CARRABASSETT VALLEY — Alex Koure has been wanting to buy a mountain bike and get into the sport for a few years. But when he took on a new car payment this year his dream was delayed. So the 25-year-old Bostonian did the next-best thing.

He rallied his friends to go to his family’s camp in Rangeley so that they could rent mountain bikes at Sugarloaf.

Mountain bike rentals have been offered at the ski area’s expanding network of mountain bike trails for several years, but this summer Allspeed Cyclery of Portland set up a satellite location at Sugarloaf with a fleet of high-end bikes. It’s now the third shop to offer rentals in the ski area.

Bike rentals have always been part of summer in Maine. But in recent years, there are more offerings – from shops renting high-end mountain bikes and electric bikes to the very first rental shop catering to cruise ships in Portland Harbor.

Across the state, bike rentals generally run around $30-$40 a day. Mountain bike rentals run a bit more, around $50 for a half day or $89 for a full day.

Koure and his friends said the $89 rental fee seemed a bit steep – but admitted it made sense considering the bikes sell for $4,800.

The Roberts family from Massachusetts all wanted to try mountain biking but were unwilling to purchase bikes. So they’ve rented them for two years at Sugarloaf.

Anne and Scott Roberts, and their daughter Anna first tried the sport at Sugarloaf last year. Even though Anne Roberts went over the handlebars and broke a few ribs – they returned to ride this summer.

“She still rode that same day,” her daughter said.

IN THE MOUNTAINS

In 2008, Sunday River purchased a new mountain bike fleet after a four-year hiatus from summer bike rentals. Last year it added an electric bike fleet.

Meanwhile, in Bethel, Barker Mountain Bikes started mountain bike rentals in 2015 when the shop opened.

But the Carrabassett Region has seen the most mountain bike rental growth with the addition of Allspeed Cyclery this summer. It caters to business people staying at Sugarloaf for conferences, summer tourists and even locals.

“We get locals who have wanted to ride a Santa Cruz who will rent them,” said Josh Lawless, an Allspeed bike mechanic. “These are $4,800 bikes. So this is like test-driving a BMW.”

Rentals in the Maine mountain regions can be found at:

Bethel: Barker Mountain Bikes, (207) 824-0100

Carrabassett Valley: Allspeed, (207) 779-3951; Carrabassett Valley Bike, (207) 235-8863

Kingfield: First Inline Sports, (207) 265-5100

Newry: Sunday River Sports, (800) 543-2754

CRUISE DESTINATIONS

For the past two summers The Portland Encylcepedia has been renting bikes outside Portland’s Ocean Gateway terminal, where cruise ships dock.

Owner Norman Patry – who has owned a bike-touring business for 13 years – said he’ll probably keep expanding as long as the city rents him space.

“There was nothing before I started,” Patry said. “I got the idea from Portland Paddle (near the waterfront). The city helped make it happen. We keep 40 bikes down here and we do sell out. I think in terms of overall tourism, there are more people who want to be on a bike.”

Up the coast in Bar Harbor, bike rentals have been a staple for a half-century, even before brothers Al and Joe Minuto bought Bar Harbor Bicycle Shop 40 years ago.

But there’s been new offerings in this bike town.

Bar Harbor Bicycle rolled out electric bikes three years ago, although you can’t take them on the nearby Acadia National Park carriage roads.

“We thought it was an appropriate direction to go in, with an aging population being physically challenged,” Minuto said. “You can still enjoy the heck out of them on the Park Loop Road.”

And at Acadia Bike and Canoe, tours led by Acadia rangers were a hit last year and they’ve doubled in capacity this year. The tours will expand even more next year, said owner Glenn Tucker.

“They sell out two to three weeks in advance,” Tucker said. Bike rentals shops in these towns include:

Portland: CycleMania, (207) 774-2933; Allspeed Cyclery & Snow, (207) 878-8741; Gorham Bike and Ski (also in Brunswick, Saco, and Kennebunk) (207) 773-1700; The Portland Encyclepedia, (866) 857-9544

Peaks Island: Brad’s Bike Rental, (207) 766-5631

Bar Harbor: Bar Harbor Bicycle, (207) 288-3886; Acadia Bike and Canoe, (207) 288-9605

SOUTHERN COAST

Virtually every town along the southern Maine coast has a bike rental shop, and some have two.

But even in the busy southern Maine coast there’s growth – with Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike in Kennebunk rolling out electric bike rentals next year.

“They’re expensive, which is why more people don’t rent them,” said owner Theresa Willette. “But for our demographics in Kennebunkport it makes sense. We have older riders.”

The array of rental shops in this part of Maine include:

Kennebunk: Coastal Maine Kayak and Bike, (207) 967-6065

Wells: Wheels N Waves, (207) 646-5774; Breton’s Bike and Fly Shop, (207) 646-4255

Scarborough: Fun and Sun Rentals and Tours, (207) 730-1926; Rodgers Ski and Sport, (207) 883-3669

INLAND COMMUNITIES

Vacationland means the entire state, and there are bicycle rental shops elsewhere. Here are two:

Bangor: Ski Rack Sports, (207) 945-6474

Lewiston: Roy’s Bicycle Shop, (207) 783-9090

 

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