Renting Bicycles Abroad
Renting Bicycles Abroad Reviews
Renting Bicycles in Sweden Jun 10, 2011
When I say, "renting bicycles" in Sweden I'm referring to not only city bikes that are usually easy to rent, but also high-end bikes. In the U.S., those types of bicycles are called "road bikes." In Sweden, there are called "racer cykel."
Before coming to the Sweden, I left my "racer" bike at home thinking I could rent a bicycle in Sweden. That was a mistake. Not only is it difficult to rent city bikes in Stockholm as it requires a special trip to an office to show your passport, renting high-end bikes is impossible. Every where I turned (websites, forums, bicycle stores, and friends), I got friendly-sounding advice that lead to nowhere. Swedes are generally nice people, but I also got lots of offers from people that seemed to border on taking advantage of the situation rather than being helpful. Of course "being helpful" and "taking advantage" can be seen as cultural concepts, one person in particular offered to sell me a new bike at a discount (ca. $500) on a 2010 model, but it turns out the 2011 model was the same price.
I combed various websites (happymtb.org and blocket.se), sent many emails, and visited half of the bicycle stores in Stockholm. Finally, I found one bicycle that I paid $1,000 for. My story shouldn't discourage people who just want to rent any bike -- although I don't think that would be easy judging by the man who runs the website bikeguide-stockholm.se -- but to be a cautionary tale for those are used to riding high-end bikes in their countries.
Another complicating factor about Sweden and bicycles is that the train service is severely restricted for bicyclists. For example, there is only one train a day that goes from Stockholm to Gothenburg on which you can take a bicycle. This is apparently a new law probably brought on by some lame privatization scheme. I'm not against privatization per se, but I'm against any scheme that is regressive. Not letting people take bikes on train certainly fits that criterion.
In the end, if you want to ride a high-end bike, pay the price in cost, energy, and inconvenience to bring your bicycle to Sweden because for all of its modern amenities, the gap in the veneer of Swedish perfection is its lame ability to rent (nice) bicycles and keep people from taking their bicycles on trains. Otherwise, you will spend the equivalent of a round-trip ticket to Sweden from the U.S. ($1,000) to buy a used bicycles. For those who love to save money, bring your own bike.
I wouldn't be fair or honest if I didn't write about the good. Jara Cykel on Radmansgatan is excellent. So have my friends who have offered their bicycle or done their best. The people I've contacted about their bikes for sale have been very friendly and helpful.
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