A closer look at Spin's bicycle - The Bike Share Museum

A closer look at Spin’s bicycle

No. 7723417 is one of the two last Spin bicycles deployed in the Coral Gables area that I know of. Sadly, I believe all of the Spin fleet were stored shortly thereafter this spotting, but like most dockless bicycles, it is a fascinating piece of equipment to study.

Unlike the Kent-built ofos, there are no brand or manufacturer’s badges anywhere on the Spin. I can only assume it was built by a Chinese industrial manufacturer directly for Spin. Who, I don’t know (if you know, send us a message). Like ofo’s bicycles, this particular Spin bears no resemblance to the models originally launched in Seattle (anyone know the model codes?)

Judging from the other dockless bicycles that have served the Miami area to-date, this one appears to be a bit on the weak side. It felt a bit less robust than the Museum’s 2017 ofo, or the two LimeBike variants I’ve experienced. Like all the Spins deployed in Miami, it is also equipped with V-brakes and conventional Allen key hardware to keep the pads and levers in place. One could argue that this is bit of a vandalism risk (not long after Spin’s rollout in Seattle, cut brake cables did make headlines), but from the practicality side, V-brakes are powerful, reliable in wet weather, and easier to service than band brakes.

I was particularly surprised that the cable exits on this particular model were absolutely bare, without any sort of grommet. It would seem that rough handling could damage the cable housing this way, but given that it had no signs of wear, it apparently works as-is.

As a fan of highly-kitted out English 3-speeds from the 1950’s, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this Spin uses matched Sturmey-Archer hubs front and back, in contrast to the more common Panasonic/Shimano Nexus combination. The Spin runs a 6V HDS12 Dynohub up front, and a practical S-RF3 3-speed in the back.

The hub’s indicator chain and guide are protected on the Spin with a stamped steel plate, but this was amongst the parts on the Spin that I was less impressed by. It looks flimsy, and would be better off if constructed out of a slightly thicker gauge of steel. The fact that it’s accompanied by a warning label not to stand on it suggests a surprising lack of confidence in the design too.

I realize it isn’t a frame peg, but with the general public, you have to build anything that could be used as a frame peg…as a frame peg.

If there was any one part on the Spin that fails it though, it’s the aluminum, double-leg center kickstand. These looked good when they were new, but as the Coral Gables Spin fleet began to age, every single bike began to exhibit a bent kickstand. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that potential patrons of the service tend to try out the bicycles with the kickstands down, bending them in the process.

Stored Spin bicycles on the app

This particular Spin was left in a residential part of Coral Gables for a few days, and since it was no longer showing up on the Spin app, I reached out to them about this one. I have to give them exceptional kudos for the most responsive and kind customer service of any of the dockless services to-date; it was picked up the next day.

Nevertheless, I do fear whether it was ever redistributed or not. Though the original Coral Gables Spin pilot featured both the scooters and bicycles, the bicycles have all but wound up relocated to Spin’s warehouse in Allapattah. The pins in the app that mark available bicycles are also smaller and less inviting than the scooter pins, as if to encourage the scooter.

In a way, I somewhat regret asking for the two remaining bikes to be serviced, but I’m not sure they would have been of much use, if their lock/GPS batteries were dead enough not to be recognized in the Spin app and unlock.

Some might laugh that a Bike Share Museum should exist, but this is yet another example of how widespread dockless bike share has already become a thing of the past in Miami, though we recently gained HOPR in Downtown and Miami Beach. Unlike other systems though, HOPR appears to be limited to specific dropoff points, thus almost making it a docked system without physical infrastructure.

At any rate, this limited service of bike share in comparison to the deregulated 2018 months is a sad thing for diversity in micromobility. Yet, given the disconnected – and generally terrible – bicycle infrastructure in the region, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising.

Posted May 11, 2019 | By Kurt Kaminer

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