Edinburgh has had a bike hire scheme for a wee while and I’ve had to rescue a couple of their bikes and also won a free pass for a day from Just Eat Cycles via a Twitter competition, so I decided to give the whole system a proper try this week.
My regular bikes are MTBs, an old-school one with no suspension and one from the Edinburgh Bike Co-op that is the off-road workhorse for hill and bothy runs and doing the odd stint as a cycle responder on Rescue Medics jobs when that service is asked for, usually in the Pentlands.
The system for locating and unlocking the bikes is effective, as you close in on a bike dock the app prompts you to unlock a bike after giving you some basic ‘road rules’ and you get your named bike off the dock rack. The app also answered my question about what one of the bikes costs (c. £300).
The bikes are simple enough to operate but a bit of a departure from 21 gears, bar extenders and MTB geometry. The bikes have 3 gears controlled by a grip shift and no cross-tube, so they are very accessible. Given the role they are fulfilling, the bikes are robust but quite heavy. I almost laid the bike down on my first shot in the KB car park in the manner more familiar to motorcyclists.
The bike got me to where I was going OK, but a little more slowly than on the MTB. Yes, I did Strava my trips and, due to route choice even got a couple of segment PBs! The gearing won’t let you fly downhill but it will get you around. However, I did opt to get off and push a couple of times, as that was faster and the cornering is much more ‘stately galleon’ than on my regular bikes. Tyres seem really robust and I am interested as to whether it is some sort of kevlar tyre.
Putting the bike back in the dock was also easy, although I think I pre-empted the system by just putting the bike back into the locking frame but that went OK. All in all, the bikes are a bit cheaper than the bus and do the job for short trips with little luggage. You can have more freedom and get your bike buzz from £1.50 for a single trip (up to 60 mins), which would let most people do 8-10 km even with traffic and Edinburgh hills.