As trail lovers and experienced mountain guides, we've had the pleasure of riding our mountain bikes around the world. We've also rented bikes around the world, which isn't always as pleasurable an experience. From China to the French Alps, Dominican Republic to British Columbia we've seen in all, and it hasn't always been pretty! We've used our experiences to make our rental process as simple and easy as possible to get you out on the trail, on the best equipment, as quickly and painlessly as possible. Here's our advice on renting bikes to make sure you get the best experience:
1. Know what you are getting
You don't need a $10,000 road bike for a coastal cruise in Costa Rica, but you might want one for a week of summiting alpine passes in France. The key with any bike rental is knowing what you need and knowing what you are getting. It's easy to put a stock image of a new bike up on a webpage, but is your bike rental company going to deliver that same bike?
Questions to Ask:
What's your favorite ride? This will tell you right off if you are dealing with a cyclist, and a rental shop that hires cyclists is more likely to maintain their bikes properly.
How old is the fleet? Are you getting a near new, shiny steed, or the beat up 10 year old version of that bike?
How is the bike equipped? We've had plenty of customers rent a hardtail mountain bike in San Francisco to find that the bike has been "improved" with smooth tires, baskets and racks, and no longer be suitable for real mountain biking. Not that fun to find out when you go to pick up the bike. Know that you are getting the right bike for your needs.
How often is the bike maintained? This is a tough one, as you never know if you will get a real answer, but you will know when you pick up the bike. I've been able to tell a lot by how easily a rental shop employee can answer the question.
We've seen bikes from other rental companies fail from lack of maintenance, have tires with visible tears, derailleur jockey wheels completely worn down, and things as simple as chains covered in grease from poor maintenance and this has all been in Marin and Sonoma Counties. If the chain is filthy and improperly lubed, how can you expect that they did (or even know how to do) any more serious maintenance on the bike? If you only have a day to ride, do you want it ruined by a crappy rental bike?
Mountain Bike SF rental bikes are new model bikes in good working order. They are professionally maintained by a cyclist and mechanic, not a minimum wage employee who doesn't ride.
2. Rental Process- Remember, your time is valuable
How easy is the reservation process? Is it online and simple? Do they even take reservations? Did you give them all your info and still have to wait 20 minutes in the shop for them to put pedals on your bike and tune it up for your ride?
We've experienced it all and try to make our process as streamlined as possible. From easy online booking, online waiver signing, and bike setup before you arrive, we make it as easy as possible to get you out on the trails as quickly and easily as possible.
3. Pricing- Not all pricing is the same
A lot of this goes back to comparing apples to apples, and making sure you are comparing the same level and age bike, but some bike rental agencies will charge you sales tax on top of your rental fee. Suddenly the shop that was $5 cheaper is now more expensive.
Here are Mountain Bike SF we rent high end, new model year equipment. We'll do our best to make sure you have a great trail experience in Marin County!