This thursday, I dropped by one of the demo sites for the Bixi bike sharing system that is proposed for Toronto. There are plenty of discussions out there about whether or not this is a good idea. I just wanted a look at the bikes themselves.
This is a prototype of a Toronto version of the Bixi bike. It seems that they are trying to take a little weight out of the bike, in comparison to the Montreal type bikes that they had for us to testride. Not sure why they can’t just use the Montreal bike; if it’s good enough for Montreal and for Melbourne, why not Toronto? I didn’t see any obvious attempt to make the bikes more winterproof.
You can see that the TO version is made of lighter gauge tubing. Also, they have gone to a headlight with halogen bulb rather than the white LEDs of the original, which are shown here:
I’m mixed on the switch away from LEDs. Unless they are using the latest generation LEDs, the bulb would probably be brighter. I didn’t see any provision for good heatsinking the LEDs on the grey bike.
Test ride impressions: this bike handles like a tank. The 3 speed hub is fine. The drum brakes are a bit scary as they take their sweet time to slow you down, especially on such a heavy bike. I absolutely could not get the tires to skid on dry pavement, even gripping the levers at full strength. Probably this is deliberate. You have been warned.
Overall, the bikes look very sturdy, and have a lot of thoughtful design touches such as good fenders and nice wide tires. I am disappointed that the luggage carrying capacity is so limited (speaking as an Xtracycle owner), but I guess they don’t want a rear rack so you can’t carry any passengers. I heard that the beefier version of the front rack will support a person, but said passenger would be very uncomfortable.
The one on the grey bikes is made by Trans X and has a nice roller actuation. The TO prototype had a cheesier bell with a striker on a coil spring. Boo, hiss!
Update: here is an interesting article about the conflict between the Bixi system in Melbourne and mandatory helmet laws.