Road Cycling

Bike Share vs. Bike Rental — Which is Right for Me? –

You’ve likely noticed all the orange bicycles scattered across Portland — some positioned conveniently on the sidewalks outside your office, some situated in parks and local green spaces, and unfortunately some carelessly thrown into ditches or halfway down the embankment of the Willamette River. Since launching officially on July 19th, 2016 Biketown’s bright orange bikes have become a common talking point for both locals and tourists alike. While some love the widespread availability and convenience of the Biketown program, others raise skepticism and concerns. To create clarity over which is right for you, we thought it’d be helpful to outline some of the legitimate pros and cons for tourists and casual recreators when deciding between a bike share or a local bike shop rental:

Bike Integrity
As a whole, Biketown (and most other bike share programs) do a great job with bike repair and maintaining their fleet of bikes. That said, however, it’s no secret that bike share bicycles tend to get ridden harder and are occasionally abused. As such, you may periodically find yourself unlocking a ride with wobbly wheels, a squeaky drivetrain, shoddy brakes or bent handlebars. If it’s important that you have a freshly tuned bike with trued wheels and responsive brakes, then a bike rental is likely a better bet.

Bike Size
Although easily overlooked for individuals and couples, the consideration of varying bike sizes is a very real concern for families who’re looking to get out with their youngsters. Yes, bike shares have adjustable seat posts but if you’re looking for a child carrier or something that’s manageable for your pre-teens most bike rental services in Portland will provide what you need.

Bike Weight
For leisurely cruising and quick jaunts through the neighborhood, a heavier, slower bike isn’t a big deal, especially if your baseline standard isn’t a lightweight, high-performance road bike. If that is your baseline standard, however, the heavier, more cruiser-oriented bike share options will go from feeling “a little on the heavy side” to “a downright sluggish tank…” In other words:

Bike Share = best for shorter rides.

Bike Rental = best for longer rides.

Regardless of how you look at it, opting to bike will be significantly faster and more fun than walking!

Convenience is the name of the game for bike shares with docking stations strategically placed across Portland and the option to park/retrieve them from just about any nearby sidewalk. Have the spontaneous itch to go for a cruise or get quickly from A to B? Then taking the time to track down a bike store and then visiting their storefront to pickup your bike can be inhibiting. One important note: while Biketown PDX bikes can be put on “HOLD” for up to 30 minutes (this time does count toward your total fare) in between destinations, getting stranded without the means of transportation in which you arrived on isn’t very convenient… If you’re planning on hopping around from place to place, taking the extra time upfront to line up a rental bike may be a better option.


Last but certainly not least, is the cost of a bike rental vs. the cost of a bike share. Upfront, the $0.08/minute rate of a Biketown is virtually unbeatable (for an hour that’s only $4.80!). If you’re looking to stay within Biketown PDX’s designated “system area” and are just going for a quick A to B pedal, bike shares pose the better deal. For longer rides with frequent stops of 30-minutes or more, the running fares from “HOLD” times and fees for rides finished “outside of hub” or “outside of area” the cost of a bikeshare can easily eclipse that of a full- or even half-day bike rental.

So there you have it, the pros and cons of bike shares and bike rentals. Want a third option? Get out on your very own bike and experience the joys of cycling untethered to terms and conditions! Haul that old Schwinn out of your parent’s shed or pick up a Craigslist special and bring it on in to evo Portland for a bike tune up Portland style! In addition to our full service bike shop, we offer an amazing selection of boutique mountain bikes, helmets, clothing, and more. Shop our in-store selection online and then swing by to see it in person!

About evo
We are evo Portland. We are a bike shop, ski shop, snowboard shop, wake shop, skate shop, surf shop, and clothing retailer all under one roof in Portland, Oregon. In addition to retail, we provide bike repairs, bike rentals, ski/snowboard waxes & tunes, and ski/snowboard rentals. Visit our store in the Central Eastside neighborhood where our knowledgeable staff will happily assist you with all of your outdoor gear and action sports needs.