How to hire a bicycle - or buy one second hand - in Edinburgh.
By Mike Lewis
First published: December 2007. Last updated: January 2015.
Edinburgh's a great city for cycling. But what if you're new in town - or here on a visit - and don't have access to a bike? Fortunately, there are several options open to you.
If you're only in Edinburgh for a short while, you can hire a bike by the day, week or month. A single day's rental is quite pricey - typically £15 to £20 - but the cost drops to around £12 per day if you take the bike for a week or more. The price will usually include a lock, pump and repair kit, and sometimes a helmet. But you'll probably be charged extra for a pannier or saddle bag.
Edinburgh is a great cycling city. These cyclists are climbing the hill behind Arthur's Seat.
If you want to rent a bike for a particular event - to join one of the many organised bike rides around the city, for instance - be sure to pick it up well in advance. You'll need time to have it adjusted and to get used to riding it. I've also heard of people who've booked a hire bike but found it wasn't ready when they came to collect it - perhaps because the previous renter had returned it late. So it's a good idea to allow some extra time.
Edinburgh's largest bicycle hire outlet is Biketrax (11-13 Lochrin Place; 0131 228 6633). They have a wide range of machines available, including 21- and 24-speed city bikes (hybrids), 16-speed lightweight road bikes and Brompton folding bikes (but not mountain bikes at present). All rentals include a puncture kit, pump, helmet and lock.
Cycle Scotland (29 Blackfriars Street; 0131 556 5560) also offer a good choice of mountain bikes and hybrids, as well as road bikes and even tandems. They will deliver and collect to/from your hotel, and will suggest itineraries for a tour of the city or nearby countryside. Group discounts are available.
Another useful option is the Leith Cycle Company at 276 Leith Walk (0131 467 7775). This friendly shop offers a selection of touring hybrids, all equipped with mudguards and pannier racks, with prices starting at £12 for half a day. All hires include a helmet, repair kit, lock and pump. The team at Leith Cycle Company are always happy to give advice on where to go and how to get there. Guides can be provided if you require them.
If you want a bicycle for more than two or three weeks, buying second-hand might work out cheaper than renting. But you'll need to make sure the machine is in good condition, and that it won't let you down when you're on a ride out of town. If you don't feel competent to check the bike's road-worthiness yourself, buy from a cycle shop rather than a private seller. That way, the bike will come with a guarantee - usually three months - and will have had at least a basic safety check.
A bike will get you to the countryside around Edinburgh quickly and easily.
One of Edinburgh's leading second-hand bike shops is Eastside Bikes (1 Cadzow Place, 0131 466 1740). It usually has a selection of road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids in stock, but if you don't see what you want, it's worth discussing your needs with the owners. They'll go out of their way to source a particular model, and will carefully restore it if necessary. The shop also offers a full repair service.
Soul Cycles (1 Brougham Place; 0131 228 5913) sells both new and second-hand machines, and usually has a good selection of adults' and childrens' models in stock. You might be able to pick up a basic adult bike there for around £100, but most models will be nearer £150.
Pedal Forth (17 East Cromwell Street in Leith; 0131 554 9990; closed Sundays) is another good possibility. They usually have adult bikes for between £100 and £150.
Other bike retailers occasionally have used machines for sale, but, not surprisingly, most prefer to concentrate on selling new models. Cycle Scotland (see above) is a good place to look for a bargain, as they regularly sell off their old rental bikes.
One final possibility would be to pick up a second-hand cycle at the Bike Station (250 Causewayside; 0131 668 1996). This is a community project which accepts donations of old bikes and refurbishes them for the benefit of the long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged groups. They also sell refurbished bikes to the general public as a means of raising funds.
The Bike Station often has bikes for sale from around £95 (£30 - £40 for kids' models). Even if you only use it for a couple of weeks, that might still work out cheaper than renting. And when you've finished with it, you can donate it back to them. All their bikes are road-worthy and guaranteed. Note that the Bike Station is only open Tuesdays to Saturdays.
If you can't find a suitable model at the outlets mentioned here, your other option is to buy from a private seller. Look for advertisements in the press or on notice boards in community centres, cafes, supermarkets and the like. Or check some of the many web sites where you can buy second-hand goods, such as Loot or Ebay. But do be cautious about bidding for a bike without seeing it. For that reason, Gumtree is a good choice, as it makes it easy for the buyer to meet the seller in person and to examine the goods before buying.
If you do buy a second-hand bike from a private seller, be sure to satisfy yourself as to its road-worthiness. If necessary, pay a bike shop to give it a service before you set out on a long ride. And remember to budget for any essential accessories. A good-quality new cycle helmet could add significantly to your costs.
Whether you rent or buy, you'll find a bike is a great asset in Edinburgh. It's the fastest and most economical form of transport within the city and an excellent way to explore the nearby countryside. You'll also be able to join some of the many organised rides that are listed on this site. Happy pedalling.
Up-to-date listing of all local rides.
Cycling in Edinburgh - Your Questions Answered
Interested in riding a bike in the Scottish capital? This FAQ will give you the information you need to get started.
Edinburgh Bike Paths: A Cyclist's Guide
How to get from A to B on two wheels.
Escape Edinburgh by Bike
These routes will get you out of the city quickly and safely.
The Edinburgh to St. Andrews (Lepra) bike ride
Everything you need to know about this popular event.
On the road bike
by Ned Boulting
"How Britain became obsessed with cycling. ... An amusing and personal exploration of the austere, nutty soul of British cycling."
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