Is it cheaper to rent – rather than buy – your kids’ bikes?

An Airbnb for kids’ bikes, The Bike Club lets you rent decent cycles from £5/month (plus delivery and other fees) - then once your wannabe Laura Kenny outgrows it, you can exchange the bike for another. It's a nice idea, but can it really beat buying? We've crunched the numbers...

The company launched in 2016 and delivers across the UK. Cycles are by the Frog brand and you can choose from age one to 14.

How it works

Just log on and pick a bike. You can choose from a serviced, used cycle or a new one for £1ish extra.

Now, you might see the £5/mth headline rental fee and think ‘saddle do nicely’, but there are a few added costs to consider:

  • Delivery fee of up to £40 for the first bike. The exact figure will vary. 

  • Exchange fee of £15 every time you swap bikes. This covers delivery of replacement bikes, and is a flat £15 every time.

  • Cancellation fee of £20 to cover returning the last bike you rent. When you sign up, there's a minimum six-month contract. After that, you can cancel anytime by giving 28 days’ notice and will have to pay a £20 cancellation fee to send back the last bike you have. 

You can keep a bike if you pay for the same one for 27 months (no need to pay the £20 cancellation fee), which is useful if your baby biker has younger siblings.

On the downside, you’re liable if the bike’s damaged or stolen. While normal wear and tear is fine (eg, stretched cables, worn tyres), you need to pay for what's deemed unacceptable damage (eg, rust, bent frames, missing parts). The cost varies according to the issue - see terms.

How good is this?

The idea of renting a pricey bike for a fraction of the RRP sounds great and could work for some, but you'll need to do your sums.

As an example, we found a Frog 43 bike for a four-year-old at £9.70/mth, plus £31.80 delivery. Over six months that works out at £110, including the £20 cancellation fee. Over a year, it’s £168, 18 months £226 and 27 months £314 (at which point you can keep the bike).

The cheapest new price we could find for the cycle was £240, and used ones went for £75-£175 on eBay. So if you used the bike for 18 months, you’d save £14 on the new price, but of course would have nothing to show for it at the end. (Frog says it typically expects bikes to last 18 months to two years before being outgrown.)

So the short answer is... whether it wins depends on your situation. The gold-standard MoneySaving method here is probably to buy second-hand, then resell or pass the bike down to a little brother or sister when it's outgrown.

Yet if you want a hassle-free life and have fast-growing kiddos who'll need a bigger bike in less than 18 months, the scheme could be a fab option.

Please bear in mind this is a new concept, and we haven't tested it ourselves. Plus as we’re mentioning it in this week’s MSE Money Tips email, stock may be low this week. Please do let us know below if you’ve done it or would consider giving it a go.