A New Kind of Bike Rental

Yesterday morning on Cup of Jo, I read about a totally new kind of bike rental/bike share system, Spinlister, described as airbnb for bicycles.  The idea is to rent a bike from an individual, paying substantially lower rates than you would at a traditional bike rental company.  The site is currently live for NYC and San Fran.

The best thing about this system is the available selection of unique bicycles, much better than the usual crappy hybrids offered by bike rental shops.  A quick look at the site shows a fun collection of bikes, including the ones below.

a Batavus Old Dutch:

a sweet vintage mixte:

and a fixie:

I think this is a cool idea with a lot of potential, although arranging to meet up with an individual to pick up a bike may be too much trouble for a one-day rental.

Would you consider using this system while visiting another city?  Would you offer your bike up for rental???  I don’t think I would be willing to hand over my bikes to complete strangers.

{Check out our past interview with Joanna of Cup of Jo!}

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8 thoughts on “A New Kind of Bike Rental

  1. henryinamsterdam says:

    We rent bikes at our two shops in Amsterdam. Seeing how they’re both unintentionally and sometimes deliberately abused by customers I wouldn’t rent one of my own bikes.

    Loaning a bike to a friend is different; that usually works out just fine but even then sometimes inexperienced riders will damage the bike, perhaps resulting in an awkward situation; a bent wheel from parking in the wrong place, dropping the bike, losing the keys… Now I’m really happy to be able to loan shop bikes instead of the bike I need to to take the kids to school on tomorrow morning.

    Also not so many bikes (outside a cycling nation like the NL) are really suitable for many other people to ride. A fixie or most other recreational bikes are very personal in both fit, specs and condition. Who wants to scratch up their seat post adjusting it lower to fit a smaller rider? Who trusts that somebody they don’t know is safe riding (as a perfect example) a fixie in the city?

    • Simply Bike says:

      I have to agree. The idea sounds nice but not realistic. When I read about this bike rental system on Cup of Joe yesterday I thought it was a nice thought but not likely to work too well or appeal to people who know something about bikes. (But maybe I’ll be proven wrong).

      Renting from a bike shop or bike rental means getting a bike in your size (out of a large selection) and being fit with a bike that is safe to ride because it’s appropriate to the rider’s needs. It also means trusting that the bike has been properly maintained and that the tires have air in them, the chain is oiled, etc. I don’t know that I would trust an individual to keep a bike that’s being rented in the best of shape. Maybe, but maybe not.

      I also would never want to rent out my bikes. I like them too much to give them to stangers who may abuse them or run them into the ground. It’s different with friends who come to visit – I gladly outfit them with bikes because I know how they’ll treat my bikes and know that I can trust them with them.

      I know this makes me sound really negative and distrustful of people :) which I don’t think I am, but in this case, maybe I am less of an optimist and more of a nay-sayer. I have to say that this bike rental system doesn’t hold much appeal for me.


    • LGRAB says:

      Those are all good points. Seems like a good deal for the renter, a bad deal for the owner.

      I’m so grateful that Trisha and I will be able to ride WorkCycles while visiting Amsterdam – we’ll baby them! :) In Paris and London we’ll be able to use the city’s bike share.

  2. Dom says:

    Although I wouldn’t lend out my bikes, I would kill to try out a Batavus in my size!

  3. Dom says:

    Although I wouldn’t lend out my bikes, I would kill to try out a Batavus in my size!

  4. Trisha says:

    I would, but you know I’m a fearless participant in all of these collectivist endeavors. :) That said, as others have mentioned, I’m not sure this works as well for bikes because of how they are usually tailored to their owner.

  5. Liz Almond says:

    When we visited Berlin, we chose the AirBnB flat because it came with bikes we could use. It worked out brilliantly for us – the bikes weren’t in great condition, they were a bit clunky and rusty, but as a means of getting about the city and getting a different perspective, they were amazing. I’m not sure that I’d be keen to rent a bike from a complete stranger, but my experience has generally been good!

  6. Megan says:

    I agree with most of the comments. For the renter it’s a great service but I would never lend out one of my good bikes. I might lend out my old 70’s 3 speed beater but even then I would be worried that the person wouldn’t lock it up properly. What’s the coverage if it gets stolen?

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