Renting a bike in Europe
As cycling has become enormously popular in France, bike rental availability has really grown. Renting a bike is now far easier than ever before, but there are also quite a few things to consider when renting a bike in France.
Types of Bikes
- Hybrid bikes are available throughout France. Usually, they’re entry-level aluminum models. All come with triple-chaining; and most come with front suspension, making them comfortable (but heavy). Most renters provide a spare tube, a repair kit, a pump, and a lock at no extra cost. Panniers and helmets are usually provided for a fee. Helmets are most often “one-size-fits-all” though, so we highly recommend that you bring your own.
- Racing bikes are more difficult to find. If you want to rent good quality road bikes (carbon-fiber bikes equipped with Shimano 105 or above) we strongly recommend that you book early (by July, it’s nearly impossible to reserve a road bike). Furthermore, racing bikes are only available in areas where road cycling is enormously popular: e.g. Provence, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. Entry-level racing bikes are more widely available (although not everywhere!) and easier to find. Regardless of the type of racing bikes you rent, they usually come with a spare tube, a repair-kit, lock, and a pump (or a CO2 cartridge). Like with hybrid bikes, panniers and helmets are usually provided for a fee, though we recommend you bring your own helmets.
- Kids’ bikes, extension bikes, and trailers are usually available from renters located near bikeways. They are much more difficult to reserve in a city.
Weekly bike rental rates range from 75 to 115 euros, depending on the quality of the bike. Clipless pedals, female seats, gel seats, seat covers, and extension bars aren’t always available, so bring these with you when renting a bike if you want or need to use them. Specifically with clipless pedals, rental inventory is limited and therefore compatibility is an issue. Indeed, some models such as Speedplay are not widely available in Europe, which is why packing your pedals that match your shoes is highly recommended. Most shops will even put your pedals on your bike rental for you.
When renting, keep the following in mind:
- Renters will ask for collateral (either cash or a pre-authorized amount from a credit card) to cover the cost of the bike in case it’s damaged or isn’t returned. Be prepared to abide by this custom.
- Bikes don’t come with insurance. A few bike shops offer rental insurance, but otherwise, riders are held responsible for damage or theft. But please note: some credit card companies include insurance for rented goods; check your credit card policy to see if yours does.
- Renters fees include only minimal service: Most rental places will change pedals and seats at no extra charge (a few may charge a small fee) but will not change stems, handlebars, or reverse brakes (bikes in France, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland are the “Continental” type meaning that the right lever is the rear brake, the left one is the front brake) free of charge. Be prepared to pay more if you want more.
- Most renters will guarantee a bike type but not a specific model. This is because renters usually carry several brands and, although they have a system that lets them allocate a specific bike on a specific date to a specific rider, their inventories in the summertime are so tight that if someone returns a bike a few hours later than expected, or returns it with damage that requires fixing, there may not be another alternative than to give you a bike of a similar standard but of a different brand.
How to Find a Bike Shop
A list of bike rental firms can be found on Yellow Pages.
-Yellow Pages France (In French- use the search term “cycles” and/or "velos")
-Yellow Pages Italy (In English)
-Yellow Pages Spain (In Spanish- use the search term "bicicleta")
Another french resource is: http://www.freewheelingfrance.com/bike-hire-in-france/.
For those biking with Cyclomundo, we offer bicycle rentals in our home base of the French Alps/Lake Geneva area and we can also reserve bike rentals with our local bike shops in all other regions we offer tours.
If you plan on taking your bike (rental or otherwise) on trains while in France, check out our "Traveling with a bike on trains" article.