Bike Hire in Brighton: The Complete Guide


Brighton is one of the best places on earth to get on a bike and see the sights. Why? Because the weather is generally pleasant without ever being boiling hot and because the land is very flat (there are almost no hills to worry about) and that means cycling is easy. Then there’s the fact that Brighton’s too attractive to be viewed through a car window.

Brighton Bike Hire

So, What’s in our Bike Hire In Brighton: The Complete Guide? Well, we look at the public bike hire option of BTN Bike share, check out three different private bike hire options before we take a look at our recommended options for hiring bikes in Brighton, guided tours. This is everything you need to know to have a great time cycling in Britain’s best seaside town!

The Public Bike Hire Option: BTN Bike Share

The most famous of Brighton’s bike hire options is its open public bike-sharing system called Brighton Bike Share. It’s not really designed for being in constant motion, though, it’s more for nipping from one destination in Brighton to another when a taxi or a bus might be much less convenient and more expensive.

How Does BTN Bike Share Work?

If you want to hire a bike from Brighton bike-share then you must follow a 4 step process:

  1. You have to create an account with BTN Bikeshare. When you do this, you are given two options for a membership plan, there’s a “PAYG” (Pay As You Go) option called Easy Rider which costs 3p/minute you have the bike plus a £1 unlocking fee (that means even if you have the bike for a single minute – you will pay £1.03 and 3 pence) and then there’s an annual subscription which is £72 and means you get 30 minutes of ride time each day plus your unlocking fees are waived.
  2. Then you go and find a bike at one of the many BTN Bike Share stations around Brighton. You key in either your mobile number (if you registered using the smartphone app) or your account number (if you registered on the website) plus a 4-digit PIN onto the keypad on the rear of your chose bike and it will unlock it for you.
  3. Before you start cycling, you can put the U-lock in the holster on the bike. If you want to stop for a moment but are not returning the bike at that point – use the “HOLD” button to temporarily lock the bike to a rack (this is important for those on Easy Rider plans because if you just lock the bike up, you will then get charged an unlocking fee next time you get on a bike and that could get expensive fast).
  4. To end a ride, you need to lock up the bike at another BTN Bikeshare Hub around the city. It is OK, if there’s no room at the hub to lock up the bike at any near public bike parking location, however, there’s a catch – if BTN Bikeshare thinks you’ve parked too far away, they reserved the right to levy a collection fee for the bike.

If you want to get the BTN Bikeshare App rather than use their website you can find them on the Google Play store here and on the Apple App Store here.

There are some neat features of the BTN Bike Share that many users may not be aware of too:

  • You can reserve a bike. If you use the mobile app, then you can log in and ask the local BTN bike hub to reserve a bike for a period of 30 minutes. However, there is a catch – you have to pay for these 30 minutes as though you were riding the bike.
  • The charges are capped at £12 a day. So, you can’t end up completely broke if you keep the bike from dusk until dawn.
  • You must return the bike by midnight. We’re not sure what happens if you don’t – maybe it turns into a pumpkin? We imagine that you can get fined if you don’t but they’re not clear about this and we haven’t tested it.
  • The fine for leaving a bike too far from a BTN bike hub is only £2 unless you leave it outside of their service area (which is on a map in the smartphone app) then they fine you a whopping £10!
  • You can get paid for collecting bikes outside of the BTN bike hubs. You get given a £1 credit if you take a bike back from another location (these bikes are marked on a map in the app in blue).
  • You can check whether the bike is locked up properly by checking to see the “Thank You” message on the screen along with an itinerary of your journey. The lock should emit a loud “beep” if it’s not in place properly.
  • You don’t get insurance for riding a bike on the BTN Bikeshare scheme and if you feel that you might want some, you’d need to arrange that yourself.
  • You can unlock 2 bikes a day with the Easy Rider plan, but they are both charged separately. That also means 2 x unlocking fees at £1 each.
  • You can upgrade from Easy Rider to Annual Rider at any time, with no extra charges applied.
  • If your account goes into a negative balance, they automatically charge your credit card for it a day or two later.
  • You can unlock 2 bikes a day on the Annual Rider scheme, but you only pay per minute after the 30 minutes has been used, you do not pay an unlocking fee on either bike.
  • If your bike is faulty, you can report the issue using the keypad on the bike and summons an engineer to fix it.

There is also a nice reward scheme where you earn rewards from local partner companies for cycling miles on the BTN Bikeshare bikes.

The Downsides Of Brighton Bikeshare

As public bike-sharing goes, BTN Bike Share is among the best providers in the world but there are disadvantages to using the scheme too and we’d say that they include:

  • Booking is limited. If you’re having problems then getting to speak to a human being at BTN Bike Share can be challenging, at best. You’re on your own with the app whereas if you use a tour or a private bike hire operative – you’ll also be paying for service.
  • Visitors to the city may find it wasteful. If you know Brighton, you know how to get the most out of bike hire because you know where you’re going at all times. Sometimes, it’s better to pay for a guided tour and save time on getting lost, etc.
  • The bikes are not comfortable. These are bikes designed to be ridden by anyone and left out 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That means design compromises have been made, they work but they’re not a lot of fun to cycle on and they’re not very comfortable.
  • There are no helmets provided. The BTN Bike Share folks recommend you wear a helmet but they’re not making it easy for you to do so. Safety ought to be a priority for all cyclists.
  • There’s no luggage storage. If you’ve got bags with you, then you will need to get them on the bike with you. This is often completely impractical.
  • There’s no guide. A bicycle tour guide can be worth their weight in gold if they open up the city for you.

The Private Bike Hire Options in Brighton

Hiring a bike from a private company doesn’t have to break the bank and can even, in some circumstances, be cheaper than the BTN Bike Share. However, be warned that you will need to leave a fairly substantial deposit at most places (either in cash or your card) to get a bike released to you in the first place.

Secondly, if you damage their bikes, you will pay for them. Now, this is England and the bike shops aren’t scam artists (as you might find in some parts of the world) but we’d still take a few pictures of the bike when you pick it up, that way there can be no disputing who is responsible for what when you return it.

Brighton Beach Bikes

They bill themselves, accurately, as the only bike hire shop on the beach, though, we sometimes wonder why you’d want to rent a bike on the beach rather than from a more central location? But that’s between Brighton Beach Bikes and their clients.

Officially they offer “bike tours” too, but in reality, they offer the chance to buy a map and some additional information. They don’t provide any form of a guided tour and we’d say that once you take into account the cost of hiring a bike plus buying a map, you’d be better off booking a guided tour in the first place.

Their rates for bike hire are not unreasonable, however, and you can hire bikes for the following rates:

  • “Regular Bikes” (described as “perfect for exploring the seafront” cost £16 for 4 hours or more and start at £6 for an hour.
  • “Tandem Bikes” (yes, the two-seater bike much loved by Daisy) cost £32 for hours or more and start at £12 for an hour
  • “Mountain Bikes” (if you want to head off road or go a bit farther than the beach this might be the right bike for you) which are £25 for 4 hours or more and they start at £20 for an hour!
  • They also offer children’s bikes and children’s trailers for adult bikes at a rate of £6 for half a day and £9 for the whole day. If you want a child seat for your bike that’s another £5.

Their shop on the beach also sells a bunch of bicycle-themed merchandise if you want a souvenir of your time cycling one of the nation’s most attractive cities. They also sell swimwear because, well, they’re on the beach.

You can also get trivial repairs carried out on your bike or pick up accessories for the bike in their shop.

Brighton & Hove Bike Hire Centre

If you’re looking for more options when it comes to private bike hire, then you might want to give the Brighton & Hove Bike Hire Centre some consideration. Sure, they’re not on the beach but they’re not far from it and you can reserve and pay for the bikes online or at the time of pick up using a credit card.

One interesting thing we found was that despite being a British company, they quote prices in Euro on their website which means they’re going to work out cheaper than the Brighton Beach Bikes even when the numbers are the same.

Their rates for bike hire are as follows (and all hires are per day only):

  • Hybrid Bikes. That is an 18 gear Dawes trekking hybrid with alloy frames and a rear carrier so you can cart around a little shopping if you need to. 11 Euro/Day
  • Sport Hybrid Bikes. If you want something a little more dashing (geddit?) then you might want a Dawes Discovery Sports Bike which is better designed to handle mixed terrains. These are 11 Euro/Day too.
  • Children’s Bikes. These are the Dawes Academy models and are very light. They come in a range of sizes. They are 10 Euro/Day.
  • Folding Bikes. If you want a bike that you can pack away and throw on public transport then you might want this option. You’re looking at 15 Euro/Day.
  • Mountain Bikes. Forme Sterndales are the option here. Light and easy to ride with a reasonable level of ruggedness – you can get to grips with the South Downs with these. 20 Euro/Day.
  • Touring Bikes. They’re strangely silent about the model and specifications of these. They’re 20 Euro/Day too.
  • Road Bikes. These are Forme Longcliffe 4’s which are light weight and are said to provide a “professional level” of control. 20 Euro/Day.
  • Tandem Bikes. If you want the double seater then you’d need to pay 23 Euro/Day.
  • E-bikes. They can also rent you a Batribike for the princely sum of 20 Euro/Day if you don’t want to pedal all the time.

Please note: You’re going to have to pay a 100 Euro deposit on each bike that you rent from this facility. You must order online to get a collection address and they offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before the ride.

Amsterdammers’ Cycle Hire At Brighton Station – NOW CLOSED

Our final private bike hire option in Brighton is Amsterdammers’ Cycle Hire at Brighton Station which, if nothing else, certainly has the longest name of any bike hire company in the city.

They offer a key drop facility that allows you to return bikes even when the shop is shut.

Their rates are as follows:

  • 7-speed adult bikes. This is a Union Via Via which is very much the classical “student bike”. You pay £7 for 3 hours and £18 for 2 days after which it’s £5 a day.
  • Children’s bikes. They have several sizes and several brands to pick from. You pay £7 for 3 hours and £18 for 2 days after which it’s £5 a day.
  • Cargo Bike. The “Urban Arrow” you can get two kids plus you on this or even 4 kids without you or some luggage and 3 kids, or whatever combination works for you. This is a bit more expensive though and you pay £18 for 3 hours and £46 for 2 days after which it’s £12 a day.
  • The “Mother” Bike. A Cortina Roots 7-speed which has two added child seats. Plus, a luggage rack. This is fairly reasonably priced, and you pay £11 for 3 hours and £28 for 2 days after which it’s £7.50 a day.
  • The Tandem Bike. Yes, they have a 2-seater option as well and it’s a Gazelle Balance (for those well-versed in tandem bikes) and it’s a lot of fun to use. You pay £24 for 3 hours and £68 for 2 days after which it’s £17.50 a day. That makes it the most expensive tandem option for most people, unless you want to hire it for a week or more.

You are required to leave a credit/debit card imprint as a deposit. You can’t use the key drop facility for 3-hour rentals. There’s a late charge of £10/bike too There are rules on overnight storage for some of their bikes.

Bike And Guided Tour Options

We think the best way to hire a bike and see the city is to go on a guided bike tour. They might look like the expensive option at first glance but really, you get a number of benefits you don’t ge elsewhere:

  • A guided tour. Yes, it’s in the name but it’s a big difference in how you see the city, you get somebody who knows the place intimately showing you around. You learn more, see more and get more value for your time than you can by exploring by yourself.
  • Better photographs. It’s hard to be in every picture when you’re the photographer but hand your camera to a tour guide? Now, you’re the star of the show (as you should be).
  • Value for money. Add up the costs of the bike plus a map and you suddenly realize, that you’re not spending any more money and you’re getting a much better experience.
  • A safety-first approach. You’ll get bike helmets if you want them. They’ll provide luggage storage, so cycling is easier, and so on…
  • A comfortable cycle. Your tour guide is also able to make sure your bike is tailored to your needs. They can adjust things as necessary to ensure your comfort.

Brighton Bike Tours

The best-rated tour company in Brighton is Brighton Bike Tours. In fact, TripAdvisor says they are the best thing to do out of 48 possible outdoor activities in the city!

They offer a huge variety of different bike tours and we’d strongly recommend you check out their website for all the different options. However, we’d like to highlight their two most popular tour options:

The Grand Brighton Bike Tour

You won’t need to break the bank for this exceptional tour of the city’s highlights. It lasts for around 2 hours and 30 minutes and it begins at one of the city’s churches before taking you through the places that give Brighton and its skyline such a wonderfully English character.

You’ll get to hear stories that many visitors to Brighton will never experience that really brings Brighton and its history to life before your very eyes. You’ll also enjoy a brief stop for tea and cakes at the Brighton Roya Pavilion Garden Café so that you can do some people-watching (an activity you could spend days on in Brighton).

Then it’s on to the seafront where you’ll be able to drink on the beach and the surrounding areas that have justly made Brighton a filmmaker’s favourite location.

You can expect to pay between £22.50 0 £25.00

A Full List of Places You Will See on this Tour:

  • Brighton Dome
  • Brighton Pier
  • Brighton Rock Garden
  • British Airways i360
  • Eagle – Great Eastern Pub Stop
  • East Street- Brighton’s oldest street
  • Fishing Quarter
  • Graffiti Adorned back streets
  • Graffiti adorned Kensington street
  • Grand Hotel
  • Grand Parade
  • Icons Wall – Banksy
  • Little St Peters church
  • Pavilion Gardens
  • Pavilion Gardens Cafe
  • Pet cemetery
  • Poppy Filled Wild meadows
  • Preston Manor House
  • Preston Park
  • Preston Twins
  • Royal Pavilion Palace
  • Secret Garden
  • St Bartholomew’s church
  • St Peters church
  • Sydney Street
  • The Lanes
  • The Level
  • The North Laine – Bohemian Quarter
  • The Railway Viaduct

The Grand Coastal Bike Tour

If you want to spend as much time by the water as possible then you might prefer to do the Grand Coastal tour. This tour is also about 2 and a half hours long and it begins by soaking up the Victoria Lawns and North Laine before passing the Brighton dome and Pavilion on the way to the seafront.

You can then freewheel a little until you get to the boundary between Brighton and its sister town Hove. There’s a stop at the café owned by the international megastar DJ Fat Boy Slim before you head back into Brighton past the i360 (Brighton’s most striking monument).

You can expect to pay between £22.50 0 £25.00

A Full List of Places You Will See on this Tour:

  • Beach Huts
  • Big Beach Café – Fat Boy Slim’s place
  • Brighton Dome
  • Brighton Pier
  • Brighton/Hove boundary
  • British Airways i360
  • Eagle – Great Eastern Pub Stop
  • East Street- Brighton’s oldest street
  • Fishing Quarter
  • Graffiti Adorned back streets
  • Graffiti adorned Kensington street
  • Grand Hotel
  • Grand Parade
  • Hove Lagoon
  • Hove Lawns
  • Hove Promenade
  • Icons Wall – Banksy
  • Pavilion Gardens
  • Pavilion Gardens Cafe
  • Peace statue
  • Queen Victoria Statue
  • Royal Pavilion Palace
  • St Bartholomew’s church
  • St Peters church
  • Sydney Street
  • The Lanes
  • The Level
  • The North Laine – Bohemian Quarter
  • Victorian Birdcage Band Stand

CannonBall E-Mountain Bike Tours Of The Sussex Coastline

If you fancy getting a bit farther afield from Brighton, then you might want to consider an electric mountain bike tour of the Sussex Coastline with Brighton’s CannonBall E-Mountain Bike Tours.

They’re not the cheapest tour offering, and you will need to take a train to Seaford before the cycling begins (they organize this). Then you spend a couple of hours cycling along the South Downs and the Sussex Coastline.

You’ll see the Rathfiny Winery or the Village of Alfriston as well as Friston Forest, World War 2 craters and much more.

You can expect to spend about £50 per person on this experience which including the time to get there will last about 5 hours.

Conclusion

Brighton is a brilliant city to explore by bike and as you can see, there are plenty of great options to get out and about in the city without needing to bring your own bike or buy your own bike. We prefer guided tours as a way to really get to know the city, but you can always rent a bike privately or use Brighton’s excellent public bike share scheme to get a bike.

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Carlo

Local Tour guide of Brighton and blogger

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