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“Coasting Along Above Maui with Mountain Riders” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Mountain Riders

Mountain Riders
Book In Advance
USD 130.00*
and up
Maui Haleakala Day Bike Tour
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Sarasota, FL
Level Contributor
42 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Coasting Along Above Maui with Mountain Riders”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 January 2012

A trip up (and down) Haleakala with Mountain Riders was well worth the time and money. After talking with friends and reading online reviews, we opted for Mountain Riders and the self-paced tour. Not only was it less expensive but we preferred the later start (we see many sunrises/sunsets in FL where we live) due to not having to leave in the middle of the night, and, less crowds. It was at the perfect choice.

We met at Starbucks on Dairy Road for our pickup at 7 am. Good place to start. After an quick instructional video at their base camp we were off for a drive to the summit. At 10,200 feet we had breathtaking views of the island, the crater and got a taste for the change in temp (and wind). Learned that winds can often hit 100 mph up there.

Our driver, which was really also our tour guide even though we didn't have an official one, was Mark, and he did a great job. Not only did he set our equipment up, he also followed us down the mountain and was never more than a call away if we needed him.

He did a great job on educating us while we were in the van (which was about three hours going up and descending back to our bikes at 6500 feet) and allowed us to have the best of both worlds - all the info we wanted but allowed us to bike without the confines of a large group.

My wife and I enjoyed the trip down, stopping at Sunrise Cafe (?) for a snack and then at Cafe Mambo near the end in Paia.

The equipment was great, the coast was fun, topped out at just over 30 mph one spot, and we always felt safe. Don't do it without expecting to do some pedaling, and on a one-speed bike, that pedaling speed is about 7 mph (and you seem to resemble a hamster on a wheel), but it certainly isn't any big deal.

I strongly recommend this attraction - I would have been very disappointed if we had not done it - and highly recommend Mountain Riders and Mark.

Visited January 2012
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Thank GGinSRQ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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St. Albert, Canada
Level Contributor
63 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 106 helpful votes
“Great Experience”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 January 2012

This is the kind of attraction that will polarize people, and what you get out of it will completely depend on what your expectations are going in.

Mountain Riders, like every other bike tour company on Maui, offers several choices including seeing the sunrise from the top of Haleakula followed by a glide down the mountain or, alternatively an informative morning visit to the top of Haleakula for some photographs sightseeing, followed by a glide down the mountain. We chose the second option, mainly because we just couldn't justify getting up in the wee hours of the morning to see a sunrise no matter how spectacular it might be.

Our pickup time was scheduled for 6:30 a.m., still plenty early for a troupe of people on vacation. From the pickup at our hotel we drove to the Mountain Riders office in Kahului to pick up the trailer containing the bikes and, if we wanted, have a bite to eat. I want to briefly comment on the "breakfast" that seems to be a hot topic with a lot of people No, this isn't a hot breakfast buffet...it's the opportunity, if you want, to grab a muffin and a cup of coffee. That's it, and that's all the company claims to offer. This experience isn't about the breakfast, and if you're on this tour expecting a lavish breakfast well then you're on it for the wrong reasons. Have a good breakfast before you get picked up at your hotel just like we did, and if you want to top it off with a muffin at their office then go for it.

On of the things that made this a good experience for us was the fact that only four of us were on the trip, which made for a much more relaxing experience all the way around. The guides only had to prepare and load four bikes, and getting the ubiquitous waivers signed was quick and efficient.

Once the trailer was hooked to the van we set our for the top of Haleakula. We dropped the trailer off at the 6800 ft mark just before entering the National Park. A word here - bike companies no longer offer tours from the peak due to new regulations in the National Park. Every company needs to start their tour from a spot outside the Park. This is probably a good idea considering how many steep switchbacks are in the top 3000 feet. The drive from the office to the summit took an hour, maybe even a little more by the time the trailer was dropped off and the van passed through the park gates. A word here - if you get carsick, this is not the trip for you. You're constantly winding back and forth all the way up and Tom, our guide, related several stories of guests yakking because of all the back and forth.

Once we reached the summit we spent about a half an hour looking around, taking in the interpretive center, and taking photos. Although I did not get light-headed at all the one time I ran up a short flight of stairs left me winded - you are at 10,000 ft., after all. It's also quite chilly and windy up there, so a light jacket or hoody is recommended. When we were done at the peak we loaded up and headed back down to the trailer for the highlight of the trip.

So, this isn't just jump on the bike and glide down - there are very specific rules to follow designed to keep you safe, and it's best to pay attention to them. This IS a two-way road and in many places it is steeper than it looks and you can pile on a lot of speed very quickly. The bikes are big and heavy, and purpose-designed to carry a lot of speed. Please pay no attention to the people who claim the bikes are death-traps and are ready to fall apart - nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they are well-used and yes, there may be some scrapes on the metal or small rips in the seats here and there. I've maintained my own bicycles for 40 years and have worked in engineering for the last 25 years - believe me that the bikes are well-maintained and operate just fine for their design environment. I took a very close look at the brakes, wheels, tires, and listened closely to the bearings - everything was fine. And you know what? If there is anything about your bike that makes you uncomfortable the guides are more than happy to address any concerns you have.

Helmets are mandatory, and Mountain Riders provides gloves and other outer wear if you desire. Some people don't like to put their hands inside used gloves so if this is an activity you're planning on doing while you're here I recommend bringing your own gloves with you or buying a cheap pair the day before. All extra stuff (cameras, unwanted jackets, purses, etc.) ride in the van, not with you. The way the trip down works is that the guide takes the lead, and the van brings up the rear and "protects" the riders from overtaking vehicles. The lead guide will make a judgement call about who he thinks will be the slowest riders in the group up to the most experienced riders, and that's the way the "train" will go down the hill behind him - riders cannot pass one another, and riders cannot ride beside each other. Essentially the guide wants to be able to keep the closest eye on the people who may get into trouble the easiest. This can be bad, because if you have a very timid rider at the front it will slow everyone down to a crawl, and this is why a smaller group is more desirable than a larger group. We only had four people - me, my son, and one 40-something couple. The woman from that couple rode in front and while she was obviously an experienced bike rider there were a number of times when we had to brake very hard to keep from passing her and her husband because she lost her nerve on a long fast straightaway or through a wide turn. You can image how much worse this would be in a group of 10 or 12 people.

The guide has the option of putting someone in the van if he feels they are really ruining the experience for everybody else, or if there is someone in the group repeatedly breaking the safety rules. This didn't happen with our tour, but the Tom says that it happens more often than not.

Halfway down the mountain, about 40 minutes in, we stopped just after re-joining the main highway at a small road-side cafe/store for a break, and lunch if anybody wanted to get something. Obviously lunch was not included and this was one of the typical ways a tour operator will "share the wealth" with other businesses along the tour route. We did choose to have a sandwich and soup and I wish I remembered what the place was called because the food really was very good, fresh, and priced very well.

Once the break was over we jumped back on the bikes and proceeded down the hill. Don't be fooled by thinking there is no pedaling on this trio because there is some, albiet very little - especially if you don't carry a lot of speed off some of the hills. Still, you have to do it occasionally especially when the ground flattens out some more. The tour continued down along the mountain along Hwy. 377, rejoining Hwy 37 briefly before heading off down more less-traveled roads towards the beach at Paia.

We reached the beach at right around 12:30, at which time we were given 15 minutes to check out the beach, use the facilities, or whatever while the bikes were loaded back into the trailer. We dropped the trailer off at the head office, and were taken to our hotels arriving right at 1:30 p.m.

One thing I do want to comment on are the lack of "photo stops". No, the tour didn't stop a lot on the way down, but they did stop a couple of times for planned photo opportunities. This is to keep the tour on schedule, and stopping an entire train of bicycles at the whim of a single rider can be dangerous and very time-comsuming. If you want photos from some of the vantage points you experienced my advice is to enjoy the bike tour down, and once you get back to your hotel you can jump in your rental car and head back up the mountain stopping as many times as you want. Repeatedly topping 10 or 12 bicycles on a whim while cruising down a mountain is just not doable. Think about it.

In summary this is a fun, safe, and worthwhile adventure as long as your expectations are in line with what the tour provider offers. DON'T expect an extravagant breakfast but DO expect a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Visited April 2011
Helpful?
3 Thank Doug_Bowles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
19 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great guided experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 December 2011

Too bad there are some negative experiences written about on here, but I suppose your mileage varies depending on your guide. We had a great time.

Pick-up was on-time and we were not the first ones, so well-done.

For guides we had Tom (lead) and Sean (driver) who were outstanding! Early pick-up (duh, sunrise 10,000 ft up!) and not exactly a breakfast ala the Four Seasons, but that's not what you are there for.

We all were given Columbia rain gear that made it look like we were headed on a tour of Niagra Falls. It didn't rain but if it did the gear would have been perfect. Still, you should DRESS WARMLY in multiple layers for the top. It was 34 F before sunrise. At each stop you will shed a layer and this will make it much more comfortable.

Good info. from Tom, a.k.a "Pops," on top (he let people snooze on the way up) and then on the drive from the crater back down a 3,000 ft. to where the bikes are. (National Park doesn't allow companies to start from the way-top.) No worries though because Pops gave great info. about Maui and the upcoming descent during this time.

Bikes are basically super-reinforced BMX bikes with drum brakes. Yeah, they are 'used.' To the dude who wrote in a review that he was jealous of the Trek bikes with another company, these bikes are much better suited for a descent-only situation. The drum brakes will not heat-up like rim brakes so are much safer. Yeah, they weigh 40 lbs. but that makes for better speed on the descent.

Tom is great and attended to everyone nicely. Ladies ride up front, gents at the rear (as weight plays a factor here.)

The only disappointment is that a few others in the group were 'nervous nellies' about the whole downhill thing. And as they were female they were up front and slowing the whole group down. Not the guides' fault at all. Tom actually took the time to switch up the order a little to bring them up by him where he could coach them, and the speeds got better. If you want to bomb down the volcano then do the ones were they give you a bike and send you on your way. But you'll have to figure out the way down on your own. While there is one road down from the park, the second-half has more than a few choices so you could get lost.

One main picture stop of the valley plus the 1000 photos you could take on top of the crater (so not sure why everyone is whining about the amount of photo ops.), then again at the snack break and finally at the beach.

Yes, it DOES go all the way to the beach, just past Paia.

There was ONE hard sell on tipping during the van ride from the top to the bikes, but that was the only time. It was quite blatant, and put me off at first. But then I realized we had people from three foreign countries in the group and tipping is not in their culture. Being a tour guide myself I appreciated their need to 'remind' those from other cultures that these guys make their wages mostly on gratuity. Be generous.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank MarkZ631
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“An Overall Wonderful Experience though there were some kinks that could be fixed”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 December 2011

Well, considering how many others have written reviews about this company and the activity narrative itself, I shall cut to the chase.
Despite some kinks, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves during the bike tour. I';ll start off with the 'bad' stuff first, though I am still greatly surprised by the number of horrid reviews of the company and the event. As mentioned before, I think that the van reaches the peak too early. We were left to spend an hour or so in the van before spending another hour or so at the tour center(which btw has sucky service). My suggestion was that they pick us up slightly later(like 45 minits or so) as I do understand hte rationale of getting there early to get a good spot to see the sunrise. Another thing is that the gloves and coveralls don't seem washed. While it was indeed good that they were provided FOC,it did seem rather dirty.
Moving on to the good stuff
1. Our tour guides (Mark and Sean) were excellent. Knowledgeable of the geography and history of the place and very friendly indeed. Gave them a significant well-deserved tip as a result.
Additionally, they were very well-versed regarding safety procedure and thus ensured not only an enjoyable trip but a safe one too. At that, we even found out about how some of the other negligent companies with lax safety procedures have previously resulted in deaths and the etc.
2. While some people may be wary about what seems like a tiring exhausting activity, I assure you that the distance travelled is really not that much, especially since most of it is downhill. For half the time, you don't even need to paddle and just steer and apply the brakes.
3. I see that some people have mentioned that the bikes weren't brand new and that sort but I assure you that they are safe and sufficient for the experience. Moreover, if your bicycle seems faulty they are more than happy to switch one for you as they bring extra bicycles on the van. Not to forget, the focus of hte trip is to see the sunset and to have an experience of biking down the mountain, I personally don't think super professional bikes are needed.
4. The sunrise and hte following scenery is beautiful and a sight to behold. Do bring a camera lest you may miss out on a beautiful out-of-this-world experience.
All in All, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would encourage anyone to sign up for this acitivity.I hope i've provided a fair balanced view and done justice to the trip in this review and would be happy to answer anyone.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank Jo L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Poor value for money”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 December 2011

My main concern here is value for money. For what we paid, the experience did not live up to expectations. While we enjoyed a crisis-free pick-up, ride up the mountain, 10 minutes at the top, ride down and arrival at the beach, the excursion's overall standards were pretty low.

As other reviewers have noted, the quality of the bikes is terrible; like many others, I had to change mine at the half-way point due to a drastically out of alignment rear wheel, which our guide blamed on the manufacturer (more likely poor maintenance). It would have been great to cruise down the mountain on real downhill bikes or classic, well maintained cruisers: smoother, safer rides with a bit of style at the same time.

As others have also noted, the breakfast was only Costco muffins and coffee, but we weren't expecting anything so had no complaints. The hour+ long ride up in the 12 person van was quite cramped, though, with 12 adults barely squeezing in. In fact, one guest had to sit with only one butt cheek on the seat since there was no literally nowhere else he could go. Fortunately he was a very good sport about it.

The quality of service was also generally low. While we were given the basics about safety and the volcano, 90% of the trip was left without comment from our guides. What would have been better was guides that paid attention to the personalities in the group, who showed that they cared and clearly knew a lot about the mountain, and who took it upon themselves to stop for photographs at interesting points; instead, we only had one photo opportunity on the way up.

Overall, for the money, I expected much more in terms of the quality of the guides, gear and overall experience. If you are confident on a bike and with a map, I would recommend renting bikes on your own and doing this with your own group.

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
Thank punheim
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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