Tech Tips

International cycling trips - do I pack or do I hire?

Touring wih bike at Torres del Paine Patagonia
Cycling trip at Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile
Photo: Vera & Jean-Christophe / Flickr

To bring, buy or hire? That is, to the cycling incarnation of Hamlet, the question when it comes to international cycling trips

Should you bring your own bike, or perhaps hire one? And what about all the other equipment? Do you have room for it?

Here we take a quick look at the pros and cons of bringing or hiring various pieces of equipment.


Bringing your own bike

It all starts with the question of whether or not you should bring your own bike. The short answer is: generally, yes. However, let’s take a closer look at what you get out of bringing your own bike with you

Primarily, it’s a question of better the devil you know. You know the strengths and weaknesses of your own bike, and, especially important for the longer trips, you know what might make it break – and then how to fix it

This is definitely better than all of a sudden coming face to face with the $150 wreck that a smiling guide ensures you is going to be your best friend for the next ten days or more. Basically, there is no way of knowing exactly what bike you’ll be riding and/or how it will suit you, if you go for a rental

The downside is that your own bike is a burly piece of equipment when it comes to traveling and it will be difficult getting it to where you’re going. It is also expensive to bring it – and the travel bag or box will need to be dealt with at your destination, which usually involves storage and extra cost.

Even so, it’s worth it for the comfort of riding your own bike

So our recommendation remains the same: bring your own bike. The only exception could be if you’re going with a ‘serious’ bike organiser, who can tell you exactly what you’re going to be riding – and if that turns out to be top quality gear


Bringing equipment

Again, there’s a short answer here: yes. And again it’s a short answer that comes with a slightly longer explanation. Actually this one comes in the shape of an itinerary. We think that most – if not all the things - on the following list should be brought from home:

This is by no means a complete list of the possible items you can bring on a bike trip, but just an overview of bare essentials. Our guess is that no matter how you pack, you’re likely to be lugging more than 20 pounds of gear around with you on your ride, and this is worth considering

While it’s best to bring your own bike, it might be worth it to rent a cycle trailer once you arrive. Another option would be to have a central base (hotel or the like) and ride out each day from that. If you’re on a guided trip then it’s likely that you’ll have a car following you where you can keep the extra equipment

These are all details to think of when choosing the kind of bike trip you want to go on.

Another thing to consider is the maxim; ‘you need less than you think’. It applies to a lot of areas you might be considering riding through. Bike parts can be found at local bike shops along your route – unless, of course, you’re going to be riding in an area where the bike shops are few and far between. If that’s the case your packing list just got a lot longer.



1Author: Marc Prosser
A total convert to all things cycling after (mis)spending his youth running around after a football. Loves all things bike, but has a special interest in road racing. Favourite bike would be a Pinarello Dogma black - so completely black that it would make Johnny Cash proud. Favourite cycling team: Saxo Bank. Favourite rider: Jens Voigt.

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