International Cycling Trips: Rent a Bike or Bring Your Own?

By Jiri Kaloc

Most cyclists can’t imagine going on a cycling vacation without their own beloved bike. There’s a lot you have to take care of if you want to make your bike travel ready, and there’s always the option of renting a bike at your destination. There are pros and cons to both approaches – let’s take a closer look.

Should you rent a bike?

Spending a cycling holiday on someone else’s bike sounds wrong. But there’s a lot you could gain by doing just that. Consider the following advantages of renting a bike while travelling.

  • It makes your life easier. You just have to book it, get to the destination and pick up a bike that’s ready for you. Some shops will even deliver and collect the bike from wherever you choose.
  • You get a well-oiled bicycle. Renting a bike solves all the worries about bicycle maintenance. There is no need to wonder when you last changed a part on your own bike.
  • No worries about damaging or losing your bike. Damage during transport can be a real problem. Also, when you ship a bike overseas, there’s a risk it could get stuck in customs, particularly if you assign it a high value.
  • Testing a new bike. If there are good renting options at your destination, you can also consider it as an extended test ride of a bike that you’ve been thinking of buying.
  • It could save you money. If your trip is less than a week, you’re happy with the mid-range model, and you’re doing some sightseeing alongside the days on the bike, it’s likely to be cheaper to rent.

If this sounds attractive to you and you want as little hassle as possible, renting is a great choice. You just have to think about the bike fit and comfort factor. A hire bike might not be perfectly suited to you individually, even if the frame size is correct. Consider bringing your own bike seat and pedals. And take your time setting up the rented bike on the first day.

Should you bring your own bike?

Most cyclists don’t need convincing to bring their own bicycle. But it’s good to know that there are actually some very good reasons to travel with your own bike, besides the fact that it’s your favourite thing in the world.

  • Your bike fits and is comfortable. This is an important point for everyone who is focused on performance and wants to ride a lot every day when travelling. Cycling comfort will be vital for maximum enjoyment and to get the most out of your cycling trip.
  • You’re confident in handling your bike. This is important for everyone that booked a challenging cycling vacation. Feeling fully secure on downhills and in tight corners isn’t something you can easily get from a rental bike.
  • It could save money. If you can’t imagine riding anything but the top carbon frame models then you can be pretty sure hiring is going to cost a lot more than transport costs for your own bike. Also, if you’re planning a longer trip, renting costs will be much more expensive.

If these points are important to you or if bringing your own bike is non-negotiable, then you should think of these things. You’re going to have to protect your bike for the transport. Bike boxes and bags can be expensive and take up space at home. Also, transporting the bike in a bag to and from the airport is also something to keep in mind. We will go over a few tips for flying with a bicycle in the next article.

Which choice is right for you?

If your cycling vacation is basically a training camp then you should probably bring your own bike. If the costs and hassle of transporting your bike sound better than figuring out renting at your destination, it’s a clear choice – bring your own bike. On the other hand, if renting is cheaper and more convenient for what you’re planning to accomplish on your holiday, it’s probably better to rent. Your vacation should be about comfort, so if riding a different bike sounds ok, let someone else worry about the rest.