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Pro Tip: Used Rental Bicycles Are A Good Deal

 by Patricia Lynn Henley   Posted on August 30 2013

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Bicycle rental companies usually want to keep their fleet of available machines up-to-date, which can result in great deals for consumers shopping for high-quality bicycles at discounted prices.

Shops typically sell their older rental bikes at reduced rates, either on an ongoing basis, through periodic sales or once a year -- it depends on the store and the local demand. Although they are typically sold "as is," the good news for buyers is that the bicycles have been professionally maintained as part of the rental fleet, and are typically tuned up and completely refurbished before being sold.

Rental companies won't last long trying to rent out cheap machines, and they need to keep everything in good working order. So while there might be a few cosmetic dings and they aren't the latest models, used rental bicycles generally offer well-maintained quality construction without the new-bicycle cost.

The selection can be as varied as the store's rental opportunities -- road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort/touring bikes, tandem bikes (built for two) or hybrid (city and trail) bikes, for both adults and children. Some shops also sell used child trailers and tag-alongs (half-bicycles for children that attach to the back of an adult bicycle to make a bicycle-built-for-two) for about $100-$200.

The details about how rental bicycles are sold can vary significantly between stores. For example:

  • Century Cycles, with three locations in Ohio, starts selling its rental bicycles in September for about $200-$250 each, but buyers can't claim their purchases until November. The store's rental fleet includes mostly comfort hybrid bikes (for road or light trail use), a few old-style cruiser models and 24" children's bicycles. Customers pick out a specific bicycle (first-come, first-serve) and pay a non-refundable deposit of at least 50% of the purchase price. The shop continues to rent out the bike until November, when each bicycle is given a complete tune-up; then the buyers take home their "new" rides.
  • Gayle Force Bikes in Provincetown, MA, closes for the winter months from Nov. 1 to March 31; its entire rental fleet is available for sale from after Labor Day until the store closes at the end of October. Bicycles with original retail prices of $350-$750 typically sell for $125-$450, and each one is tuned up and refurbished before being sold.
  • At Montlake Bicycle Shop in Seattle, WA, many of its rental bicycles are for sale; each time the bike is rented out, its for-sale price gets reduced. Currently, the shop has bikes with original retail prices of $800-$2,150 on sale for $599-$1,999.
  • Poison Spider Bicycles in Moab, UT, sells off its rentals throughout the year. Bicycles in its 2012 fleet originally retailed for $2,300-$4,900 and were posted online in February 2013 with prices of $599-$3,100.

So, whether it's for a first bicycle or a better bicycle, before paying full retail price, contact local rental shops. The perfect two-wheel ride might be just waiting for you.

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