Hints and Tips

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  Bike9 1 year, 7 months ago.

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    This is taken from a longer blog post that I put together after trying them out last Friday ( you kind find the whole post here )


    They’re pretty random but might be of help

    Hints and Tips 
    • Check that the bike’s rear wheel spins smoothy. raise the bike by lifting the seat and spin the back wheel. If it looks sticky try the next one until you get one that runs smoothly.


    • Carry a stop watch. You’ll need to check how much time you’ve used yourself there is nothing on the bike that tells you. Adjust your seat height (very easy to do) and load your bags into the basket before you undock to stop wasting any of your thirty minutes.


    • Get a members key even if you’re going to be an infrequent user – for the extra three quid you get a lot of convenience . Doing Tip #1 (above) may not be possible without a key (I’ll need to check this). I am still not sure if the £3 fee is per key or per order. You can order up to four keys per account (for your non credit card carrying teenage family and friends). I found registration very easy but you do need a credit or debit card.


    • On your first journey put in some planning – though I am an ok cyclist and know Central London quite well combining the two was harder than I thought. I got completely befuddled at Berwick Street when on my way to Wardour Street. My theory is that when you are walking you have more mental route planning time. On a bike you’re always ahead of yourself – and its not just routes to “where-you-are-going” but routes to “the-nearest-docking-stations-to-where-you are-going” that you need to calculate. Look at a variety of route planners if you can. The route I had down Cleveland Street from a Tfl cycling map had changed due to one way systems.


    • If you have the opportunity to take some spare maps or literature do so – it will save you chat-time with interested strangers. Explaining the pricing scheme is complicated I can assure you.


    • Look at the Highway code section for cyclists if you’re not a motorist already to better understand the road signage – the maze of streets in the centre of town are quite confusing with their various restrictions. As you are riding on public property you’re expected to obey the rules of the road.


    • Don’t think “Bike Hire” think “Public Transport Journey”. This came home to me when R was speculating about the ability to take Scheme Bikes on the Thames Clipper service. There’s no point – she was thinking in terms of hiring a bike for a period of time. Her sequence was “Collect bike -cycle to pier- embark with bike on Clipper-travel to desired pier-disembark with bike continue and cycle on to final destination where bike is returned”. The proper sequence is “collect bike – dock bike near pier- FORGET ABOUT BIKES ENTIRELY AND GET ON WITH NORMAL LIFE-get off boat and start another completely different journey on a new bike.” It is not a bicycle hire scheme. Its “a flexible self-propelled element of the public transport system based on a bicycling model”.


    • FIVE MINUTES – that’s the time you have to wait between docking your bike and setting off on a new journey. The longer the bike remains unreturned the steeper the hourly rate but there’s nothing to stop you breaking your journeys into smaller bits apart from this five minute wait time. The scheme organisers emphasis time and again that this is all about short journeys.




    Regarding point 3 — members key — it’s £3 per key. Multiple keys on the the same account may not be advisable — see full details on this post: http://www.borisbikes.co.uk/topic.php?id=16



    Top tips – hopefully they will add a stopwatch feature onto the bikes at some point?



    Regarding point seven, the thing to remember is don’t lock it, dock it. If you need to get off you should probably dock it and hire another one when you need to get back on.

    Smartphones (iPhone, Android etc) all have timers/stopwatches/alarms built in and there’s even one on the iPod Nano, though it kills the battery.



    I like this tip from gaz:

    do what they do in paris, and rotate the saddle 180 degrees to signify that a bike is out of order.

    I would add to remember to press the fault button within 10 seconds of re-docking the faulty bike.

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    Definitely do tip no 1 and check the wheels spin smoothly, a fairly fundamental need on a bicycle but not necessarily so on many of the hire bikes. The first bike I hired was so bad I almost had to get off and push it across Waterloo Bridge, a route I cycle most days with little effort on my personal bike… The second bike I selected after testing three, two of which felt “stiff”
    I dont know what the problem is , presumably the brake adjustment. You can’t fiddle with the brake adjust ment (which is  a good thing) so you cant slacken off a “tight” bike.



    Having been on a few more rides today I would add “check your saddle lock” to tip #1. I had two gradually sink on me today – I couldn’t work out what was going wrong. I assumed I had closed the clasp wrong but tried it every which way without success. It kept sinking down.c I am no Peter Crouch but  I feel uncomfortable with my knees up under my chin. So after adjusting your seat to your desired height push down on the saddle with force to see if it holds in position.

    When I docked the first dodgy saddle-bike I pressed the spanner button – there is an unnerving lack of response from the dock – it doesn’t seem to acknowledge the fact that you have put a fault report onto the system.

    With my first bike I noticed a significant difference in the gear settings.

    I really hope the stiff wheels problem gets sorted out – more than fifty percent of bikes I tried failed the test today.



    Regarding point 3. – I do feel a bit stupid as I thought it would be handy to have a ‘spare’ 2nd key so was a bit shocked when I was charged another £48 as it was an annual. This is made clear during the order process referring to access charges but the terms ‘additional’ were for me misleading. I was able to pass this on to a friend who was on holiday at the time of going live luckily.



    I have also experienced the sliding down seat of doom…



    There needs to be an easier way to report defects, which actually allows you to specify what the defect is!



    Boris, regarding Gaz’s tip about what the French do and turning around seats on defective bikes? How long before louts catch on to this and turn around the seats on all the bikes at a station?



    Dodgy saddles – you can actually tighten it up yourself by manually tightening the nut thingy on the clasp. That solved the sinking saddle feeling for me!



    Re the sliding seat post I did have this problem but its very easy to solve. Move seat lever to open then adjust knurled knob which will give tighter compression. Hoping this cycling wil reduce my weight!



    One extra tip is double check you’ve docked – check that green light.



    Hey Stu99,

    Please can you give some clearer instructions on how you tighten up the seats? I don’t know what an “adjust knurled knob” is!

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