Tom’s Tips – Maui Bike Ride

Jan 31, 2017 | Activity Information

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The Maui Bike tours have been one Maui excursion that has changed so much over the course of time. I remember back in the early eighties when a young entrepreneur who later became known as ‘Cruiser Bob’ came up to me and described his idea to take visitors on a bike ride down Haleakala from the crater at 10’000 ft to the seacoast below. I remember thinking that the idea seemed like an exciting one but also might be perilous at the same time. Some months later I heard that he had taken his first trip down the mountain and although it proved to be an experience for all, there were some problems involving accidents where at least one person ran off the road and was badly hurt.

In subsequent trips there were many changes made to make the tours safer and the idea caught on with the general public and the downhill bike ride experience became somewhat of a phenomenon. Many other bike companies joined in the gold rush and the bike industry on Maui was headed to its heyday.

Unfortunately, even with the number of safety features added, the sheer number of people headed down the mountain on bikes lead to some very serious accidents and fatalities as well. Then the bike industry in general, stepped in to police their own industry and made many, many changes to make the industry safer and these implementations exist to this day. It is rare to hear of accidents happening on the roadway as they had in years past.

The real driving force of change in the industry however was the multitude of people, not just bikers, but visitors who were traveling up to see the crater at sunrise. Just like in many other areas of the world like Venice and others that have ‘over-tourism’ issues, these had to be dealt with on Haleakala as well. The government stepped in and seriously regulated the industry and limited the number of bike companies and number of people in each bike company that could go up to see the sunrise. That is where we stand today.

Now days you can still be picked up at your hotel to be taken to see the sunrise at the crater but you will not be permitted to ride your bike all the way down the mountain to the sea. After the sunrise experience you will be escorted down the mountain to just beyond the national park boundary at the 6500′ level. Here you will be provided a bike and permitted to then coast down the mountain. Each company is different in the respect of how far you descend. Some will allow you to go all the way down to the coastal town of Paia and others have you travel a lesser distance to some other point where you will be picked up and taken back to your hotel.

An additional modification of this is also available where you are taken up to the 6500′ level without ever going all the way to the top. From there you are permitted to ride down the mountain and these are designed primarily for those people who are just interested in have the bike experience as their primary intention.

By in large the tours offered now days are guided tours as in the past where you will travel as a group between a lead biker and a chase van all the way down. There are some companies however that will provide you with your bike and gear at the 6500′ level and allow you to descend the rest of the way on your own, without guidance. You can choose the tour you prefer.

These bike tours are still a world class event, even with all the modifications, and even more than before they can be very difficult to get on because of the limitation of the number of bike riders allowed to travel down the mountain.