Bikes, roads & navigation

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The road surface depends on the tour style you select. Read more about what type of surface to expect on our Tour Styles page.

Quick answer: Select whichever bike you are most familiar with and comfortable riding. 

We wrote this blog post about the difference between these two bike types to help you select the right one.

Yes, we offer e-bikes on our tours in Europe, Argentina and Chile.

E-bikes handle much like a regular bike and can be a great alternative for cyclist needing an extra boost. E-bikes provide greater access to bicycle touring for cyclists that are recovering from injuries (and have not fully regained previous fitness levels), less-experienced riders, and those desiring the opportunity to conquer more challenging tours.

Before committing to an e-bike on tour, we encourage you ride one for a full day over a variety of terrain at home. Many bike shops have e-bikes available for rent. Because these bikes are heavier (50+ pounds) they require both strength and balance, especially when mounting and dismounting the bike (regardless of terrain) and when traveling at slow speeds. If you have trouble with stability, handling or balance these bikes are not recommended for you. 

Read our full information on e-bikes here.

We require that everyone wears a helmet on tour. We recommend that you bring your own helmet so you know it fits and is comfortable. Consider adopting one of these strategies for packing your helmet. Upon request, we can provide a lightly-used helmet (please provide your helmet size).

All of our bikes in South America and Europe, including e-bikes, accommodate bar-end mirrors. Please bring your mirror if you’d like to use it.

While we have a variety of saddles for you to choose from, saddle preference can be a very individualized choice. Because the bike saddle plays such a prominent role in your comfort we encourage you to bring your own saddle if you feel it would be best for you. If you do bring your own saddle, do not bring the seat post and make sure that the saddle has rails for mounting in order to fit our bikes. Our tour leaders will mount and adjust the saddle at the bike fitting and remove it at tour end for you. P

lease note: carbon saddle rails are not compatible with our seat post clamps.

No, there is no discount for bringing your own bike.

If you decide to bring your own bike, you will be responsible for transporting or shipping the bike to and from the tour and covering any expenses you incur. You must be able to assemble and disassemble your bike and have the tools and any spare parts necessary to maintain its operation.

Yes, if you’d like to use “clipless pedals” (SPD-type etc.) on tour, bring your own – and don’t forget your shoes! For comfortable walking while taking a sightseeing break, we recommend you bring cycling shoes with a recessed cleat (e.g. mountain bike style shoes), or a light back-up pair to carry in the rear pack. Tour leaders will install and uninstall your pedals for you.

If you’re on a Classic, Bike and Boat, or Expedition tour, you’ll follow our chalk dust arrows! If you’re on a Gravel Explorer or a Self-guided tour, you’ll use a GPS or the RideWithGPS app on your phone.  

On-tour essentials

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On Classic, Gravel Explorer, and Expedition-style tours we use comfortable hotels and local-style inns. In Europe, this means they are primarily 3-4 star hotels. We might occasionally use a 2 star hotel when there are no other choices. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential, so we choose comfortable, well-managed hotels. All rooms have a private bathroom.

Above all, we select our hotels for location. In cities, for example, our hotels are within walking distance of city-center sights. When we (rarely) choose a luxury hotel far from the center of town, it’s worth it.

In Argentina/Chile our hotels are, of necessity, a mixture of traditional, small country inns and modern resort hotels. 

Boat accommodations on Bike and Boat tours are smaller, by necessity. 

For more information, read “What’s in a room?

We do our best to accommodate all dietary preferences and restrictions although in some locations access to various food supplies can be more limited than others. Read more on meals and drinks on tour.

We plan our tours around the best cycling season. For more detailed weather information about the area you are going to travel in, including historic averages, there are plenty of resources online. You might start with this article we wrote.

There are lots of options for how you can go about doing laundry, although the easiest is just to plan to use the sink and some soap. Read more on laundry while on tour.

We provide a detailed packing list that includes all you need but not too much. Many of our customers wear lycra bike shorts and cycling jerseys for the rides. We also recommend gloves, sunglasses and a helmet (mandatory). 

All our guided tours feature full van support, including luggage shuttle, water and snack resupply, mechanical assistance, and rides for tired cyclists! 

On our Self-guided tours, we’ll ensure your luggage is transported to the next destination. However, there is no support van. Refer to the Self-guided tour style page for more details.  

For questions and tips about staying healthy, please visit our health and safety page.

Travel planning

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Every tour webpage includes step-by-step instructions on how to arrive and depart from your tour, as well as a daily itinerary that provides an overview of each day’s starting and ending location, activities, mileage/gain, included meals, and accommodations.

ExperiencePlus! offers help with travel logistics on Classic, Expedition and Bike and Boat tours! We are here to help you coordinate your transportation to and from the tour and reserve extra night stays at your tour starting and/or ending hotels. Read more about ExperiencePlus! travel assistance

Flights are not included in our tour prices. ExperiencePlus! partners with an air concierge service who can help you find and book your perfect itinerary. Review the ExperiencePlus! travel assistance section to learn more.

ExperiencePlus! recommends taking out travel insurance to cover unexpected cancellations or trip interruptions.

Please review our separate FAQ dedicated to Cuba

Please take a look at our Travel Planning resources for additional travel information, including specifics to the countries you plan on visiting.

Selecting and booking a tour

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Inclusions differ by tour style and we have five. Compare them on this grid and then drill down to learn more.

Our travelers tend to be recreational cyclists who pedal during the summer and on weekends during good weather. These folks might make up 50-60% of our riders. The remaining cyclists might be split between complete novices (who have never pedaled more that 10 miles in their life) and avid cyclists (who will ask for more mileage every day).

Guided tours: Our typical minimum is 6-8 people and the typical maximum is 18. However, we occasionally go as low as 4 people and as high as 19. Expedition and Bike and Boat tours have higher maximums, usually between 20 to 25 people. Some tours also have higher minimums such as our Bike and Boat Tours.

Self-guided tours:  A minimum of two is required for the posted price, which is based on double-occupancy. However, solo departures are possible to arrange with an added surcharge.  

Regardless of tour style, call us to ask about the departure you are interested in. We have a good idea of how tours fill during certain times of the year.

Guided tours: You’ll naturally find others in the group who pedal your speed. Most of our groups include 2 to 4 solo travelers. On our Classic, Bike and Boat, and Expedition tours, we navigate by marking the road with chalk arrows, which allows all riders to travel at their own pace. We call this ‘guided independence.’ We are also happy to tell you about the group composition before you book a tour.

Self-guided tours: The assumption on these tours is that you are expecting to be on your own.  

Yes! We have several options for groups traveling together, from joining a published tour to designing an entirely custom offering. Click through to learn more about your options.

Absolutely. There are a variety of ways you can save money on your next bicycle tour.

Self-guided tours

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They differ in two primary ways:

Self-guided tours are unsupported, which means you need to be comfortable traveling without a tour leader or van support.

Self-guided tours depart weekly. You request the departure date that works best for you. Keep in mind that each tour has a recommended start day of the week for the best access to museums and other cultural activities. You may change the start to any day of the week, however this often affects what you’re able to see and visit and additional fees apply.

DIY bike touring folks will likely find a self-guided tour luxurious since we plan the route, reserve hotels, provide a premium bicycle, and transfer your luggage. What time you start your day is up to you. You’ll also navigate by GPS device which comes preloaded with all route options. Turn-by-turn voice navigation is also available through Ride with GPS Experience.

Guided tours are perfect for folks who enjoy traveling with others in the company of a tour leader team and support vehicle. Click the image below to download a PDF of our side-by-side comparison chart.

  1. Submit an online request for the tour and departure date of your choice. Keep in mind that start days differ by tour. You’ll have the best experience if you stick with the listed start day, but we can start a tour on nearly any day of the week (additional fees apply).
  2. Add extra meals or experiences from our menu of offerings. Breakfasts are always included.
  3. We’ll coordinate your self-guided tour and confirm your hotel nights and any additional experiences.
  4. A few weeks before your departure, we’ll email you access to a RideWithGPS Experience that you can download to your phone. The Experience houses all itinerary, hotel, route, sightseeing and contact information you’ll need for your tour. Navigate the route with the provided GPS device or use the RWGPS Experience on your phone.
  5. On the first day of your tour we meet you in person for a professional bike-fitting and orientation.
  6. We’ll transfer your luggage between hotels.
  7. We’ll meet you at the end of the tour to pick up your bike.

You select your own self-guided departure/start date. Each tour lists a range of months in which tours are run, along with a preferred start day of the week. If you wish to start on a different day of the week than what is listed, you will incur a change fee.

Departure dates that have already been requested and confirmed are listed for each tour. You are welcome to join those already confirmed departure dates. That does not mean you will travel with those other cyclists, only that they will be following the same route and therefore may be staying in the same hotel.

You will navigate using a GPS device that is pre-loaded with each day’s route map, elevation profile, and cues. Once you start following a track, audible notifications announce upcoming turns that are also indicted on the GPS display. You will receive instruction on how to use this device.

Your personalized RideWithGPS Experience also includes maps, cues, and turn-by-turn voice navigation. You are welcome to use either/both devices.

All breakfasts are included and normally served continental style with assorted beverages, rolls or pastries, fruit, cereal and yogurt. Some hotels provide cold cuts and/or eggs in addition to the continental breakfast. If you have any dietary needs or food allergies, please ask and we’ll be glad to help! Some tours include a dinner – please check the specific itinerary for details. Your RideWithGPS Experience lists meal suggestions for lunch, dinner and stops along the way.

If you have trouble on the road, we provide a support number to call. Most support issues can be resolved over the phone, or we help you make your way to a local bike shop or get a bike shop mechanic out to you. If necessary, we can help arrange for transportation (at an extra cost to be paid by the customer). Overall, we keep our bikes in excellent working condition, so malfunctions are very rare.

Our guided and self-guided tours visit many of the same places and also use a few of the same hotels. However, overall route and daily itineraries are very different. Self-guided tours rarely include the organized group visits to artisan studios, museums, castles and other cultural sites that we integrate into our guided tours. Instead, your personalized Ride With GPS Experience includes recommendations for places to see and things to do along your route.

Yes, we encourage you to make your self-guided bicycle tour a personalized experience. Each tour lists a handful of activities, such as a guided tour or a special culinary experience, that you may add to your tour (for an additional fee). When it comes to riding options, several tours already list longer ride options. If you know you would like longer mileage every day, let us know this during the early stages of trip planning and we’ll be sure to load your GPS and Ride With GPS Experience with additional tracks.

Each tour departure can support a maximum of 14 cyclists. Yet since there are so many departure dates to choose from, interest in specific departure dates tends to spread out. It is not uncommon that other cyclists will book the same departure as you. However, you are neither required nor expected to travel with any other cyclists. Consider the trip your own!

On days you move to a new hotel, you will drop your luggage at the hotel front desk by a pre-arranged time. Be sure you attached your ExperiencePlus! luggage tags to all pieces. The luggage fairy will deliver your bags to the next hotel by early afternoon.

Absolutely! You may also download route information into your own GPS device or phone.

You are responsible for bike damage or theft, and you’ll agree to this when you sign our contract at delivery. That said, we offer plenty of advice and tips on how to properly store and secure your bikes every night or when you stop along the way every day. 

Yes. Our Terms and conditions summarize our transfer protocols for switching from a guided to a self-guided tour.

Self-guided tours earn Re-Cycle credits, but you may not use Re-Cycle credits on Self-guided tours. Visit the Re-Cycle section of our Ways to Save page for details.