Another Warning on Haleakala Bike Tours

Dear readers, you know that I rarely have an unkind word to say about tours in Hawaii, but I just can’t help expressing my concern in this instance. I only share this with you because I sincerely care for your safety.

I was very saddened to read the news of another tourist killed while on a downhill Haleakala biking tour.  This incident marks the third cyclist death from the downhill Haleakala thrill ride in the last year.  Back in June, I reported that these bike tours were being reviewed.  I wish a safe solution would have been found in time to prevent more injuries and deaths.

How often are cyclists injured on this downhill thrill ride? Doctors at Maui Memorial say, they see at least two to five injuried cyclists in their emergency room each week, with broken bones or facial injuries from their downhill ride. (Source)

The Haleakala bike tours are very popular and tour companies do encourage the cyclists to be safe. I don’t know how many people bike down Haleakala in a day, but I would guess numbers are in the hundreds at least.

Is stressing safety to these cyclist enough? How safe can you be while biking down the side of a volcano that starts out at 10,000 feet above sea level and ends near sea level?   Think about the cyclists on the Tour de France routes through the Alps and Pyrenees.  Those cyclists crash their bikes and they are experts!  They ride on professional bikes that cost $10,000 or more.

image If you want to see Haleakala, the good news is that there are many great alternatives for seeing it without having to take a white knuckle bike ride.  I’ve already written my best advice for seeing Haleakala at sunrise.

If you want to see Haleakala, but don’t want to do the driving, there are plenty of tours to choose from.  I just did a Google search for “Haleakala Tours” and this is just a handful of the top results that don’t involve bikes:

 

My advice to you is that you must not miss seeing Haleakala on your Maui vacation.  It is spectacular.  Do consider your tour options and make a safe choice.

Ohana Beach Rentals

About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

11 comments

  1. Having seen the bikes they give you, I wouldn’t ride one of them around a private track, let alone down a volcano.

    Unfortunately, it’s so popular I would imagine many people will continue to sign up. I guess all you can do is keep telling your readers the risks.

    An interesting comparison. As fearful of sharks we all are, only 4 people were attacked by sharks in Hawaii in 2006 – none died! You’re better off swimming with sharks, than biking down Haleakala!

  2. Good comparison, Andy.

    I just recalled this part that I wrote on August 9th vacation news roundup:

    “Per KHNL, Maui Memorial Hospital reports seeing “at least two to five injured cyclists in their emergency room each week with broken bones or facial injuries from their downhill ride? at Haleakala. ”

    Here is the link to that: http://www.govisithawaii.com/2007/08/05/hawaii-vacation-news-roundup-for-august-5th/

    This is very concerning to me!

  3. I have to disagree somewhat… You need to know your limits. If you’re not a physically fit person… a forty mile bike ride might not be the best thing for you to do.

    (IMO) These companies seem to overplay that fact that it’s almost all downhill. It’s true but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. I rode with bikemaui.com a while back and it was a blast. I was fairly physically fit at the time and was completely exhausted when I got back. I went with them because they just drop you off at the top with a map and turn you loose. You are free to go as fast or as slow as you like.

    The bikes are OK… But… It’s not at all like riding your own bike back home. Your bike at home is like an extension of your body because you are used to it. Renting someone else’s bike can create a hazard just because your reflexes are slower on the rented bike.

    I guess the bottom line is you need to be careful. Riding a rented bike 40 miles down a volcano can be dangerous. It can also be a great experience. It wouldn’t be so popular if it sucked.

  4. As always, I appreciate your comment, Dave. I definitely agree that you need to know your abilities and limits.

  5. As a born and raised “Flat-lander” from Florida, I can tell you that at 54 yrs old and of average fitness, I took the downhill ride this past June and had the time of my life… I feel it isn’t to be missed and feel far more threatened riding in traffic in a major city like Orlando…

    I think you simply have to know your limits, have reasonable expectations and go from there… I would do the bike ride with Maui Downhill a hundred times over, they were great!

    • Totally agree with Tina,we did the downhill about 14 years ago when I was in my middle 50’s and about to do it again in my middle 60’s Was one of the three most enjoyable things I’ve ever done.

  6. Thanks, Tina, for sharing your experience. I’m glad you had a great ride.

  7. I too went with Haleakala Bike Co., bikemaui.com
    I had the time of my life. I can see why some are afraid, or some have had accidents, but the bottom line as mentioned before is know your limits. Know what you are doing and getting into. And think positive. If you think you’ll fall, then you are more likey to fall. A great experience to at least consider and look into further. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunity, but do aways encourage to be safe!

  8. Hi Bob – Thanks for sharing your experience and advice.

  9. My treat to myself for my 72nd birthday in Nov 2006 was to make the ride down Haleakala. There were 7 people booked on the group that day, and as I was a single booking I was “tail-end Charley” coming down from the top. It ranks right up there as one of my more exhilarating experiences.
    (The Tour outfit was very professional). I have related the story many times, and this coming April will be back in Maui with my family, and several of them had planned to join me in doing the trip again. I was disappointed to note the trip from the crater top was no longer an option, but in view of the later safety issues I understand. Too bad!

  10. Hi Eric – Wow! Mucho kudos to you for biking this white knuckle road on your 72nd birthday! Thanks for sharing your story and hope you enjoy your trip again. Please let us know how you liked the shorter route.

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