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Spinlister brings the sharing economy to bikes

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Spinlister brings the sharing economy to bikes

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The sharing economy has been a tremendous influence on a great many industries, bringing the ability for people to monetize under-utilized resources in all manner of different ways.  As a cyclist therefore it was interesting to come across Spinlister, who aim to do the same thing, but for bicycles (and other outdoor sporting goods).

The service is a fairly standard one for anyone familiar with how sharing economy type sites work.  The home page presents you with a search box, from which you can scour your local area for people looking to rent out their un-used bikes.  For an American site you can perhaps appreciate that there is not enormous coverage in London, but nevertheless I managed to get a few dozen bikes that I could rent in the city.

Once you’ve found a bike that you like the look of, you can reserve that machine, message the owner and agree for a suitable pick-up spot.  As you can imagine, the duty is upon you to return your steed in the condition in which you found it, which includes ensuring it is safe and not stolen during your ownership of it.

Whilst it’s a nice idea, some of the prices are a little bit less attractive.  For instance, the nearest road bike to me was available for just over £50 for a week.  That was for a no doubt nice, yet relatively old machine.  Compare that to rental of a newer looking Trek road bike from On Your Bike, which is available for £49 for 4 days (ie a long weekend), and it isn’t such a great deal.

It will be interesting therefore to see what kind of market the site goes after.  I looked in the cycling hotspots of Corvara and Borg d’Oisans for instance, and there were no listings available.  Each of those places has a strong road bike culture and therefore there are plenty of shops where you can rent bikes in each town.

The business has had something of a chequered past, with the company ceasing operations back in 2013, before being resurrected a few months later by one of the initial seed investors.  I’m not convinced the latest incarnation has the legs to succeed either unfortunately.

For the casual cyclist looking for a nice way to get around a city, there are already a number of bike rental schemes, with things such as the Boris Bikes in London sprouting up in most major cities.  For the more serious cyclist, the range and price of machines available wasn’t strong enough to compete with professional rental services, thus depriving the site of a potential hardcore audience.

Which is a shame, as it is often a nuisance taking a bike abroad, and thus renting one from a local is undoubtedly a service I’d consider, but Spinlister seems ill equipped thus far to meet that kind of demand.

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