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No municipal ownership, no docking stations, no corporate sponsorship - it's the anti-Boris Bike...

Bike-sharing app company Spinlister is teaming up with Dutch urban bike maker Van Moof to create a hire bike scheme it says will take the traditional Boris Bike-style hire bike system and "turn it on its head".

Instead of hiring bikes owned by municipalities from central locations, bikes on Spinlister's system will be owned by individuals and can be scattered around a town so they're in useful locations, It's less like Boris Bikes and more like Zip Car.

Spinlister is a service based around a smartphone app that allows you find a bike to rent if you're in an unfamiliar town, to offer up a bike for rent if you've a spare usually gathering dust.

It's a nice community-spirited idea, but it's hard to get involved as a renter if you don't have a suitable bike.

To solve that problem, and take the idea up a level, in late summer 2015, Spinlister will start shipping a bike from Van Moof that's specifically designed for the job, with built-in technology that allow it to be left anywhere, ready for hire.

The new bikes, which took six months to develop, will initially be rolled out in Portland, Oregon, creating the city’s first working bike-share program.

Spinlister users will own the bikes and make them available to rent via the Spinlister website and app.

The idea is that there will be no traditional hub or station where bicycles are available or have to be returned. Instead, users are able to decentralize the bicycles throughout the city’s network of existing bicycle parking locations.

Within the Spinlister app, potential renters will be able to see nearby available bicycles, so there;s no need for back-and-forth communication with owners, or having to plan trips around traditional fixed-location bicycle hub stations.

The Spinlister VanMoof bikes will have technology built in to support support the decentralised hire bike idea, including an integrated Bluetooth lock that allows the bikes to be locked and unlocked anywhere.

A computer integrated into the frame automatically updates the bike's location on the Spinlister web and mobile app once a rental is complete.

Other bike features include wireless antitheft tracking, tamperproof nuts, easily adjustable seatpost, and integrated dynamo lighting. That frame is made from aluminium and puncture-resistant tyres should keep it moving.

The users will own the bikes, but Spinlister plans to subsidize and finance them allowing users to pay for the bikes through rental revenue over time. Spinlister says this eliminates risk for the listers (bike owners) while creating a profitable revenue stream for them.

“This new decentralized bike-share model will take the traditional system of a central hub or station, and turn it on its head,” says Spinlister CMO, Andrew Batey.

"From a renter’s perspective, they can simply use the Spinlister app to locate a bike, book it, unlock it and ride away. From an owner’s perspective, they’re able to conveniently make money, help people, and participate in the world’s first sustainable bike share model.

"This model requires no sponsorship from private companies or allocation of tax resources from governments into a model known to be flawed. Spinlister is simply here to support and nurture this winning opportunity for all parties involved.”

Find out more about Spinlister at its website.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

11 comments

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 1 year ago
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Interesting idea. Wonder how maintenance will be handled?

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runskiprun [69 posts] 1 year ago
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Re maintenance, surely as being the owner (and it being your asset) you would be responsible for keeping it running.

and if you owned it, could you make upgrades to it?

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dafyddp [362 posts] 1 year ago
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Excellent idea. Will wait and see how it pans out and how much real profit it generates...

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dafyddp [362 posts] 1 year ago
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Excellent idea. Will wait and see how it pans out and how much real profit it generates...

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Ratfink [96 posts] 1 year ago
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Will this mean all the bike parking spaces will be taken up by "buy to let" investors putting their pension pots into cycle hire?

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KiwiMike [1204 posts] 1 year ago
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IT'S GOT RIM BRAKES.

AND NO MUDGUARDS.

AND NO RACK.

Van Moof: The moneyed idiot's urban bike, since, oh, whenever they started hocking 'design' tat as useful.

What we need is a Kickstarter for a bolt-on Bluetooth/WiFi/GPS-enabled Dutch-style-AXA-type wheel lock, that can be added to *any* urban / utility bike, making it hireable/trackable. Make it so.

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Al__S [1033 posts] 1 year ago
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Very much in agreement with kiwimike- as a minimum, all "urban bikes" being sold as such should be practical.

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nowasps [428 posts] 1 year ago
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I read somewhere that over time, the Parisien (I think) hire bikes eventually all end up at the lowest docking stations, flowing down like water as people are less likely to take them on uphill journeys. They are then redistributed on the back of trucks.

If it's true, I doubt you'll ever find one of these for hire on a hill top.

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ajft [14 posts] 1 year ago
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If each of the bikes is privately owned, I wonder how they're planning on working out the maintenance and insurance, otherwise I can see the whole scheme surviving until someone prangs one and decides to sue the nominal owner.

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 1 year ago
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It's an interesting idea. Looking at their website the service doesn't seem to have much overlap with bike-hire schemes such as London's. Bikes seem to be offered for hire at a day-rate so it's more tailored to holidayers etc. rather than being used for practical journeys.

It seems that with this bike they hope to move into the Boris bike space but I can see some problems:
Logistics - without bike parking hubs the bikes could wander a long way from home. Assuming that maintenance is the responsibility of the bike owner this could make things difficult.
Liability - if the bike owner fails to properly maintain the bike they could be held responsible for damages caused as a result.
Lost bikes - given that they can be locked up literally anywhere they could end up in strange locations with little hope of attracting a new customer.

Agree also with the comments about the design of the bike. No mudguards? Seriously?

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 1 year ago
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Also interesting - if the bike gets a puncture it's the renter's responsibility to get it fixed or pay the owner the cost of fixing it.

So, if the bike has ropey old tyres prone to puncture the renter gets a bit of a bum deal. I'd guess that most people renting a bike don't carry tubes, tools and pumps with them.