Citibike: First Impressions

Wed, 05/29/2013 - 5:18pm by Andy Shen

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.


Share this


Add a comment
Charlie can we
By: Rinieri Neck
Sun, 06/16/2013 - 10:59pm

add a citibike division at FBF.........

No, it's a Road ID. I did
By: Andy Shen
Tue, 06/11/2013 - 5:10am

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.

By: MQ
Tue, 06/11/2013 - 3:35am

A friendship bracelet. I gave it to him. Dont hate

By: E-gene
Tue, 06/11/2013 - 2:25am

Is that a LiveWrong bracelet (1st photo)?

Ok, Andy. Save FBF.
By: Dieter Drake
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:48pm

Ok, Andy. Save FBF.

Back off, hijacker!
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:42pm

Back off, hijacker!

You can run lower pressure on
By: Dieter Drake
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:24pm

You can run lower pressure on Stan's wheels, which you can win on a Sunday at the Gran Fondo Catskills.

If I lower the pressure it'll
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 9:13pm

If I lower the pressure it'll be more of an indentation than a protrusion.

lower your butt pressure,
By: Kylian Cage
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 7:28pm

lower your butt pressure, you'll be much less likely to pinch loaf.

My ass is laterally
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 7:18pm

My ass is laterally disappointing and vertically non existent.

does 45 minutes really cut
By: Rinaldo
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 7:15pm

does 45 minutes really cut it?

Damn corporations killing the little guy
By: Matthias Tubie
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 7:12pm

How does this affect bike shops around the city?

is your ass laterally stiff
By: Kylian Cage
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 6:25pm

is your ass laterally stiff or vertically compliant?

Because I was talking out of
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:24pm

Because I was talking out of my ass, just guessing.

the likelihood of a landis
By: Kylian Cage
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:18pm

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."

I'd guess that the vast
By: Rinaldo
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:17pm

I'd guess that the vast majority of donors to the FFF have never heard of FBF.

andy? why did you answer my
By: Samuel Fork
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:12pm

andy? why did you answer my question with questions?

solution to the problem
By: Noe Liner
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 3:25pm

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

Aero rating?
By: Schiatta Bartape
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 3:09pm

So when are you putting one of these in your homemade windtunnel?

A maintenance crew? And they
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:33pm

A maintenance crew? And they use nitrogen, 'cause the molecules are bigger and so the tires stay inflated longer?


who puts air in the citibike
By: Samuel Fork
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:30pm

who puts air in the citibike tyres?

By: Paolo Drainhole
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 12:29pm

I'm ready to donate 15 bucks to the Floyd pothole repair fund.

floyd bennett field--i'd
By: Lucas Post
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:06am

floyd bennett field--i'd donate $ to save or improve that.

that guy named floyd? uhh, no.

Fondo on Citibike
By: Matthias Rivnut
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 10:00am

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

Subway Alternative
By: Simon Torque
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:38am

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.

Floyd Refund
By: Remigio Skidmark
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:27am


Call the FBI not Dieter if you gave money and want a refund. Here's the number (619) 557-5610

These things rock
By: Jay Mueller
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:20am

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.

By: me
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 4:07am

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...

By: Rinieri Pulley
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 3:57am


Dieter Drake, please promote your lame fondo elsewhere. Thanks!

Yeah, interesting. Maybe.
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 3:25am

Yeah, interesting. Maybe.

how about free entry to those
By: Lucas Post
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 3:10am

how about free entry to those who have proof of donating to floyd's fairness fund?

By: me
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 2:20am

you too. Peace, love, and chain grease.

Jesus. I can't win, I
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 2:18am

Jesus. I can't win, I guess.

I honestly want you to have a great weekend.


By: me
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 2:14am

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.

Have a great weekend.
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 2:03am

Have a great weekend.

By: me
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:55am

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.

Ok, Lance.
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:44am

Ok, Lance.

By: me
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:40am

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?

Nice, Lance. Thanks.Free
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:38am

Free Cafe Ride on Saturday at noon from Hunter Mountain Main Lodge. 24 miles through Hunter and Windham.

NY Velocity readers use
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 1:11am

NY Velocity readers use coupon code NYVGF to receive $15 off.

Save Floyd.


Gran Fondo Catskills this
By: Dieter
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 12:35am

Gran Fondo Catskills this weekend. Stan's wheels to the Men's and Women's overall.


also in Boston
By: Schiatta Polished
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 10:45pm

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.

the rear fender!
By: Enzo Dropout
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 8:35pm

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! :)

By: Andrea TBK
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 8:11pm

Don't miss the bell -- a little wheel you can turn with your left thumb.

Where's the wattage?
By: Diego Helmet
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 8:02pm

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?

I walk her to school, bike
By: Andy Shen
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 7:11pm

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.

I'm on the fence about
By: mikeweb
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 7:08pm

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.

By: Noe Liner
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 6:56pm

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 used it first time today.
By: Ziptie
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 6:47pm

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.

By: Mathias Bearing
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 6:43pm

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.

Citibike are now ridden by US Olympians also
By: Remigio Skidmark
Wed, 05/29/2013 - 6:40pm

Citibike are now ridden by US Olympians also http://jennordhem.tumblr.com/post/51649738696/group-ride

Post new comment

A cookie will maintain this name until you change it.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><img>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

You must answer the question below to proceed. You can skip this step if you log in.
Fill in the blank


  • BB30? BBPurdy! -

    BB30, a new bottom bracket standard invented by Cannondale in 2000, is gaining momentum.





view counter
NYC Velo
view counter
Chomper Body
view counter