So I had my first Citibike experience today. And I gotta say, I'm pretty damn pleased with it.
Some background: until you have ridden a bicycle in Manhattan, you have truly not lived. Cycling is by far the best way to get around this island, and this island is the BEST place I have ever ridden. Oh, sure, the roads are terrible and everyone's trying to kill you beneath the wheels of a bus, but breezing through this town on two wheels, bobbing and weaving through a sea of traffic, is just the most utterly amazing thing I have ever done.
I wish I had a helmet cam so I can share this awesomeness with everyone. In fact, I popped into B&H (9th @ 34th) this afternoon to pick up a video card, and I was really tempted to buy one when I saw them on the shelf.
So, yeah. The system works exactly as described. You insert your keyfob, pull out the bike, adjust the seat, and ride. I took four trips today, totaling just under an hour of total ride time. Roughly mapped my commute, and just generally rode around having fun:
The bikes themselves were really quite nice. Quite rugged, and yet surprisingly lightweight. I was expecting something like a steel-framed cruiser, but these were very light and agile. I mean, it's obviously not a carbon-fiber road bike, but compared to Omnibike (I have just decided to call my e-bike by that name), it's a featherweight.
They have an internally-geared three speed rear hub, which shifted very smoothly and provided just the right ratios for use on flat ground at city speeds. All the tires were aired up properly, all of the rims were straight and true, and none of the bikes seemed to have any weird problems.
Ergonomically, the bike was quite comfortable, fitting my 6'2" 200 lb body quite nicely. If I have one gripe, it was the brakes. Maybe it's just that I've gotten used to the disc brakes on my ebike, but the hub brakes on these seemed lacking. You have to really squeeze the levers hard to get any appreciable braking action, which really took some getting used to.
All in all, pretty pleased. Hopefully availability will not prove an issue.
The Barclays ones are a bit hit or miss. Good for getting around town though.
The bikes themselves, or the availability?
I believe that the Barclay's bikes are made by the same company as the Citibikes (as are many if not most of these shared bicycles.) And honestly, I can't find a thing to fault with them. Obviously they're still fairly new, and it will be important to see how well they are maintained as they age, but based on my first day's experience, I'm exceedingly happy with the system.
I gotta tell ya, between cars and bikes, this whole collectivist thing actually seems to be working.
On a more less serious note, I went bike shopping recently after riding Jeff's Litespeed. I looked at a ton of bikes and tossed them out based upon the presence of an FSA crank. Then, I decided I was only going to buy Ultegra or better. Finally, I think I want a Shimano bottom bracket, not a BB30 since every one I've ever known creeks. That leaves me with BMC, poverty Colnago, poverty Wilier, Orbea, Bianchi, and Trek. Bianchi and Trek are too ugly to love, Colnago have poverty Sora cranks, Wilier is too red and too white to own, and that leaves Orbea and BMC. BMC has a 3 year warranty, Obrea is lifetime, Cervelo is lifetime.
Yes, the Cervelo R3 is back even though it has an FSA crank and BB30 because it looks so good and it's so light, the timeless lines are a plus. I can do an Orca Bronze for the same price as the R3, but get Ultegra everything. The big worry with the Orbea is that I'm not sure I can love it forever.
So as of right now, I'm leaning toward buying nothing and when all my student loans are gone I can buy a Z2 Parlee, maybe even Di2 by that time. There is nothing wrong with my half-aluminum bike. It gets me to point B, it will be sub 17lb when I get the new wheels, I like the fit I have on the bike, and if I crash it the world will not end.
Despite the Orbea's being made in Taiwan and the Parlee being fabbed by beer drinkin' 'murricans, I like the Orbea more bester. I can't help thinking those abrupt transitions of the lugs are not the most efficient way to build a frame. My guess is it allows a boutique builder like Parlee to build custom carbon frames. Nature is chamfered, swedged, flared and asymmetric. I want my frames that way too.
The first bike looks how I would expect a composite bike that spend months in fea trimming every ounce and perfectly tuning the flexing properties would look. The last bike looks like they just brute force replaced the steel tubes with carbon tubes bonded with connectors.