LimeBike gets 2,000 rides in two days + Both companies announce $30 monthly plans

See our Seattle Bike Share Guide for an updated list of bike share companies in Seattle, links to download their apps and a quick rundown on how it all works.

LimeBike CEO Toby Sun.

People took 2,000 rides on LimeBike in two days, the company said Friday.

In just two days, the company is already more than 60 percent of the way to matching Pronto’s ride total for its opening week, and about half way to matching Pronto’s best week ever. And it’s doing all this with competition from Spin, which also has 500 bikes in circulation.

In fact, it’s possible that at this point the companies are helping each other by educating the public about the concept of free-floating bike share services. Someone who learns about how LimeBike works from one of the company’s promo events, for example, will also know how Spin works and vice versa. And having double the bikes on the street means bike share as a transportation mode is more convenient for more people for more trips, which is good for both companies.

But, of course, they are definitely competing hard.

LimeBike has had a couple bikes floating around since the city approved their permit July 17, but was not as quick on the draw as Spin, which rolled out its 500 bikes as soon as they had a permit in their hand. LimeBike started rolling out their 500 bikes Tuesday and launched with an official unlocking ceremony Thursday.

But the 2,000 rides in two days is notably double the number that Spin reported July 19, though it is much too early to determine which company will outpace the other. This whole free-floating bike share thing is just getting started.

From LimeBike:

It’s been just over two days since we deployed 500 bikes on Seattle’s streets, and we’d like to share some exciting data:

  • More than 2,000 rides
  • More than 1,000 first-time riders
  • On average, riders use the bikes twice a day
  • On average, the riding distance is 2.6 miles, or about 14 minutes of riding time

Monthly passes will be $30

Both LimeBike and Spin are preparing monthly passes for heavy users, though neither plan is available for purchase yet. LimeBike will call their service LimePrime, and will offer 100 30-minute rides a month for about $30.

Spin recently announced a plan called Spin Unlimited that, as the name suggests, offers unlimited 30-minute rides for about $30 a month.

That’s about 30 percent of the cost of a bus pass.

It’s hard to say how good a deal these passes will be. Someone who takes two rides a day five times a week would rack up $40 in a month if they pay as they go. But buying a pass means you are dedicating yourself to one company, which cuts at least in half the number of bikes available to you.

But if you’re a very heavy user who takes 60 or more trips per month, then perhaps it make sense to just buy both passes.

There is also added value in having an all-you-can-bike plan (100 a month with LimePrime is basically unlimited). For example, you will likely take trips so short you wouldn’t pay even $1 for it. I used to do this all the time with Pronto. Biking four blocks is still faster than walking four blocks, but I wouldn’t pay $1 for such a short trip.

Many people with bus passes do this, too. If the right bus just happens to come along, you can hop on for a short trip you would never pay $2.50/$2.75 to take.

Monthly pass pricing is yet another space for competition and innovation in this new free-floating bike share business. But don’t expect any Pronto-like deals. Their $85 annual pass was a ridiculously good deal. SDOT Director Scott Kubly once joked that if you biked a lot, you might save that much money in reduced wear on your shoes. But, of course, the Pronto business model proved to be flawed. The annual pass deal was supposed to be subsidized by people buying the much higher-rate $8 day passes, but that didn’t happen.

Spin and LimeBike offer a much lower point of entry to ride, but heavy users will likely spend much more annually compared to Pronto. 12 months at $30/month is $360, still a damn good deal for a year of transportation. But users of the new systems are also getting a much wider service area and — if the companies expand as planned and keep their bikes well-maintained — a much better level of service.

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25 Responses to LimeBike gets 2,000 rides in two days + Both companies announce $30 monthly plans

  1. Merlin says:

    I’m curious to see if ridership on Lime and Spin levels off after people use up their initial free rides. It’s really easy to get started with both systems by downloading the app, which includes a bunch of free rides. Pronto offered free rides, but they were accessed through paper coupons and still required entering a credit card for each ride. I’ve ridden each system once, and will probably find occasion to use up my free rides – but doubt I’ll end up being a regular user after that.

    • Eugene says:

      I agree that this is not sustainable and I fear that Spin and Lime will go bankrupt leaving us with no bike share again. Limes do not require a working email adddress or even ask for a credit card to ride. I hear that many bikes have been stolen this way. How many people will ride them after the free rides? How much of these results are inflation? I love Lime and I don’t want them to go, and I hope that they are here for the long term and not just a stunt.

  2. Victor J Enlow says:

    No helmets, they should be shut down. Teaching and creating horrible bike etiquette. The struggle between car and cyclists continues to worsen.

  3. Peri Hartman says:

    I’ve seen several Limes on Queen Anne – and no Spins. I think that says something for the gearing. I did see one Spin half way up Dexter, at a bus stop. Coincidence?

  4. Gary Anderson says:

    On Satureday afternoon I rode from Wallingford over to Jack Block Park via BGT, South Ship Canal Trail, Alaska Way, Alki Trail, plus assorted streets and saw more Limes being ridden in one day than the total number of Pronto bikes I ever saw (being ridden). Saw a few Spins but mostly Limes. The greatest concentration of Limes was at Fremont Brewing.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      LimeBike ended their event at Fremont Brewing today, so that’s probably why you saw so many there. Though Fremont Brewing is definitely going to be a major bike share hub from now on :-)

  5. Lynne says:

    I did say “take my money” when I saw the Lime Prime comment on the app update. But realistically, I won’t use 100 rides. I am unlikely to use 30; I ride my own bikes.

    I stopped buying monthly bus passes because I don’t ride enough to justify the cost. Just as you described, I stopped riding when it was “too short a trip to be worth $2.75.” But then I used my critical thinking skills. I still spend considerably less than $99 when I just get on the bus when I feel like it. Now I *do* hop on the bus for that six-block ride. With my thinking adjusted, I actually will pay $1 to ride a bike four or five blocks to the post office.

    With the bus you get a transfer that you can use for two hours. With bike share, you will pay $1 for each segment of the ride. So now I have to think about spending $2 for an eight block round trip. Still cheaper than the bus for that one trip. Probably still faster and easier than many trips. How many bus routes are within two blocks of your starting and ending points with no transfers?

    We love unlimited, but it isn’t always the best deal. At this point, LimeBike’s three free rides with a $50 bucket is probably my best bet. YMMV, and it is regularly pointed out to me that I am not normal.

  6. Not legs of steel says:

    I rode my third Spin bike that would not shift yesterday (out of six total bikes). I literally almost fell off trying to start it on a barely noticeable incline because it was stuck in 2nd gear. And the gearing is too high. I’ve been defending Spin, but the bikes really are inferior to LimeBike. I don’t know a single person who would choose a Spin over a Lime. I hope you are paying attention.

    I planned to continue the SpinHunt today, but I just can’t face another bike that won’t shift.

  7. Damon says:

    I wonder if, even if the services both fail, by virtue of all the free rides and promo events they’ll get a bunch of new people into biking who end up buying a bike and sticking with it.

    I’d like to see Lime and Spin succeed, too, but if they fail I’d be just fine with that kind of investor-funded public service.

  8. Merlin R says:

    I doubt very much that they will fail. I just think we’ll see some ups and downs and sideways trends in ridership as the systems get integrated into the city. There are at least a couple other systems in the pipeline as well, so expect some lively juggling for position. Even if one or more of the competitors fail, they will have provided the city with valuable data about ridership – and they’ll come away with valuable data for themselves too.

  9. asdf2 says:

    I’ve now had occasion to take several rides with both Spin and Lime, all of which were along the Burke-Gilman trail and didn’t involve much in the way of hills. The Lime bikes were in great shape and, even on a flat trail, the low gearing made it much easier to start and stop. (Pro tip: if you have a destination within a couple blocks of the Burke-Gilman, don’t bother riding a bike share bike up the hill to get to the destination’s front door – just park the bike next to the trail and go up the hill on foot – it’s much easier).

    By contrast, I’ve ridden multiple Spin bikes already that were in terrible shape. One whose breaks were squeaking the entire ride. One that beeped at me the entire ride. One which was stuck in the highest gear and refused to shift (which makes riding quite a chore, even on flat), and one which made an awful clicking noise with each turn on the wheels (which I was a afraid to ride faster than 8-10 mph), and also had a missing (probably stolen) headlight. I can hope that the reason the Lime bikes are better is not simply a matter of having a few days less exposure to thievery and hard use – otherwise, bike share is going to have a very difficult time succeeding.

    That said, in spite of all the mechanical problems with the Spin bikes, Spin does win the battle of comfort. Spin bikes have a very upright posture, while Lime bikes are more hunched over. Ultimately, it’s a tradeoff between comfort for your back vs. aerodynamic efficiency, but for a bike share bike, I’d rather see comfort, since nobody should be riding these bikes fast, anyway. Similar with the seat. Spin bikes had nice cushy saddles which I could easily ride on for 20-30 minutes wearing ordinary clothes. Lime bikes, on the other hand, have standard bike seats, and get quite uncomfortable in the crotch after just 5-10 minutes. I’m sure with bike shorts on, the Lime bikes would have been just fine, but who wants to go walking around all day in bike shorts, just for a 15-minute bike ride on the way home?

    One important thing that both Spin and Lime appear to be missing is a way to tell the app that your bike has a problem. The current system, not only do you not get your dollar back if the bike you pick up has a broken shifter or stuck brakes, but the broken bike remains in circulation for the next person and the next person, until a staff member finally happens to manually inspect the bike and notice the problem. For safety reasons, there really needs to be an in-app mechanism to flag the bike and make it unavailable until a staff member manually inspects it and removes the flag (like the wrench button under Pronto). And also, a way to get your dollar back if the bike you unlock turns out to be unrideable (or, at least, a way to exchange the problem bike for another one without having to pay twice).

    • Lynne says:

      Currently both services will refund you, but you have to report the bike to their support. You can find the phone number (888-LIME-345) in the “Help” section of the Lime app. You can use the “Contact Spin” button in the “Help” section of the Spin app to report a problem. This connects you to live chat. You can also call them at 888-262-5189 or use their support email address.

      None of these methods are very convenient. Both apps should have a “this bike ain’t rideable” function that allows you the option of uploading a photo and then ends the ride and refunds your payment immediately.

      • jessica winter says:

        agree, i tried to check out a Spin bike but the seat height adjustment didn’t work. It would have been nice to have a user friendly way to report that. As it was, I just left it for someone else to find, and I rented the Lime bike sitting next to it.

      • asdf2 says:

        Calling tech support to report a broken bike is more trouble than it’s worth. If it’s a simple button in the app, I’ll press it, but that’s all.

        Even uploading a photo, I don’t think is necessary. Just have an on-screen menu to choose a bike ailment from a dropdown list (e.g. brakes, seat, light, lock/unlock mechanism, gear shifter, other). If the report is delivered within one minute of unlock, they can just make the trip free, automatically, without a call to tech support. The free ride basically serves as the incentive to take the three seconds to press the buttons to report the problem.

        I don’t see abuse of a system like this as a real concern. You can’t ride a bike anywhere in one minute that you couldn’t have walked to, counting the overhead of starting and stopping the trip, and you can’t repeat the process over and over again, with the same bike because, once a bike is reported, it’s unavailable until manually inspected by a staff member. Individual users who chronically report bikes as broken that turn out to not actually be broken can have their reporting privileges revoked, but in practice, there’s no reason for anyone to bother doing that.

        By contrast, the current system simply encourages people to just return their broken bikes and walk away, leaving it as somebody else’s problem, until eventually, the people who run the company suddenly learn, through a flood of twitter reports, that half their bikes are broken and they had no idea.

    • Duncan Watson says:

      I spoke to Spin.pm support about the bike reporting problems. Early on you needed to get the 7 digit number and wait around while talking to support. Now you can get the number from your ride history and report it after the fact. This is much more convenient since I tend to use Spin and now Lime bikes to get from Seattle Center to Westlake for my bus.

    • Matt says:

      Did you notice excessive rolling resistance on the Limes? I rode two of them today, and both dragged like I was riding through mud. The Spin I rode didn’t have that problem, and was much more enjoyable to ride overall (except turning on their weird edged foam wheels was disconcerting).

  10. cmonster says:

    I had a similar experience to @asdf2 above with the two systems. Except that Lime bike lost out on comfort because the seats don’t adjust to tall enough by a long shot. I’m 6 feet tall which is not that tall in the scheme of things and the tallest the seat could go up made riding on flat extremely difficult and ucomfortable. I gave up one block up a small hill it was so hard. I’m an everyday rider and can get up any hill in the city.

    That said, Spin bikes are worthless if my experience simply trying to shift the gears is any measure. Coupled with the review above, I fully don’t trust Spin at this point.

    All that said though, as a regular rider with a bike I love and living in a walkable neighborhood, it just doesnt seem like bike shares are a necessary part of my life. But they are important in a city so I hope both companies get their kinks worked out.

    • asdf2 says:

      I’m much shorter than 6 feet, so that explains the difference.

    • Duncan Watson says:

      I strongly prefer the spin bikes to lime. The shifting is better, more intuitive and the bikes have significantly less drag. I couldn’t wait to get off the lime bike this morning. Way to much crap on it, my asthma kicked in hard.

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  12. Steve M says:

    I’m glad to read that some folks prefer the Spin bikes because I have a strong preference for Lime and was thinking that Spin better re-gear their bikes or they’ll be gone shortly. Looks from this very small sample size that this is not the case. That it’s a case of “Different Spokes for Different Folks”. That’s good news for all of us.
    I’m excited about this much better version of bikeshare!

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