Friday, September 19, 2008

There here! Rental bikes for locals.

I did an entry earlier about this rent-a-bike scheme coming to my area ( Well, they’ve arrived. I saw my first Smart Bike DC location when I was downtown earlier this week and snapped some cell camera pix. In a nutshell, you pay $40 a year which gives you unlimited rides (up to 3 hours) throughout the year. If you don’t return the bike, you get tagged with a hefty charge ($500, I believe). There are 10 designated return areas/kiosks throughout the city.

As one can see, the bikes are rather utilitarian. Internal 3 speeds, chainguards with fenders and an upright riding style. The bike style offered means that anyone from a young rider to an old lady can ride them. Also, no mention about wearing a helmet anywhere near this kiosk I saw.

This is exciting. $40 is really cheap for what this gives you. It’s like an all you can eat buffet of bike riding for one year. If you want to keep your bike more than a 3 hour period, just return the bike to a kiosk. Then, re-rent another one for another 3 hour period. I hope this program is a big success so that other U.S. cities can copy these efforts.

See for more information.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Airbomb Not Da Bomb.

Review of online retailer.

I frequently look for bike parts mostly online because they tend to be cheaper than going to an LBS. I try to get the part online and either install the part myself or have the LBS install it for me. Even when you include shipping, items tend to be cheaper online believe it or not. I have bought stuff before from places like Pricepoint or Performance and they have provided fast top notch service. I compare prices using Google shopping comparison site (used to be called Froggle). A site that kept coming up with low prices was I decided to give them a try and ordered a rear cog. What a mistake.

Here’s the chronology:
8/15/08 placed order
8/16/08 received order email acknowledgement
8/20/08 received a “confirmed and in process” email
8/27/08 received a “short order delay” email
9/2/08 received an “extended backorder notification” email

After the last email, I called them and cancelled the order. I spoke to someone named “Caroline” and said that was no problem. Later, they shipped the order that day!

Eighteen days to fill an order! That’s not too good. They drag the customer along and, if he/she cancels, they fulfill the order. Nice business model. Bottom line: Avoid