Many mountain bike enthusiasts will find themselves in a dilemma of needing a mountain bike from time to time. Maybe your bike is in the shop and you still want to ride, or perhaps your friend is in town for a visit and needs a mountain bike to borrow for your next ride. Maybe you are new to the sport of mountain biking and want to try out a few bikes before you decide to invest in a quality mountain bike for yourself.
After finding potential locations to rent a mountain bike near you, the next step is to survey the bike shop’s selection to determine what type of bikes they have available and whether you are getting your rental at a fair price.
The majority of local bike shops offer rental bikes. With these types of businesses, you can almost always guarantee that the bikes available for rent have been well maintained. Another plus to renting locally is that you can support a locally owned bike shop at the same time. Local bike shops will generally have group riding days that you can attend. These riding events take place at various bike trails around your area and will be divided up based on rider skill level. These group sessions can be especially beneficial for amateur riders, as you can learn a substantial amount about the sport from fellow enthusiasts.
Tips To Consider When Renting A Mountain Bike
Before selecting a bike shop and bike for your next adventure, dig in with a bit of research. To make sure you are renting a quality bike that will successfully get you from the start of the trail back to your car without any major hiccups along the way, you will want to keep a few important factors in mind.
Bike Maintenance and Upkeep
The more maintenance a shop does on their bike after every rental, the safer you can feel when you rent a mountain bike from the shop. Some bike shops go the extra mile by cleaning, lubing and repairing any broken bike parts after every single rental. Other bike shops might not be as meticulous, only tuning and repairing their bikes after every few rentals. Having a rental bike that can’t get you to your destination and keeps breaking down is no fun for anyone. Make sure to ask about a shop’s maintenance policy before deciding on a rental shop.
How Old Are The Bikes Available For Rent?
Ask around at your local bike shops to see whether the bikes available for rent are brand new models or are a year or two old. Rental bikes generally see quite a bit of wear and tear during their lifetime, so their shelf life is short. It is common practice for a bike shop to replace their rental fleet every year, though not every shop does so. Make sure to ask about the age of a shop’s rental bikes and how often they get rented out.
Bike Damage or Normal Wear and Tear?
Since rental bikes often see more use than someone’s personal mountain bike might, rental bikes take on quite a bit of wear and tear. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the difference between normal wear and tear on a bike versus actual physical damage to a bike.
Normal wear and tear includes small things like chips in the bike frame or a slightly bent derailleur. If you return a bike after a ride and it has these types of issues, the bike shop doesn’t often charge you for this normal wear and tear. When these problems become more serious – such returning your rental with an entirely broken derailleur – this crosses into the lane of actual bike damage. If a bike is returned in damaged condition, this is when you will start incurring additional charges. Ask the rental shop about their policy concerning normal wear and tear versus actual damage to see what you’ll be held liable for.
Once you decide on a bike shop and find the right rental bike for you, complete a full bike check with a member of the bike shop before you leave the store with the bike. This is the same practice you would complete with a rental car – note any existing damage so you can’t be held accountable for it when the bike is returned.
The majority of mountain bikes available for rent have flat pedals. These types of pedals can be used with regular shoes. You may see some bikes with a combination flat/SPD pedal that is flat on one side and features an SPD clipless pedal on the other side. It is rare to find a rental bike with full SPD pedals. If you intend to ride your rental with your SPD shoes, make sure to bring your SPD shoes and your own pedals with you. Some shops stock the proper pedals for your shoes and can install them on your rental bike before you leave the store. If you have your own pedals, ask the shop to put them on for you so you don’t have to spend time installing them before you hit the trail.
Rental Bike Components
Are the components on your rental bike stock parts or have they been upgraded? If a shop is renting out a pricier, higher quality bike, they might swap out the bike’s more expensive stock parts for cheaper alternatives. This can prevent a shop from having to replace expensive bike parts every time they get damaged on a ride. If you are looking to test out a specific bike and its components, make sure the make and model bike you are renting actually comes with its standard components.
Multi-Day Rental Discounts
While most shops offer a discount when you rent out a bike for more than one day at a time, these discounted rates are not generally posted on their website. If a shop doesn’t happen to have a multi-day rate, you can always try to negotiate a better price. For reference, bike shops often provide a free day’s rental when you rent out a bike for a full week.
Security Deposits and Pre-Authorization
It is normal practice for a bike shop to require a deposit or credit card pre-authorization before you rent out the bike. These fees can vary greatly from shop to shop. It is not uncommon for a shop to require a deposit or pre-authorization of up to $2,000. Once the bike is returned in proper condition, most or all of that money will then be repaid to you.
Mountain bike rental pricing can vary depending on your specific location and bike needs. Hardtail mountain bikes will often be more affordable than full-suspension rental options. In all, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $150 for a one-day mountain bike rental. This may seem a touch pricey for a single day of riding, but it certainly beats shelling out money for a new bike you haven’t even tested out.
If you want to get into mountain biking before investing a ton of money, renting a bike is certainly a good option to consider. Or maybe you already own your own bike, but find yourself somewhere you don’t have your bike with you, so you rent on instead. Whatever the case might be, be sure to keep the above tips in mind so that you do not have an unpleasant experience.