Renting (or Buying) a Touring Bicycle
For running about Paris, see instead our page on using “Vélib” bikes.

Topics addressed on this page include...

We additionally offer many other types of bicycle touring support, discussed on the linked page.


About Our Bikes

Our bikes (and our one tandem) are “road tourers,” designed for distance travel on paved roads
They are not well-suited to city touring (consider using one of our “Vélib” convenience cards for biking within Paris). 
Nor are they light-weight “racing” or ”training” bikes.
They come equipped with pumps, rear baggage racks, light-weight cable locks, water bottle holders, spare inner tubes, patch kits, and the wrench set needed for geometry adjustment.  All equipent is loaned for free, but charged for if not returned.  Toe cages can be fitted upon request, and at no extra cost (we use strapless half cages for safety, unless you specifically request full cages).  Front racks, lighting systems and city-worthy locks are additionally available, at extra cost.
The tandem is a M / F model:  for details (including precise size information), see the manufactuer’s product sheet.
They live in Paris.  We can ship them to other places, but the cost of shipping bikes by courrier service is high. 


A thorough discussion of our bikes can be found on our Bicycle Home Page.  Please consult it before renting.
Topics addressed on that page include...


Bicycle Rental / Hire

Prices (per bike, per rental)
- 48€ for the first day, all or part.
- 12€ for each additional day, 2 through 7.
- 5€ for each additional day, 8 through 14.
- 3€ for each additional day, 15 and more.
Tandem costs are double, except the first day price, which is 60€.
To guarantee availability, bikes must be reserved in advance.

  • Our pricing structure is designed to encourage longer rentals:  since we thoroughly check every bike before sending it out, with the attendant mechanic time, we are not a good source for a one-day rental....
  • For the purposes of pricing, “days” run midnight to midnight.  A bicycle picked up at 5p on Tuesday, and returned on Wednesday morning, is considered rented for two days.
  • Upon request, cycles can be equipped with hand pumps, summary tool kits / patching equipment / spare inner tubes, and a cable (combination) lock.  This equipment is free, but a cash deposit is required.
  • Frame sizes are available suitable for adult riders 4'8" to 6'6".  Child sizes are also available.  Our tandem is a M / F model.
  • A 50% discount on the first day’s rental is available to participants in our “long” cycle trips (4 or more nights), for pre- or post-trip rentals.  Also to renters of our Paris Guest Apartments.
  • An additional charge applies for pick-up or return during hours when our office is not normally open.  Consider this if you are planning on returning a bike on Sunday night and have an early flight on Monday....
  • Cycle Insurance and / or Maintenance Contracts are available for all rentals.  See also the “Fine Print” discussion, below, for discussions of roadside assistance issues.

Related Equipment and Services
We offer child seats, burley-style child trailers, and a luggage carrying trailer (“BOB”).
Prices are 25€ for child seats (regardless of the duration of the rental), 50% of the cycle rental cost per trailer if the trailer is rented along with a bicycle, 100% if it is rented alone.

We can equip cycles with front racks, city-worthy locks (U-locks that are very difficult to break), or lighting systems, for 20€ per cycle per rental (10€ per light, front or rear).
Lighting systems are high-quality LED systems.  The rental cost includes the first set of batteries. 
It should be noted, however, that bike lights are notoriously fragile:  probably no more than half of the lights we send out are returned to us in working order.  Replacement cost is 12€ per light (front or rear), in addition to the rental charge.  On average, you should additionally budget this amount if you ask that the bike be equipped with lights.

Paniers, handlebar bags, and summary rain gear are available (see here for a complete accessory list, with prices). 
So are services like train station or airport pick-up or drop-off of rental cycles....


How to Reserve
See information on reservations at the bottom of this page.   


Other Conditions, “Fine Print

  • Security Deposit.  A 500€ / bike (or the equivalent in your currency) security deposit is required, payable when you pick up the bike(s).  This security deposit is reduced to 100€ if you have insured the cycle.  No security deposit at all is required if you have both insured it, and subscribed our Maintenance Contract

    The deposit can be made by credit card (or, of course, in cash), and is returned to you when you return the bike.  No deposit is required of participants in our cycle trips of 4 or more nights, who rent our cycles to extend their travels on either side of their trips. 

    Note that this security deposit is not a limit of liability.   The cycles are valued at 750€ each.  In the event of the loss, theft, or total destruction of an uninsured cycle, your liability will be 750€, less the cost of your rental.

  • Maintenance and repair are not included in rental charges, unless you subscribe to our Maintenance ContractThere are no “wear and tear” exceptions

    Our bikes rent for as little as 3€ per day.  It should be obvious that this figure cannot include roadside assistance.  But the following section spells this out just in case, as we have found that expectations in this domain differ widely. 

    Bicycles are fragile.  They can be ridden more or less intensively, with more or less care, and more or less expertise.  And the parts and mechanic time in keeping a cycle running cost more (far more) than the capital cost of the cycle.  This is true for any bicycle, and especially for a cycle unfamiliar to its rider.  So, to make sure your ride goes well...
    - ...bring a comprehensive tool kit, if you know how to use it. 
    - When you receive your cycle, check it over.  Look in particular at fragile components like the tires and the wheels.  Note any flaws, and point them out to us.  We are careful, but everyone makes mistakes.  Depending on the nature of the flaw, we will either repair it, or note it on your rental agreement (thus ensuring that you are not held responsible for it).
    - And please, feel free to test ride
    Despite our careful preparation and inspection (and in spite of satisfactory test rides), probably 20% of our long-distance renters report discovering, generally “on the first day,” a problem with their cycles, the repair of which they feel should be deducted from their rental charge.  Interestingly, the cycles that go out on our escorted trips, sourced from exactly the same fleet, have a pre-existing problem rate approaching zero.  And day renters never seem to have any problems.  Hmmm. 

    To be clear, in a 2-week ride, you should expect to spend 50€ or so on replacement parts, and 50€ more in mechanic time if you don’t know how to attach them yourself.  More is bad luck.  Less is good luck.  But at least this sum should be factored in to the cost of your rental.

     The following are real examples of issues where our renters felt our refusal to cover the cost of the repair was unreasonable.  We present them in the interests of honesty and clarity.
    - If you get a puncture, and bring the cycle in to have us change it for you, our normal mechanic rates apply.  We will also charge you for a new inner tube. 

    - If you lacerate a tire on a piece of glass (or if the tire “mysteriously disintegrates”)...  if you rub a sidewall bare scraping against a curb (or simply notice, a day into your ride, that the sidewall is bare)...  we will charge you for a new tire when you bring the bike in, even if you managed to get to the office on the damaged tire, and even if you are absolutely convinced that you did nothing to damage the tire.  Ask yourself, how would you feel receiving a tire like that when you picked the bike up?  Not so good, eh?  Well, we will replace the tire before we send the bike back out.  But the one you left with was in fine shape, too, and a new tire was not included in the price of the rental....
    - If you warp your wheel by hitting a pot hole or a railway line at high speed, you must pay to have the wheel “trued,” assuming that that can be done (not always the case, and a long job when it is possible).  Otherwise, you must buy a new wheel.  This is so even if “there must have been something wrong with the wheel,” or you do not know how you damaged it.
    -
    If you park the bike in the street, and some idiot backs over it in his SUV, you are responsible (or he is — good luck with that).
    - If bolts work themselves loose over a week’s ride, and your baggage rack collapses onto your back wheel, you may need to fund a new wheel, a new rack, and a hospital bill!

    If these issues scare you, well, they are one reason that many people choose to go on escorted trips.  But we also offer a Maintenance Contract, to help independent riders who are not experienced mechanics to keep their cycles running as they ride.  See below for details.

  • Re-stocking fee.  We professionally size your bike, based on the sizing information you supply.  And the geometry of a cycle can be adjusted one size up or one size down, for almost any rider. 

    However, if you ride a mis-sized bike at home, or are not used to touring cycles (which have different geometry than, say, city bikes or mountain bikes), you may be surprised at the fit when you come to pick up the bike. 

    We will swap bikes for you on the spot if a bike meeting your new criteria is available.  However, since each bike is specifically prepared for its rider, and checked over immediately before it goes out, a 25€ “re-stocking fee” will apply.  If you are particularly attuned to this issue, you may wish to budget this charge from the start, and get us to prepare two cycles for you, in different sizes. 

    If you can do so, you are free to come in (by appointment only) at least 48 hours prior to your rental, to size the bike, and make sure it meets with your approval.  If it does not, you may change size or style at that point without cost.


Cycle Insurance, Maintenance Contracts

Cycle rental is included in the $ prices of our escorted cycle trips, and is offered as an option to riders whose statements are in euros, whether on our escorted trips, or renting cycles for independent travel. 

If you use one of our cycles, it is your responsibility during the period of its rental. 

We offer two types of protection for our cycles:  Cycle Insurance in the case of damage or theft, and a Maintenance Contract to cover routine maintenance.  If you are travelling on one of our escorted trips, the Maintenance Contract is included amongst the services provided by our Trip Coordinator.  If you are travelling independently, it carries an additional cost.

Cycle Insurance
We use road touring bikes built or re-built to our specifications, valued at 750 €uros each.  You are responsible for damage to your rental cycle from any cause.  Causes include (but are not limited to), traffic or other accidents, use on inappropriate terrain (hotel stairs, cornfields, but also bumping over curbs, diving into potholes at 40 k.p.h...), tomfoolery, parking the cycle in a location where some bozo backs over it in his SUV....  You are also responsible for the cycle in case of theft.

We offer protection, both to participants in our escorted trips, and to independent riders.

  • (1)  For Participants in our Organized Trips 
    28€ / $38 US or C per indivisible trip week (5€ / day for our Day Trip riders), covering damage to the cycle from any cause other than your (mis)use, and covering theft of a locked cycle.  Add 50% for the cost of insuring the tandem. 
    This policy, only available for our bicycles, and only on trips accompanied by a Blue Marble Trip Genius, provides for repair of a damaged cycle, and covers the cost of the cycle if it is stolen or irreparably damaged.  The policy also provides for on-trip replacement if the cycle is stolen, or if repair cannot be made within 48 hours, and for travel via alternate means (selected by us) if the trip advances during the period of repair / replacement.  Replacement cycles are not available to Day Trip riders, as getting one to you in time to be of any use is a practical impossiblity.  The policy does not cover your own equipment (pedals, saddle, electronic equipment...) that you may have attached to the cycle.  Note that a homeowner’s insurance policy, if you have one, may provide some of these same benefits.

  • (2)  For Independent Riders, Travelling Without a Blue Marble Trip Genius
    - 28€ per indivisible first week (10€ / day for 1- and 2-day rentals). 
    - 4€ / day for additional days beyond the first week, through day 14 inclusive.
    - 2€ / day for days 15 and beyond.
    Add 50% for the cost of insuring the tandem.
    Covers damage to the cycle’s frame, front fork, headset, or pedals; or theft of a locked cycle.
    This policy, only available for our bicycles, provides for replacement of a locked stolen cycle; or for damage as above.  It does not cover any other repairs, adjustment, or roadside assistance.  Nor does it cover your own equipment (pedals, saddle, electronic equipment...) that you may have attached to the cycle.  Finally, it does not include transport of the replacement cycle to the point of the theft:  the replacement cycle is made available to you in Paris (we do not have a replacement tandem).  At your discretion, you may abandon your ride, or rent a replacement cycle locally from another supplier:  in that case, rental charges are reimbursed from the date of the theft.  Note that a homeowner’s insurance policy, if you have one, may provide some of these same benefits. 

Maintenance Contract (Roadside Assistance:  Routine Maintenance & Repair)
Available to travellers who rent cycles from us for independent travel. 
A Maintenance Contract covers routine repair, adjustment, roadside assistance, and other parts and service:  all the repairs not covered by our Cycle Insurance policy (see above), other than those attributable to careless use of the cycle.  It is designed for travellers not on our escorted trips, and who are not good mechanics (if you have good mechanical skills, you should already have stopped reading by this point). 

Maintenance Contracts are included in the cycle rental costs of our organized trips, where the routine maintenance of our cycles is part of our service

The Maintenance Contract provides for us to repair / replace parts other than the frame, fork, pedals, or headset, for any reason other than an accident or the clear misuse of the cycle, without cost.  Repair must take place in our Paris shop if the cycle is in the Paris region (Ile-de-France).  If the cycle is outside of the Ile-de-France, it may be serviced by any competent shop:  we reimburse any replacement parts purchased, or service performed (a valid invoice from the shop performing the work / selling the part must be supplied, with the name and contact information of the merchant, and the TVA / VAT number). 

The cost of the Maintenance Contract is the same as the cost of the rental, less 20€ (so, to obtain the whole price of rental + Maintenance Contract, double the rental cost, and subtract 20€). 


2nd-Hand (Used) Bicycles for Purchase


Several 2016 retirees are currently for sale.

We sell cycles that we have retired from our fleet, generally for 175€ / bike.
To see what our bikes look line, follow this link
Large cycles, 60 cm frames and bigger, cost 225€ when they are available.  We rarely have them, though, since the larger the bike, the more likely it is to be retired for frame fatigue, and we do not resell bikes retired for that reason.

Bikes come equipped with front and rear mud guards, and with a rear rack good for 25 kilo (55 lb.) loads (they are rated for heavier loads, but our experience suggests....).  They are not pre-equipped with lights, pumps, helmets, locks, nor bicycle luggage, though you may additionally purchase any of those things if you wish.

They are in good working order when sold, and are mechanically reviewed before being put up for sale.  They are, however, sold “as is.”  Once you drive it around the block to make sure it works, and then drive it away, it is yours.  While we will continue to service the bike as long as you have it, it will be at our regular mechanic rates (see our Bicycle Home Page), even if the first service call comes in 24 hours!

To be clear, we do not intentionally sell any cycle that we do not believe has a couple of thousand maintenance-free kilometers in it.  But the reason that they are being sold is that they have attained a stage in life when part fatigue becomes a possibility.  Thus we are not sure that they are up to the rigours of a full, 10,000-kilometer “road season,” which is what they would face in our fleet.  Typical individual use is less intensive.  So, you are getting a 750€ bike, give or take, for 175€.  In exchange, you may have to replace a couple of things in the course of a long trip.

If you are interested, write us with your size information and style preference, and we will tell you if we have what you are looking for.  Common sizes are generally available once we have stored the fleet in December, with availabilty declining as spring approaches..... You may actually make the purchase using any of our usual payment methods.

Re-stocking fee.  
We professionally size your bike, based on your height and inseam measurements, which you supply (inseam is measured crotch to the top of your foot’s arch).  Additionally, the geometry of a cycle can be adjusted one size up or one size down, for almost any rider, by shifting the saddle and / or handlebars.

If you buy one of our bikes sight-unseen, and then change your mind about the purchase before taking possession, you may cancel your purchase.  If a purchased cycle is not claimed, the purchase will be considered to be canceled on the day following the claim date.  In either case, the purchase price will be refunded, less a 25€ “restocking fee.”

In transmitting your size information to us, please do not simply tell us that you want (for example) a “56 cm bike.”  Different manufacturers use different criteria to determine this measurement.  For it to be of any use to us, you would also need to specify  precisely what your figure corresponds to (for example:  “center of the pedal axle to center of a horizontal top tube, measured along the back tube”).  Your height and inseam measurements are generally of more use to us than your bike size, and are sufficient to allow us to size your cycle correctly.

If you ride a mis-sized bike at home (in our experience, the case for many riders), or are not used to touring cycles (which have different geometry than, say, city bikes or mountain bikes), you may be surprised at the fit when you come to pick up your bike.  Though “touring fit” has its logic (a generally larger triangle provides greater rigidity to the frame:  better for distance travel), it may not suit you, and we are not your Mom.   We will happily swap bikes for you on the spot if a bike meeting your new criteria is available.  However, the 25€ restocking fee will apply.

Special, rare offer:   a family of our regular riders have outgrown their “triple,” which happily served on many of our trips across the years, but is now for sale.  Triples are rare animals indeed, and (bought new) are fantastically expensive.  If you have a couple of youngsters, and think this beast might be right for you, here is your chance to own one!  It in good condition (excellent mechanical condition), breaks down into 3 suitcases (couplers), can be delivered in the US or in France, and asking price is $3,800 US.  Here is a photo.  Enquire if interested.

Triple


New “Flanders” Bicycles for Purchase

We are always an authorized dealer for our favorite supplier.  This supplier changes from time to time, as we observe changes in manufacturing quality, but it has now held steady for several years running.  We currently buy most of our bikes from Flanders Fietsen, a small, high-quality Belgian manufacturer.  With advance notice, we can supply any cycle in their current catalogue, at their list price, including assembly, and delivery in Paris. 

We do not generally stock new cycles for sale.  Our cycle purchase service is intended for non-European visitors, for whom travel from their native countries with cycles is difficult or expensive.  See the Flanders web site for the complete Flanders selection, as well as their price list (prices include taxes, shipping from the factory, and assembly).

If you want to fly to Europe “light,” and fly home with a souvenir bicycle...  if you are planning a long ride, and wish to be sure of a top quality cycle in mint condition...  or if you are ending your bike trip in Paris, want a new cycle with a built-in resale market, and are willing to buy “our model” (so that you can re-sell it to us), you can buy a cycle through us. 

  • Orders must generally be received 3 months prior to claim of the cycle, or an additional shipping charge may apply.
  • Availability is not guaranteed until confirmed by Flanders (generally within 48 hours).  Orders of “our model” must generally be placed by March 1st of any given year, for delivery at any time after May 1st. 
  • Cycles are picked up in our Paris office.  We can ship them to you elsewhere, but shipping charges apply, and are not refundable for any reason.
  • Purchase cost includes assembly by our mechanic (in other words, the bike will be “ready to roll” when you first see it).  A discount of 50€ applies if you wish to take delivery of your non-assembled bike in its shipping carton.
  • All prices of cycles and components are available on the Flanders web site.  If you wish to purchase a cycle for road touring, we recommend the “Sport Premium” model, with a “Touring Finish,” and a Shimano Alivio groupset.  This is the model on which our bikes are based, though we alter several specs (we buy with a higher quality, Tiagra group set, for instance), and have our bikes assembled to order (see next point).
    But Flanders makes many different styles of bike, some quite a bit less expensive, others much higher-end.  If you wish to order a cycle, send us your order by e.mail.  Include the model name and / or number, frame size, options, and any aesthetic details (paint color, for instance) in writing, and include your understanding of the cycle’s price.  We will confirm it to you, give you a delivery date for the cycle, and request a non-refundable deposit of 25%.  Upon receipt, we will relay your order to the factory.  Final payment is due prior to assembly by our shop. 
    Cycles which are then exported from the EEC qualify for a tax refund of approximately 16%.
  • If you would like to re-sell your cycle to us, you must buy “our model,” a road touring cycle, costing 750€.  It is available with either upright or drop handlebars (discussion), men’s or woman’s frame.  Cost of the “drop” handlebar model is 131€ higher than the base version (we use a superior groupset). 
    We will purchase the cycle back from you for 400€ (upright bar model) or 500€ (“drop” bar model) if it is returned in good condition.  This re-purchase price will be reduced for any parts that must be replaced or aesthetic touch-ups required to put the bike in service in our fleet. 


Reserving (or Cancelling) Your Rental (or Purchase)

Reservations
Reservations are necessary to rent a bike from us, as each cycle is individually prepared.  And full payment is required to make a reservation (cancellation conditions apply).
We guarantee the availability of a cycle only once we have received your reservation request and accompanying payment (we will confirm the cycle’s availability within 24 hours, and obviously refund any payment in full if the cycle is not available).

To reserve a rental bike, please...

  1. ...write our Paris office, paris@bluemarble.org.  Give us...
    - your name, postal address, and a telephone contact;
    - your height, and inseam measurement if you know it;
    - the type of bike you prefer;
    - and any extra equipment you require (beyond that which we normally provide), such as lighting systems, city locks, or front racks.
    - Tell us if you wish the bike set up without pedals and / or a saddle (this implies you are bringing your own).
    See here for details on outfitting your bike.
    -
    Tell us whether or not you wish cycle insurance, and / or a maintenance contract (rentals only).
    - Give us the dates for which you wish to reserve the cycle (pick-up, and probable return for a rental).
  2. If you are coming to see us in our off season, or outside of our regular opening hours, we advise that you make an appointment for cycle pick-up.  These are the criteria for making (and guaranteeing) an appointment.
    Appointments can be made without charge during our regular opening hours.  They are also available outside of these hours, but carry an extra cost in this case.
  3. Send us payment for the rental.  If you choose to pay by credit card, go to our secure on-line payment page.  The “invoice number” field is not required:  your payment is associated with the name on the credit card.
    Alternate payment methods are here.
      If you wish to pay by check / cheque, you may do so.  The reservation is confirmed when you inform us that the check / cheque has actually been posted.  Provided the post-mark on the envelope is that day or the following business day, the reservation is honored.

If you are not satisfied with the bike when you come to claim it for any reason that does not imply our error, you may exchange it for another, provided one is available that meets your new criteria, and provided the new cycle can be prepared on a time scale that suits you.  A 25€ restocking charge applies.  If we have made an error (supplied a size or style of bike that is not the one you requested, for instance), the bike is exchanged without cost, or your rental charge is refunded in full.



Cancellation
Cancellation charges for individual cycle rental (travellers not participating in our cycle trips), if the entire rental is canceled, or the cycle is not claimed at the start of rental:

  • At least one week prior to the start of the rental:  10€.
  • Between 6 days and the day prior to the rental start date:  20€.
  • If the cycle is not claimed on the date for which it was rented, it is considered to have been rented for the first day.  Days 2 - 6 of the rental are refunded less 50%, and the remainder of the rental cost (if any) is refunded in full.
  • Insurance and Maintenance Contract, if subscribed, are refunded in full.

Cancellation charges for individual cycle rental (travellers not participating in our cycle trips), if the rental period is shortened.

  • If a rental is shortened at least 7 days prior to the return of a cycle, the canceled days are refunded in full. 
  • If the period of rental is shortened on less notice, canceled days are refunded less 50%.

Rentals for travellers on our cycle trips are subject to the same cancellation terms as the trips themselves.  Those conditions may be consulted here

  • Example:  a cycle rented for 30 days is returned 10 days early, on day 20, without prior notification.  Day 20 is charged.  Days 21 - 25 are charged at 50% of the rental rate.  Days 26 - 30 are refunded in full. 

For the purposes of cancellations and refunds, days are indivisible.

In the event of a “no-show” (you simply do not arrive on the pre-arranged date to claim your cycle, nor do you cancel the rental), the rental is considered to be canceled on the day following the first date of the reserved period.  Conversely, the reserved cycle is guaranteed to still be available on that date.  You may thus arrive a day late without warning us of your late arrival, and without risk of losing your bike.

Example:  a bike reserved from April 15th would be considered to be cancelled on April 16th if you did not arrive by the end of that day.  No refund would be due for April 15th or 16th.

Cancellation charges for whatever period follows, starting on the 17th, would be 50% of the rental cost as calculated from the 17th, and for a maximum of 5 days.


If you purchase a 2nd hand bike sight unseen, and are not satisfied with the bike when you come to claim it for any reason that does not imply our error, your purchase price will be refunded, less a 25€ restocking charge.  If we have made an error (supplied a size or style of bike that is not the one you requested, for instance), your purchase price is, of course, refunded in full.

If you purchase a new bike, which will be shipped from the factory specially for you, any cancellation incurs a 25% charge for us to return the bike to the factory.  If you have purchased “our bike,” which is not standard, will will buy it from you for 450€ (“drop” bar model) or 350€ (upright model).  It cannot be returned to
the factory.


Independent
Travellers

Individual or Group

Trips You Decide


Individual Travel Assistance


Our Scheduled Trips
Including an overview map of the places we stage trips


Departure Calendar
for our scheduled trips