If you want to buy two €1000 bikes in Spain with a €800 kiddie trailer, for your family-of-four biking adventure, you don’t need my help. I recommend walking into any of the small biking shops in Spain and handing over your credit card, they’ll take care of you (I used the Croozer bike trailer and it’s really worth the €450 but alas…)
I think this advice will be roughly applicable to most of Europe, but I really know the Spanish system because I did so much research here and on-the-ground looking.
New or used?
Used: There are lots of great bikes out there. You can find some fantastic deals. Craigslist is not really used and loquo.com is hit and miss depending on what city you’re in. We had a lot of luck with segundamano.es (“second hand” in Spanish). You will need to know what autonomous community you’re in, for example, in Pamplona we’re in Navarra. We found two used mountain bikes listed for about €90 but talked the owners down to €50 for both bikes. They needed another €22 in repairs (to fix the breaks on one and replace the pedals on the other).
New: For new and super budget, the cheapest place we found was Decathlon – and they have locations everywhere. The cheapest bike they have is about €150 and I’ve seen them around town, they look good.
Next up: finding the kiddie trailer
It helps if you know some Spanish, but we mostly used segundamano.es and searched for combinations of “bici remolque”, “bici carro” and “bici carrito” because no one can really agree on what to call it. It will give you false positives, but that’s what I did. The other option is ordering online. Why? Because for most of the small bike shops they don’t sell them, and if they do, they are selling the higher end models, the ones like Croozer and Thule, the latter of which goes for over €1,000. Decathlon does sell one model, it’s €175 and very basic with no conversion to a stroller and no storage. But, as we found out, not every store carries them, as the one in Pamplona didn’t.
The ciclotekstore.com had some really affordable options, but we just ran out of time to ship it. If you’re trying to coordinate this, I would reach out to a hotel or camping resort about staying there and receiving packages.
What happened to us? Well we got our bikes in Pamplona, but then couldn’t find a trailer for the kids. We could have bought baby seats but then you can’t mount a pannier for your stuff. So you’re wearing a backpack with a child sitting behind you, it just didn’t seem very comfortable for the kid, if even possible. So we looked at Bilbao and San Sebastian on the used listings, and Drew texted, in Spanish, several people, until he found what he wanted and took a bus over to get it, and returned to Pamplona with it. Headache! If we had to do it again, we’d still buy the used bikes locally but probably would have shipped something from ciclotekstore or amazon to where we were staying for the kid trailer.
For the rest of the gear…
If you need panniers, baskets, GPS devices, helmets, biking clothes and so on… I would go to Decathlon. They have a great selection and reasonable prices. (They also have tons of stores in France and the Euro Velo 6 starts near Nantes, where there is a store, so you could just fly into Paris, take the train to Nantes, buy everything and start biking).
It took us a full 7 days to get outfitted because we spent so much time visiting bike shops and contacting people about used bikes, then getting our bikes fixed. But with our €50 bikes, €22 in repairs and €70 trailer, it was worth the wait. We probably saved about €300 and got to see quite a bit of the lovely city of Pamplona, which I think can be best appreciated from one of it’s many sprawling parks, sitting under the shade of a tree, as your kids play. There maybe have been a bottle of wine, baguettes and brie involved — basically we’re eating our budget instead of spending it on gear.
Here’s what we ended up spending (converted to USD):
Used Mountain Bike: $27
Used Mountain Bike 2: $40
Bike repairs: $30
New tires for one bike: $34
Used 2 Child Bike Trailer: $81
Taking the bus 2 hours to pick it up: $43
Hats/Biking Clothes: $45
Rear mounted racks (2): $54
One set of panniers 20 L each side: $38
Tent, sleeping bags, foam mats: $81
Two spare inner tubes, a bike pump and allen wrench kit: $16
Bungee cords: $14
Of course, we have plenty of the room in the budget to make repairs or add more things… in fact after three days of biking we bought new tires for one of the bikes, a couple more bike tubes and a second set of panniers for $95. I expect we’ll continue to add things, but one of the benefits of starting out with just the bare minimum is that you don’t over spend or over pack. With the bikes, we could have replaced the tires immediately but we weren’t sure how they would ride or if we’d need to get new ones.
As you can see from this photo, we strapped backpacks to the top of our racks, which worked pretty well. We are looking at a total of 40 L for the pannier, a 40 L backpack (which holds the camping gear, like the blankets, mats and so on) and a 28 L backpack for our computers. Then we loaded a bunch of stuff on the baby trailer, but that wasn’t really working, so we bought a second pannier for food and kid supplies, bringing us up to 148 L total.
We also have a solar panel on the top, which runs about $350 but wasn’t included in the budget (we love it though) — I got it from Voltaic Systems — which if you can afford it, even on shady days, it charges our phones and ipad enough for camping, and it will handle a few hours of computer time with heavy processing (like watching video, which chews through battery).
They are not the perfect or best bikes, but it got us out the door. It works. And we won’t feel bad to leave them behind at the end of the trip when we fly home.