Need a Bike? Peer-to-Peer Bike-Sharing Comes to Vancouver

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A screenshot from Spinlister

Uber may not be welcome in Vancouver. But a new service that lets ordinary people rent out their bikes by the day is picking up speed.

Spinlister, a bike-sharing site based in California, is now up and running in Vancouver. The site allows anyone to upload a picture and description of their bike, as well as hourly, daily and weekly prices for rental. Users looking to rent a bike can then browse through the selection and find a ride that fits their needs – from rugged mountain bikes to carbon-fibre racers. A handy interactive map shows which bikes are available and where they can be picked up.

Currently, there are only about 50 bikes listed on the Vancouver site. But overall Spinlister, which started in 2012, features thousands of bikes in dozens of countries around the world. (The most popular city for bike-sharing so far is Brooklyn, with 3,500 bikes featured on the site.) Users of Spinlister are mainly travellers exploring a new city and looking for a fun way to get around on two wheels, according to an interview in the Vancouver Sun

A unique cargo bike available on Spinlister

A unique cargo bike available on Spinlister

Similar to room-sharing service AirBnB, Spinlister offers built-in insurance to owners who post on the site. All bikes are insured for theft and damage up to $10,000. The site makes money by taking a 17.5-percent cut of every transaction. In addition to bikes, Spinlister also features surfboards and paddle boards, as well as skis and snowboards available for rent by users.

The one big challenge that Spinlister faces in downtown Vancouver, of course, is that there are already plenty of bike shops along the seawall offering very competitive (if not better) rates and a bigger inventory of bikes. But where the site does have potential is in appealing to bike lovers looking for unusual, high-end or vintage rides not available at the typical bike shop.

A high-end carbon fibre bike available on Spinlister

A high-end carbon fibre bike available on Spinlister

A search for bikes currently available in Vancouver turns up quite a cross-section of rides. A unique cargo bike – outfitted with a huge 220-pound-capacity bucket just behind the front wheel – is going for $30 a day. For vintage bike fans, there’s a rare 1980s Pinarello 10-speed for $30 a day. Meanwhile, serious racers might consider a fully-loaded Guru Magis carbon triathlon bike, equipped with carbon-fibre everything (even seat post) and optional tri-spoke wheel for $70 a day.

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