previous post, I said that renting a bike in a city bike share program was cheaper, more convenient and fewer worries than owning one. But these arguments mean nothing if the rental bike is not fun to ride...)
I took a Montreal's Bixi for a test drive one day last week ($5/day flat rate) and was pleasantly surprised by the experience.
The bike is heavy, but sturdy, and the elevated handlebars mean that you are seated in an upright position. This is perfect for those of us who fear bending too far forward and exposing more than we care to. The gear-changing was smooth, and the brakes worked well even in the rain.
The bike is equipped with decent front and rear lights with two reflectors on each tire and one on the seat for safe night riding. There was a good chain guard, so there was no risk of getting grease on my trousers and fenders to prevent any dirty water from spraying my back or face. Raising or lowering the seat is relatively easy, and the Bixi is skirt friendly, ie, no crossbar.
The drawback was the basket, which is more like an open groove where you place your bag (see picture above). There is a bungee cord that you attach around the outside to keep your bag in place. This is fine if you have a shopping bag or purse with a solid shell, but problematic if your bag is cloth. I had a cloth bag on the day of my test drive and nearly lost my wallet. I suggest taking a backpack.
The ride was very smooth, and the bike's weight adds to its momentum. In other words, I was able to travel much faster than I expected. Others have also discovered just how fast, hassle-free and convenient Montreal's bike share program is, much to dismay of the city's cabbies. This weekend, a cab driver told my husband that the Bixi was hurting his business.
Overall, the Bixi is comfortable, fast and fun. I highly recommend it. Just don't forget your cycling helmet.
At the end of this cycling season, I will send my tired pink bike to Cuba or the Dominican Republic through an adopt a bike program, so he can spend his last few years basking in the sun.
City Cycling: Why Renting Beats Owning