I use Lyon’s Vélo’V service (public bicycles) almost daily. It’s wonderful, but by now I’ve unwittingly checked out my share of clunkers. These are the Vélov’Vs you should avoid if you want to survive your ride:
1) The Broken Seat – All systems are go until your ass is whirling around with each push of the pedal like you’re sitting in a swivel chair.
2) The Spiteful Gearshift – Oh yes, you can shift from 3 to 2, but be prepared for it to not take effect until you’re dangerously close to a bus or curb, and pedaling with oomph.
3) The Sticky One – What was the last person doing on this bike!?
4) The Noisy One – It’s rattling for a reason, but you won’t find out what that reason is until you’re in the middle of a busy intersection.
5) The One Someone Totally Trashed and Somehow Managed to Jam Back Onto the Rack – This one is literally a pile of metal in the shape of a bike, but you won’t be aware of that until you’ve pulled it off the rack. Good luck getting it back on there, since you can now see that the metal rack lock apparently took a beating from a sledgehammer!
The Vélo’V dream is that of the elusive Sweet Wheels: This bike comes off the rack with a happy click, and goes back on the same way. The seat faces exclusively forward and is just the right height for tiptoe push-off at lights. The rubber grips are snug to the handlebars, and the wheels make a healthy whirring noise. The gears shift only when you tell them to, with an easy flick of your wrist. If you find a set of Sweet Wheels, enjoy it, because it will leave your life the same way it entered it: like a whisper on the breeze.
And here’s a pictorial warning from yours truly: