2017 Spin Gen 2
Thanks to the kind team at Spin, this second-generation Spin, along with a Spin Gen 3, were donated directly to the museum from their Miami fleet.
Many thanks to Shannon Dulaney, Community Partnerships Manager for Spin’s eastern region, and Rafael Prado of their local operations team for making this happen!
The Miami fleet – since redistributed in part to San Diego – consisted of both Gen 2 and Gen 3 Spins, serving both Coral Gables and Miami Springs. Though the Gen 2’s were more common in deployment, both were well represented in the overall fleet roster.
Having been given a pick of examples from Spin’s warehouse, 2333664 was extracted from the hundreds of others as one of the few Gen 2 examples that hadn’t faded in the Florida sun. While the Gen 2 paint jobs are slightly lighter than the Gen 3’s when new, a quick comparison in the warehouse made it obvious that the G2’s fade quickly in service.
In fact, once I had 2333664 out in the light, I realized it had never been ridden. Both its tires and pedals showed zero evidence of use. It’s a fair assumption that it probably never left the warehouse until the day I retrieved it.
While I’ve covered the South Florida Spins in a previous article, 2333664 is the first I’ve had the pleasure to actually ride and experience – admittedly, it is not always practical to lock up one’s own bike to ride another.
That said, In contrast to typical dockless bicycle construction, the Gen 2 Spins use conventional V-brakes front and back, and eschew Shimano components for Sturmey-Archer hubs front and back. Most notably, the Gen 2 also avoids 26″ (ISO 559) wheels for the larger 26×1-3/8″ (EA3) wheel size of Raleigh’s famously timeless 3-speed Sports models. The seatpost and quick release design is also quite conventional (though intelligently tamper-resistant) and the post extends to an impressive height; far exceeding many other dockless bikes (even the Gen 3 Spin).
As such, the Spin Gen 2 is delightfully familiar to ride. There’s no drag from roller or band brakes, the Sturmey S-RF3 shifts like an old friend you’ve known all your life, and if your inseam is greater than 28″ and less than 35″ or so, you can get the saddle high enough to ride comfortably.
There’s something to be said for sensible simplicity.
If anything, the Gen 2 is a thoughtfully engineered bike in this respect, but the sensibility extends to the digital end of things: Spin’s IOT locks are absolutely superior to any other I’ve seen: They are equipped with high-capacity 18650 cells, ensuring the bikes remain on the network longer if the solar charger doesn’t receive power for an extended period of time. By comparison, Lime uses smaller capacity AA cells, and ofo’s Ni-Cd cells can’t be recharged at all. Someone at Spin was thinking smart in regards to service longevity.
Does this make the Gen 2 the perfect analog dockless bike? Well, I haven’t ridden everything, so I can’t say – but it has to be very close to it.
The only downside I found were the particularly boxy solid tires. They tend to feel very vague and wallow during hard cornering. This does limit one’s comfortable speed at times, but it is a small complaint for a design that is so well executed.
Speaking of engineering, the Gen 2 has a surprisingly unique assortment of hardware. Most dockless bikes, by virtue of the parts available to the Chinese mega-manufacturers that build them, usually share at least a few parts.
In this respect, the Gen 2 is distinctly unique. The only thing absolutely similar to many other dockless bikes are the Gen 2’s grips – which are similar to those fitted to ofos (these have the SPIN logo on them, of course) – the unmarked Prowheel crankset, the handlebar-mounted basket (VBikes uses a similar design), and the chainguard (which is the same on our Dallas ofo). Otherwise, I haven’t seen the rest shared on other dockless designs. The frame also stands on its own, though the headtube gusset and shifter cable insert are details also shared on the Dallas/Tianjin Fuji-Ta ofo. By contrast, the Gen 3 models share a lot more similarities with other dockless designs.
The only thing yet to be done is to replace the orginal front headlamp and wiring assembly, which was missing from it when it was stored. In fact, when I picked out 2333664, it was with at least four or five other unfaded examples that also were missing their headlamps, which just might explain why these specific bikes were (apparently) never deployed. The Sturmey-Archer HDS12 dynamo hub also shows no signs of ever having wires clipped to its output terminals.
For the purists out there worrying about originality – fear not; Spin has made a few additional bicycles available to us in their secondary warehouse, guaranteeing that this preserved example will eventually receive a correct headlamp from another Gen 2 donor.
Don’t forget to see the entry for our Spin Gen 3 counterpart, 9602377.