the tyre of a second hand car, but much more useful.
Make sure the brakes are working properly by holding each one closed in turn, pushing the bike down into the ground and forward at the same time. If you push down hard and the brakes are good, the bike shouldn’t move. Give the brake pads a quick look over too, and make sure they aren’t overly worn. Give each wheel a spin to make sure it rotates straight and true, and inspect the tyres while you do so.
A road slick should have a nice curved surface. After a lot of miles, the contact area will begin to ‘square off’ as the rubber thins, making it more prone to puncture. You also want to look out for signs of damage or “checking” to the side walls, or any large marks on the contact area from road debris.
Finally, give the cranks a good shake -they should be tight with no rattle- and make sure you can change in and out of each gear smoothly.
5. The front brake is on the right… right? If you are renting a bike on the continent, chances are the breaks are the opposite way round to what you are used to. If you are renting from an area with a lot of British tourists, they may have the rental bikes set up ‘the English way’, just to throw you a curveball. Make sure you check, and get used to the break set up before heading off on your first ride. Half way down a fast descent is not the best place to get confused between your front and rear brakes.
6. Finally, you might want to consider taking out some insurance to cover hire bikes.
“Hang on, has this whole thing been one long advert for hire bike insurance?”, we hear you cry! Yes, do you feel cheated for reading to the end?
The truth is that if you are riding a carbon bicycle on holiday, there is a good chance it could be worth several thousand pounds. Generally bicycle hire shops on holiday don’t offer any form of insurance, or it is very limited. If anything happens to the bike, you could be liable for it.
Yellow Jersey are the only company that allow you to take out insurance for hire bikes, as well as the only company to offer short term bicycle insurance. All you need to do is take out a short term policy, and insure for the new retail value of the bike you are hiring.