Madrid center is usually full of tourists on bikes, I think Madrid is huge and it is a very good way to save time and energy. The bikes are electric and there are posts everywhere to take/leave them. I would advise avoiding big streets as the traffic is heavy and be very careful with pedestrians as the center is usually full of people.
Bikes can be hired for days in the totems of the bike stations via credit card. A deposit of 150 is automatically made (only as a guarantee) and it is returned once the bike is returned. The fares vary a lot depending on the times of use, normally fares are around 2 euros per hour. There is an official website www.bicimad.com but unfortunately, there is no English version.
Madrid is safe for cyclists. I see many tourists cycle around city attractions with no problem.
Popular bike rental companies in Madrid
You can safely pick any of these bike rental companies in Madrid. They are all well equipped with good quality bikes, support and guidance. Even if you do not go on a bike tour with them, they will give you helpful advice.
Rent and Roll
Rent and Roll runs highlights tours and private tours of Madrid. This is a solid operation with practical trip advice. Everyone I know has good things to say about their services. They also transport bikes to your location for a small charge, if you rent for a day or more.
I love these guys; they run themed bike tours that are such an interesting way to see the city. They have Tapas tours, Real Madrid tours, Food tours, all on bikes. Apart from this they have Madrid highlights tours and bike rentals as well.
You should definitely go to Rutas Pangea for long and unique bike trips across Spain that last for days. They do rentals but urban rentals is not their main business.
Mi Bike Rio
Located by the Madrid riverside near Casa de Campo, their recommended routes along the river pass by popular attractions such as Royal Palace, La Almudena Cathedral, San Francisco El Grande.
This is a good option for Madrid highlights tours lasting 3 hours. They run a morning tour starting at 10 and another in the evening at 5pm. Apart from tours they also rent bikes by the hour or day.
Know what to expect from a typical Bike Tour
Typical tours cover Plaza España, Templo Debod, Royal Palace, Mercado San Miguel, Retiro Park. Main barrios are Centro, La Latina, Lavapiés, Salamanca, Chueca, Malasaña.
I think this is a very useful piece of information for you to know so you can prepare yourself. Of course each company and tour will have some differences.
Choose from favourite self-guided routes
Here are my cycling buddies’ favourite routes in Madrid. All are scenic and safe. You can confirm with your rental company for anything specific.
Atocha – Paseo del Prado – Recoletos
Urban route through tree lined avenues; see landmarks like Neptuno, Cibeles, Colón plazas.
Cibeles – Alcala – Retiro Park
Start at Puerta de Alcalá, end at Retiro Park; a flat and comfortable ride.
Palacio – Casa de Campo
A weekend bike ride through varied terrain. From Royal Palace, ride on Casa Campo forest paths. Like me, stop at the lakeside bar.
Matadero – Madrid Rio – Principe Pio
An offbeat route passing by the river bank (stop for activities), ending at Matadero cultural center.
Unique bike routes!
Madrid Rio - a 30 km long route, goes up to the mountains and back.
Parque del Oeste – winding, shaded paths, bordering Templo de Debod.
Dehesa de la Villa – urban, hilly jungle route with views.
Donkey Republic Bike rental App
Donkey Republic is popular in Europe. The app is used to rent bikes at locations closest to you But in Madrid, I recommend BiciMad or a private rental. Madrid local operators have more coverage and support than Donkey Republic.
Bike rental options for Madrid tourists
Choose BiciMad for short distances
1. Even a tourist can rent BiciMad
You can rent BiciMad even on a one day visit to Madrid. All you need is a credit card, and smartphone with the BiciMad app. You do not need to be a resident of Madrid.
2. BiciMad is affordable
Rentals are reasonable, starting at only 2 euros for the first hour (4 euros per additional hour); it covers insurance for all parties, including the bike itself.
3. Easy availability
I have never been stranded in Madrid. BiciMad has more than 2000 bikes across 175 stations, placed not more than 300m apart.
4. More bikes at popular attractions
You do not need to worry about being without a bike at high traffic locations. The system ensures a high supply at Puerta del Sol, Plaza de la Cebada in La Latina, Royal Palace, Mercado San Miguel, Paseo del Prado, and Plaza de la Independencia.
5. Popular neighbourhoods have BiciMad stations
Most of the BiciMad stations are in popular barrios: Arganzuela, Retiro, Centro, Moncloa-Aravaca, Chamberí, Salamanca, Tetuán and Chamartín. This list is expanding.
6. Electric! Low effort to ride in hilly Madrid
All BiciMad bikes are electrical motor assisted, going up to speeds of 25kmph. With very low effort you can navigate all the ups and downs of Madrid.
7. Easy to rent and return
BiciMad bikes are easy rent, use, and return to the station. Instructions are clear.
8. BiciMad visitor cards
You can buy a card for 1,3, or 5 days rental depending on how long you plan to stay. This is not an all you can eat card like a travel pass; it only allows unlimited rentals for the validity of the card. You still pay by the hour.
9. Simple rules
BiciMad blocks a 150 euros deposit; it is unblocked at end of rental period. BiciMad riders must be 14y and above.
For longer durations, use private bike rentals
BiciMad rentals make sense only for less than an hour of use per rental. But when I am in living in Madrid for a few days, I always choose a private rental option.
1. Private rentals are more economical than BiciMad
Long term private bike rental is just more convenient and economical. You can rent by the hour, by the day, or even by the month. Daily rentals are 15 euros (20 for electric bikes).
2. But return is to the same location
You need to budget for your time, money and effort to return the bike to the same location. The rates work out cheaper than BiciMad if you are planning to hire for more than an hour.
3. Parking is an issue!
Unlike BiciMad, other bike rentals do not have stations all over Madrid where you can deposit your bike. While the rental company will provide a lock, you are responsible for safety of your rental.
Go on bike tours if walking tours tire you
If you want a guided tour without the exercise, you must take a bike tour in Madrid. All companies provide a 6-gear city bike, a local guide, helmet, bike basket, and reflective vest.
1. A variety of bike tours
Madrid Highlights, Madrid Night tour, and Retiro Park tour, are some of the popular guided tours on bikes. Prices are upwards of 20 euros for a typical 2 hour tour.
2. Knowledgeable, English speaking guides
Friendly, knowledgeable guides lead all the bike tours; they keep the group together at all times. You don’t need to worry about anything; just stay on your bike.
3. Custom bike tours
Many bike tour companies will customize tours for your group. You decide group size, itinerary preferences, duration, timing etc. Prices start at 35 euros per head.