So you’re finally going to tackle the iconic Golden Gate Bridge bike ride. Or maybe you’re jonesing to explore Austin’s weirdness on two wheels. Or you have some free time on your business trip to explore Denver’s beautiful bike trails. Whatever the reason, you’re looking for renting a bike in a city you don’t know.
Fortunately, with bike-sharing platforms like Spinlister, it’s never been easier to find a ride, no matter where you are. You can track down a reliable bike shop or connect with a local cyclist looking to share their wheels in a matter of minutes.
But before you click that search button, make sure you know what you’re looking for.
Here are a few important considerations that will ensure your next bike rental experience is pure joyride.
What Bike Route Are You Renting a Bike For?
Sure, you can fly by the seat of your pants, but there’s a lot to be said for scoping out the local cycling scene. And a quick Internet search is all it takes to discover the wealth of route options in any given city. (You can even find some great suggestions, bike maps, and a wealth of photos on Spinlister.)
Even if you don’t choose an exact trail, you should know little details such as:
- What type of riding you want to do
- What part of town you want to ride in
- How long you want to be on the road
This gives you a starting point as you decide what type of bike you want to get your hands on. It also clarifies the rental period you require and narrows down potential bike rental providers by geography.
What Type of Rental Bike Fits Your Ride?
The bike you use for an afternoon of gentle riding on a park path is not the same one you’ll use to conquer the Santa Monica Mountains. If you’re not sure what the difference is, here’s a quick breakdown.
These puppies are heavy and bulky, but they’re super comfortable for a relaxing city ride. Because of their weight and build, you want to reserve a cruiser bike rental for flat routes. If you’re taking a rugged trail or steep climbs, this is not your bike. But if you want a gentle glide along the boardwalk, go for it.
Also known as “commuter bikes,” these rides are for practical, day-to-day use. They’re designed to be used by riders clad in regular day clothes to get from Point A to Point B. A city bike is great for city riding (as you likely guessed). But if you want a little more speed and athleticism, keep moving on down the list.
Lightweight with skinny wheels, road bikes get great speed on paved roads. If you’re riding around town for the workout and not the destination, this is your rental bike. But keep these slender wheels off the dirt paths. Road bikes are only stable on smooth surfaces.
With a stout, durable build and upright frame, mountain bikes are built to hold up on rugged bike routes. Their wide tires provide excellent traction on tricky terrain, and they’re often made of aluminum, carbon fiber, or titanium. That is to say, they’re light-weight and strong. As the name suggests, mountain bikes are ideal for adventurous routes.
These rides offer the best of both road bikes and mountain bikes. Their large seats and upright handlebars make them comfortable for a city ride. But they’re also hardy enough to handle unpaved roads. Hybrid bikes still can’t handle mountain trails like mountain bikes can, though. So if you plan to get really wild, plan renting a bike accordingly.
What Size Bike Do You Need?
If you rent the wrong bike size, you can look forward to an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous ride. Most likely, the shop or individual providing the bike can help you determine the size you need. But ultimately, choosing the right bike is your responsibility.
Before you select your bike rental, take the time to understand bike sizing.
Renting a Bike from a Bike Shop or Bike Share Platform?
There’s more than one way to rent a bike. Your best option isn’t always obvious, especially not in large cities where you are inundated with possibilities. The most common choices for bike rentals are:
- Renting from a local bike shop
- Renting from a cyclist who has listed their bike on a ride-sharing platform
- Using rental bikes from a city bike-share program
So much of choosing the best bike rental option comes down to location, availability, and cost. You can explore your options on Spinlister, perusing the bikes and rates from individual listers and bike shops.
Or you can look up the docks for the city’s bike-share program, but we don’t recommend this as a first option. Those bikes are convenient for quick travel between bus stops. But the pricing structure and uniform bike size make for an expensive and uncomfortable day of riding.
What are the Local Bike Laws?
This consideration doesn’t influence which bike you choose to rent. But it is something you should look into before climbing into the saddle.
You always need to know how to respect the rules of the road for the city you’re exploring. A quick Internet search should get you familiar enough with the basics. Then when you rent a bike, you’ll not only be ready to hit the road, you’ll also know if you need to make sure the ride is equipped with safety essentials like reflectors and bike lights.
And don’t be shy about asking the bike shop or lister for their insights about biking locally. Cyclists love helping each other out, and they can fill you in on the quirks of the area. They know where it’s safest to ride, where you need to keep an especially close eye on traffic, and where all the shortcuts are.
Once you’re ready to hit the road, check out Spinlister for great bike rentals near you.