You wouldn’t think that one of the hilliest metropolitan areas on the West Coast would become such a haven for two-wheel pedal-powered machines but San Franciscans really do love their bikes. From The Mission District to Knob Hill, across the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond you can’t go anywhere in San Francisco without seeing someone on a bike. 3.5% of all trips through the city are on the back of a bicycle and that number is set to hit 8% by 2018. It’s no wonder then that there are dozens—if not hundreds—of bike rental companies in San Francisco. But which are the best and which should you avoid?
Maybe you’re not sold on the idea of owning a bike and want to give pedal power a try. Maybe your bike is in the shop and you need a rental to get through the workweek. Maybe you’re visiting San Francisco and want to experience it like a true native. Regardless of the why, rest assured that the 10 bicycle rental companies below are some of the best in San Francisco. [Note that all prices stated are as of the date of this post.]
1. Bike Hut
Run by a non-profit, Bike hut’s mission is to promote cycling through youth training, affordable rentals, and education. Bike Hut has one location at Pier 40 (at Embarcadero and Townsend). It’s convenient for tourists taking The BART so they can maximize their exploration of San Francisco. Prices start at $6 per hour or $23 per day and include maps, a helmet, and a bike lock. Plus, if you’re a member of the SFBC and your bike gets stolen, Bike Hut will send you a rental free for up to a week. Find them online at thebikehut.org.
2. San Francisco Bicycle Rentals
Located at the Cannery on Jefferson Street (near Fisherman’s Wharf) San Francisco Bike Rentals is just ½ block from the start of the Golden Gate Promenade Bike Path. This company offers a variety of bikes to choose from including a comfort tandem (for $15 per hour) but their base model runs $7 per hour or $30 per day. They also offer a variety of kids’ equipment (including tow-behind trailers) for tourists travelling with young children. Find them online at BikeRentalsSanFrancisco.com.
3. Swell Bicycles
Swell Bicycles does more than just rent bikes. They repair them as well. And because owners Uri and Will are mechanics by trade, their bikes are always in tip-top condition. Located at 4002 Irvine Street, Swell Bicycles offers “Dutch Style” upright bicycle rentals starting at just $25 per day. However, they also offer weekly and monthly rentals too at significantly reduced rates. Keep in mind, the shop is closed on Wednesdays so plan accordingly. Find them online at SwellBicycles.com.
4. CityRide Bicycle Rentals
Located in the Hayes Valley (370B Linden Street to be exact) CityRide Bicycles is right in the heart of San Francisco. Their location is excellent for tourists who want to see Market Street, The Mission, and Lower Haight on two wheels. They offer three models of bicycle starting with the “City Bike” for just $8 per hour or $36 per day. If you reserve with CityRide online you can usually get a significant discount (up to 20%). Find them at CityRideBikeRentals.com.
5. Golden Gate Rides
Located at 517 O’Farrell Street, Golden Gate Rides is in the heart of the Tenderloin. While their rental prices are on the higher end of the spectrum ($25 per half-day or $35 per day) they do come custom fitted to your height and with complimentary additions like a helmet, lights, maps, safety gear, and “refreshment for the road.” You can even rent a GoPro camera for the day to document your ride around the city. Find them online at GoldenGateRides.com.
6. Ferry Building Bike Rentals
Operated by San Francisco Bike Rentals Ferry Building Bike Rentals is located (not ironically) at the San Francisco Ferry Building. This makes it the perfect place for tourists to pick up and drop of their rides and explore San Francisco in between. The company offers a number of recommended routes and their customer service is top notch. In fact, they were voted Best Bike Rentals in San Francisco for 2015 by San Francisco Magazine. Bikes start at $7 per hour or $30 per day. Find them online at FerryBuildingBikeRentals.com.
7. Mission Bicycles
This company really specializes in building custom bicycles for San Franciscans from the ground up. However, they do rent a selection of bikes for $40 per day and offer a number of bicycle tours throughout San Francisco including an interesting Earth Quake Tour which takes visitors past scars left by the big 1906 shakeup that levelled a majority of the city. Mission Bicycle Company is located at 766 Valencia Street. Find them online at MissionBicycle.com.
8. Basically Free Bike Rentals
Basically Free Bike Rentals in San Francisco has a unique take on this service. The company offers store credit in the amount you spend on a bike rental—effectively making the rental free. They encourage bicyclist to rent from their location at 1196 Columbus Street, ride wherever, and return the bike at their Sports Basement Golden Gate store where the credit is redeemed. Rental rates start at $24 for 3 hours or $32 per day. Find them online at SportsBasement.com.
9. San Francyclo
Located near Golden Gate Park (746 Arguello Boulevard), this bike rental company in San Francisco is perfect for those who want to see the park on two wheels. They offer hourly rates starting at $10 and daily rates as low as $40. Keep in mind this is more of a bike shop for cyclists than a rental company so the emphasis is on sales and repair. Find them online at SanFranCyclo.com.
10. San Francisco Bicycle Rentals
Located at 1325 Columbus Avenue, Bay City Bike Rentals and Tours specializes in tours so beware the upsell. However, they also offer a number of self-guided tours for adventurous tourists who want to see the city but don’t feel like following a guide all day. Their rental services start at $32 per day and they offer electric bike rentals (starting at $58 per day) for those who need a little extra help getting up San Francisco’s hills. Find them online at BayCityBike.com.
Bicycle Rental Companies in San Francisco Want You to Ride Safely
Many of these rental services come with complimentary safety gear (including helmets) and optional instruction for beginner bicyclists. As a San Francisco bicycle accident attorney, I urge you to take advantage of both the equipment and the pre-ride safety talk. Even if you’ve ridden in the past, getting around San Francisco on the back of a bicycle can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The more information you have, the safer your ride will be. So get out there and see what San Francisco has to offer but ride safely.