You’ve made the decision to travel to Europe on a bike tour. Tackling the famous routes of the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia has always been your dream. You’re super excited and begin to plan your trip, but one major question still remains: should you bring your own bike or use a rental? There are pros and cons to each, so here are the things to consider:
Bringing Your Own Bike
- Nothing fits like your own bike. If you’re serious about cycling, you’ve probably taken the time to get your bike dialed in just the way you like it. The saddle height, reach, and all the other measurements are perfect.
- For a monumental effort, nothing short of your own bike will do. You’re taking the time to go to Europe, so you’ll want the dependability that your own bike brings. You know how it climbs and descends, corners and sprints; great things to feel confident about if you’re on world class routes.
- You’ll have it available for when you’re not on the bike tour. If your bike tour is a week long, but you’ve got a few days before and after it to explore, having your own bike available can add to the enjoyment of exploring other areas while you’re traveling.
- Packing your bike. If you’re going to bring it, you obviously will have to pack it. This requires a case or box and the time it takes to securely put it all together. Additionally, a poorly packed bike is at a greater risk of damage in transit.
- Flying with your bike. As air travel is increasingly complicated, the number of airlines that allow your bike to fly for free is quickly dwindling. So there is the additional cost of your bike’s transport to consider, as well as potential baggage delays.
- Traveling with your bike case. Some thought should be given as to how you’ll get around when you’re not on the bike tour. If you’re renting a car, having a case is not such a big deal. In Europe you can rent a small, but spacious car like the Peugeot Partner or Renault Kangoo and easily fit in a couple of cases, plus the bikes out of the cases. If you plan to travel by train, definitely give yourself plenty of time to get your bike case on and off the trains and try to limit any short connections at the stations. Moving quickly to catch your next train with a bike case is not much fun.
Renting a Bike
- You don’t have to think about a bike case when traveling with your bike (airplanes, trains, etc.)
- Simple. You show up at your bike tour and your rental bike is available for you.
- No worrying. There’s no risk that your personal bike is damaged or delayed en route to the bike tour.
- Something new. Renting allows you to try out a bike that you may never have ridden. It might even be an upgrade from what you ride at home.
- The fit. Despite requesting your size, sending your measurements, bringing your saddle and pedals, etc., a rental bike might not fit as well as what you’re used to.
- The feel. It’s one thing to ride a rental for a few hours or a day, but what about for a whole week? Things that don’t quite fit or feel right may be tolerable for short periods, but not so much over longer timeframes. You may not feel as comfortable or confident on technical descents and monumental climbs as you would on your own bike.
- Limited options. Bicycles are a little bit like clothes, when they fit right, they are at their best. What works for one person doesn’t work for everyone. So your rental might be great for some people, but not so great for you. Unlike a clothing store, there may not be another brand for you to try out for your trip.
- Cost. Some companies include bike rental as part of their trip price and for others it is extra. If it’s included in the price, do all models cost the same? That top-of-the-line, full carbon racing machine on their homepage might cost you more than their normal rental. Be sure to weigh the costs before deciding.
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