The French sporting items retailer Decathlon has entered the rental market, offering electric mountain bikes (eMTBs), folding bikes, and cycling helmets, along with a host of other products like tennis rackets and kayaks, across all 47 of its stores in the UK.
Following a successful trial last year, Decathlon has announced that it is now rolling out its sports rental scheme, making it the first major retailer to launch rentals across all UK stores.
The company has committed products worth £1 million to the scheme, allowing people to try out a new sport without the financial commitment of having to invest in all the gear first.
Decathlon said that it “aims to make the joy of sports more accessible to people by allowing them to pick up something new at a fraction of the retail price”.
The rental programme offers the bikes for 24 hours and offers a 50 per cent off on the second day. The most widely available bike is Decathlon’s 27.5 inch Rockrider electric mountain bike E-ST 100, available to book from £45, which otherwise sells for £899.99.
Some of the stores also have the Rockrider E-ST 500 available to rent from £60, and the E-FOLD 500, available from £40.
We were, as you'd expect, naturally interested to know if Decathlon had got any road bikes too, and Dominic Stannard from Decathlon told road.cc that London's Surrey Quay store offers the electric hybrid Riverside 540E and the Elops 920E low frame electric city bike (both from £60).
Stannard added: “Nationwide, every store has an electric mountain bike, but as the service grows we hope to be able to offer an even greater range across the country.”
The bicycles can be rented online with a pre-payment and collected in store an hour later — as well as cancelled up to 24 hours in advance if the weather changes.
For a comparison with other bike rental schemes, Green Park Bike Station (right next to road.cc Towers in Bath) offers Raleigh e-bikes for £45 per day, while Electric Bike Rentals in London has Volt Pulses and Kensigtons available to rent for £39 per day.
Brompton, on the other hand, has more than 70 docks across the UK and offers its folding bikes for rent for just £5 a day.
Sharon Poulter, rental leader at Decathlon UK, said: “Despite having the appetite to try sports, committing to the cost of buying gear is one of the biggest barriers to people taking up something new.
“The best part with rentals is, in addition to being able to open doors for everyone to try out new sports, you can do so without having to commit to one thing - one day you might want to go cycling, another day you might want to play racket sports, I really think we could be the change in how people get to be more active and how they’re able to access more activities and sports.”
Last August, the French-headquartered company had trialled the scheme in a handful of stores in London, Southampton, Poole and Glasgow, with “pay-per-use” on the service which charged per 24 hours, rather than per hour.
It seems that buoyed by the success of it, the retailer is going full steam ahead with the scheme, rolling it out nationwide by partnering with Finnish commerce platform Rentle.
Rentle said through a LinkedIn post: “As the cost of living continues to impact sport and fitness participation across the UK, with new research from Decathlon finding that 28% of Brits are keen to take up a new sport, but the cost of doing so is holding them back.
“Decathlon Rentals aims to make the joy of sports more accessible to people while prolonging product lifespan and reducing consumption.”
Poulter, who has been overseeing the trials since last year and now the rollout of the rental scheme as well, said that she doesn’t see renting having a negative impact on sales, but instead making it possible to set up renting commercially so that the two models can sit side-by-side and benefit from each other.
She also said that this move will help the brand become more visible with their products coming in constant use and helping people gain confidence with them.
Besides bicycles, Decathlon Rentals also have stand up paddles (from £30), inflatable kayaks (from £35), tennis rackets (from £10), along with life vests, dry bags, paddles, pumps. They are also renting cycling helmets from just £1, although we're not sure how many people will be willing to part with a quid for a used lid in summer!
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.