Vélo'v... or bike love

I happened to go to Lyon on the weekend and was able to give their bike share a go.  It's called Vélo'v which is meant to be a portmanteau between vélo (bike in French) and love.   I didn't realise that until I read it on the wiki page about it.  Nonetheless, the Vélo'v was one of the most successful bike share systems in recent history, it operates on a similar basis as Vélib or the Barclay bikes.  The usage is based on a €150 deposit and is free for the first 30mins, then €1 for the full hour and €2 for the second hour.  Quite cheap, and it just automatically debits it from your card.  There are long term membership plans as well, very similar to the other systems.

 The bikes themselves are super sturdy and have similar special security fasteners and covers to prevent vandalism.  They are based on a 3 speed Shimano Nexus gearing with front and rear dynamo lights.  The front basket is steel with a sturdy rack and an elastic strap that goes over it, the front dynamo light is recessed into the basket's front.    The front hub is a combined Nexus dynamo and roller brake hub, it took me a bit of riding to realise that the brake levers were setup Euro style (left front), it still doesn't make much sense to me as I am right handed and most people in the world are as well.  The front roller brakes  are pretty woeful on the flat, I wouldn't feel safe riding fast downhill on these.   I have heard the newer Nexus roller brakes are a lot better, they are distinguished by the large cooling fins.

The rear mudguard is a large plastic unit which combines a skirtguard and a rear dynamo light, it's attached to the seatstay bridge and chainstay bridge only which makes it a bit floppy.  I'm not sure if this was intentional as the rear of the mudguard is usually the bit which gets smacked about, maybe having something a bit flexible allows it to flex rather than brake.  The dynamo lights appear to be the Dutch Spanninga brand, they are pretty good and are constant lights, unlike the flashing lights of the Barclays bikes.  The tyres are the ubiquitous Schwalbe Marathons, they are the same as the Vélib and the Barclays bikes, a good choice.  At the station I picked mine up from there was one bike which had a flat and another bike which had a dropped chain.   The one with the flat had the seat turned backwards which is what people do to indicate a dud bike - nice one.   One bad thing I noticed was that the kickstand is a nice strong steel unit, however the spring that holds it in the up position is often a bit weak so you'll hear a clank every time you hit a bump.
The rear light is recessed into the mudguard
to protect it from knocks and vandalism

After I was done with it I rode it back to the nearest docking station to my hotel, however it was full... dang.  However the terminal (which is in French, English and Spanish) showed me the status of the closest 3 stations.  There was 7 free spots at one down the block, however I had no idea where it was because it was presented in a table format rather than a map.  Anyway I was able to return it quite easily by just pushing it into the dock.

Overall the bike system works pretty well, the bikes themselves are pretty good.  I would even go so far to say that I think they are better than the Barclays bikes because of the better basket and better lighting system.  What I would like to see on some of these bike share bikes is a rear rack, so you can have a passenger to give a lift to (AKA Backie, Dink).  I bet though, that it's perceived as unsafe (open to being sued?) and that they want you to just hire another bike anyway.

That's all for now.  Happy riding.


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