My boyfriend and I are going to be coming to Australia to do a long-distance bike trip starting in Adelaide and ending in Sydney. We'd like to either hire or buy touring/hybrid bikes for the trip - does anyone have a suggestion on where we can do this as inexpensively as possible?
These intercity trips are my passion. Seen many people along the way too use all kind of bikes and some with trailers as well. Done a few trips now on a very cheap carbon road bike which cost me less than $500 to build up, but has been amazingly reliable. Good reliable wheels is the key, the rest of the bike can be anything so long as it is comfortable to ride.
Only time I hired a bike for a long trip was in Singapore when I circumnavigated the island using a map print on a hotel table napkin. The bike cost $50 for the day from a bike shop and think I definitely got good value as the hire fee equated to about 25c per kilometre. In your case probably worth purchasing a pair of bikes and selling them at the end of your trip.
Accommodation can be organised easily if you aren’t too particular and can range from $30-$50 per night in a hotel. However remember that most places its very difficult to organise anything after 9 pm. A few times I worked out which town I would be in by about 2 pm in the afternoon then googled up accommodation and contact details and rang the hotel requesting a room for that night and told them my expected time of arrival. Its better than sleeping in public toilets (done this too).
Perhaps the biggest cost for travelling is food. Cycling expends an amazing amount of calories. A Melbourne to Adelaide trip over 5 days cost me over $400 in food....but thats me.
One useful tip if you are using backpacks is that dirty washing can be heavy to carry. Once I posted my dirty washing home as I was only about a day from home (less than 400 km). Also plan the distances between towns carefully....largest gap I have crossed with nothing in between (no water stops) was 108 km which is about 4 hours.....know the weather such as wind and temperature and carry extra water....nothing else matters more than this...Also phone reception can be very dodgey in some parts too and can find yourself pretty isolated.
Yes touring is a challenge and the end result can be very satisfying as you remember the experience for a long, long time.
Hostels of YHA are cheaper than hotels, if you can find them where you cycle. http://www.yha.com.au/
A cheaper option are backpackers which tend to be more down-market. Google 'backpackers Australia' for several links.
Even cheaper (you wrote 'inexpensively') are camping grounds. Probably several book guides but online search from home would suit your needs.
Some of the old country hotels are pretty low budget, basic facilities but adequate.
Thanks! Yeah, we know this will be a challenge but also an adventure and I think it will provide tons of fun memories! Thanks so much for you thoughts and experience - very helpful! I think our plan is to stay in hostels, maybe camp and use warmshowers.org and couchsurfing for sleeping! Food will definitely be a pretty hefty expense but we're prepared for that!
another issue is many small country towns are unlikely to have a bike shop so you need to be able to do the majority of repairs yourself.
If you are not comfortable with fixing a flat and repairing tubes of adjusting gears you need to learn.
there are also extensive areas were there is no mobile phone service.
While using back roads is quieter there can be very little traffic so if you have problems it can be very lonely.
I have ridden all day on back roads and not seen a car.
In the last week I came across a link to an app on how to repair your bike. A back-up for emergencies or touring. I do not have a smart phone so did not record the link.
We ride pretty regularly and have fixed flats and made repairs - and are reading up on that for additional tips so we should be ready for most issues!
Thanks! Yes, we know it'll be hot - but our timing isn't really flexible. We'll make sure to stay hydrated as best we can!
Do you by chance have an email for that couple that you met from Manhattan?
I will look at work, we did keep in touch.
Thanks, Frank! Sounds great!
Have you looked at these forums?
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ You'll need to navigate around on this site to find people who are riding or have ridden the route you are thinking of.
You might get a slightly more positive and helpful response than all the scare mongers on AC!!
Alot of people bang on about needing a specific touring bike, carrying spare spokes, tires, chains and tools and the kitchen sink in case of emergencies, but I've always cycle toured on a standard MTB fitted with rear rack. Australia is a big place, but between Sydney and Adelaide you'll never be far from a town, or a bus or some helpful passer by if you have issues with the bike.
To be honest, you could pick up a standard steel or alloy framed hybrid bike (look on ebay or www.bikexchange.com.au) and just add some rear panniers and you'd be good to go. If you are planning on riding the coastal route then if anything major goes wrong with the bike you can just jump on a bus to the nearest town with a bike shop get it fixed and then keep riding. You'll be amazed at all the grey nomads who will stop and offer help, water, food along the way.
The Vivente Randonneur touring bike has a pretty good reputation at a great price (<$2000) and there is an Adelaide distributor (http://www.trakcycles.com.au/).
I just looked on Bike Exchange and you can get a Giant "Touring" bike for $419 from the Giant shop in the city. OK its not light, or fast, and the gearing looks a bit undercooked but as long as you don't want to set any long distance records or Strava KOM's it would do the job. Or for a bit more coin, the Focus Wasgo, disc brakes and rear rack for $1250 at the Bike Station (Brighton Road) or the Kona Sutra from Trak Cycles (this has front and rear pannier racks).
If you want to go super cheap, then drop into one of the many Cash Converters (or similar) and pick up a second hand MTB/hybrid. You may need to spend a few days in Adelaide wandering around the pawn shops to find something suitable, then getting the bike serviced and checked over first.
Have a great trip!
PS have you thought about shipping your bikes to Adelaide and just picking them up here? If all the online bike sellers can ship entire bikes internationally then it would work out much cheaper to just ship your bikes ahead of you. Then pack them up in Sydney and ship them home again