Hebridean Hopscotch Holidays

Outer Hebrides cycling holidays

Our Hire Bikes for your Outer Hebrides cycling holiday

Please visit our Freedom of the Isles by Bike holiday page for more information on the holidays we offer.

What cycling experience is necessary?

Riding a bike in the Hebrides is much like riding a bike anywhere else.  However, with a daily distance to cycle that may be 25 or 30 miles and confirmed accommodation to reach by late afternoon, you are making a commitment to yourself that you will achieve the day’s target.  Although that’s easy on a sunny day with a tailwind, even if it’s rainy and the wind is against your travel direction, you need to be prepared to cover the distance (or find a large taxi and be prepared to pay the fare).

You’ll need to understand that occasional small tasks, such as adjusting a mudguard, changing handlebar/saddle heights or puncture repairs may be necessary during your travel (using the tools we provide with the bikes).  If there’s a more serious fault with a bike, we’ll fix up a rescue, but it’s not practical to send a mechanic a considerable distance to tighten a nut or mend a puncture.  So, before undertaking this holiday, you should have learned and practiced such minor repairs so that you’re confident you won’t be walking several miles, pushing a bike with a flat tyre.

Bike hire

We use the Giant Cypress, a sturdy and reliable bike that has been tried and tested on the Hebridean roads.

These derailleur gear models offer several advantages for people of average ability whose aim is to make a leisurely journey through the Western Isles.  They are built for comfort, rather than pedalling furiously to cover the entire journey in two days.

Giant Cypress City Actual bike may vary a little according to model year.

Giant Cypress City
Click for large view.
Actual bike may vary
a little according to model year.

When you book our hire bike itinerary for two people, we’ll ask you about rider sizes. We can fit guests from around 5’3″ to 6’4″, using a mix of frame sizes from 18″ / 20″ / 22″.  There’s no such thing as a standard human being and leg/torso proportions vary a lot.  If you don’t fit into the above measurement range, or you have particularly short or long legs, we suggest that you find a kindly assistant in a decent bike shop and try on some hybrid frames for size – then you’ll be able to tell us which frame size you need.

Main features:

  • Aluminium frame and adjustable suspension fork and suspension seat post, for lightweight and comfortable ride.
  • Compact ‘unisex’ frame shape with low cross bar allows ‘step through’ for comfortable mount/dismount.
  • Wide range derailleur, for an easy ride thanks to availability of a good low gear for slopes.
  • Mudguards are fitted so you shouldn’t get that wet stripe up the back!
  • Click shift levers on the handlebars.
  • Around 17kg total weight (inc. empty panniers) so practical to pedal uphill.
  • Handlebars are higher than a mountain bike yet closer-reach enabling a more comfortable ride. Sit up and smile
  • If you have any doubt in relation to the ‘fit’ of these bicycles, we suggest you visit an EBC store and try the size.

Luggage and helmets

We provide 2 panniers per bike, plus a helmet. If for some reason you don’t want to use them, the guests at the other end will, so they do have to go with the bikes. We also provide a toolkit containing everything that you will need for your journey.

As far as travel from your home to the islands is concerned, we suggest you pack your luggage into a frameless soft bag or rucksack. This can be emptied into the panniers on arrival.  The empty bag may then be folded or rolled up and fixed to the bike carrier using a bungee strap.  The standard pannier set will take a total of 40 litres – bear in mind you’ll need to keep some room for food/drinks, etc.

Lightweight, quick drying clothes are recommended for Outer Hebrides cycling holidays – so you can be prepared to layer up if necessary.  You don’t need lots of ‘going out’ clothing for evenings – casual is the order of the day.

Route planning

Depending on your level of fitness, you may find our suggested 8 day itinerary Outer Hebrides cycling holiday too easy or perhaps you don’t have the time to spare. We’re happy for you to adjust the route and choose your own holiday period, with the provision that our own cycle hire may only start or finish in Stornoway (Lewis) or the Isle of Barra.

If there are points along the way where you wish to stop off, to stay with friends or family,for example, it’s no problem for us to fit additional days into the cycling holiday itinerary,without accommodation.

Cycling in the Outer Hebrides

The best known cycling route through the islands is from Barra to Lewis (also known as Butt to Barra for those tackling it the hard way and doing the complete end-to-end).  Distance is around 140 miles, depending on the exact route chosen. The only really serious hill to be conquered is the mountain pass between Harris and Lewis, with a climb of around 200 metres. It’s worth it for the freewheel on the other side.

Our friends at Outer Hebrides Tourism have assembled a series of route pages, written by a cyclist which may be of interest to you and can be accessed through their website.

Renting our bikes and leaving them at the end of your ride route means it’s easy to return by ferry and public transport, or by air, from your finish point to your start point. Consider travelling up and back by air, leaving your car at Glasgow airport.

Technical Assistance

Cycle shops offering repairs:

Bespoke Mobile Bicycle Repairs
07876 570932
Although based in Stornoway, offers roadside assistance throughout Lewis and Harris. 

Rothan Cycles, 9 Howmore, Isle Of South Uist
01870 620283

Alex Dan Cycle Centre,
67 Kenneth Street, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis
01851 704025