2017 ofo | Kent / Shanghai General
Our bright yellow ofo (yes, all lowercase) is one of the surprisingly numerous survivors in the South Florida area and the very first member of the Bike Share Museum.
Though ofo’s exit from the US market was decidedly varied – case in point, a good portion of the Dallas fleet of 5,000 were recycled as scrap metal – the company was kind enough to offer Miami-Dade County their relatively small local fleet, retired after a brief deployment in the City of South Miami. As such, roughly 100 ofos survive intact as part of Miami-Dade County’s Bike305 program, minus their locks and sporting Bike305 branding.
Thanks to the County, we were able to acquire No. 60025919; a spare in the Bike305 fleet, sidelined due to rear fender damage. Some minor TLC brought it back to its former glory, and it now displays as it would have during its time in service, sporting its original livery (sans logo patches) and is complete with original smart lock.
This particular ofo model is branded for Kent International, but was built by Shanghai General Sports Co. Ltd; one of at least three ofo designs used stateside. Seattle’s fleet, for instance, was a combination of very elegant mixte/berceau frames and mono-tube frames with a floating central tube. The Dallas fleet – manufactured by Tianjin Fuji-Ta – featured an elegant, curved-mono tube. We have a preserved Dallas ofo in the museum.
This Kent/Shanghai model is a no-nonsense mono-tube design with a gusset between the downtube and seattube, made for strength rather than beauty.
This is a surprisingly robust, tight, and tamper-proof bicycle. It’s on par with the newer LimeBikes for the feeling of sheer solidity and is a well-thought out design.
The Kent/Shanghai ofo does away with external V-brakes in favor of the popular (for bike share) band brake, while the LED headlamp wiring is tucked away, through the fork, to the 6V Panasonic hub. The wheels are secured with 5-point nuts, which – on this one – are thankfully free of any channel lock vandalism. The crank bolts mirror these wheel security nuts with 5-point Bryce Penta-Plus security heads (or similar knockoffs).
The saddle and seatpost are also secured with tri-wing bolts which are extremely unique for their size, not commercially available, not easily duplicated, and not easily defeatable. It gets two thumbs way up…if the saddle on ours wasn’t just a wee bit loose!
In fact, there are five different types of security fittings, in total, that protect this bike from being parted out or defeated by vandals, and it seems to have worked: I’ve never seen a spraybombed ofo running around town with a broken lock.
Also worthy of mention are the fender stay hardware, which is admirably sturdy and backed with Nyloc nuts. If only everyone built fenders this way.
Above all though, my favorite feature is the gas strut seatpost, which operates the same way an office chair does. This one doesn’t give when you sit on it though! It stays in place, works well, and ought to be something fitted to kids bicycles; especially those used to teach bicycle handling.
The one weakness is that all of this equipment does come at a weight penalty – but that’s only fair, this isn’t supposed to be a Cerevelo or a Columbus SL Colnago Super. I haven’t weighed it yet, but it is easily as heavy as my 1951 Raleigh Sports (with stainless rims and DynoFour). The ride isn’t lively at all either, and the solid rubber tires “ride like those bicycles we had as kids!” as a neighbor put it.
Nevertheless, it toodles along just fine and the Nexus 3-speed provides ample gearing for flat ground. The integrated rack is also extremely sturdy. WALD could learn a thing or two from these designs.
Remember, it was never made to win the Tour.
It was made to tour the Winn.