We take you through the pros and cons of hiring exercise gear.
Keen on cycling your way to fitness, but not so keen on negotiating traffic? An exercise bike may be the answer. But how much will it cost and is it better to buy? Tuck your trousers into your socks – we’ll take you through the ins and outs.
We surveyed six rental companies to find out the cost of hiring an exercise bike. The cheapest option was Rutherford Fitness, at $8.50 per week for a 12-week minimum term. At the other end of the scale, Auckland-based Bods in Motion’s weekly rate was $30.00. The rest charged between $10 and $15. (see our Table).
However, on top of the weekly fee, you may need to factor in other costs.
With most companies, you’ll pay a delivery fee if you don’t pick up the bike yourself or live outside the store’s free-delivery area.
Rutherford Fitness managing director Croydon Rutherford said local deliveries were free. Otherwise, delivery costs $20 to $50 depending on the store. It collects the equipment for free when the rental agreement ends. Mr Rental collects the gear for free too.
With Elite Fitness, customers can choose to drop off and collect the gear themselves. Otherwise, there’s a charge ($70 on average).
Fit2Run was the only company that charged a fee regardless of location. However, the $45 fee covers delivery and pick-up, and if you rent for six months the delivery is free.
You may also need to factor in bond and cleaning fees.
While Mr Rental’s $10 weekly rental fee was the second cheapest, the store’s terms and conditions state a “bond” of $45 would be charged. A spokesperson said franchises don’t generally request one. If the bond’s not charged, you will have to pay a $45 cleaning fee for the bike.
“We apply our own processes and proper commercial cleaning products … It is our responsibility to ensure we send out properly prepared equipment, so we will always go through the [cleaning] process,” a Mr Rental spokesperson said.
If the item was excessively dirty a “premium clean [fee] would apply”. Cleanliness is assessed by individual stores and the premium fee is only used when “soiling to the point of damage is evident”, a spokesperson said.
Rutherford Fitness said it charged a cleaning fee but only if the machine was “caked in heavy dust or other substances”.
Elite Fitness doesn’t charge a bond or cleaning fee. Fit2Run don’t charge for cleaning either. Fitness World didn’t provide details of its charges.
If you’re not sure an exercise bike’s for you, hiring means you won’t end up with a hefty piece of equipment left in your house. It could also be ideal if you need it for rehab for a limited amount of time.
However, if you’re set on going the distance with an exercise bike, you’re likely better off buying.
We compared prices for exercise bikes at six online stores. They ranged from $105 to more than $400. All bikes had LCD consoles, an adjustable seat and eight speeds. Two models we priced also had heart rate monitors.
GUIDE TO THE TABLE OUR SURVEY was conducted online during September and October 2019. PRICE is based on renting an exercise bike per week on a minimum term. ᴬ50% of the rental is charged upfront and the remainder in six weeks. ᴮcost is for the 12-week hire; 4-week hire is $11.50 p/week. DELIVERY FEE ᶜ$25 collection fee applies. ᴰpick-up is free. COOLING-OFF PERIOD refers to the amount of time you have to change your mind about the contract Information not provided = the provider would not provide the terms and conditions.
It’s best to try the bike before you buy as there are differences in their dimensions. If you’re above average height, your knees may knock on the handlebars of a bike that’s only 120cm tall. The maximum weight the bike can carry should give you an indication of how sturdy it is.
Some machines also have programmes that enable you to adjust your workout routine based on your fitness level. Or, you might just want a water bottle holder or somewhere to rest your book.
Of the rental companies we surveyed, one – Rutherford Fitness – had a rent to buy scheme.
Hiring a bike from Rutherford Fitness, at the cheapest rate over the minimum term (12 weeks), will set you back $102. To rent to buy a $395 second-hand bike from the store, you’d pay $8.50 a week for 46 weeks. If you’re in it for the long haul, it’s more economical to buy a bike outright.
Elite Fitness will credit one month’s hire off a bike if you decide to buy a similar model. Its cheapest bike was $299.
Buying equipment such as a cross-trainer or treadmill is more expensive than an exercise bike, so renting is more attractive – particularly if you’re not sure a home workout is your cup of tea.
You can rent a beginner’s cross trainer from Rutherford Fitness for $10 per week (for a minimum 12-week hire). Its cheapest treadmill was $15 per week (12-week minimum). Most other companies charged $20 a week. The exception was Bods in Motion: it’s weekly fee for a treadmill was $30 for a four-week hire.
Rutherford Fitness also had ex-rentals to rent-to-buy from $695 or new treadmills at $795. You’d need to commit to using the equipment (ex-rental) for 11 months to make it worthwhile.
If you decide to hire exercise equipment, here’s what you should consider:
If you miss a payment, two companies stated they charge a late payment fee from $10 to $35.
You could also face debt collection fees if you have outstanding bills. Mr Rental’s debt collection fee can be up to $1250, which is more than twice the cost of buying an exercise bike! A spokesperson said the fee covers the cost of hiring an agency to collect the debt and any court costs.
Other companies note the hirer must pay debt collection costs, without listing an amount.
If a company says it’s calling in the debt collectors and you don’t believe you owe the money, dispute the debt immediately in writing, setting out your reasons clearly. You don’t have to pay a debt-collection fee on top of what you owe unless you were made aware of this cost before you incurred the debt.
We wanted to read the fine print of the hire agreements to make sure there weren’t fish-hooks or unfair contract terms.
While Rutherford Fitness and Bods in Motion have their terms and conditions online, getting this information from the other companies was a workout.
Mr Rental sets out fees, and basic terms and conditions on its website. It also provided this information in an email to our mystery shopper but said the contract would be provided when it delivered the bike. The company later sent us a copy of its full agreement.
Auckland-based Fitness World has some terms and conditions online but when our mystery shopper asked for the full contract, she was told it doesn’t have “much more in it” and would only be provided if she hired a bike.
Fit2Run wouldn’t give our mystery shopper anything in writing but later provided us with some information.
At Elite Fitness, our mystery shopper was given a photocopy of someone else’s agreement (minus personal details) and told “this is what your contract will look like.”
The Elite Fitness contract was filled with legalese and referred to the “Consumer Protection Act”, which doesn’t exist. It also had terms we consider unfair. One clause stated the company could keep your deposit if it decided it had suffered any loss. Another said the company could come into your house to collect the equipment at any time. While Elite Fitness made some changes in response to our concerns, the contract still includes terms we think are likely to be unfair under the Fair Trading Act.
We also found a ropey term in the Bods in Motion contract. The contract states it automatically renews for four-week periods after the minimum term. To end the contract, you have to give seven days’ notice before the next four-week period begins. Terms like this disadvantage the consumer and there’s no good reason for them. We think they’re unfair.