Barcelona bike tours…where do we begin?!
Choosing one of the many Barcelona bike tours for your next visit to the Mediterranean’s best city is simple and really complicated at the same time.
This is a good problem to have, in the sense that the complications and the simplicity are all derived from the fact that Barcelona is an amazing biking city with a long list of bike tour companies from which to choose. There is no shortage of options.
Also, city planners have put a lot of investment into making Barcelona a friendly city for bike tours. In fact, a 2013 story by Business Insider ranked Barcelona in the top-15 most bike-friendly cities in the world.
Another 2013 repor — this one by the city’s growth department — said that more than half of Barcelona residents either walk or ride a bike when they travel within the city. Good thing the city has more than 100 miles of bike lanes within the city limits!
So, without being too self-promoting, we’ve created a list of five things you should research before choosing your next Barcelona bike tour:
1. Guide-to-Rider Ratio on Barcelona Bike Tours
Have you ever been on a tour where there are so many people you have to elbow, fight, claw and scratch your way to the front of the pack just to hear a few juicy facts and stories from your guide? Multiply that frantic feeling by 10 for a bike tour.
That last thing you want to do is be a part of a group of 30 riders with one guide. Why? The aforementioned kicking and scratching aside, it’s really easy to get lost in Barcelona’s side streets and alleys.
If you get stuck in the back of the pack and your tour company doesn’t have a rider behind you to usher you along, you could get left behind.
2. Quality/Size of Bikes on Your Bike Tour of Barcelona
Barcelona bike tour bikes are a lot like hotels. You usually get what you pay for. For example, we’ve had the luxury of lodging in some amazing resorts worth every one of the sizable stack of pennies, quarters and dollars we paid to stay there.
On the other hand, we’ve stayed in a two-bed dorm room in a college outside of Tallinn, Estonia, where we shared a bathroom with the room next to us and the accommodations were Spartan, at best. There was no continental breakfast, room service or restaurant. Just empty college hallways and one “staff” member sitting in the check-in booth by the side door.
The Barcelona bike tours landscape is the exact same way. There are some tour companies who provide you with a tour bike that has seen better days – the frame is dented and scratched, the brakes squeal like the time you stepped on your dog’s paw and the seat wobbles like a drunk tourist stumbling down Las Ramblas. Just like the hotel world, cheaper is not always better.
On the other hand, there are bike tour companies (us included, of course!) that offer top-of-the line bikes worth every penny you spend on them. You might think this is an unnecessary expense, but don’t fall into that penny-pinching trap! If you have the money to pay a few more dollars for a good bike, do it:
- You’ll experience a more comfortable ride
- You decrease the chances of something going wrong with your bike
- High-quality frames usually weigh much less than their cheaper, heavier counterparts
Here’s the truth: sizes matters on Barcelona bike tours, especially if you’re taking a tour of the Old City. Big, clunky bikes lack the nimbleness of smaller folding bikes.
When you’re veering and pedaling your way through tiny cobblestone streets, agility is the key. Small bikes are light, turn quicker and afford you the responsiveness you need to enjoy your experience. Plus, when you stop for a quick café con leche, it’s much easier to pick up a small bike and maneuver it into a tight space — between cafe tables, let’s say, or into a bike rack.
3. Group Size for Barcelona Bike Tours
Your Barcelona bike tour choice is usually determined by price and bikes. What’s often left out of the equation is group size. Think differently — make group size a top priority.
When you are on a bike tour in Barcelona, you need to remember that you’ll be negotiating some narrow roads, zipping around tight corners and weaving your way through a sea of tourists.
Because of that, you don’t want to be in a group of 20 or 30 riders who are starting, stopping, weaving and turning through a tangle of tourists and tight turns.
4. Guide Style on Your Bike Tour of Barcelona
Here’s the dirty little secret of the Barcelona bike tours industry — public tours are rehearsed and rehashed, the tour version of processed food.
When you’re running tours with 20 to 30 people, you don’t have time to improvise or adjust or take many questions. The result? The same stories over and over again. The same jokes. The same techniques. The same.
Without being too self-promotional, we’re proud of the fact that we, along with a small group of other tour companies in Barcelona, pride ourselves in limiting our tours to small groups and in so doing, adjusting our presentations and routes to the needs of the client. It’s organic touring at its best.
Choose a small tour and you’ll get to know your guide. More importantly, your guide will get to know you. Stories will be personalized, delivery style will be adjusted to your preferences and you’ll finish your Barcelona bike tour feeling immersed in the city and not a victim of a tired, over-rehearsed set of facts intended for masses rather than individuals.
5. Bike Delivery and Barcelona Bike Tours
We’ll end our series of Barcelona bike tours tips with something we love about what we offer on our bike tours of Barcelona: bike delivery.
We frame our bike delivery services (we’re one of a very select group of tour companies who offer it) in the context of your perfect day.
Imagine it like this: You wake up in Barcelona after a long journey the day before. You clean yourself up, grab your camera and walk down to the lobby for some breakfast, then relax with a cup of coffee. In the meantime, we’re setting up your bike (or bikes) outside the front door of your hotel. You finish off your coffee, walk out the front doors and you’re ready to go.
That’s the kind of experience we think every traveler should have when they book a bike tour in Barcelona. Easy. Convenient. Tailored to your needs.
More Barcelona Bike Tour Awesomeness
We recently had the chance to host a group of TBEX travel bloggers. Their tour was a great example of how combining the five factors together can lead to an awesome experience. We were able to personalize the tour according to the needs of the five-person group. It was amazing, the perfect example of what Barcelona bike tours should be:
If you want to know more about the Barcelona bike tours we offer, click here to go to our newly redesigned Barcelona bike tours page.