Q&A with Bike Wrangler Annette Lein

Q&A with Bike Wrangler Annette Lein

by Karen Miltner

Photo shows woman repairing a bicycle.
WomanTours Bike Wrangler Annette Lein works on the new Cannondale Quick 3 hybrid bikes.

We recently sat down with our Bike Wrangler Annette Lein about the WomanTours rental bike fleet. 

Q: We hear WomanTours has new rental bikes. Tell us about them.

Annette: WomanTours offers three types of bikes to rent on most of our domestic tours: hybrid bikes with straight handlebars that sit more upright, adventure road bikes with the drop handlebars, and e-bikes. We recently purchased new bikes in all three categories.  

Our Cannondale Quick 3 hybrids (below) are a nice, comfortable, simple bike, easy to shift, not too complicated, and they are a nice color, turquoise. 

The Gazelle Ultimate T10 e-bikes (below) are  great because they are a low-step model, so if you have an issue with swinging your leg over the saddle, you can simply step through, which inspires confidence. The battery range is good, especially if used wisely. And the Gazelles have nice components. After a year of use we have had no problems at all with them. They are very popular and are really good for first time e-bike riders.

As for the Cannondale Topstone 2 adventure/road bike (below), I love that it’s a road bike with wider tires and a more upright position and lower gearing. That means it can go on all trail tours and on the road as well. 

We still have held on to a few of our Specialized hybrid, adventure road and e-bikes.

For our international tours, our tour partners provide their own rental bikes. The options are usually hybrid and e-bike. 

(Learn more about our rental bikes here.)

Q: How often does WomanTours buy new rental bikes?

Annette: When bikes show signs of wear and tear and it is no longer cost-effective to repair them, then we replace them. We also keep in mind that we want to keep up with new technology.

Q: What’s new in bike technology and trends these days?

Annette: The bike industry is like everything else. Things change all the time. We like to keep up with newer, lighter technology. For example, this new generation of WomanTours rental bikes has hydraulic disc brakes. Disc brakes have become the standard now, and it’s what most people expect. They are much better in wet weather. Hydraulic disc brakes are stronger than mechanical disc brakes and perform better.

Tires have also changed, and bikes tend to have wider tires these days. A lot of studies have shown that wider tires roll just as fast or faster than skinny tires, but the benefit of wider tires is that they can better handle all kinds of terrain, from unpaved trails to roads. In general, we want our rental bikes to be good on a wide range of riding surfaces, so we want at least a 28mm tire. The new hybrids are 35mm, the new adventure road bikes are 37mm and the e-bikes are 45mm.

Q: Where are all these bikes kept?

Annette: We store our bikes in two locations. For our East Coast tours, all the bikes are kept at the WomanTours headquarters in Rochester, New York, where I work. For our West Coast tours, we keep our rental bikes and vehicles at a storage facility in St. George, Utah. Our guide Michelle Slusher takes wonderful care of those bikes in St. George.

Q: How much time do you spend working on bikes?

Annette: During peak touring season, I spend about 75 percent of my time working on bikes, cleaning them, adjusting them, repairing them. I make sure each time a bike goes out on tour it is in the best condition possible. I also go over the bikes when they return from tour.

The guides also play a role here. Before the start of each tour they do a safety check to make sure the handlebars and pedals are secured tightly and that the saddle is adjusted properly. They also check the bikes at the end of the tour to see if any repairs or adjustments are needed. Obviously safety is hugely important to us. Very important.

Q: What is the most important aspect of selecting bikes for the rental fleet?

Annette: We are looking for bikes that we think will work for a lot of different people. We also select bikes with a somewhat lower gearing that will help people climb up the hills. In terms of shifting, we don’t go below nine speeds. Again, we want an appropriate gearing for a wide range of terrain.

Our main concern is that people are comfortable. So we put adjustable stems on all bikes, which raises the handlebars so riders can sit more upright. Most people really appreciate that, and we rarely move the stems back down. When people are more upright, they see what’s around them better. For less seasoned cyclists it’s a better position to be in. It gives them more confidence.

The other thing we are mindful of is that our bikes have to be able to handle a lot of different types of terrains, as I mentioned earlier.

Q: What are some things that guests can do on tour to improve their experience with the rental bikes?

Annette: First off, say something right away when something feels wrong. Don’t wait until end the of the tour. Tell the guides as soon as you notice something so they can address those issues. Be willing to ask the guides for help if you don’t understand anything about the bike. At the rental bike fitting on the first day of the tour, make sure you understand how shifting gears and braking works. If you aren’t comfortable with the bike you aren’t going to be happy. Comfort is our main goal.

Remember that you can bring your own saddle and pedals if you really like what you use at home. The guides will install them for you. All of our bikes come with flat pedals, so if you like clipless, bring your own. For safety reasons, we do not allow clipless pedals to be used on the e-bikes.

Many people tell us our bikes are nicer than the ones they have at home and they like them better. That is so nice to hear.

Bicycles Bike Equipment rental bikes   bike components comfort e-bikes ebikes electric bicycles electric-assist bikes pedals rental bikes