Renting a Mountain Bike?

8 10 2012

Poison Spider Bikes rental fleet – Moab Utah…

I’ve long been a proponent of traveling with your mountain bike. On my recent trip to Moab I drove my bike down to Utah and then flew home with it. While in Moab I spoke with some guys who rent bikes on their yearly bike holiday and I have to admit they made some good points in favour of renting so I thought it was a topic worthy of some discussion.

Clearly a big factor in the decision making process is how you are getting to your mountain bike destination. If you are driving and can fit your bike in the vehicle or outside on a rack it’s hard to see a good reason not to take your bike with you assuming you have a bike you really enjoy riding. There is no cost hit for transporting it this way and your bike is not likely to be damaged in transit. I guess the one possibility in favour of renting I can think of is if you were keen on demoing a potential new bike you were thinking of buying and that brand/model was available for rent.

If you are flying the decision is a lot less straight forward. So it’s worth looking at the pros and cons.

Upside to renting:

  • save the airline bike fees [I flew home with Delta and paid $150 one way so round trip a bike would have cost me $300]
  • save the hassle of packing your bike and potential damage in transit
  • possibly you are able to rent a smaller vehicle at your destination if you don’t have to haul bikes in boxes around
  • get to try something new
  • rental bikes will be well suited to local conditions
  • if you have any mechanical issues the rental bike shop typically goes the extra mile to get it fixed fast and get you rolling again

Downside to renting:

  • cost is typically ~$75 for an all mountain FS bike [less for a XC FS rig or hardtail] so in my case the $300 Delta would have charged me to fly both ways with my bike equals 4 days of rental
  • for a 2 week MTB holiday with 10 days of riding you’d be out $750 and subtracting airline fees of $300 – you’d pay an extra $450 not bringing your bike with you which would buy you a new dropper seatpost and a new jersey if you didn’t rent
  • ultimately it’s not your bike so you may not enjoy it as much and you may spend valuable holiday riding time getting it setup/tweaking it for you
  • the rental bike is used and possibly abused so it may breakdown and cause you a hassle your own bike wouldn’t

The guys I spoke with in Moab were all doctors who get away from their families once a year for a 1 week man-cation. To them the cost of rental isn’t a big deal and the lack of travel hassles is a big upside. They all liked their bikes – although 2 out of the 5 bikes had problems that needed attention during their stay in Moab. They did say that the bike shop fixed the problems quickly for them.

What would I do?

  • for a short trip [say under 5 days of riding] that I fly to my destination I’ll probably give renting a shot
  • if the trip involves 7 days of riding I’ll bring my bike since the cost to rent will be significant and I prefer to ride my own bike
  • if I am driving I’ll always bring my own bike regardless of how many days of riding there are
  • no matter what I’d bring my own saddle, pedals and grips with me if I was going to rent so my contact points were all familiar