Friday, November 10, 2017

An Interview With Spin Dockless Bikeshare

Ready to ride. Photo courtesy of Spin
In September, dockless bikeshare arrived in Washington, D.C., the city that had already proved that a bikeshare station system can work in North America.  Suddenly, in addition to the red Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) bikes, there were the yellow ofo bikes, orange Spin bikes, silver and orange Mobikes, bright green and yellow LimeBikes, and red Jump! ebikes.  Gear Prudence compared the new D.C. bikeshare options to a bag of Skittles

These new bikes are so-called "smart bikes" that are unlocked using each company's apps. The different brands provide options from single-speeds and 3-speeds to ebikes. The Washington Post test rode four of the bikes and provided its first impressions here

An initial issue with dockless in D.C. was where to park them.  They were found inside Metro stations, CaBi docks, blocking sidewalks. David Alpert suggested that the best place to park them was between tree boxes between the street and sidewalk. We'll see if a parking etiquette takes hold.

The big picture question for D.C. and other cities, however, is whether dockless bikeshare is here to stay. Is this really a thing?  To investigate, we sent some questions to Spin. They were gracious enough to provide some answers. 

Spin Q&A


How did Spin get started?  

Spin is the first company to debut the stationless bikeshare concept in America. Dockless bikeshare did not exist in the U.S. prior to 2017 so it was important to build relationships and educate local government on the benefits first. For example, since there was no pre-existing regulations/permits for dockless, Spin worked with the SDOT’S Kyle Rowe (who they recently brought on to their team internally) to create a landmark permit to allow this innovation to benefit both the government and its citizens.


What has your experience been like with the DC launch? How does it compare with what you've seen in other cities where you operate?  

We knew D.C. would be a perfect fit for dockless bike-share. Washington D.C. is consistently ranked among the top biking cities in the country, has a track record of forward thinking transportation policies, and is a city that teaches all students how to ride a bike. As a city, Washington D.C. has ambitious climate change goals which are in favor of alternative modes of transportation.


The big question I keep hearing about dockless is "aren't these bikes going to be stolen or damaged?" How do you respond to this question?  

Unlike other bikeshare companies, Spin has a dedicated staff on the ground in every city in which we operate to ensure that bikes are conveniently and legally placed. Spin will dispatch a ground operations member within 1 hour between the hours of  9am-7pm to deal with bikes reported as obstructing public right of way, with after-hours requests managed the following morning. Spin users and the general public can also report bikes 24/7 via the website or the app. Thanks to our GPS tracking technology, we can anticipate and prevent bikes from piling up.

We've seen pictures on twitter of damaged bikes. How common is this and how do you deal with this?  
Most people are treating our bikes responsibly and with respect. While there are certainly instances of irresponsible use, it’s up to us to be proactive about addressing those issues, through our ground ops team and through community engagement.


The Spin bikes that I've seen are single speeds, have a front basket, and a chainguard. Is that standard for all of your bikes?  

The bikes are all mostly identical. We tweak them as needed for each landscape. For example, we have a customized bike created just for Seattle to be able to handle that particular terrain. But generally, those features are standard. 
 
Do they all have headlights and taillights?

Yes.

How do you make a bike "weather proof"?

Spin changes the bikes based on terrain so when the winter comes there will likely be an update.

Your blog mentions "rogue" bikeshare operators. What has your experience been with other dockless companies? Has the competition been fair? Is there a market for multiple dockless companies like we're seeing in DC?  
By rogue bikeshare operators, we mean competitors that enter cities without permission. Spin is dedicated to working closely with cities to establish clear procedures for permitting and a pathway to success that benefits both cities and riders. Essentially we want to complement existing systems in each city versus focus on beating out competitors.
When you come into a city like DC, how do you measure success?
We have been deliberate about rolling out and learning from community feedback, especially in terms of placement. One ways we track success is getting data on the number of rides per bike per day. So far, ridership has been incredible.

Will bikeshare spread from cities to less dense towns and suburbs, or is density the key? 
We are currently launching in cities, however, we are extending our focus to other communities and regions as well. One of our values is equitable transportation, so providing affordable bikes to all underserved communities.  We have recently launched on select college campuses located in more rural areas to bring bikeshare to new areas. Spin’s technology allows for bluetooth connection to unlock and ride the bikes when cellular storage and data are limited, so there’s definitely opportunity to bring the bikes beyond city streets.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Breezer Doppler Cafe

2018 Breezer Doppler Cafe in pearl yellow and black. Courtesy: breezerbikes.com
The Breezer Doppler Cafe is a butted chromoly steel  650b 11-speed that comes with full fenders.  The MSRP is $1100.

The 650b wheelsize, also called 27.5, has become very popular in the mountain bike world.  At 584 mm, it's the "just right" size for many mountain bikers, in the middle between 26ers (559 mm) and 29ers (622 mm). 650b has also become a popular width for cross and "gravel" bikes.  From a transportation bike standpoint, the advantage of 650b is that it lets you run wider tires for a cushier ride.  Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly raves about the advantages of 650b tires in his "remarkable journey of discovery" series.

Another thing to like about this bike is its 11x1 gearing, which means you get plenty of gear options without having to deal with triple or even double chainrings.  This really simplifies the ride.

Finally, I should admit my bias for retro steel bikes.  This one just looks cool.

And while I'm admitting biases, our love for Breezer should be clear by now.  In looking for bikes that met our standards, we started with Breezer.  Our first bicycle post in Feburary 2008 was about the Breezer Citizen.  Our second post was about the Breezer Uptown. Breezer just makes solid transportation bikes, and they keep getting better and better.

There's been a lot of hype about the Doppler Cafe.  Here's a sampling:

Bicycling

Bicycle Times

CX Magazine

Bike Rumor

Where can you find this bike? Check with your local bicycle shop.  In Washington, DC, that would be The Daily Rider.
Specifications
Sizes49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 60cm
Color(s)Pearl yellow w/black
FrameBreezer butted-chromoly steel, 44mm headtube, BSA Threaded BB, 142X12 through-axle dropouts
ForkFull-carbon disc, tapered steerer, 12mm through-axle w/rack, fender & side bottle mounts
CranksetForged 1X, 40T
Bottom BracketSealed-bearing, BSA
Pedalsna
Front Derailleurna
Rear DerailleurSRAM Apex 1
ShiftersSRAM Apex 1, 11-speed
CassetteSRAM 1130 Powerglide, 11-42 11-speed
ChainKMC X11
Wheelset650Bx32H WTB STP i23 TCS disc, tubeless compatible, sealed bearing hubs, 14gSS spokes
TiresWTB Horizon, 650x47mm wire bead
BrakesetTektro HD-T285 hydraulic disc, 160mm rotor
Brake LeversTektro HD-T285 Hydraulic
HeadsetFSA 1 1/8", No.10 internal, 36° ACB-sealed, 6.5mm aluminum top cover
HandlebarBreezer Sweeper Bar, 680mm width, 25Deg backweep
Stem3D-forged 6061 stem body, +/-7°
TapeBreezer Ergo cork
SaddleWTB Volt Comp 142x265, steel rail
SeatpostBreezer, 6061 alloy, 27.2mm diameter
FendersStainless fenders w/ struts
Headlightna
Taillight na
Rear Carrier na
Drive Unitna
Weight29.45lb/13.39kg(size 56)

*Spec subject to change without notice
Geometry
Size(Semi-Compact Frame)
49cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 60cm
Seat Tube, Center to Top A 49 52 54 56 58 60
Top Tube, Effective C 508 534 555 565 585 600
Head Tube Length D 100 120 145 160 175 190
Seat Tube Angle E 75° 74° 73° 73° 72.5° 72°
Head Tube Angle G 70.5° 71° 71.5° 71.5° 71.5° 72°
Chainstay Length H 450 450 450 450 450 450
Wheelbase I 1025 1038 1047 1067 1070 1077
Bottom Bracket Drop J 68 68 65 65 62 62
Fork Offset K 50 50 50 50 50 50
Stack M na na na na na na
Reach N na na na na na na
Standover O na na na na na na
Stem
80 90 100 110 110 120
Handlebar Width
40 42 44 46 46 46
Crank
170 172.5 172.5 175 175 175
Wheel Size
700c 700c 700c 700c 700c 700c
Seat Post Diameter
27.2 27.2 27.2 27.2 27.2 27.2



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Electra Townie Commute 8D

Electra Townie Commute 8D in "aubergine." Courtesy: electrabike.com
The Electra Townie Commute 8D is a steel 8-speed that goes for about $770 (available in the Washington, DC area at Spokes Etc., Revolution Cycles, The Bike Lane and other fine stores).

In its Townie Commute series, Electra offers 8-speed or 27-speed bikes that have all the essentials for commuting or utility cycling: 2-inch wide Schwalbe Frank tires, integrated front and rear racks, fenders, chainguard, and dynamo-powered lights. It even comes with a bell!

Specs


Frame: Townie Commute 6061-T6 Aluminum w/Patented Flat Foot Technology
 
Fork: Hi-Ten Steel Uni-Crown, Straight/Tapered Leg 
 
Headset: 1 1/8" Steel Threaded/Semi-Integrated 
 
Rims: Alloy 700c x 32h w/Machined Sidewall 
 
Spokes: 14 Gauge Stainless/Brass Nipples 
 
Front Hub: Shimano Nexus Dynamo 32h 
 
Rear Hub: Alloy Low Flange 32h w/QR 
 
Tires: Schwalbe Fat Frank 700 X 2.0" Balloon w/Puncture-Resistant Kevlar® Guard Casing, 67TPI 
 
Crankset: Forged Alloy 170mm 
 
Pedals: Alloy Platform w/Non-Slip Rubber Tread 
 
Shifter: Shimano Acera Rapid Fire Plus 
 
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tourney 8-Speed 
 
Cog: SRAM 8-Speed 11-32T 
 
Chain: KMC 1/2" x 3/32" Anti-Rust 
 
Brake Levers: Alloy Reach Adjustable
 
Saddle: Ergonomic w/Shock-Absorbing Elastomers 
 
Seat Post: Alloy 27.2mm X 300mm 
 
Handlebars: Alloy Custom Bend 24.8" Width/3.5" Rise 
 
Stem: Forged Alloy 25.4mm Quill 
 
Grips: Ergo-Shaped Hand-Stitched Leatherette 
 
Extras: F&R Spanninga Dynamo Led Lights, Internal Cable Rounting, Rust Resistant Hardware
 




Sunday, May 7, 2017

Bobbin Hummingbird


2017 Bobbin Hummingbird. All photos courtesy: Bobbin Bicycles Facebook Page

Bobbin has introduced two new 8-speed models for 2017: The Hummingbird (pictured above) and the Kingfisher, a diamond frame model.  It's available for preorder for £645 (about $839).

Bobbin, based in London, was founded 10 years ago and is cocky enough to call itself a "utopian brand."  Bobbin offers many attractive and practical bikes, and most come standard with racks, a chainguard or full chaincase, and fenders. 

The Hummingbird and Kingfisher come with front and rear battery-powered lights, Shimano Nexus 8-speed internal gear hubs, and hydraulic disc brakes. The frame is made from an alloy that Bobbin claims (in an instagram post) is a "MUCH lighter alternative to those serious German/Dutch commute bikes.").  Apparently, that means it's slightly under 30 pounds.  In "midnight blue sparkle," this is a beautiful bike.

The gears are inside.

The specs aren't available on Bobbin's website yet, but you can requeest more information by emailing Bobbin at info@bobbinbicycles.co.uk




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Heritage


The Chief from Heritage Bicycles. Courtesy heritagebicycles.com

The Heritage Chief "City Edition" goes for $1,000.

The idea behind Heritage was to combine handcrafted bicycles, bike repair, apparel, and good coffee all in one shop located on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.  By all accounts, it's been a hit.  In fact, according to CNN, fans of Heritage bicycles include Beyonce, Jay Z, and Jack Dorsey.

Most Heritage bicycles have a simple, utilitarian design.  My pick is the Chief "City Edition", which is available as a singlespeed or with a 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub. It comes with a Wald rear rack.

Here are the specs:


Frame: Heritage Chief
Fork: Crowned Chromoly
Headset: FSA Duron X, ISO
Bottom Bracket: Sealed alloy, 68 x 110.5
Crank: Alloy, 44t
Pedals: Wellgo City
Rims: Alex DM18
Spokes: Sapim Leader
Tires: Schwalbe Delta Cruiser, 700 x 32c
Front Hub: sealed alloy, 36-hole
Rear Hub: KT Coaster, 36-hole
Chain: KMC 410
Stem: Alloy, 25.4mm
Handlebar: Velo-Orange Milan, 25.4m
m
Grips: Natural Cork
Brake levers: Velo-Orange City
Brake Calipers: Tektro R559
Rear Rack: Wald Chrome
Saddle: Velo-Orange Plush
Seat Post: Alloy, 26.2mm