The Rules of Bike Borrowing

If your bike’s out of commission, but you still need to get around, you might need to resort to borrowing a buddy's. But don’t take that kindness for granted, borrowing a bike is a lot like babysitting – it’s pretty easy, but if you mess up you’re going to have some very angry parents on your hands. In today’s post, let’s look at the rules for successfully bumming a ride and keeping your friendships.

Don’t Wreck It

This first one’s a no-brainer but, if it’s not your bike, don’t smash it up. Obviously you can’t control everything that happens out in the world but you can do your best to avoid putting yourself (and your friend’s ride) into risky situations. Going back to our baby-sitting analogy, if the kid gets hurt at the park the parents will likely understand, but they’ll be pretty mad if something happens because you took the kid amateur-skydiving, showed him how to play with matches, or let him run around the gorilla pen for a few minutes.

If it’s not your bike, don’t go blasting through red lights, jumping huge stair gaps, or taking chances that could cost the bike its life. Unless you’re ready to reimburse your bud for a broken bike (and friendship), that is.

Lock It Up

Letting a borrowed bike get stolen is exactly like letting a kid get kidnapped at the mall, except the odds of ever seeing the bike again are worse. Even if you’re loaded and can buy your friend a new bike that same day, it won’t be the same. Their bike is perfect, dialed in from years of tweaks, packed with memories, and brimming with nostalgia – there’s no replacement. So if you have some stops on your ride, make sure to bring a lock or two and know how to use them! And if you’re not worried because you’re rich enough to buy your friend a replacement, just buy yourself a ride for the day instead!

Don’t Loan It Out

Common sense again, right? You’d think so – and not just for bikes, this one applies to anything you borrow. If it’s not yours, don't lend it to anyone else.

Still, you’d be surprised how many people find out that the folks they thought were their friends are actually the kind of monsters that have no problem loaning out their bike, video game, tools, etc… to “their other friend” where it instantly becomes 1000 times harder to collect.

No, this is not ok. No, this doesn’t split your culpability with the other mystery friend if something happens to the bike. It’s still all on you. And that’s why you shouldn’t loan out things that aren’t yours.

Don’t Expect Roadside Service

This one’s not so obvious (or common), but it does come up occasionally, so let’s do some expectations management. Your friend is awesome, helping you out in a time of need and getting you where you need to be – but your borrowing the bike, not getting comprehensive travel insurance. Before you roll out, make sure you have the tools and knowhow to handle issues that might arise on the road (patches for flats, pump, tire levers, etc…). Just don’t expect your friend to drive out to you for roadside repairs or a last minute ride if you get stranded. If they’re extra cool, they’re probably down to help, but they probably won’t be lending you their wheels again.

Return it Like You Got It (Maybe with more beer)

And this is the big one! If you do get a flat, fix it before you return the bike. If you slog through the mud, give the bike a wash before you send it back home. If you needed to adjust the saddle, put it back to where it was before dropping it back off. Whatever you borrow, you ought to try to return it in the same (or better) condition than when you received it.

The best way to make people feel good about helping you out is to show them that you appreciate the effort and respect their stuff. Returning it as you received it (or even better) is a great way to do that. And don’t forget that a 12-pack for your friend is a perfect way to say “thanks” whether you’re borrowing a bike or getting help with a move. There’s a reason it’s the social lubricant that keeps friendships spinning smoothly.

And now you know! Follow the rules above when you borrow a bike and you’ll avoid any unnecessary angst. And if your friend wants to borrow your ride, have them memorize this list and you can rest easy knowing your baby’s being looked after. Happy riding!