The best and sometimes only way to explore Bermuda's nooks and crannies—its little hidden coves and 18th-century tribe roads—is by bicycle or motor scooter. Arriving at the small shore roads and hill trails, however, means first navigating Bermuda's rather treacherous main roads. They are narrow, with no shoulders, and often congested with traffic (especially near Hamilton during rush hours). Fortunately, there's another, safer option for biking in Bermuda: the Railway Trail, a dedicated cycle path blissfully free of cars.
Despite the traffic, bicycle racing is a popular sport in Bermuda, and club groups regularly whir around the island on evening, weekend, and early-morning training rides. Be prepared for some tough climbs—the roads running north and south across the island are particularly steep and winding—and the wind can sap even the strongest rider's strength, especially along South Shore Road in Warwick and Southampton parishes. Island roads are no place for novice riders. Helmets are strongly recommended on pedal bikes (it's illegal to ride without them on a motor scooter), and parents should think twice before allowing preteens to bike here.
Information on local races or on how to meet up with fellow cyclists for regular group rides is available at www.bermudabicycle.org. The Winner's Edge bike shop on Front Street in Hamilton is also a good source of information about the local cycling scene; visit its website at www.winnersedge.bm.
Bermuda Railway Trail. Running intermittently along the length of the old Bermuda Railway (old "Rattle 'n' Shake"), this trail is scenic and restricted to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. You can enter and exit the trail at several signposted points. One lovely route starts at Somerset Bridge and ends 2½ miles later near Mangrove Bay. You can take your bike onto the ferry for a ride from Hamilton or St. George's to the Somerset Bridge stop. From there, bike to the bridge on the main road, turn right, and ride uphill for about 50 yards until you reach the sign announcing "Railway Trail." The segment has spectacular views of the Great Sound. Toward the end of the trail segment, you are on Beacon Hill Road opposite the bus depot. Here you can turn around and head back to Somerset Bridge, or, for refreshment, turn left and ride to the main road, and make a sharp right turn to find Mangrove Bay and several pubs. In Hamilton Parish, a 740-foot bridge allows walkers, joggers, and bikers to pass between Crawl Hill and Coney Island. Because parts of the Railway Trail are isolated and not well lit, plan your excursions for daytime hours.
South Shore Road. This main island road covers almost the full length of the island and passes absolutely gorgeous ocean views. South Shore Road—also known as South Road—is well paved and, for the most part, wider than Middle Road, North Shore Road, and Harbour Road, with relatively few hills. However, it's one of Bermuda's windiest and most heavily traveled thoroughfares. Highlights are through Warwick and Southampton, looking down on the popular south shore beaches.
Tribe Road 3. Tribe roads are small, often unpaved side roads, some of which date to the earliest settlement of Bermuda in the 17th century. They make for good exploring, though many are quite short and lead to dead ends. Beginning at Oleander Cycles in Southampton, Tribe Road 3 steeply climbs the hillside just below Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, with views of the south shore below. It eventually leads to a point from where you can see both the north and south shores. Southampton Parish.
In Bermuda bicycles are called pedal or push bikes to distinguish them from the more common motorized two-wheelers, which are also called bikes. Some of the cycle liveries around the island rent both, so make sure to specify whether you want a pedal or motor bike. If you're sure you want to bicycle while you're in Bermuda, try to reserve rental bikes a few days in advance. Rates are around $40 a day, though the longer you rent, the more economical your daily rate. You may be charged an additional $30 for a repair waiver and for a refundable deposit.
Riding a motor scooter for the first time can be disconcerting wherever you are. Here you have the added confusion that Bermudians drive on the left, and though the posted speed limit is 35 kph (about 22 mph), the unofficial speed limit is actually closer to 50 kph (31 mph; and many locals actually travel faster than that). At most rental shops, lessons on how to ride a motor scooter are perfunctory at best—practice as much as you can before going on to the main road and beware of unusual traffic patterns such as double-laned roundabouts. Though many tourists can and do rent motor scooters, the public transportation system (ferries and buses) is excellent and should not be ruled out.
Oleander Cycles. The agency is known primarily for its selection of motorbikes and scooters for rent and sale, although bicycles, as well as electric powered two-seaters, are also available to rent. Single and double bikes are available, and a damage waiver is charged. Oleander Cycles's main store is in Paget, but its Southampton location is convenient for the Reefs Resort & Club guests since it's right across the street. 6 Valley Rd., Paget Parish, PG05. 441/236–5235; www.oleandercycles.bm. From $41 for 2 hours .
Smatt's Cycle Livery. Smatt's offers standard moped rentals with helmets. Besides the daily rate, you pay the $30 damage-waiver fee. Before a moped is rented, you'll be asked to take a riding test for your safety. There are two additional locations, one in the west end at the Fairmont Southampton resort, and one at the Rosewood Bermuda. A limited number of bicycles are available for rent from the Hamilton and Southampton locations. Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, 74 Pitts Bay Rd., Hamilton, Pembroke Parish, HM06. 441/295–1180; www.smattscyclelivery.com. From $55 per day for single seater.
Island Tour Centre. This comprehensive recreational company based in Hamilton offers a wide assortment of memorable excursions on land and water around the island. For example, the bike tour along the Railway Trail begins in Dockyard with a short boat cruise to the trail, where you will pick up your 21-speed mountain bike. After the leisurely 1½-hour guided ride and commentary, finish with a cool-off swim and a drink at a beach in the Somerset area. The trip is about 3½ hours, including the cruise and biking. There is a $5 administration fee per reservation. 441/236–1300; www.islandtourcentre.com. $80 per person for bike tour.