A closer look at Spin’s bicycle
No. 7723417 is one of the 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.
(UPDATE: The Miami fleet has since been re-distributed to San Diego – not a single usable bike scrapped!)
This particular Spin bears no resemblance to the models originally launched in Seattle, and is generally known as one of Spin’s second generation bicycles.
The Spin Gen 2 – at first glance – feels slightly 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. (EDIT: These were fitted with a grommet on the left side; this one was missing it).
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 it looked easy enough to defeat – perhaps better off if constructed out of a slightly thicker gauge of steel. 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.
The aluminum, double-leg center kickstand does fail it though. These work really well when new, but as the Coral Gables Spin fleet began to age, bent stands became the norm. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that potential patrons of the service tend to try sitting on the bicycles with the kickstands down, bending them from the weight.
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 also 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, nearly 100 have been 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.
(UPDATE: Fantastic news: Spin reached out to the Bike Share Museum recently, and donated both a Gen 2 and Gen 3 Spin bicycle to the Museum. We also had a chance to see the Miami bicycle fleet – which included close to 500 additional bicycles – shipped off to San Diego. Apparently – dockless bike share is still alive and doing so well in San Diego (including at UC San Diego) that their operations team from that region specifically requested as many bicycles as possible).
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 – unfortunately. Though the City of Miami we recently gained HOPR in Downtown and Miami Beach – which makes it the only dockless service in the Dade County region – HOPR appears to be limited to specific dropoff points, thus essentially 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.