Rent Bicycles or Bring Yours
This page covers material including a self-test to determine if you
should rent a bicycle in Germany or bring your own bike with you.
You will also find information about renting bikes in Germany, information about
packing your bike is on the another page.
If you want an incomplete list of bicycle rental agencies go to this page:
Bicycle Rentals. In addition to the self-test
below, I also discuss purchasing a bike for a
one time use.
Self-test: Should you bring your own bike? One of the biggest questions you will
want to answer right off the bat is whether to bring your own bicycle to Germany
or rent one when you get there. It depends.
Take this test:
- Are you of average build (you can buy your clothes off the rack)? The chances
are good that the rental bikes will fit you fairly well. If not, consider bringing
- Do you ride long distances at home? Then you probably are fussy about how
a bike fits and chances are you will not like the rental bikes. If you don’t
ride much, you will not know the difference and the rental bikes will be fine.
- Do you have a trick knee or an extra tender rear? You’ll probably have trouble
with any bike - even your own. Just bring your own pedals and your own saddle.
- Are you afraid of the cost? Rental bikes cost between €10 to €25 per day
depending upon the quality, type and availability.
- Are you bringing much baggage? The airlines limit on checked bags seems
to change frequently. Some do not charge for bicycles but many do. At last check
(May, 2016), the
Bicycle Fund posted that boxed bicycles can cost $200 (United and Delta)
to $250 (Lufthansa). That is each way so double it for a round trip. See how
to purchase your own bike below. Many airlines have also lowered the weight
a boxed bicycle can weigh before overweight charges are applied. The weight
limit has been lowered from 70 pounds to 50 pounds (23 kg). Packing tools, baggage,
etc. can easily put it into overweight categories.
- Are you nuts? Bringing your own bike is a huge hassle for only 5 to 10 days
of easy riding.
- But if you decide to bring your own bicycle, read the information below
about how to pack or box your bike
and get it through customs.
Renting a Bicycle: Finding a bike rental business near where you want to start
your tour is not as easy as it once was. Low margins and bike theft are two of the
culprits. Therefore, I have a separate page listing businesses that
rent bikes in Germany. Unfortunately, this is
nowhere near comprehensive so if you are a bike rental business, send me your link.
Or, if you know of a bike rental business not on this page, again, send me the information.
It is relatively easy to rent bikes in Germany if you can find a rental agency.
The cost, as I stated, runs from about €10 per day for a single-speed or a three-speed
bike to up to €25 per day for a multi-speed touring or mountain bike. The average
for a multispeed bicycle is normally between €10 and €13 per day but I have seen
hotels or private homes rent for as low as €3. Weekly and monthly rates are normally
In a large city you probably will not need advance reservations for one or two
bikes. Check with the service desk at the Bahnhof for the nearest bike rental agency.
(I choose to call them agencies but they are not agents of the railroad company,
they are actually private businesses that have contracted with the railroad to make
the Bahn & Bike program described below possible.) You can also check to see
if I have any listed in a city convenient to your travel needs at the
Bicycle Rental page in this site.
The following are my paraphrased translation of items listed as "tips"
in the Haupka pamphlet included with each of their BDR Deutsche Rad-Tourenkarte
- It is wise to check with the rental agency before your trip so you know
the opening times and the price you will be paying.
- You will probably need photo ID, such as a passport, there probably is a
damage deposit for most bikes to ensure you return them. A few shops want a
large damage deposit, be sure to ask.
- The rental price varies depending on the bike you choose and the policies
of the agency. You should ask if the cost of damage insurance is included in
the rental price.
- You are not required to pay for additional insurance. The choice is yours.
- Kids under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. If you are traveling in a
group and you are all renting bikes, definitely make your wishes known beforehand.
- If you have a reservation, the agency is free to rent the reserved bike
or bikes after waiting only 15 minutes beyond the reservation time. So if you
are going to be late, you better call.
- You have to bring your bikes back on time. If you are going to be late returning
the bikes back to the agency, just call ahead. It is not normally a problem
to extend the rental.
- This tip is not in the guide pamphlet but if you do have problems with an
agency, talk to the railroad "Service Point" in the Bahnhof. I bet
they can straighten things out because of their "economic power."
For additional information about bikes and trains read the
Trains page in this website.
- There is no such thing as a one way rental. Having said this, if you really,
really want this to happen, ask. Many of these bike agencies know one another
personally and they may be able to arrange something for the right price.
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With the high cost of transporting your own bike over and back on your airline,
one starts to consider buying a bicycle in Germany and leaving it there after the
tour. Friends have done so and find it only slightly more expensive than renting
and a lot more user friendly. If it cost $400 over and back on Delta Airlines,
why not buy a bike in Germany for €800 and save a few bucks?
It is easy to purchase a bicycle. The simplest method is to walk into a bicycle
shop and buy one already assembled. Of course, it helps if you know the measurements
you want before you enter the shop. You can do that by visiting your local shop
in your home town and getting professional advice as to which size you need. Other
options are also available. We bought our bikes through
Tom's Bicycles in Kassel, Germany.
We live in Kassel for part of the year. "Tom's" stands for Technik
Ohne Motor. Herr Kretschmer is the owner and primary worker bee. You can reach
him through his website (above link) or by email at:
TechnikOhneMotor@web.de, or by phone
from the States, 011-49-561-25082. He speaks English with a bit of an accent but
you will not have problems if you stick to bicycle terminology. Herr Kretschmer
told me he could sell a quality bicycle for €800.00. Pick up your new bike in Kassel
at his shop. If you bring it back undamaged, he may even buy it back at a discount
or offer to sell it on consignment. You have to work that out with him. And by the
way, nowadays he sells more e-bikes than anyone else in
Kassel, according to Herr Kretschmer.
Another purchasing option which may have a bit more flexibility is to contact
Stadler, a big box type bicycle store in Germany. Here is a quote from
Cycling Europe Blog, which is
owned by the Bergstrasse Bike Book
folks: "It may be more convenient and even cheaper
for a longer trip to buy a cheap bike at the start of the trip and get rid of it
at the end. If you have family or friends in Europe this is an easy option, otherwise
it could be difficult. You could always give the bike to a church or a charity.
Obviously if you are planning to come back [in a year] but have no relatives or
friends in Europe, you can try to find a bike shop [and] leave the bicycle there
for the winter. Various of the supermarkets in Germany like Aldi, Real or Lidl,
the coffee roasters Tchibo and DIY stores sell their own brand bicycles for prices
that one can hardly believe. You can buy a bike for less than 200 Euro. They have
one major snag however. Most bike shops won't touch them if repairs become necessary
or will charge you serious sums for the privilege of repairing the bike. The best
option is to buy a Pegasus bicycle from a purchasing cooperative called ZEG. They
sell these bikes through local bicycle shops in Germany, not all but a lot and in
the Stadler chain of bike supermarkets. These bikes can normally be obtained for
between €300 to €500."
Bring Your Bike With You: There are several considerations. First, unless you
plan to abandon it in Europe, which is an option, you also have to bring it back
home (remember some airlines charge as much as $250 for each bike each way). Remember
too, to save your boxing materials for the return trip. You may have to make special
arrangement at a hotel for this. Next, German Custom officials frown on bringing
new bikes into Germany without paying the duty. So, be prepared to prove that yours
is a used bike. Or else they may charge you duty or worse - confiscate it. Also,
be prepared to unpack it enough to show them that it is a used bike. Give yourself
plenty of time to get the bike through customs and onto the next form of transportation.
Each boxed bicycle is heavy (about 40 pounds with packing material) and awkward
to handle. We found they do not fit on the escalators in the Frankfurt airport and
if there were no elevators, we had to carry them up and down stairs. (I once knocked
an overhead directional sign off its mountings by accident. I am sure I endeared
myself to the airport maintenance staff with that smooth move.)
Taxi cabs without luggage or bike racks cannot take your bike. You may have to
wait for a special (and assumedly more expensive) taxi vehicle. Buses can take you
but they can be a slow form of public transportation after a five to ten hour flight.
The fastest trains, ICE, will not take bikes, boxed or otherwise. (However, the
folding bikes that fit into a small suitcase are OK on the ICE.) You are left with
the Intercity and Interregional (Interregio) and local trains. They are
somewhat slower but they will get you there. You be asked to pay a small fee for
each bike (buy a bike ticket or Fahrradkarte) on some trains. Be sure to
tell the ticket agent that you have a bike – they will advise you. Also, read the
page on Trains. For detailed information about
packing your bike for shipment to Germany on a plane or by other means, check out
boxing your bike.
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