US Startup (Spin) Aims To Bring Kiosk-Free Bike Sharing To San Francisco

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Kiosk-free bikesharing services have been a thing outside of the US (in China, in particular) for a while now, but they have yet to make any headway here for some reason. A new startup known as Spin is apparently aiming to address this, with the launch of a new bikesharing concept along the lines of the Chinese ones in San Francisco.

Interestingly, the new startup was cofounded by a former Lyft software engineer and product manager named Derrick Ko (Ko is also CEO), as well as Euwyn Poon and an ex-Disqus software engineer lead by the name of Zaizhuang Cheng (Disqus is the commenting system used on CleanTechnica and many others around the web).

To explain what’s meant by “kiosk-free,” it’s a reference to bikesharing systems that don’t rely on fixed kiosk/station locations, but rather on bikes outfitted with GPS, Bluetooth, and wireless systems that allow for a more flexible, on-demand system. In other words, system users can simply locate the nearest bike with the app, use it, and then lock it up wherever once they’ve finished using it.

Tech Crunch provides more:

“The cofounders told TechCrunch their ‘V.0 bikes,’ or bikes for a first pilot test of their system, will have license plates with a printed QR code. Users can scan the QR code into a Spin mobile app to unlock a bike and start the meter. Pricing should be around $1 for every 30 minutes, approximately. The bikes will be bright orange, 6-speed bikes with 26” wheels, frame locks, a step-through frame, a basket affixed, as well as Dynamo hub powered lights (which don’t need a battery to work), theft-resistant screws and solid foam tires.

“The idea behind using solid tires is to give users a comfy ride but keep Spin’s maintenance costs low, Ko and Poon said. Foam tires don’t go flat, so Spin workers won’t have to track down loose bikes and check the air pressure. Performance wise, in general, solid tires can’t compare to inflated ones. That’s generally why you don’t see ‘airless tires’ at races like the Tour de France or on motorcycles and cars for that matter. But Mobike, in China, has succeeded with solid-core tires, indicating a general riders’ willingness to use them.”

The startup is reportedly aiming to “roll out 100,000 frikkin’ bikes across distinct programs” this year in the US. That sounds a bit ambitious, right?

Importantly, the startup has hired “a government relations representative with close ties to the San Francisco Mayor’s office” to help get things going on the regulatory end. City officials have in the past expressed reservations about station-less bikesharing programs.

Check out more bikesharing or carsharing articles in our archives.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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