In June, Matt Goodman broke the news that VBikes had quietly launched in Dallas. The Garland company has a pretty cool concept. You use your phone to find a bike. They cost a buck an hour to rent. You can park them anywhere.
As much as I’d like to support a local company, VBikes just got some competition, and I think the new kid in town has an advantage. This morning I spotted some orange bikes on the sidewalks of downtown. They belong to a San Francisco outfit called Spin. Same basic deal. Use your phone to find a bike. Scan to unlock. A buck for 30 minutes. The big difference: VBikes charges a refundable $99 when you sign up. Spin doesn’t.
You see where this is headed, right? Clearly the game here is market penetration, not revenue. I plan to enter this bike-share arms race with my new company, Petal to the Meddle. It’s a bike-share system for people who have trouble with homophones. And when you ride a PTTM bike, it pays you a buck an our. (Dad jokes!)
UPDATE: I rode a Spin to lunch and can report that I enjoyed the experience. There was a slight hiccup the first time I tried to use the app to unlock a bike, but after I closed the app and restarted, it worked fine. Apple Pay worked seamlessly. The seat was easy to adjust. The front-mounted basket proved useful in carrying my copy of the New York Times Magazine.
Riding on a Main Street sidewalk back to work, I got stopped by three twentysomethings. “Hey, how much is the deposit on that?” one of them asked. “It’s not like VBikes,” I said. “No deposit.” See what I’m saying about that advantage? Though I will say this: no one will use a bike that is broken. VBikes, it seems, are engineered to tolerate abuse, with those thick spokes and airless tires. Not so Spin.
I must also report that another bike-sharing outfit is coming to town. Look for Lime bikes to show up soon.