First, they bring the bike to you. Second, they’ll be arriving with high-quality, super-comfy folding bikes.
“People can just pop them in the trunk of their rental cars and take off exploring up the coast, along the Russian River, or through the redwoods,” says Smith. “They can go wine tasting or exploring tide pools with the bikes safely concealed in the trunks. And once they hop on our bikes they’ll have a quality experience.”
In high school he rode long-distance touring bikes, and in college he was founding manager of the U. C. San Diego Bike Shop. Over time he became proficient at leading group cycle outings, bike repair, customer relations, and more.
Smith and Armstrong – his wife, business partner, and cycling companion – are now the sole proprietors of BikePartners.net. The company rents only Bike Friday folding and travel bicycles, which are hand-made in the U. S. and enjoy an international cult following.
“We’re the only company in the country that rents Bike Fridays,” Smith said. “Others sell them to you, and we can do that too – but you can only rent them from us.”
Smith and Armstrong rode traditional bicycles for years. “We’d always had a whole stable of full-sized riding, touring and tandem bikes,” Smith said.
But in 2004, planning a bike trip through Europe, the couple balked at the notion of boxing up a big touring tandem bicycle for shipment. Looking around at alternatives, they heard good things about Bike Fridays and purchased a used Tandem XL.
The result? “We were sold,” Smith says. “We love the way these bikes feel and ride—not to mention that they’re big conversation starters because of the way they look. These days I’m hard-pressed to use my other, full-sized bikes.”
BikePartners.net rents both single and tandem bicycles by the day (a 24-hour period), with prices ranging from $50 for a New World Tourist single bike to $100 for a Tandem Two’s Day.
Bike racks are not required, since the bikes fold down to fit even a small trunk. “I put a tandem bike in the trunk of my 2000 Honda Insight,” Smith said, “and there’s room left over for other things.”
Delivery is free within 10 miles of Santa Rosa, and $1 per mile for further distances.
“We’re a customer-oriented concierge service,” Smith said. “We’re happy to meet customers at a coffee shop or their hotel to deliver the bikes.”
Smith’s favorite bike renters so far are a retired couple from Arizona, “probably in their late 60s. They were vital, vibrant, and in good shape.”
They rented a Tandem, which he delivered to their hotel, and they “ended up riding the Joe Rodota Trail out to Forestville and back. The gentleman kept texting me about what a great time they were having. He’d done a lot of riding in his life but was thrilled to death to be riding this bike. They kept riding, went on the Santa Rosa Creek trail. They rode 50.5 miles all told.
“They were planning to buy a Bike Friday when they returned to Arizona.”