This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.
This is a commonly asked question. There are a number of pros and cons to both
renting a bike in Europe and bringing your own bike. Also, there are several
factors that can influence your decision. Note that on international flights,
your bike can be checked as one piece of luggage, so there really is no added
expense to bringing you own bike on the plane.
First off, if you are planning an ambitious trip with lots of miles and/or
lots of climbing, you will definitely feel better riding your own bike
rather than renting. Add to that the fact that, these days, most rental
bikes are are mountain bikes. This may be an advantage if you are planning
lots of climbing since the gearing tends to be lower, but a mountain bike
is not as nimble as a road bike and can be significantly heavier than a
road bike. Of course, if you r primary bike at home is a mountain bike,
these differences may be less noticeable than if your primary bike is a
Secondly, if you are combining your cycling vacation with large portions of
non-cycling segments at the beginning or end of the trip, it may be better
to not worry about lugging a bike halfway across Europe, especially if you
are going to use trains as your primary mode of travel (see "Taking Your
Bike on th e Train" in a later section). Another option in this case, is
to ship your bikes , by train, to the destination where you will need them
if your cycling comes at the end of the trip or to your departure
destination if your cycling comes at the beginning of the trip.
Personally, I prefer to bring my own bike. I know the condition of all the
components and since everything should be in good working order, I can be
assured that barring any catastrophe, my bike will not let me down. Also, it
just feels a lot better and hence more enjoyable to be astride my trusty steed.