I have never driven my bike anywhere before but will be on a vacation with my bike in a few weeks and will need to rent a car to get around. Generally speaking, what do people do when they want to take a bike somewhere in a rented car? Do any of the car rental agencies rent cars with bike racks, or at least permit you to attach a bike rack to their cars? In the alternative, does it work to take the front wheel off and put the bike in the trunk (or get an SUV and stick it in the back the same way)?
Any advice, experiences to recount, suggestions etc would be much appreciated.
I'm car-less so I had to rent a car to take my bike when I participated in the Capital to Capital Century in Richmond, VA. I hate to say this, also because I do a lot of car renting right now about three a year, the more you tell a rental company what you do with their car the more they can charge you. You have to use your best judgment and know yourself. Usually with the following rental companies, Budget, Enterprise, and Dollar they don't tell you the type of car they are going to give you until you get there. Sometimes if you ask for a mid-sized car they'll give you a compact and say its midsize. Occasionally, at the counter you have the option to ask for something bigger if they have one available but don't tell them what your going to do with it.
I don't know your age and that plays a big role with rentals. If you're between 20-25 and not in the military a rental company will charge you a daily fee (it depends on the state you rent from not to mention if they allow to rent a car if you're under 25) for the rental. Also they will not allow you to rent a truck, SUV or Van if you fit this catagory. Nine times out of ten anything you do that car they don't allow i.e. if you put a dent in it, they will charge you a fee, return it without the amount of gas they designated they will charge you a fee with Budget, if you return before the time you are supposed to its a fee. There's a fee for returning it late over an hour late. Therefore, I would not recommend you mount a bike rack on it- not unless you can put it on and take it off without them knowing it and altering the car in anyway.
I was 22 at the time, I'm 23 now so I was reduced to renting and hoping I got something I could put a bike into. The last time I did it I got lucky and they gave me a Dodge Caliber. If you are familiar with this type of car its a hatchback the back seats come down completely and the truck lifts up so all I had to do was take off the front wheel and position the bike so it would fit.
This would also be a good time to purchase rental insurance, only because I'm assuming your going to be around alot of cyclists that may bump into the rental and either leave dents of scuff marks. If you own a car and have insurance on it you could save money by not doing this because most insurance companies offer rental insurance I know Progressive does I can't speak for any others.
If you're over 25 I suggest you rent a truck or SUV put the bike inside and be extremely careful of not chipping paint on the outside of the car or scuffing the inside with the bike. When you're done sweep the dirt out and wash out the dirt marks. As crazy as it sounds its better to rent a U-Haul since their age limits are more relaxed and that's what they are for moving things. Unfortunately, they charge you base a fee and by the amount of miles you drive. If you rent their trucks they will charge you an extra fee because they are leased and U-Haul doesn't own them.
I have never had much experience taking the wheel off and putting a bike in the truck without having to tie the hood of the truck down to the car. I find that usually trucks are too small and the handlebars do not fit. However, I always had mountain bikes with straight handle bars and never tried it with a racing bike. I would try that in a rental, when I did place a bike in a truck I had my mother's 1994 Grand Am. I loved that car it was so big and I could easily side it into the back seat without taking anything off. Actually I could fit two bikes in there but that's another story!
I hope this help, a lot of this is just weighing the options, fees and your age.
thanks so much, that is very helpful (i fit in the 25+ category and rates on SUVs at some agencies are actually lower than on cars right now, must be the gas-mileage effect, but anyway it sounds like that is the way to go). thanks again!
Hi, I suggest you not worry about it and just plan to take the front wheel off your bike and put it in the car. I went to New Zealand with my bike once and they had no rack. They also surprised me with a very small economy hatchback car. After my shock and wonder about what I was going to do to accomodate my bike and luggage, I got to work taking off the wheel and carefully packing everything. It all fit in easily and I was able to remove my bike every day without a hassle. I have also taken off the front wheel and put my bike in the back seat of a car. So, you will be fine. I also suggest you say as little as possible to the car rental company and just know it will work out. Good luck! Jan