Bring your own Bike vs Hire one of ours for the Paparoa Track
When planning to ride the Paparoa Track, a question that may come up is whether you should bring your own bike or hire one. On face value it may seem an easy decision, I’ve got a bike I will bring it with me! There is however several pros and cons to bringing your own bike vs hiring one. From our own experience travelling around NZ and internationally with our bikes we’ve come up with this list of pros and cons that discusses various considerations about bringing your bike vs hiring a bike.
Bring your own bike
We 100% get it, we like our own bikes too! You may really like the way it rides, perhaps some parts such as the seat you may have fitted specifically based on what you’ve found comfortable. You may have chosen the tyres because you like that tread pattern. Being familiar with your own bike is probably the biggest “Pro” reason to bring your own bike on a cycle trip.
Yes true, you already own your bike, why would you hire one right? For long duration trips this can be especially valid where if you hire a bike for a month you could have paid for half it the value of at already. However, the Paparoa Track is a 1-2 day ride, so it won’t cost too much really.
We’ve been there and done that. For a long duration trip of a month or longer the hassle of packing up your bike at home and unpacking it at the destination long gets forgotten when you’re 800km in to your cycle adventure. But what about a trip of a week or less? It’s not just the packing at home, the unpacking at the destination, it’s sorting out what to do with the bike box or bag (which may need transporting to the end of the track). Then once you’ve finished the bike ride and enjoying having completed an amazing track, once you’ve finished drinking that beer or having a nice meal on the last day it’s time to get cracking and pack up your bike again. And finally now you are home! Time to unpack the bike! Really, for a track that takes a few days it can be much less hassle, less stress, and just more enjoyable to not deal with packing and unpacking your bike four times.
In addition to the packing and unpacking there is navigating the terms and conditions of various transport providers to ensure that they will take a bike. In most cases they do but many bus services for example have restrictions in size and even if they will guarantee to take bikes. On the plane, a bike, especially a mountain bike, can be over the weight allowance which may incur additional charges. Then there’s the waiting at the airport bag carousel for your bike to appear out of the random side door AFTER everyone else’s bags have since appeared. That’s just dealing with the plane. Now there may be an airport transfer involved but you can’t take that taxi that’s waiting there because it’s a sedan and they can’t fit the bike box in the boot!
Everyone who rides a bike has a mate who has a story about a bike getting damaged from being mishandled in transit. Usually the story involves an airline. On a bus you can watch what’s happening to your bike, possibly even load it yourself. At Cycle Journeys we have custom made trailers that transport bikes safely and securely, but it’s what goes on between the time you check-in at an airport and get it back after the flight. Airlines have a huge task in dealing with massive volumes of luggage, and they do their best, but the reality is the fragile nature of bicycle derailleurs, disc brakes, and lightweight frames means that damage is known to occur. If you leave your bike at home it’s safe!
You own a mountain bike and a mountain bike is a mountain bike right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. The Paparoa Track is located in a very specific environment and according to the Kennet Brothers who author the well known “Classic NZ Mountain Bike Rides” they have called the Paparoa Track an “honest Grade 4”, and indeed it is Grade 4. What does this mean? It means the track is in parts quite technically challenging. In our experience that means the having the right suspension, the right tyres and gearing, and items such as a dropper seatpost will make all the difference to having an awesome experience. If your bike is the type of mountain bike that’s got all the above then great, but it might not be the right tool for the job in terms of having an “okay time” or an “awesome time!”
Riding the Paparoa Track over two days (which is what we recommend to have the experience of an overnight stay at one of the brand new superb DOC huts) means you need to carry some gear. A backpack can be limiting, sure you can fit overnight gear in there but you also need to take a sleeping bag and all your food, that’s a bit of stuff. And the last thing you want to do is wear a large back on your back, which will ruin your riding experience. From our own travels bikepacking, and doing long distance mountain bike rides, we’ve set up our bikes with a rear carrier that allows the bikes rear suspension to be fully functional, we also include a 30L dry bag as this is the West Coast, and, it might rain, maybe not, but it might. This set up can cost a bit but it works great. Our bikes are also equipped with the necessary tools as a back up if you need to do an unexpected trailside fix.
Hire one of our bikes
Yes it’s that easy. We have a depot in Greymouth and shuttles that operate to both ends of the track. Meet us at our depot to pick up the bike and drop it off at the end. No packing or unpacking necessary.
It’s just so easy to travel without a bike. Whether that be on a shuttle to the airport, at the airport, on a bus, on a train, wherever; it is easier, and lower stress without having to cart around a bike in a box or a bag. We know, we’ve done it, and where possible we avoid it because hiring a bike at the destination of the track or trail is so convenient and makes for a more enjoyable holiday.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but we’re serious. If you bring your own bike you’ve got to clean it, but if you hire one of our bikes we clean it! It’s just part of the deal. We know that no one likes cleaning bikes, it’s like washing dishes after dinner, if you can get someone else to do it you would, right? When you pick up a hire bike from Cycle Journeys it’s going to be cleaned and recently serviced and after the ride we pick it up and will clean it again. All you need to do it ride it and have a great time.
We drew a clean slate here when it came time to find what we considered the ideal bike for the Paparoa Track, and we’ve got 30 years mountain biking experience that helped in the decision making process.
Our mid-travel trail bikes climb and descend really well. They’ve got more cush than a short travel XC bike on the technical sections yet won’t labour up the hills like a slacked out enduro bike. Add a dropper seatpost – which our bikes have – and you’ve got machine that you’ll have a bunch of fun on.
The wheels on our bikes are 29” and tyre width 2.35”. That’s great roll-over ability with awesome traction. The Sram Eagle drivetrain is one of our favorite features of our bikes and 1 x drivetrains are what all top bikes have now anyway. Combine a massive gear range with superb front chainring ground clearance, all operated by one gear shifter. If you haven’t ridden a bike with a 1x drivetrain yet you must do soon.
All our bikes we have Thule Tour rear carrier fitted. We tried many different setups before settling with this, and we’re really happy with the result. We wanted to leave the handlebar area clear (ie. no handlebar bag) mainly for ease of trail visibility on technical sections. We also didn’t want our customers to have to go out and buy a large capacity backpack if they didn’t yet have one, and carrying a big load on your back on a mountain bike trail really wrecks havoc with your centre of gravity. The Thule Tour rack allows full functionality of the rear suspension, is light, robust, and comes with a fully waterproof dry-bag with convenient clear window so you can see where your gear is. Yes no need to pull everything out to find where something is, we thought of that too!
This is a genuine reason but with all the PROs above, maybe not so much. And here’s some more reasons why it might not be so much of a CON…
Our bikes fit in to the “Trail Bike” category, that is they have suspension travel in the 120/130mm range. If you normally ride an XC bike with 100mm travel or an enduro bike with 150-170mm travel you’re still going to feel right at home on a trail bike. The rear shock and front fork use an air spring so we can set them up for your weight, easily done.
We have both flats and trail type SPDs available, and they’re top quality Shimano units. If you ride Crank Brothers, Time, or any other pedal variant, no problem just bring them with you and we will fit them to the rental bike.
Got your own seat that you really, really like? That’s all good too, bring that down, and you wont need a bike box to transport it in!
Our bikes have Shimano brakes that almost any mountain biker at some point has used on a bike so we’re sure you will be happy with these.
Also a legitimate comment, however the cost is relative to the duration of the trip.
We’re firmly in the camp of, if the ride takes about a week or less, then there are just too many good reasons to leave ones own bike at home and hire a bike. A long duration cycle trip (such as around the South Island for a month), okay that’s a bit different. But weigh it up yourself, two days bike rental for a fully equipped full suspension bike to ride the Paparoa Track is surprisingly good value when all the “Bringing your own bike – “CONs” are factored in.
So, there are many CONs to bringing your own bike to ride the Paparoa Track, particularly if you have a long way to travel. However, at the end of the day the choice is yours, and if you love your bike, perhaps the CONs are worth it. But if you’re on the fence, our advice is to hire one of ours. So chuck some biking gear into a backpack and we will see you at the Paparoa Track soon!