(credit: Randy Yagi)

The San Francisco Bay Area is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top cycling regions and the Peninsula plays an integral role in that distinction. While the vast majority of visitors rely on cars, tour buses or public transportation, some will prefer to see the area with a healthier and greener alternative form of transportation. The Peninsula has an impressive collection of bike shops, including several who rent an array of bicycles from basic mountain bikes to highly specialized triathlon bikes. With expert advice, visitors can tour the Peninsula via off-road trails or country roads with varying degrees of difficulty while getting a great workout and exploring places ordinary tourists might not see. Any person interested in renting a bicycle in the Bay Area must be aware of each bike shop’s policies, including waivers, age restrictions, acceptable form of ID such as a valid driver’s license or passport and security deposit. The following are five of the best bike rental shops in the Peninsula, from Palo Alto to Half Moon Bay.

The Bike Connection
2011 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(650) 853-3000

The Bike Connection has a sizable collection of bike rentals, in addition to being a full-service bike shop complemented with a knowledgeable and helpful staff. Located three miles south of Stanford University, the shop rents front or full suspension mountain bikes, road bikes and city or cruiser bikes. Bikes can be rented for 24 hours, weekly, monthly or for two months, and helmets are included. Anyone interested in renting a bike or groups rate are asked to call the store directly. The professional staff, led by store manager Jake Lopacinski, can also make recommendations for excellent bike routes around Palo Alto and popular spots, such as Shoreline at Mountain View Park or Rancho San Antonio.

The Bike Works
520 Kelly Ave.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-6708

Visitors to this popular seaside community can find bike rentals at the Bike Works, conveniently located near the intersection of Highways 1 and 92. One of the Peninsula’s top-rated bike shops, the Bike Works offers hourly, half-day and daily rates, based upon the type of bike rented. The store offers both a basic Specialized Expedition and more advanced Rock Hopper Comp. In addition to the Focus Cayo, a full carbon road bike and WeeHoo kiddie trailers, suitable for children from ages two to seven. The staff at the Bike Works can also make recommendations for bike trips, including easy rides through downtown Half Moon Bay or views of the bay at Pillar Point, home of the world famous Mavericks big wave surfing contest. The shop also offers an array of bike services, along with bike accessories and an awesome selection of skateboards.

Menlo Velo Bicycles (credit: Randy Yagi)

Menlo Velo Bicycles
433 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 327-5137

Just one mile from Stanford University, Menlo Velo is easily the top-rated bike shop in Menlo Park. The full-service bike shop rents hybrid bikes and carbon road bikes and includes a free rental helmet and flat tire repair kit upon request. Anyone interested in renting one of the quality bikes at Menlo Velo must be at least 18 years old. The expert staff, led by owner Rainer Zaechrlein, can make recommendations for a number of bike routes, ranging from easy flat rides around the Stanford campus to more challenging options in the Los Altos Hill, the Portola Valley and elsewhere. Also close by is the upscale Shopping Center and the AAA Four Diamond-rated Stanford Park Hotel, the top-rated hotel in Menlo Park and easily one of the finest in the Peninsula.

Suburban Bikes
926 Broadway
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 918-6259

First-time visitors can find Suburban Bikes inside Motostrano, one of the leading motorcycle stores in the Bay Area. Specializing in motorcycle accessories, E-bikes, bikes and bike parts and accessories, Motorstrano offers a complete set of bicycle services from quality repair specialists, including repairs, bike builds and tune-ups. The store rents primarily Felt, Marin and Fuji hybrid bikes, as well as road bikes and specialty bikes for triathlons, mountain and cyclocross bikes. For out-of-town visitors, a staff member from Suburban Bikes can deliver a bike rental to a local hotel. Two of the best spots to bike near Redwood City are Sawyer Camp Trail and the Port of Redwood City.

Talbot’s Cyclery
445 S. B St.
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 931-8120

Located in the heart of downtown San Mateo, Talbot’s Cyclery has been serving residents and nearby communities for decades. The full-service bike shop offers a nice line of Raleigh bikes for men and women, including conventional road bikes, flat bar road bikes, recreational hybrids and sport comfort bikes. Any bike can be rented by the day, weekend or the entire week. An additional charge is required for bike helmet rentals. In addition to bike rentals, Talbot’s Cyclery also offer Hollywood car racks to transport the rental. One of San Mateo’s favorite bike trails can be found at Crystal Springs Reservoir but staff can make recommendations for bike trips of all levels of ability.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.