Haleakala Downhill Bike Tour Update – Still On Hold

Beginning October 10, 2007, downhill bike rides from the top of Haleakala were banned “temporally” for 60 day. The ban was put in place to study the safety of the tours. Those 60 days have come and gone and the downhill thrill rides are still not operating inside Haleakala National Park. According to this Maui News article, Haleakala National Park Superintendent Marilyn Parris said she expects to make a final decision on the ban in early March.

The ban only applies to the roadway inside the national park’s boundaries. As I reported back in the November update, some tour companies have modified services to begin the bike ride just outside the park’s gates.

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’d rather not drive, there are several tour companies who’ll do the driving for you.

Stay tuned to Go Visit Hawaii for the next report.

Note:  Now see March 2008 update.

  1. I was just up on Haleakala last month. It’s a good road up there. But I guess when you have novice bikers who aren’t used to biking on steep roads and drivers who aren’t used to driving those roads, and add in the fact that the road is kinda narrow…

  2. Hi Adam. Thanks for commenting.

    Yeah, unfortunately not everyone has good enough biking skills to be able to handle that steep and curvy bike ride. There were 2 people who actually died just last year from taking one of the downhill bike tours. I’ve also heard and read that many more people on those tours wind up in the emergency room weekly.

    Did you bike it? What did you think?

  3. Hi. Please READ THIS POST!!. As a former employee of several of the downhill bike companies, I can attest to the fact that the ride is NOT SAFE!. Maui Mountain Cruisers and Haleakala Bike Company were the two companies I have worked for. Neither companies maintained the bikes up to safety standards – pedals, crankarms, seats, etc. falling off mid-ride were not uncommon. On multiple occasions at each company, I was forced to give a customer a bicycle with inadequate brakes (for a 10,000 ft. descent!). several times, I had to ride a bike down with almost no brakes – using my sneaker as a brake against the front tire rubber. (very dangerous!) Sure, the customers have signed the waiver forms, so the companies are not liable. Also, as the tour guide/driver who gives the narrated tour while driving a large bus up the mountain in the middle of the night, I was forced to work sometimes 30 or more days in a row, with a varied schedule of daily hours. I would work from 6am to 2 pm, then have to be back at midnight for a 14 hour day. Very dangerous, as i’d be operating this large tour bus on only an hour or two of sleep. Several times i fell asleep at the wheel. luckily, no accidents ever occurred. When i expressed my concern over the obviously dangerous scheduling, I was told by the owner of Haleakala Bike Company “That’s how the business is”. He then recommended that I TAKE DRUGS to be able to stay awake and drive his customers. WTF?
    The two companies that i have worked for, and i’m assuming the other companies on maui as well, care very little about customer safety or satisfaction. there are enough tourists on maui that all thay care about is volume, getting as many people up and down the mountain as possible, to make the most $. In my opinion, these companies are probably guilty of criminal negligence, which has led to the deaths of many (i think 9 , at last count) downhill customers over the years. (and countless hospitalizations) In any case, they have gained a reputation around the island to be terrible employers with high turnover rates, who do not abide by most state and federal labor laws. The one bike tour company on the island that i can vouch for is called Maui Cyclery. They do not do downhill tours, but do offer some other tours for experienced cyclists. They provide first rate equipment and professional level services, as opposed to the downhill companies.
    In summation, Haleakala is a great mountain to ride down. However, i would not go with any of the downhill companies. The safest way to do the ride would be to rent bikes on your own( from a real bike shop and not a tour company), and arrange for a ride up the mountain. It may not be as convenient, but is a whole lot safer and will cost a bit less.
    Aloha, and happy cycling!

  4. I am an experienced rider and I am getting ready for my first trip to the islands. Is the downhill ride still prohibited within the park boundries?

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