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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 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:
  1. 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 your own.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Are you afraid of the cost? Rental bikes cost between €10 to €25 per day depending upon the quality, type and availability.
  5. 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 International 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.
  6. Are you nuts? Bringing your own bike is a huge hassle for only 5 to 10 days of easy riding.
  7. 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. In smaller cities and towns I recommend calling the phone number you find in their contact information on the Internet or in our website.

 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 €15 and €20 per day but I have seen hotels or private homes rent for as low as €3. Weekly and monthly rates are normally available.

In large cities you probably will not need advance reservations for one or two bikes. In smaller cities and towns I do recommend you make advance reservations. I also strongly recommend that you call them rather than sending them an email in English. Sure, most Germans have taken English in school but if you do not use that language daily, such as in a hotel or restaurant job, you lose the ability to speak fluently. And, can you imagine receiving an email in Chinese characters? I can, I get them every day almost. I never answer the. Well, English is a foreign language to Germans. So, you may not receive a reply to your email. Simply call them on the phone, nowadays, it is not very expensive heck 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 Rentals 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 maps:

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Purchase a Bicycle: 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 found 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 hometown 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:, 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 Customs 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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