Guided bike tours are an excellent way to get started in bike touring. They allow you to learn about cycle touring from pros.
You also get to enjoy unmatched convenience, given that they offer rental bikes, meals, hotels, luggage transfers, and route maps.
However, there are hundreds of guided tours out there, and choosing the best one for you can be quite a challenging task, especially if you don’t know what to look for.
And while every guided tour has the potential to take you to amazing places, some may not suit your personal style. Others will not deliver what you expect to get out of your cycling adventure.
When I was a beginner, I wasn’t very careful when choosing a guided bike tour. I knew that every adventure would take me to some new place.
Sure, I had great experiences, but sometimes I felt that some of these tours were not really what I needed.
I have now made many biking tours in different parts of the world, and I can easily tell which guided tours are appropriate for me and which tours I would dislike.
Below, we’ll talk about the most essential things you should consider when picking the best guided bike tour for your next trip.
Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Guided Bicycle Tour
Who Is In Charge of the Bike Tour?
Before you pay for a guided bike tour, you need to confirm who is in charge of the adventure and know if anyone will be looking after your needs as an individual.
The person in charge of the guided tour should have the skills needed to navigate the kind of terrain involved in this trip.
They should also have adequate knowledge about the local terrain to avoid bad surprises in the middle of the journey.
With a local company, you are likely to interact with competent individuals who run the business. They can take care of your needs effectively and ensure that you have a great touring experience.
On the other hand, choosing a global company means that you won’t know who is actually the tour leader.
The person in charge of the tour may not be the one organizing your meals and dealing with your accommodations.
So, make sure you go for a company that lets you know who’s in charge and can provide for your individual needs while out there. This way, you won’t panic when your bike needs fixing, nor will you miss incredible sights.
Their Reviews and Reputation
Customer reviews are a great way to determine whether a particular company is best for you or not.
A company with good reviews and excellent reputation means that cyclists who came before you had a fantastic experience.
You can check a particular company’s reviews on websites like TripAdvisor and see what other people say about the business.
Sometimes the reviews can be confusing, especially when a user leaves a very bad comment and others give great positive reviews. This can ruin the reputation of a company.
I think it’s wise to try contacting the operator who may connect you with people who have traveled with the company to hear feedback directly from them.
What Is Included?
Different bike tour companies will offer various packages. Now it’s up to you to know what to settle for.
I recommend that you check several bike tour websites and see what each company offers specifically.
Generally, the best bike tour package should have these things:
- Maps or GPS tracking device
- Detailed Routes
- Meals and Snacks
- Travel guide
- Rental Bicycles
- Luggage transport
- Bicycle maintenance
Do you have any nutritional or special requirements? If you have any special needs, it’s important to ask whether they can be catered for before paying for the tour.
Some tours will be able to cater to varied dietary needs while others will not accommodate them.
If you are a vegan, you need to confirm whether your desired bike tour company will provide you with vegan meals, or you’ll have to bring a camping stove and cook your food.
What’s Their Route?
The route a bike tour will follow is also a crucial thing to look for if you want to get the most out of your adventure.
Does the route have unique sceneries? Or does it lead to hillier places where you’ll be doing mountain biking?
Different routes will let you cycle to varied locations and environments. Some will take you to rural areas while others will allow you to cycle through beautiful forests to the seaside.
Be sure to go on a bike tour with a route and location that interests you. If you love riding across busy cities, choose a way that passes through big cities.
Other Questions to Ask Yourself
Why do you want to go for a guided bicycle tour?
The reason why you want to go for a guided bike tour is an essential consideration when choosing the best bike tour for you.
Do you intend to see a new country and learn its history and culture, or do you just enjoy the vibe of riding along with other cyclists and getting to know them?
If you can answer this question, it will be easier to know the best guided cycling tour.
Do you prefer a self-guided individual tour or bicycle touring in a large group is your dream tour?
If you love sharing your experiences with other riders, you may want to go for a guided group tour. This way, you’ll meet new people, get to know them, and make friends.
Directions won’t also be a problem when cycling as a group as you’ll just need to follow their wheels, and the person in charge will take you to the expected destination.
And if you can’t keep up with other riders, e-bikes assistance will come in handy.
However, if you want to go at it alone, a self-guided tour is your best bet. You’ll be able to explore your dream country all by yourself, and the tour company will do all the planning for lodging and food.
Do you love spending your night under the stars, or hotels suit you best?
Whether you prefer camping out under the stars or sleeping in a luxury hotel, you’ll have a good place to spend the night when dealing with good company.
Many guided bike tours come with the accommodation package. Some will provide camping materials for cyclists who want to sleep under the stars, while others will require you to bring yours.
What riding surfaces are you comfortable with?
You also need to ask yourself which riding surfaces allow you to enjoy the adventure more. Are you scared to ride off-road on packed dirt trails, or do you just want paved bike paths?
When it comes to riding on the road, are you comfortable with traffic, or even moderate road traffic is a concern?
Q: How Do I Plan a Bike Tour?
A: Panning for a bike tour doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You just need to take your time and make the necessary preparations.
Adequate preparation will ensure that you have everything you need for your first bike tour and make the journey more enjoyable and safe.
The first thing you need to do when planning for a bike tour is to find a good bike for touring. If you don’t have money to buy a touring bike, no need to worry.
You just need to get a bike that you feel comfortable and safe while riding. It should also have places to fit your rack and panniers to ensure that you can carry your essentials.
The next thing to do is to pick a destination and directions. Ideally, you should go for a route that has the sceneries that fascinate you.
If you are interested in riding through beautiful forests and climbing hills, then you need to choose a route that will let you do that.
The best cycling paths should also let you ride on a terrain that is within your cycling ability level.
When planning a bike tour that will involve cycling across several countries, you’ll need to use a map to break your journey down into smaller and more manageable segments.
Once you decide on which route to take, you need to prepare your gear. Pack things like a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stove, a few camping utensils, foodstuffs and snacks, a bike repair kit, and appropriate clothes for cycling and off the bike activities.
If you want to explore the local food and culture, you can leave the cooking equipment, especially when cycling through cities. You just need to ensure that your credit card can support that.
Another thing you’ll want to do during the planning process for your first tour is to train for strength and endurance, especially if you’ll spend more than a few days on the road.
If you fear that things will go wrong on your first bike tour, you can pay for a guided bike tour to learn more from pros who know what they are doing.
Q: What is a Self-Guided Bike Tour?
A: This is a type of adventure whereby the cyclist enjoys more freedom and flexibility while still working with a tour operator.
In this type of adventure, the tour operator organizes the logistics for you but allows you to ride at your own pace and take breaks if you want.
Depending on what you want, you can ride alone, with a family member, or as a small group.
Many bike tour companies include the following for self-guided tour packages:
- Meals (breakfast buffet, but dinner is optional)
- Bicycle travel material with a route map
- Detailed route planning
- Emergency hotline for emergencies
Self-guided tours do not include a support van for transporting your things. It’s your responsibility as a cyclist to ride to the next hotel and carry your own items for most tours.
However, if you land into problems, you can use the emergency hotline to call for help. Then the tour operator will send a van or guide you on the viable public transportation options.
Today, self-guided bicycle tours have increasingly become popular due to the affordability and flexibility they offer.
Q: How Much Should I Spend on a Touring Bike?
A: A good quality touring bike can cost about $800 to $1,200, depending on the brand. Second-hand bicycles can even be more affordable than this.
You can also get a better deal when big bicycle brands are having a big sale.
Now, if you want to do a self-supported bicycle tour, you’ll also need to invest in cycling and camping gear for your journey.
Q: How Do I Plan a Solo Bike Trip?
A: If you have never cycled for longer distances alone, planning for a solo cycling adventure can prove to be a difficult task.
You don’t know which route to choose and how you’ll survive while out there. But you don’t have to worry as I’ve got some tips for solo bike tours.
Consider Your Skill Level
Whether you plan to do a self-guided adventure or travel the world on your own, you need to consider your skill level and the daily distances you can manage.
Study the route carefully and ensure that your skill matches the adventure. You don’t want to push yourself too hard or go for a ride that is way below your cycling skills.
Cycle touring routes with very rough paths may not be the right terrain for beginners.
Choose a Comfortable Bicycle
There is nothing worse and frustrating than riding a bicycle that you are not comfortable on. Before you head out, test your two-wheeler by riding for a few miles.
If you cannot adjust your bike’s seat, you can take it to a local bicycle shop and get help. Also, you need to check your brakes and gear system sensitivity.
Ride More Before the Actual Trip
Adequate preparation is always a good idea as it gets your mind and body ready for the adventure.
The more you ride before the actual adventure, the more enjoyable your journey will be. You should give yourself adequate time to build strength by cycling a particular daily distance.
If you don’t prepare in advance for your solo adventure, your muscles and butt are likely to hurt while out there. You may also not be able to make any hillier tours.
Pack Your Essentials
When planning a solo cycling trip, you need to pack essential things like water bottles, sunblock, lights and reflectors, cycling gear, and appropriate clothing.
You may also need to bring your snacks, proteins, and anything else you might need during your solo adventure.
Are you interested in bicycle touring and want to try it? Guided tours are a perfect way to start since you’ll have a structured schedule and someone to guide you throughout the journey.
Your bicycle touring company provides most of the things you need for the adventure, including meals, accommodation, and rental bikes. They will also provide a detailed route guide for easy navigation.
Before you pay for a guided bicycle tour, be sure to consider the factors discussed in this article to ensure that you get the best one for you.