Bikes Are a Way of Life
While bikes are used for transportation worldwide, there are some countries where bikes are a “way of life.” Belize is one of those places and you will see the most interesting uses for bikes. Parents balancing one or more children, a child in a bike basket, or holding a baby and one-handedly navigating the cobblestone or potholed dirt roads. Then there is the guy who is able to use his bike as a cargo vehicle and carry all kinds of crazy things like two heavy 5-gallon water jugs, full cases of beer on his handlebars or a weed-wacker and a propane tank. All this takes place on our narrow and often busy roads and makes for very interesting people watching when you are out and about.
A Few Bike Pics
Buying a Bike in San Pedro
I know a few people that ended up bringing their mountain bikes to Belize when they moved. I was more than happy to sell my Rocky Mountain (I was never great at stump jumping) and go local for a bike. Fewer parts to worry about in the salt air and easier to get repairs done. I now prefer “Sunday driving” on a simple beach cruiser style with pedal breaks. You can find bikes for sale at all the island hardware stores. My recent new bike is the second one I have bought since moving to Belize because unfortunately my first one got stolen. You can read about that and my thoughts on thievery in Crime to Cream Puffs post. After that, I went a few years without wheels. One day I decided it was time get over the potholes and give myself an extra transportation option besides cab or borrowing a cart. If you have lived here for any amount of time or been a repeat vacationer, you know that Belize shopping can be a total crapshoot to say the least. You never know if you will find what you want and if you do at what price. I briefly considered the mainland but that thought did not last long. I knew what I wanted and I knew the one store in San Pedro that I’d possibly find it again was Harmouch’s Center, and this time I was hoping for candy apple red. Being realistic, I decided unless my color choice was god awful, I was not going to wait to have one sent in if there were none in stock. Handlebars were the real deal breaker for me. I like the high ones that help you sit upright easier while riding. Thankfully they had the right ones and I ended up with a navy bike for my choice. The other bike my size was a boys bike and a flat red. Cost of my new bike was $295 BZD and basket $40 for a total of $335 BZD. A great price and little to no increase since my past purchase. Another thing I find helpful when making a vehicle purchase is to bring a friend, not only for a second opinion and to share the excitement but in this case to help make sure the in-store adjustments were done well. After having a basket added and handlebar angel altered, my friend noticed a few things that needed further tightening so I would not end up as a squished roadside taco 🙂
A lock is one of the most important parts of a bike. I picked up a cable combo lock from San Pedro Hardware on my way home for $39.99 BZD. I like their locks as you get to make your own combination and it can be changed at any time. It is always good to make sure your bike is securely locked to something sturdy because bicycle theft is as common in Belize, as it is worldwide.
More Options for Buying a Bike in Belize
Some people opt to shop in Belize City for their bikes to get a better price and more variety. A few well-known places to buy a bike in Belize City are Hop Sing (227-2089) and Quan’s Trading Center (227-5774), both located on Orange Street, and Super Store on Central American Blvd. If it is a road bike you are after Bruce Cycling Club and Bike Shop on Blue Marlin BLVD is where you want to go (223-7979).
On vacation and want to rent a bike instead? Check with your hotel first. Some do complimentary bikes for guests and some charge a small fee. There are also a few places around town like Joe’s Bike rentals on Caribena Street in town, Calvio Bike Rentals (663-1738 or 661 7143) Boca del Rio and El Guapo. A one-week bike rental from a shop will be in the $80 BZD range.
After riding my new bike home, I noticed the basket was looking a bit crooked and I needed a handlebar adjustment. I did the handlebars myself with an Allen key but did not have a big enough wrench for the basket. The island has a couple of bike repair shops but I am lucky enough to know a good mechanic with a very technical brain. So I made an appointment with my friend Dick to go over my bike in his backyard. After a quick look he told me it was more than just a crooked basket, both front and back wheels were slightly off center. He and Kent set to work making it right.
Pop one of the caps off your handlebars and put something identifiable inside that only you will know is there. Should your bike go missing and you are miraculously able to find it before it gets disappeared, you will have instant proof for the police it is yours. I also took a picture of my receipt that has the serial number G145150204 and the description blue “female bicycle” written on it.