The Biking Guide to Austin

With numerous hills, elaborate trails, specialist shops, and cyclist-friendly laws, Austin is an ideal city for bike enthusiasts.   


Ranked as the seventh best cycling city in America by Bicycle Magazine, Austin offers an abundance of fun trails, stocked shops, and eclectic communities devoted to cyclingWhether you're training for the Tour de France, scaling limestone walls on your new Trek, looking to start a fixie gang, or simply using your two-wheeler to commute, Austin is a good place to be. 


This guide will provide you with an ample listing of excellent trails, cool shops, relaxing spots, and a comprehensive guide to safe urban cycling. Just don't forget your helmet!


COVID-19 UPDATE: While most trails are open for biking, listed shops may have limited operation. Check with each place before heading for any repairs. Listed bars are either temporarily closed or may begin opening with limited service.




Photo VIa Austin Bike Tours




THE TRAILS

There's nothing quite like hitting the open trail on a bicycle. The cool wind blowing in your face, the exciting and visceral thrill of speed, the gentle bumps and jostles of terrain. The experience is transcendent, an arcane phenomenon no less difficult to understand than age-old philosophical problems. Like most skilled riders will tell you, biking offers much more than a fun time—it is a communion with Earth's surface. With just bike and body, you can explore our planet's geography and feel its subtle complexities and nuances in your tires. But enough with all this whacky Zen talk, let's get riding. Here are some of the best bike trails Austin has to offer. 


Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail

900 W Riverside Dr


Located in the heart of Austin along beautiful Lady Bird Lake, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is an idyllic pathway perfect for beginners and cyclists looking for more scenic rides. Situated along the water, this urban path is 10 miles of both natural and manmade beauty. You will pass neighborhoods, ballparks, skyscrapers, and natural Texas vegetation—it's almost as if this trail was lifted from a movie. Naturally romantic, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail is a great place to go riding with that special someone. Head out to Lady Bird Lake and make your day more beautiful. 



Walnut Creek Trail

12138 N Lamar Blvd


A great place for beginners to learn the ins and outs of mountain biking, Northwest Austin favorite Walnut Creek Trail provides bikers with a variety of fun paths perfect for rough terrain biking. Covered in trees and filled with jumps, the trail offers fun for bikers looking for both exhilarating fun and exhausting workouts. But don't let the jumps frighten you! Walnut Creek Trail has tons of different routes ranging from beginner to advanced. Also, be sure to check out the BMX jumps at the entrance of the park. And if you're feeling extra adventurous, strap on a helmet, clean off that dusty BMX bike and go pretend your Matt Hoffman. 





Emma Long Metropolitan Park

1600 City Park Rd.


By far Austin's most difficult and technical trail, Emma Long Metropolitan Park is for advanced riders looking for challenges and thrills. Started in the 1970's as a motorbike trail, Emma Long City Park is filled with limestone ledges, dense wood, big jumps, and rocky trails. Take heed: this trail is not for beginners. But if you're an experienced rider looking for a challenge, this is the perfect trail for you. Be careful of your surroundings, watch for hidden drops, and keep your eyes peeled for speeding motocross junkies—motorized bikes are still allowed. Emma Long City Park is not for the faint of heart, so don't say you weren't warned! 



Barton Creek Greenbelt

3755 S Capital of Texas Hwy B


A great trail for intermediate bikers, the Barton Creek Greenbelt offers wonderful opportunities to hone and develop your mountain biking skills. Populated by cliff walls, lush vegetation, beautiful creeks, and sprawling paths, the greenbelt is a perfect place to spend a day getting lost in natural beauty. The trail begins at Zilker Park and sprawls throughout the area for 7.9 miles. Not as daunting as Emma City Long Park but not as simple as the Ann and Roy Hike-and-Bike trail, the Barton Creek Greenbelt is an ideal spot to work on your skills and become a great mountain biker.



Photo Via Onion Creek Trail


Onion Creek Trail

7001 Onion Creek Dr


Onion Creek Trail, an uncomplicated and relaxing pathway, is a beautiful trail designed for bikers of all skill levels. Completely paved and smooth throughout, Onion Creek Trail is simple and scenic, perfect for those looking for an easy Sunday ride. It features tons of shady trees, diverse wildlife, and a flowing creek—Onion Creek is an all-around wonderful trail. And clocking in at 2.8 miles, the trail is easily navigable and enjoyable. Head to Onion Creek Trail for some relaxed fun and easy riding.




 


THE SHOPS

While cycling provides great transportation and extreme fun, it also offers some of the coolest gear in all of sports merchandise. And luckily, bikes can be easily customized, tweaked to perfection. Looking to buy new handlebars for that fixie? Want a new, more comfortable seat? Or maybe you're just looking to kill some time and feel like checking out the newest bikes on the market. Here are some of the coolest and most distinguished bike shops Austin has to offer. sports merchandise. And luckily, bikes can be easily customized, tweaked to perfection. Looking to buy new handlebars for that fixie? Want a new, more comfortable seat? Or maybe you're just looking to kill some time and feel like checking out the newest bikes on the market. Here are some of the coolest and most distinguished bike shops Austin has to offer. 



Clown Dog Bikes

2821 San Jacinto Blvd


Started back in 2000, Clown Dog Bikes aspires to be like the badass bike shops of old. Located on 2821 San Jacinto Blvd (right on campus), they're a no-frills bike shop with a friendly staff who perform quality repairs with exceedingly quick turnaround times. Stop on in if you're looking for a tune up, or just feel like browsing their extensive collection of gear. 



Monkey Wrench

5555 N Lamar STE L131


Located on North Lamar, Monkey Wrench is an independently owned, local bike shop that offers an expansive list of products and services for the cycling community. With great service, expert staff, and affordable prices, Monkey Wrench remains one of Austin's most cherished bike shops. If you took one too many tumbles out on the trail and bent your fork or worse, your frame, bring your bike into Monkey Wrench for a $40 tune-up or $90 complete makeover. Whether you're looking for affordable gear as a beginner or a new Trek Madone 7, Monkey Wrench has got what you need. 



Photo Via Mellow Johnnys


Mellow Johnny's

400 Nueces St


With a mission to "help people realize the independence, freedom, mobility, and joy of riding a bike," Austin's famous bike shop Mellow Johnny's is at once a store and a philosophy. Nestled deep in the heart of downtown on Nueces St., Mellow Johnny's has served the Austin cycling community since 2008, selling top-notch gear and offering great service to thousands of Texan cyclists. Fulfilling their promise to be more than just a shop, Mellow Johnny's also serves as one of SXSW's coolest venues for live music, hosting artists like Parquet Courts, Charles Bradley and even 80s synth-god OMD. Mellow Johnny's is by far one of Austin's hippest cycling fixtures. 



Photo Via Bruce Malone


Buck's Bikes Superstore

12530 Research Blvd


A stalwart force in the cycling community, Buck's Bikes has served Austin's bike enthusiasts since 1983. For more than 30 years, Buck's Bikes has offered quality bikes, accessories, reliable service, and affordable pricing. Customers will be happy to choose from Buck's selection, a large stock of mountain, BMX, and road bikes of high quality. Located in the cozy suburbs of Northwest Austin, Buck's is a homey, friendly shop perfect for both beginners and experts. And with low individual labor rates, Buck's provides an affordable way for you to tweak your bike until it's perfect. 



Photo Via Bicycle Sport Shop


Bicycle Sport Shop

517 S Lamar Blvd


As far as original bike shops in Austin go, Bicycle Sport Shop is one that should not be understated. The locally-owned, Barton Springs-based shop has been supplying Austin with bikes since all the way back in 1983. In addition to offering friendly service and extensive parts for sale, Bicycle Sport Shop is something of a force for good in the fight for cycling advocacy in Austin. Come see for yourself why they're such an important part of cycling culture in Austin.



The Peddler

5015 Duval St

13010 W. Parmer Lane


There's always a friendly face behind the counter at The Peddler. Whether you're looking to buy a new bike, fix a flat on your embarrassingly crappy old bike, get you a cute new bell for your handlebars, or join a group ride, The Peddler has got you covered.





THE COMMUNITY 

We know riding solo can be lots of fun, but Austin's cyclist community is too inviting and fun to pass up. Join a local scene and share your passion for riding bicycles with fellow enthusiasts. And maybe, just maybe, you'll meet that special someone when cruising along Lady Bird Lake or among the rocks of Barton Creek Greenbelt. Here are some of the coolest cycling communities in Austin.


Photo Via Waheed Gomez


Bikin' Betties


Bikin' Betties is a weekly bike ride for female, female-identifying, and gender-nonconforming individuals. The cycling troupe provides a great way to meet like-minded peers, entrance into Austin's biking community, and a fun workout. While routes vary week-to-week, Bikin' Betties operates as a "no-drop" cycling community, meaning nobody gets left behind—ever. And expect to top off an enjoyable ride with some fun at a nearby bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or park. Bikin' Betties meets every Monday at 8 p.m. What're you waiting for? Consult their local Facebook page and get ridin'. 



The Yoga Ride


Like yoga and cycling? Then The Yoga Ride is the perfect bike community for you. Dedicated to creating a "healthier and happier cycling community through the transmission of yoga," The Yoga Ride blends biking with yoga for an inclusive, healthy cycling experience. Join a group of professional yoga instructors for a free yoga class and a no-drop bike ride on Tuesday evenings. If you're like us and can't wait to get stretchin' and ridin', take a look at their FB page for more details including start times, location, and group leaders. The Yoga Ride is a perfect opportunity to combine two of the most enjoyable forms of exercise. 



North Austin Social Bicycling 


North Austin Social Bicycling offers a community based upon one simple principle: a love for cycling. Their events cater to cyclists in North Austin who want to meet others with a similar passion for the sport, departing from Balcones District Park at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. The ride typically contains one park stop and a final stop at a nearby bar or restaurant. Don't worry about fitting in or being accepted. As long as you love riding your bike and enjoy meeting new people, the North Austin Social Bicycling club is for you. Check out their Facebook for more details. 



Photo Via Social Austin FAcebook 


Social Cycling Austin


Like North Austin Social Bicycling, Social Cycling Austin brings together fellow cyclists who love riding their bikes. Don't worry about your skill level or terrain preference; Social Cycling Austin is an inclusive community open to all. Hosting eight rides a week, this community offers unique events like Bike Curious, an art-viewing social ride and The Saturday Caffeine Cruise, a coffee-induced cruise throughout Austin's best local businesses and marts. Quit sitting by yourself like Steven Glansberg and join some fellow cyclist enthusiasts! Consult their Facebook page for more information. 



The Austin Yellow Bike Project

1216 Webberville Rd


For the philanthropically minded biker, Austin Yellow Bike Project is a godsend. Founded nearly twenty years ago right here in Austin, Texas, Yellow Bike Project is, in their own words "A volunteer-powered initiative to put bicycles on the streets of Austin and Central Texas by operating community bike shops, teaching bike mechanics and maintenance, and acting as a local bike advocacy group."





THE SPOTS

We'll admit it: cycling all day is exhausting. Constantly maintaining focus, pushing the pedals, and sitting on a bike seat can be taxing. Sometimes it's good just to sit down, take a break, eat some food, and maybe even drink an ice cold beer. There's nothing like cycling with a group of your closest friends to a nearby watering hole for some good food and draft beer. Here are some great spots to take a break and drink some beer. 



The Wheel

1902-B E MLK Blvd


From its bike-friendly name to its circular logo, The Wheel is Austin's most cyclist-oriented bar. With tons of bike parking and a friendly, casual vibe akin to your favorite college town bar, The Wheel is the perfect spot to take a break from riding and chat with other cyclists about Austin's best trails and shops. If you're feeling particularly tired from your ride, get your carbohydrate fix with one of their delicious smoked pork or Bar-B-Cuban sandwiches. 



Photo Via Whislers


Whisler's

1816 E 6th St


Featuring a fenced-in parking lot for bikes and expert mixologists, Eastside favorite Whisler's is a homey paradise away from the busy streets and bumpy trails of the cycling world. Hit the pedals in the morning and then head to the bar's Happy Hour between 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. and cool off with one of their signature Moscow Mules or Sidecar cocktails. Decorated with a rustic, turn-of-the-century aesthetic, Whisler's is both casual and classy, a perfect spot for meeting up with fellow bike buddies. What are you waiting for? Get on your bike and go grab an old-fashioned! 



L'Oca d'Oro

1900 Simond Ave


Located across the street from scenic Mueller Lake Park, L'Oca d'Oro is right in the middle of Mueller's thriving development. While not directly indebted to the bicycling world, L'Oca d'Oro provides many benefits and perks for bike riders like a great happy hour, expansive beer selection, lots of bike parking, and even a nearby farmer's market. Next time you're looking to explore a new, up-and-coming area of Austin, pedal on over to the Mueller district and take a break at L'Oca d'Oro. Order an ice-cold pint and some Italian food. Trust us, you won't regret it. 



Photo Via The Liberty Facebook


The Liberty

1618 1/2 E 6th St


Tucked away in Austin's hippest district, Eastside staple The Liberty is a perfect bar to lock up your fixie, grab a PBR, and discuss the coolest trends in cycling. Featuring urban decoration and plenty of outdoor seating, The Liberty proves to be the go-to hangout spot for twenty-something cyclists interested in meeting fellow bikers. And with great drink specials and a draft list that keeps on giving, The Liberty is one of our favorite bars in East Austin. A little grungy and always welcoming, The Liberty provides a great break from the hustle and bustle of Austin's crowded streets. 






BE SAFE

We know hauling ass on a nice empty road is exhilarating... Wind blowing through your hair, the wide open space in front of you. The thrill of speed. You own the road. But urban cycling can be dangerous, and it's up to you to be aware of your surroundings and understand the laws and duties of the road. Here's our guide to safe urban cycling. Yeah, yeah, we know you want to get outside and bomb the nearest hill but read this before you hurt yourself, dammit.




Choose the Right Bike


Indisputably, the first step to safe urban cycling is purchasing the right bike and getting properly fitted. First, find out what terrain you will be primarily riding. The road? Off-road? Trails? Both? If you're going to be on the road, prepare to battle Austin's hilly landscape. We recommend lighter frames for road bikes. Mountain bikes should be a little heavier. After selecting the proper bike, get fitted. Head to a professional bike shop and have your dimensions measured. There is nothing worse than riding an ill-fitting bike, knees scrunched up to your chest or legs dangling for the pedals. 


Properly Carry Your Belongings


This may sound obvious but you'd be surprised how many cyclists break this rule and end up with bruises or worse, hospital bills. Don't hit the road juggling your belongings. Just don't. It's unsafe and redirects your focus from the road to your stuff. We recommend buying a messenger bag or backpack to store all your things while riding. If you hate cycling with a backpack or bag, buy a rear rack or basket. Also, never try to transport something larger than yourself on a bike, that's just recipe for disaster. 


Know Your Laws and Respect the Road


We'll spare you the dry legal reading, but it's worth it to brush up on current cycling laws. Always use one of your hands to signal when turning. Understand how and why the most common collisions occur and use this knowledge to avoid them. Never listen to music. That cuts off one of your most important senses in cycling: hearing. Be courteous to drivers and follow traffic signs, stops, and signals. Never ride on the sidewalk—it's more unsafe than the bike lane or road, trust us. Ride with traffic, never against it.  And of course, the golden rule: Wear a helmet. We don't mean to sound like your mother but you'll thank us later. Again, check out current laws for urban cycling. 


Photo Via Pinterest


Plan Your Route


Commuting via bike? It's likely the route you want to take won't be the same one you take in a car. Some roads (cough, South Lamar, cough) should probably be avoided altogether, especially during rush hour. Use Google Maps, this City of Austin map, and resources like Reddit or your biking-experienced friends to find and try surface streets or bike-friendly paths that are faster and safer alternatives to big scary roads. It's probably worth an extra 5 minutes of forethought and travel time to not die. This guide by a cyclist has more tips and tricks for a safe commute.


Regularly Tune-Up Your Bike


Before riding, check to make sure your bike is properly maintained and ready for you to use. First, check the air in your tires. All tires gradually lose air, so constantly monitor their air pressure. As a general rule of thumb, fill your tires to the recommended amount at least once or twice a month. In addition to maintaining your tires, apply chain lube (not WD-40, folks) to your chain regularly to ensure smooth riding. Rusty chains are squeaky and annoying but can also be dangerous. If there's a problem with your bike that you can't seem to fix, take it into the shop and have a professional take a look. It'll save you the injuries and money. 


Lock Up Your Bike


Always, always, always lock up your bike when you're done riding. Again, this sounds painfully obvious but cyclists still fail to regularly uphold this precaution and pay the consequences. Bicycles are expensive modes of transportation and used bikes can still sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. People will steal your bike if left unlocked. Sorry, but that's just a fact. We recommend buying a sturdy lock like a Kryptonite Evolution bolt lock. Don't bother with the vinyl-coated cable locks; a pair of hedge clippers or a sharp knife can cut straight through them. Lock up your bike. It's just common sense.  


Photo Via People For Bikes

 


Throw away your bus pass, sell your car, and quit all that slow walking. Head to Nelo's Cycles or Mellow Johnny's and buy yourself a properly-fitted bike and get riding. Cruise through the beautiful hills of Northwest Austin, jump limestone walls at Emma City Long Park or sneak through the downtown traffic with Bikin' Betties. Take a break at The Liberty, grab an ice cold pint, and discuss the coolest new trends in cycling with fellow bike enthusiasts. But wait, before you hit the road, please please please read our guide on safe urban cycling. Be safe, wear your helmet, and go get riding! Austin's waiting. 


Choose the Ultimate Helmet


Courtesy Spaulding INjury Law


Have a great biking tip for riding in Austin? Let us know! [email protected]