Traditionally sought for the mountain biking, downtown Bend gets overlooked for its casual biking appeal. It’s relatively flat and dense with some great food, beer and neighborhoods to explore. Plus, it’s home to an annual Halloween-themed cyclocross weekend, right next to Deschutes Brewery! Our travel guide offers all the resources for you to plan your #WanderbyBike experience in Bend.
Table of Contents:
+ Bend 101
- Places for Bikes City Rating: 2.0 out of 5. Comprehensive and holistic rating on ridership, safety, network, reach and acceleration. Compare this score to Boulder's at 3.4.
- Walk Score: 33. Walk Score measures the walkability of any address based on the distance to nearby places and pedestrian friendliness.
- Transit Score: 24. Transit Score measures how well a location is served by public transit based on the distance and type of nearby transit lines.
Bike Score: 53. Bike Score measures whether an area is good for biking based on bike lanes and trails, hills, road connectivity, and destinations.
- Bend Bike Map - the city does not publish a bike map, but you can use Google Maps with the biking layer (like above) or biking directions.
The largest city In central Oregon, Bend is deservedly known as a gateway to All Things Outdoors. With a population hovering around 100,000, it’s also just big enough to have some really cool stuff going on, but still small enough to feel cozy. Bend has its share of normal industrial jobs, but its proximity to some of the most gorgeous outdoor activities in America causes Tourism to remain firmly atop the list of economic drivers. If you enjoy doing it outside, the chances are pretty great that Bend has it in spades… Hiking, biking, rafting, golf, rock climbing, skiing, exploring lava tubes, all in pretty much any combination you want, possibly all in one day. Just south of town in Sun River, you can visit the seriously underrated Sun River brewery and bike all the planned paths with your kids for several hours. The climate is semi-arid, with Bend situated between scrub pine forest and high desert, so your dry summer days will hit the mid 80s, while your clear summer nights will still dip into the high 40s. It is incredible weather, set amongst breath-taking scenery, populated with kind people.
Like many gorgeous, smaller places, Bend is also grappling with the effects of its success as a tourist destination. The draw to live there is undeniable: They have no less than twelve (TWELVE) breweries, seemingly limitless food options, acres of beautiful park space, Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, and arguably the best mountain biking trails in the state, all a stone’s throw away… and because of it, almost none of the locals could afford to buy a home today in their own neighborhoods if they had to. Cash “second home” purchases from out-of-staters have begun to swell again, leading many locals to fear another boom-and-bust cycle similar to 2001-2010, when houses nearly doubled in price, then abruptly halved.
So come to Bend, marvel in its splendor, check out Crux and Boneyard and Deschutes breweries, get killer Mexican food at Barrio, then go work all those carbs off outdoors. Just try not to impulse buy a second home for 15% over list price with cash.
+ Biking in Bend
Expect a higher than normal percentage of athletic cyclists in the mix around town, with fit people on pricey bikes using the paths to get around. Having said that, you’re still in Oregon, which means people here are almost unfailingly nice, and not pushy. Thus, there’s nothing to worry about beyond the usuals: Stay to the right, signal your intentions with hand signals, let people know when you’re about to pass them, and bells are useful things that all people should have, dernit.
All children under 16 must wear a properly fitted helmet. Interestingly, the city also states that “younger children should always be supervised and not allowed to ride on the street. They should always ride on the sidewalk.” It is left to you to decide what “younger” means numerically, and they make no distinction between different kinds of roads or infrastructure. Let common sense be your guide, and do what feels safe. Lights are required to be on at night, front AND rear. Walk bikes in crosswalks.
We had no bad experiences in Bend, and have no reason to suspect anything unusual about their bike theft scene. There are a lot of pricey bikes in Bend, though, and there are two ways of looking at that: 1) All those expensive bikes might attract more theft, or 2) those pricey bikes might be a lot more attractive to steal than your worn-out beater bike. After all, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your friends… if you must leave your bike outside, use a quality u-lock to get the frame and at least one wheel, and let any potential thieves go after easier, more attractive targets. We also suspect most lodging hosts are down with you bringing your bike in your room, so don’t be afraid to ask. In Bend, that person probably loves their bike too!
You might put the percentages differently than we did, but we’d put the ratio in Bend at 75% “Rugged Oregonian Outdoorsy” and 25% “Affluent Outsider.” It’s incredibly subjective, of course, and it also varies greatly depending on where in town you are. But those are the two predominant feelings we got biking through town, eating, watching cyclocross, etc. It feels very “Oregon,” very honest and beautiful, but there are pockets of obvious, sometimes jarring wealth as well.
Posts coming soon!
+ Best Bike Rides in Bend
Ambassadors Needed! Live in Bend and love food, music, art or just being outdoors? Curate a route for us by inquiring here.
Other Best bike rides…
Mountain Biking - resource courtesy of Visit Bend
Road Biking - the Bend area hosts 3 of the 17 designated scenic bikeways by the State of Oregon for their iconic nature, calmer riding and scenery, essentially the best road rides in Oregon.
- Zagster - $1.50 for 30 minutes for upright city bike with basket and lights
Bend Electric - $25+ for an electric city or family (long tail) bike
Bend Velo - 15+ per hour for a Breezer city bike
Hutch's - $?+ per day (includes delivery) for a Mountain Bikes, Road & Gravel Bikes, Road eBikes, Fat Bikes, City Bikes, Youth Bikes
Let it Ride - $?+ per hour for electric Pedego brand cruiser or tandem bikes
Life Cycle bike rental delivery - $?+ per hour for Jamis city, mountain, hybrid, road or Burley trailers and trailer bikes
Wheel Fun Rentals - $35+ per day (includes delivery) for a cruiser, fat tire bike, city, tandem, kids, trailer bike, trailer or those funny 2 or 4-seaters
Bend Electric Bike Toursr - $50+ per person (includes bike) for tour themes: Best of Bend, Brewery, Arts & Culture, Sunset and Family Time
Cog Wild Tours & Shuttle Service - fully supported bike tours ranging from day trips, multi-day (hotel), multi-day (camping), road cycling and corporate team building. Shuttle service also available.
Let it Ride Bike Tours - $60+ per person (includes bike) for tour themes: Short & Sweet, Deschutes River and Taste of Bend
- "Airbnb for bikes"-rent a wide variety of bikes from locals
+ Eats, Drinks and Sights
5 places to...
- EAT - Drake, Chow, McKay Cottage, Barrio
- DRINK - Crux Fermentation Project, Boneyard Beer, Deschutes Brewery Tasting Room, Backporch Coffee, Avid Cider
- WANDER - Road Trip to Sunriver, Lava River Cave, bike ride along the Deschutes River Trail and Mirror Pond
We curated these eating, drinking and sightseeing bucket lists for on-the-go exploring:
SHUTTLE FROM PDX TO BEND
- Breeze - $48 one-way, daily service from Portland Airport to Bend at 2pm. Added later, 6pm departure from PDX on Friday and Saturday.
- Cascades East Transit (Map) - $1.25-1.75 one-way, $7 per day. "Cascades East Transit’s Bike and Bus Program lets you combine bike and bus trips. Bike racks accommodating at least two bikes are mounted on the front of each bus. Many of the buses have space for three bikes. Signal the driver that you will be loading a bike and please use the inner most position."
Cascades (Vancouver, BC - Seattle - Tacoma - Portland - Salem - Eugene) - $5 roll-on service and reservation required
Coast Starlight (Seattle - Portland - Los Angeles) - $20 trainside checked service and reservation required
These bike friendly airlines service Portland and Redmond Airports.
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