Budget Friendly Tips On Bike’n It Around The World

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It just so happens that exactly one year ago I was ripping around Beijing in a wolfpack of other cyclists. First I headed South, through Tian’anmen Square to the Pearl Market. Then I took my new knock-off iPod over to the Temple of Heaven and back to a market near Tian’anmen for some tea and Dim Sum. For the afternoon I headed north to the Bell Tower and Olympic Park monstrosities before finishing the day off with some drinks in the NanLuoGu Hutong. Yeah, you could say I hammered out the tourist sites, spending a grand total transportation cost of . . . roughly $2.86.

I realize renting a bike in China to zip off the tourist sites before moving on won’t necessarily break the bank. In other parts of the world biking it can be a bit more expensive. The NYT’s Frugal Traveler revealed some useful tips for acquiring a two wheel, pedal-powered limousines all over the world.

Rentabikenow.com is a searchable database you can use to find rental shops all over the United States. It’s convenient, but outfitters need to choose to be listed. So until it’s popularity increases, a simple Google search may be a better option.

If you’re staying somewhere for longer than a few days, daily bike rental fees can add up. Look into buying a used bike and selling when you leave. Just take the usual precautions when buying off sites like Craigslist, or find a willing local to help you navigate the options. Another idea would be to grab a paper and head to the nearest garage/yard/tag/whateverthelocaltermis sale. Also, check out freecycling, a world of barter you can utilize to pay it forward on departure.

There are a few established organizations out there like recycleabike.org. It’s a program working with public schools where students learn about bicycle mechanics and lets them earn free bikes through volunteering. The bikes the kids fix up go on sale at the organization’s two New York locations, in the East Village and Brooklyn, for pretty reasonable prices.

When push comes to shove and your travels take you overseas, pick up one of those crazy looking bikes that fold. The Frugal Traveler recommends the Tokyo Citizen folding bike, citizenbike.com, which only costs $164 and weighs 29 pounds, small enough to throw in a piece of luggage with your clothes packed around it.

Like my hostel in Beijing, often times hotels have dirt-cheap, or sometimes free, bike rentals to customers. Something to look into next time you’re trip planning. Click here to check out the article which offers up several more suggestions on cost-cutting through pedal power.

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