One Bike Fits All: A Quick Review of Bike Share Bikes

29 Jul

Imagine you’ve been asked to design a bicycle for short urban trips to be used by everyone: from infrequent riders to experienced cyclists, from college students to retirees, from 5 feet tall riders to those well over 6 feet. That was the challenge faced by Michel Dallaire and his team at Devinci Bikes who designed the Bixi bikes used throughout North America: Montreal, Washington D.C., New York City, Toronto, Minneapolis, Ottawa and Chicago, plus London and Melbourne. And very soon we’ll be riding them in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dick & Megan 2

The seafoam-colored Bay Area Bike Share bikes are not available for viewing yet, but they sent a sample bike from the Capital Bikeshare program in Washington D.C. so folks here could get a look. The Bay Area bikes will be very similar. The main difference is in the paint and the gearing. San Francisco has hills, you know.

My friends and I were lucky enough to get a chance to test ride them last week. We’re all daily cyclists, which means we can be a fussy group to please. And we clearly span the gamut in terms of sizes and shapes. Here are a few first impressions about the bikes after short spins outside the Diridon Caltrain station in San Jose and at a street fair in Mountain View, two of the five cities participating in the bike share program.

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One intital concern the riders had was the weight of the bike. They’re made to be sturdy and 42 pounds sounds heavy, but as Dick said, you don’t really notice the weight when you’re riding it. It just feels slower. Jarrett and Dick also noted how convenient the step-through frame was, something most of the ladies already knew.

The bikes are intended for short trips, not to be carried on Caltrain. But since they’re showing off the bike at bike share locations along the Caltrain corridor, it only makes sense to take the bike on the train for the tour. At 42 pounds you might think lugging it aboard would be too hard, but not for Megan. Look at that girl go!

Have you ridden bike share bikes in another city? What was the ride what you expected?


Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Gear Talk


8 responses to “One Bike Fits All: A Quick Review of Bike Share Bikes

  1. Winona Hubbard (@bicichica)

    July 29, 2013 at 11:54 am

    REALLY looking forward to bike to rent at more CalTrain stations. Long time coming! My husband and I like to take mini-vacations to the “train cities” along the CalTrain and VTA lines. Having bikes waiting for us to cruise around on will be handy and mean we can travel further. It’s not always convenient to take our own bikes.

    • Ken

      July 29, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      I agree that these would be great to have at all Caltrain stations. That way we could use the bikes to make up the gaps in the Caltrain schedule. Right now, only a handful of Caltrain stations are planned to have bikes, so people living or working at the other stations are out of luck.

      I am really scared that the system will fail because the sparse numbers of bikes and stations around Silicon Valley will make the system unreliable and difficult to use to get to most destinations.

  2. Alison

    July 29, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Ryan and I both just renewed our annual Capitol Bikeshare memberships last week. I love the program, and the bikes are perfectly suitable for our needs (trips 5-20 minutes, usually). Most of them work great, though we always find a couple out of service here and there, as well as some missing bells or making suspicious clicking noises like the one I rode Saturday down the Mall. Locking the seat in the right position can sometimes be a little difficult if the lever is stiff, but often you can find a bike with a seat already set to the right level (for me, that means as far down as it will go…). And I do love the front rack with the bungee cords!

    • ladyfleur

      July 29, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      When I was answering questions at the bike share promo booth, I was telling some of your stories about how you two use it in D.C. Last time we talked you were exploring options for carrying groceries. Have you figured out any creative new ways to carry more?

      • Alison

        July 30, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        For groceries I usually stick with a backpack, though I’ve tied bags to the rack, too. You can’t carry too much there since the opening is narrow, but it’ll work for a small load. The little pegs will hold the handle of a takeout box, too 🙂

  3. Grace

    July 30, 2013 at 8:30 am

    I’m in Chicago and have used the DivvyBikes a few times. Overall a good experience, although I will say the bikes here are geared laughably low. Have been wondering what to do if I have more than one bag. After seeing the bike share bikes in Denver last week with the big front basket, the Divvy racks seem smallish. So glad that we finally have bike share AND that it’s getting used – I see people on them all the time.

    • ladyfleur

      July 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

      I can see how a large basket would be useful, especially if you have multiple bags. I always wondered why they didn’t include a rear rack. It’s probably to keep people from carrying someone on the back.


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