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Type of bike to rent?

SeanG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(September 2018)
Hi all,

First thank you to all of the contributors for all the incredible information on this site! What a resource!!

So my question: I am traveling fairly soon but have been indecisive about what type of bike to rent for the trip... so I haven't but I need to act fast!! I'd like to hear your advice / experiences.

I plan to ride roads as much as possible, though I'm sure I'll be lured to the footpath on occasion. I hope to average ~80km per day. I ride a road bike recreationally at home and am probably most comfortable on a bike set up like a road cycle. But I've also never sat on one for 11 days over 500 miles. So I am eyeing a "comfort tour" model, but it looks potentially heavy and I'm really not a fan of front shocks on a road bike. I don't need to "go fast", but I also don't want to be continually weighed down by an overbuilt, spongy bike. But then again, those fenders / mudguards look really appealing, especially if it rains for the duration.

What are your thoughts and experiences?
Thank you!!!
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
I would look for a so-called trekking-bike. It is something in between a road-bike and a mountain-bike, usually with 18-21 gears and wheels which are also suitable for cycling on farm-tracks. These bikes are made for travelling.

BC
Alexandra
 

Flatlander

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances May/June 2015, via the Atlantic Cycle Route
I plan to ride roads as much as possible, though I'm sure I'll be lured to the footpath on occasion. I hope to average ~80km per day. I ride a road bike recreationally at home and am probably most comfortable on a bike set up like a road cycle. But I've also never sat on one for 11 days over 500 miles.
That's the killer! I'd imagine that even on your own bike 11 days constant riding could be uncomfortable. Throw in the fact that it's a rental and will take time to set-up to your own needs and especially a different saddle and you could be looking at a lot of discomfort!
Go for a 5 hour ride on your own bike and see how you feel after it. If you're feeling good, then it's an option. If your back/neck/ass are sore..... maybe a different bike.

So I am eyeing a "comfort tour" model, but it looks potentially heavy and I'm really not a fan of front shocks on a road bike. I don't need to "go fast", but I also don't want to be continually weighed down by an overbuilt, spongy bike. But then again, those fenders / mudguards look really appealing, especially if it rains for the duration.
If it's wet you will appreciate the mudguards.
Front suspension can be locked out.
Other features will be it will be relatively easy to adjust seat/handlebar height for comfort, the saddle is generally more forgiving and that type of bike is designed for carrying weight.

From your other posts and this, I've picked up that you're very weight conscious. That's relatively normal for someone coming from a road-biking background.
But it appears that this trip is about touring - a different beast with different priorities.

In my humble opinion, the only time the weight of the bike will be an issue is when you have to carry the thing! If you're staying on the road, that won't be an issue. If you want to take the path the road bike won't cut it.

There are other types of bikes, but I imagine your choice is limited as you're renting.

Choosing between a road bike or a touring bike, I'd go touring every day of the week.

Comfort is important! Plus, you see more! :)

P.S. Whatever about the bike, the gearing is probably more important than the weight!
 

Scott...O

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-Leon (15)
SJPdP-SdC-Finisterre-Muxia (16)
Lisbon-SdC (17)

Le Puy-Pamplona (19)
+1 for a hybrid / tourer.
I suggest you consider taking your own saddle & pedals. 11 days on a potentially uncomfortable saddle would be a bit unpleasant....
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
If you are aiming "to follow the roads" then if you opt for a "road bike" then you are likely to be well off the camino for much of your ride (my estimate). I would suggest a road/hybrid with tyres/tires that can take reasonable gravel (say 1 inch 25 mm) as against the wide ones (25-45 mm 1.25-1,5 inch). These tyres will allow you to ride the meseta, including the climb up/out of Castrojeriz. From Pamplona you will need to divert south out of Cizur Menor as the alto del peerdon is really only suitable for off road tyres and you cannot take a bike on the A-12. I have forgotten when you are going but if you can get a hold of the Michelin Camino guide it has the best local road info. Cheers
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
Obviously the more of a road bike you have the more your choice of route options will be limited. If you don't need to go fast I would hire a 'go anywhere' bike with suspension, accept you'll be going slow and enjoy the experience. Your body will thank you, however those bikes are slow and heavy and the lack of speed might need some mental adjustment compared to what you are usd to. As others have said a trekking bike seems to best meet your needs.

There is a marked cycling camino route in places, e.g. you don't do the climbs around Castrojeriz but a beautiful flat bit of quiet road that feels like the original camino route. You can always push your bike up some of the walking routes/climbs if it's robust enough, I pushed my hybrid up Alto del Perdon in the early evening (during the morning there are too many walkers) and had a wonderfully peaceful moment at the top but I couldn't have done that with a road bike. I did the VDLP on a Brompton earlier in the year, excellent choice for me on that camino and it coped ok with sections on gravel roads. Nice not to have to worry about finding somewhere to leave the bike in the evening but this is less on an issue on CF where there are more places to stay designed for cyclists.

BTW - getting into Leon is a nightmare on the road at the moment due to construction work. Take the footpath even if you need to wheel the bike. I missed a turning on a roundabout and ended up on the motorway slip road, getting back to the roundabout was dangerous and then coming into to Leon is via a fast downhill and you end up on another roundabout in the wrong lane with people trying to join the motorway. There was another pilgrim cyclist ahead of me and we both pulled off the road to recover our nerves after than second roundabout.
 

SeanG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(September 2018)
Thanks all for your replies!

I opted for a "touring class" hybrid. I'm a little nervous, though, since I am so used to a road bike and have designed my itinerary around mileages I can do on a road bike. Hybrids are slow and heavy, but comfortable. Likely I'll just end up cycling 8 hrs instead of 6, which might feel okay given the more luxurious ride. I guess I'll find out. This trip (for me at least) is not about being comfortable.

:)
 

Line4guy

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2018)
I’m on the Camino now on a mountain bike and I like it but I’m not the road biker you are. Some of the trail you have to push even on a mountain bike. A hybrid will allow you to ride the smoother parts. I’ve been on an off the trail equally. Road mostly today. The climb from Montes de oca scared me. Lots of trucks, narrow shoulder. And steep but take it with a grain of salt. Also met a cyclist today doing it in 10 days from st Jean.
 

SeanG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(September 2018)
I’m on the Camino now on a mountain bike and I like it but I’m not the road biker you are. Some of the trail you have to push even on a mountain bike. A hybrid will allow you to ride the smoother parts. I’ve been on an off the trail equally. Road mostly today. The climb from Montes de oca scared me. Lots of trucks, narrow shoulder. And steep but take it with a grain of salt. Also met a cyclist today doing it in 10 days from st Jean.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I think the only place I will be doing a lot of trail riding is across the Meseta, and maybe again around Portomarin, where road detours would be unnecessarily long and/or hilly. Relatedly, I plan to take a detour north around Montes de Oca and Atapuerca as suggested in one of the guidebooks - very flat, though puts you into Burgos on a pretty busy looking road. I plan to do the same at Alto de Perdon.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Obviously the more of a road bike you have the more your choice of route options will be limited. If you don't need to go fast I would hire a 'go anywhere' bike with suspension, accept you'll be going slow and enjoy the experience. Your body will thank you, however those bikes are slow and heavy and the lack of speed might need some mental adjustment compared to what you are usd to. As others have said a trekking bike seems to best meet your needs.

There is a marked cycling camino route in places, e.g. you don't do the climbs around Castrojeriz but a beautiful flat bit of quiet road that feels like the original camino route. You can always push your bike up some of the walking routes/climbs if it's robust enough, I pushed my hybrid up Alto del Perdon in the early evening (during the morning there are too many walkers) and had a wonderfully peaceful moment at the top but I couldn't have done that with a road bike. I did the VDLP on a Brompton earlier in the year, excellent choice for me on that camino and it coped ok with sections on gravel roads. Nice not to have to worry about finding somewhere to leave the bike in the evening but this is less on an issue on CF where there are more places to stay designed for cyclists.

BTW - getting into Leon is a nightmare on the road at the moment due to construction work. Take the footpath even if you need to wheel the bike. I missed a turning on a roundabout and ended up on the motorway slip road, getting back to the roundabout was dangerous and then coming into to Leon is via a fast downhill and you end up on another roundabout in the wrong lane with people trying to join the motorway. There was another pilgrim cyclist ahead of me and we both pulled off the road to recover our nerves after than second roundabout.
Kudos for doing the VDLP, double so for doing it on a Brompton. Standing outside of the catherdral admiring the scaffolding in 2016 we spotted to Englishmen on fully laden Bromptons cycle into the square.
We asked where they started out and it turned out it was Bordeaux. Had they cycled the whole way? No, they pushed them over the Pyrenees!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
If you are aiming "to follow the roads" then if you opt for a "road bike" then you are likely to be well off the camino for much of your ride (my estimate). I would suggest a road/hybrid with tyres/tires that can take reasonable gravel (say 1 inch 25 mm) as against the wide ones (25-45 mm 1.25-1,5 inch). These tyres will allow you to ride the meseta, including the climb up/out of Castrojeriz. From Pamplona you will need to divert south out of Cizur Menor as the alto del peerdon is really only suitable for off road tyres and you cannot take a bike on the A-12. I have forgotten when you are going but if you can get a hold of the Michelin Camino guide it has the best local road info. Cheers
There is a local road after leaving
Pamplona to the right of A12 that the buses use to go to the local towns...that is not that much of a detour and it goes to Puente La Reina...Athough there are some hills...a lot easier than going via Alto del Perdon.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
There is a local road after leaving
Pamplona to the right of A12 that the buses use to go to the local towns...that is not that much of a detour and it goes to Puente La Reina...Athough there are some hills...a lot easier than going via Alto del Perdon.
Yes I know the section your are talking about - it follows the NA701 and you can then get on to the NA-1110. I was told that the best (flatest route) was via Galar on either the NA6000 and finally on to the NA601. If you have the Michelin Camino book it has all the alternate local roads that are bike friendly. I used in back on 2015 and it was a god-send. Buen Camino.
 

Raj Kumar

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spring 2017
I have just returned from cycling the North route, from Bilbao to Santiago. I cycled from Bilbao airport itself and back to Santiago airport from the Santiago city. I did not use taxi/bus/train etc. I cycled 700Km over 9 days. Of course, the North route is hilly.
You can see my account here. These are my views.
My advice would be to stick to the road surface. Even in CF, there is almost always a local rural road with a good surface almost next to the walking route. You do not miss anything but not doing the walking route. You can still access the small churches etc if you want.
I use a hybrid, Specialized Sirrus Elite with 28 tyre, almost road tyres.
 

finkelc

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (September 2019)
Hey @SeanG, did you end up picking an option? I'm following this thread as I want to rent while in Spain but also want to make sure I get a comparable bike stateside for training in advance. Strongly considering investing in a gravel bike here and think that's comparable to the trekking bike option mentioned in the replies. Most social media lurking I've done on the #viadelaplataenbici hashtag shows riders on mountain bikes, but I'm in the exact same boat as you are -- want to be able to stack a lot of miles daily and hesitant about the weight of a hybrid bike or even a mountain bike. Keep me posted if you've pulled the trigger yet! Thanks to other posters for excellent feedback, as always!
 

jony jony

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino Frances ( 2007) Via de la Plata 2016/2017 . Final pilgrimage Sept 2018...Via de la Plata
Hello finkelc ...........This is the type of bike i have hired 3 times now ( 4 th time will be April this year ) from Triana Hostel in Seville . They hire this type because it is ideal for the Via de la Plata Camino , so anything that compares with this bike would be good for you to get some training klms under your belt .

https://www.trianahostel.com/en/bike-rental-st-james-way-camino-de-santiago

Hope this is of some help.

Regards.....John
 

SeanG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(September 2018)
Hey @SeanG, did you end up picking an option? I'm following this thread as I want to rent while in Spain but also want to make sure I get a comparable bike stateside for training in advance. Strongly considering investing in a gravel bike here and think that's comparable to the trekking bike option mentioned in the replies. Most social media lurking I've done on the #viadelaplataenbici hashtag shows riders on mountain bikes, but I'm in the exact same boat as you are -- want to be able to stack a lot of miles daily and hesitant about the weight of a hybrid bike or even a mountain bike. Keep me posted if you've pulled the trigger yet! Thanks to other posters for excellent feedback, as always!
I did a hybrid through BikeIberia. The bike was a bit heavy, but it was fit with semi-slick tires so road riding wasn't terrible. Generally I stayed on the roads, but there are stretches where you can't without a drastic change in route, or just where the gravel camino itself simply looks more interesting. That said, there were a few days where I road A LOT of gravel, very rough in some places, so I would not recommend a touring road cycle. You would be walking the bike (and gear) up/down slopes in some areas, sometimes for lengthy stretches.

The first day I was surprised at how differently the bike rode from what I was used to, but I adapted pretty quickly. Overall I definitely went slower that I'd have liked to, but there's plenty of day to ride, and slow and steady wins the race!

I chose Bikeiberia based on their delivery & luggage transfer service, which was very nice. In Pamplona, where I started, they left the bike and took my bag of non-cycling stuff to Santiago, where it waited for me until I arrived and left the bike for them to collect the following day. That all went smoothly.

I will say that the bike was just okay; it was not in perfect shape and was obviously well-used. It was a "Giant" brand. I had a mechanical problem along the way that required a repair in a bike shop, but they reimbursed me for the expense plus some for the inconvenience, which was nice. Otherwise, I put that bike through a lot of use and it served me well! Oh, and the price was incredibly cheap, when compared to buying a bike and lights and panniers, etc and shipping it all - total was something on the order of $350.
 
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