So you want to go bike touring but you are not sure whether to buy the gear or just rent it - Lets discuss these two options!
What it really boils down to is:
1. Are you likely to do a bike tour more than once?
Will your first bike tour also be your last? Will you enjoy it and go touring over and over again? Should you just rent your gear or make an investment?
2. How long is your tour?
Are you talking a week or two? or a month or two? Long term bike rental is going to be hard to find and also expensive!
Here’s some more food for thought on this matter.
Treat your first tour as a trial run!
I think renting your gear the first time you go bike touring is a good idea, in fact it is the perfect solution for many. It allows you to get the full experience without investing a lot of money. This is the best option if you are not sure if you will like the bike touring life. You get to try it out without fully committing to doing it again, or investing too much money.
Make it a real holiday experience and book a fully planned bike tour!
If you really want to take a back seat with the organising and planning, you can book a fully organised bike tour with one of the many companies who specialise in this field. All the gear you need, maps/GPS, a day to day itinerary, pre-booked nightly accommodation and the option to have your luggage transported rather than cycling with it and more will all be included. In addition, you can book a guided tour with all of the above plus a guide with you on your daily cycle so you only have to focusing on pedalling! Of course these tours don’t come cheap but they are definitely more of a holiday experience.
How fit/trained are you?
Another advantage of renting your gear is that you can of course arrange to rent an e-bike which will most definitely make your bike tour easier. It is a great option for those who are not into cycling but are accompanying someone who is (easy to keep up on an e-bike) or if you are not very active/fit in your day to day life or you are more senior in age or just want a easy less challenging bike tour experience. We have seen so many people on e-bikes on our tours, especially on the Loire Valley route. They always look extremely relaxed and happy pedalling along… I must admit I am sometimes jealous of their battery power on hillier terrain!
Cost - How much do you have/want to spend?
Of course just renting a bike, panniers, helmet and other minor items will be cheaper than doing a fully planned guided bike tour (which can be quite expensive) - but buying a bike and panniers etc can also be very expensive… especially if you don’t end up using them again (i.e. hate the bike touring experience). Also you will need to invest some of your time into organising and booking your tour yourself, picking your route, getting to the start, getting home from the end, your accommodation along the way and so on.
Transporting your Bike Touring Gear
When you rent bike touring gear you really do not have to worry about the hassle and cost of transporting your gear to the start of your bike touring route. You can choose a popular touring route and a rental company along that route. Then you just have to transport yourself to that point and arrange to drop the bikes back when you are done (this might involve one train ride back to the beginning or the rental company might collect them from your end point for a fee).
Overall, renting your bike touring gear and/or doing a fully planned bike tour is a very convenient option. Depending on what you decide it can also be a cheaper option to buying everything.
You have to place your trust in others!
This is true whether you are just renting basic bike gear or doing a full tour. Either option requires you to put your trust in others to provide you with suitable gear and provide an enjoyable worthwhile experience. I think it is most likely you will have a great experience but it would be advisable to research rental companies and bike tour companies online thoroughly before booking to reduce the risk involved.
Will the bike touring gear be good and correct?
This is the one thing that I would be more apprehensive about, getting the right size bike, a comfortable saddle and good quality panniers. Again this would come down to the company you decide to book with and what they have available. If you buy your own gear, you can buy the correct bike for you fit wise, test it out before you go (with and without your panniers), make adjustments, change parts and so on, before you set off (e.g. I had to have a handlebar extender fitted to my bike after trialling it).
Not able to test your gear in advance!
If you purchase your own gear you can test everything out before you go; Is the saddle ok? Do your bike shorts work with the saddle? Are your panniers really waterproof?.. you get the idea. If you rent you probably won’t get to test much besides trying to ensure the bike is the right size for you, it is in good working order and the saddle seems comfortable! (5 minutes on a saddle is very different to 5 hours on a saddle).
Cost and Practicality
Will it be easy for you to collect and return your rental gear? Also, as mentioned at the start, renting for a longer period might not be possible and/or will probably be very expensive if you are paying a daily rental rate. It may work out cheaper for you to buy your own gear or even buy a good second hand bike and other gear. I have read many blogs where people have done this, even waiting and buying a bike when they fly to the country they want to bike tour.
One other thing to consider is if you were to purchase your bike touring gear, would/could you use it while you are at home and not bike touring? Could you use it as your daily commute to work? or to cycle to the local shop to get groceries using your panniers to bring your purchases home? Do some short/weekend bike touring trips in your home country?
More Bike Touring Blogs:
If you liked this blog you might like some of our other bike touring blogs too so we have attached some links below to make it easier for you to find them:
- Eight Useful Bike Touring Kit Items.
- Our Essential Bike Tour Items.
- What to Store in Your Handlebar Bag?.
- Why Ortlieb Bicycle Panniers are the Best!.
- Choosing a Bike Touring Route.
- Using Planes, Trains and Boats on your Bike Tour.
Even more noroadlongenough bike touring blogs available here.