Citibike: First Impressions

Thank you bikes

Citibike NYC is now 3 days old, and I’ve managed to used it 4 times already – a test ride on Monday and three trips to and from my daughter’s school. Quick verdict? I’m going to be using this A LOT. Read on for more details.

As of yesterday the app showed all stations as inactive, but it looks like it went live today. The shading in the icons shows the capacity level of each station. The station right by my apartment wasn’t on the map yesterday, but showed up this morning. Sweet!

Insert key, wait for yellow, remove key, wait for green. You’re good to go.

You need to lift the bike by the saddle to remove and dock it. If a passerby hadn’t told me this I never would’ve figured it out.

There’s a basket of sorts and a bungee for your stuff.

Fenders, kickstand, tail lights.

Can’t believe Bloomberg didn’t get us Campy. I guess that’s the Dynohub that powers the lights?

The seatposts are marked, so once you figure out your seat height you can set it quickly and go without any trial and error.

Focus! This center line is a nice touch, makes it easy to get the seatpost in straight.

I’ve always wanted to ride a bike with one of these snazzy faired forks.

And now I guess I have?

No need to cuff your pants, nothing to snag them down here.

The cockpit’s pretty tight. You’ll be pretty upright when you get out of the saddle so don’t expect to make any quick accelerations. As you can see on the right grip, there’s three speeds. Thankfully gear #1 is pretty small, given the bike’s 45 pound weight. I tweeted a picture of the shifter a couple days ago and got this response:

I used to hate bike lanes – you can’t go fast, they’re frequently blocked, and pedestrians use them as an addition to the sidewalk. I found them scarier than riding in traffic. But that was on the speedy road bike. With the Citibike I have a new appreciation for the bike lanes. Without the speed, agility, and escape-ability of the road bike I’m grateful for their protection. It’s like going from being the apex predator to plankton.

Naturally one would rather be the predator than the prey, but Citibike has opened my eyes to another way of riding around the city: slow and safe, segragated from traffic, and sweat free on arrival.

On a typical day I’ll walk 90 minutes to take my daughter to school. With Citibike I save 30 minutes each day to do…whatever it is I do. And considering the fact that an annual pass is equivalent in cost to 40 subway rides, for most people this has got to be a no brainer.

As for the naysayers who will never participate in this program, just think how much easier it’ll be to get a cab or a seat on the bus and the subway. That’s the funny thing about this program: even bike haters may benefit from it. Let’s just hope they’ll realize that.

UPDATE 3/30:

Thanks to a commenter for pointing out the bell, and here’s an out of focus shot of it. I do have an excuse, though. While I was checking for focus a friend distracted me. He was unable to remove a bike and I had to tell him to lift it by the saddle. They really should clarify that. Also, thanks to another commenter for pointing out that the rear fender is also a skirt guard.

Flashing lights up front.

Not that you’d want to steal this crank, but there’s an anti theft bolt for it.

It seems there’s still some kinks to iron out. The 49th and 8th station wasn’t releasing bikes even though it was shown as active on the app, and I had to try a couple of docks before I got the green light that the bike was safely returned.



Andy Shen

No, it’s a Road ID. I did used to have a LiveWrong, which I had on the one time I met Armstrong. He didn’t appreciate it.

Mathias Bearing

We have a similar scheme in dublin, about two years old now. Excellent service, a couple of warnings.
When you check a bike out, you can’t get another for 15 mins. Check the tyres before hand.
People who never cycle will use them. This is good. They have no idea or appreciation of how to behave on a bike. This is bad.
The scheme is popular, stations are often empty or full. Be sure to check your route before.


I used it first time today. Pretty great. I agree about riding differently though. Makes it more pleasurable.

I didn’t have to lift seat to unlock though. I might have lifted the front end though.

Noe Liner

Does your daughter ride her own citibike or do you somehow carry her on your bike? I assume you are not making her run after you all the way to school. :) If she rides her own, how does the bike fit a smaller rider?


I’m on the fence about joining. Where I live in Brooklyn south of Atlantic, the nearest station is about 8 blocks away. I hope they expand the system, but I’ll probably go for it anyway.

Andy Shen

I walk her to school, bike home. Reverse the procedure for pickups. She totally lost interest in bikes after learning how to ride, but now she keeps asking if she can ride the Citibikes.

Diego Helmet

Yeah, no Campy and no power meter. Did a little half block test sprint and got up to around 20mph and felt like 800 watts. Is there a speed governor on these beasts?

Enzo Dropout

I realize you might not have spent much time in a skirt, and if you have maybe not on a bike. I would like to point out that the rear fender is not just any ol’ fender it is also a skirt guard so your dresses don’t get sucked into the spokes of the rear wheel! :)

Simon Torque

Thanks for the review Andy! I hate the subway and I hate leaving my bike outside for a few minutes for a quick errand. As awkward and ugly as the bikes are, it makes sense for a quick trip in a city like nyc.

Noe Liner

I think everyone who donated to the Floyd Fairness Fund should request a refund and then donate that money to the FBF Fix fund.

Kylian Cage

the likelihood of a landis refund is about as good as my wife saying, “honey, i love how much you spend on cycling gear, and i’m fine with how it takes precious time away from both me and the kids.”

Schiatta Polished

It looks identical to the system Boston has. I rode that while visiting from Seattle ~1.5years ago and it was a great addition to the chaotic mayhem of their traffic. At one point I was passed on the right, in the parking lane by a cab only to meet him at the stoplight ~2min later. We shrugged and went our separate ways with no condescending wave, head shake or screaming match. A refreshing live and let live attitude after the ultra-polite will-never-pass Pacific Northwest.


Yes. I would say the way to “win” would not be to hijack a thread to peddle your wares, say something dumb, then cop an attitude when called on it. just sayin…

Jay Mueller

Wifey and I have used these on vacation in several cities, most recently Montreal and London. In every case, they have been an incredibly pleasant, safe way to see the city. We have them here in Beantown now and I think they are working out pretty well. Anything that makes human powered locomotion more ubiquitous is a great thing. They don’t roll as fast as a wunderbike with carbon tubulars, but their slow truck speed makes them safe. Big win. I hope they work out well for you all in NYC, Andy.


what is this “save floyd” bs?

and will he be repaying the floyd fairness fund out of his 10 mil whistle blowing settlement?

why exactly are we celebrating him?


great explanation/comeback. Yes, it is me. Lance Armstrong. Clearly it must be since no other person could possibly have an issue with your celebrating a doper.


It’s only Wednesday…we have a few more days to discuss this. What, you just want to drop a line like “save floyd” on a public forum, and then get pissy when a potential paying customer wants to know what you mean? Nice attitude.

Matthias Rivnut

I feel the need to bring some closure to this debate so I plan to ride the Fondo on a Citibike and use Chip-in to fund the rental cost. My priorities are a mess anyway – when I read “save Floyd” I thought they meant FBF.

Nice review Andy


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