Here we offer some advice for commonly asked questions about hiring bikes. There’s lots of information out there on the internet, so we’ve narrowed it down for you.
Do I have to pay upfront when booking a bike?
Is there a penalty if I return a bike late?
Do I have to have insurance?
Do I have to clean the bike before returning it?
What do I need to take with me?
What do I need to know when cycling with my family?
Where can I find information about cycle routes?
Do you know any cyclist friendly accommodation?
What do I do if something goes wrong?
I want to hire a bike that’s a bit different, where do I look?
I’m not from the UK, what laws do I need to know for cycling here?
What type of bike do I need?
I’m keen to cycle more. Where can I get further advice and information?
Helmet – It is up to you whether you cycle with a helmet or not. Some providers include helmets in the price of the bike hire; others rent them for a small fee.
Lights and high vis – it is illegal to cycle on the public highway in the dark without lights. Cycle hire companies should provide these for you but it might be worth checking in advance, particularly if you think you might be riding after lighting up time. Many people now recommend wearing high-vis (reflective jackets or vests), particularly when cycling during the darker months of the year.
Carrying stuff – panniers are bags that fix onto the back of your bike on a pannier rack. There are also many other clever ways of carrying kit on a bike, with bags of varying size and function that can fit on you or your bicycle. Some cycle hire companies provide these: do check in advance. A small backpack to hold your layers, snacks, wallet etc. may also be useful. If you are doing a circular route which ends up back at the bike hire centre, they may well be happy to hold onto your belongings for the day. Again, it is worth checking in advance.
Refreshments – make sure you take plenty of fluids with you. Many bikes have bottle cages which will hold your drink for you, or some specialist bags have clever ‘bladder’ systems with a straw so that you drink as you ride. Pubs are generally happy to refill your bottle(s), Don’t underestimate how much water you are likely to drink, particularly if the sun is out, or you haven’t been cycling for a while!
What do I need to know when cycling with my family?
On our website you have the opportunity to search specifically for ‘Trailers and Tag-alongs’.
Tag-alongs are single-wheeled bikes for young children that attach to the seat-post of adult bikes. It’s like converting your bike into a tandem, allowing your child to ride with you while attached to your bike. Children need to be old enough to sit up on the bike when riding and when stopped, as well as able to follow your instructions. All tag-a-long’s that we have seen have adjustable seats and handlebars. For the adult, riding with a tag-a-long does feel different to riding a normal bike: it makes the bike considerably longer and can feel unstable at first. It is advisable to take corners more slowly and widely and be prepared for the occasional jerk to the left or right if your child moves around. The bike will also feel a lot heavier and this will make climbing hills more challenging and will increase your stopping time. In general, it is recommended to cycle at a slower pace than usual to allow for both the different handling and to give you more time to react if necessary.
Trailers attach to the back of an adult bicycle (either the seatpost or the wheel) and children sit inside and are pulled along behind the bike. The child(ren) sit upright in the trailer and it almost always has a (rainproof) cover. Trailers make the overall width of the bicycle wider and longer, which you need to take into consideration when cycling, particularly when turning corners. They will also make the bike feel different when you cycle and due to the added weight, your stopping distance will be increased. Trailers are recommended for children that cannot cycle.
Comprehensive advice for cycling with your family is available from sustainable transport charity, Sustrans. Click here for their handy little publication, ‘Cycling with Children’.
Eco Cycle Adventures provides some of the UK’s most popular cycle routes as well as suggestions on transport, accommodation and places to eat.
Holidays by Cycle was set up in 2013 to provide a European wide accommodation and cycle hire linking service and establish a business that promoted sustainable travel.
For cycle transportation visit: EcoCabs for easy, eco-friendly cycle transfers.
In the unlikely event that your bike is unrideable, make sure you have the cycle provider’s phone number and don’t rely solely on mobile phones as there are still parts of the countryside with limited signal.
- It is illegal to cycle on the pavement. However, police may show discretion to younger children cycling on the pavement for whom cycling on the road would not be a safe option.
- It is illegal to cycle in the dark withouth lights (these should be provided with your hire bike).
- Helmets are not compulsory.
- You should normally cycle on the left-hand side when riding on the public highway.
- It is legal to cycle two abreast on a road but it is considered courteous to cycle single file when cars are trying to overtake you.
For further information, click here for the latest regulations and standards for pedal cycles in Britain.
Bike Hub – a joint initiative of the Bicycle Association and the Association of Cycle Traders and offers a journey planner, news items and advice on amongst other things, family cycling and cycling to work.
British Cycling – the National Governing Body for cycling in the UK whose aim is to inspire participation in cycling as a sport. They are the ‘umbrella’ organisation for competitive cycling clubs, coaching and racing, but with an increasing involvement in recreational cycling such as the mass-participation ‘Sky Rides’. Membership has different levels depending on your interest, but generally includes third party insurance, free legal advice and retailer discounts.
Cycling UK – a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns locally and nationally on cycling related issues. Membership includes benefits such as third party insurance, a periodic newsletter and discounts at a range of shops.
Cyclenation – brings together local cycle campaign groups around the UK, each of which aim to represent the views and needs of local cyclists by influencing policy and practice in the area. Visit the Cycle Nation website to find details of your local campaign groups.
Sustrans – a charity that aims to enable people to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys. As well as developing the National Cycle Network and offering routes and maps, Sustrans delivers a range of projects around the UK enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport. You can support the organisation financially or by volunteering your time.