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Seattle bike race promoter launches peer-to-peer bike rental company Spokeo

Screenshot of the Spokeo site with a map of listings around Saettle and images of the newest listings.
Bikes available on Spokeo in Seattle as of press time.

Got a bike (or…ahem…many bikes) that spend most of the time sitting still? Make some cash by renting them out.

That’s the basic idea behind Spokeo, a peer-to-peer bike rental company founded by Seattle’s own Chris Rodde. Rodde is one of the people behind Off Camber Productions, which puts on the popular MFG Cyclocross series among other bike events. After fielding tons of questions from traveling riders who were having trouble finding the right bike for rent in Seattle, Rodde started developing the idea that would become Spokeo.

“I started Spokeo at the end of last summer as a way to help get more people on bikes,” said Rodde. “I found that there’s no peer-to-peer bike share out there,”* and so he “saw an opportunity.” And right away, customers started finding Spokeo after struggling to find the exact kind of rental bike they needed available elsewhere. “One of the first customers was coming from Texas and was looking for a triathlon bike and couldn’t find one to rent,” said Rodde.

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The short version is that Spokeo is like Turo but for bikes. And if you don’t know what Turo is, it’s like Airbnb but for cars. In fact, Spokeo uses some of the same ID verification services as Turo, which should weed out many potential scammers. Renters upload photos of themselves and their ID cards to the service and cannot rent a bike until they pass verification. Renters also accept a rental agreement that they are responsible for all theft and damage, which is common for such agreements. Spokeo also offers hosts insurance for up to $5,000 to cover worst case scenario theft or bike damage that the renter fails to cover.

Hosts can list bikes and related gear such as bike bags, bikepacking gear or bike racks for cars. You can even rent a rare Seattle Bike Blog-branded Brompton (I Iisted it to test out the site for this story and decided to keep it on there). Renters make requests through the site for certain timeframes, which hosts then need to approve. Payments are processed automatically through Stripe once a rental has been completed successfully, so no money changes hands in-person. Communication between hosts and renters is also conducted through the site.

Spokeo takes 20% of the rental earnings, leaving the host with 80%. Bike shops are also welcome to list their available rental bikes on Spokeo, and they may also be able to negotiate a better rate.

But part of the impetus for starting the site was that Rodde saw fewer and fewer shops offering bike rentals. “A lot of bike shops have pulled back on renting,” he said. He expects that most people looking to use a service like Spokeo will be looking for something other than a base-level bike for a short time. “If you’re just looking to rent a run-of-the-mill bike for an hour, you can just hop on a Lime bike,” he said. But if you want to go on an adventure, participate in an event or have a bike with you for an extended time, a rental through a shop or Spokeo makes a lot more sense.

Spokeo is focused on bikes and bike-related gear, and Rodde said he does not currently plan on branching out to other kinds of outdoor equipment.

At first, Rodde is focusing on the Seattle market “because that’s where I am,” but he said his goal is to eventually expand elsewhere. There are bikes listed beyond Seattle from hosts who found the site “organically,” but he said the goal is to start small and grow from there.

*Some of you have probably been screaming at your screens, “This sounds just like Spinlister!” That was my reaction, too. Unfortunately, Spinlister seems to have entered some kind of business coma around August 2022 and is not currently functional. The site appears live at first glance, but I was unable to create an account and list a bike for rent because the SMS phone verification process is broken. The company’s social media pages have no posts since August 2022, and the link from their homepage to their blog results in a 500 error (a web server issue of some kind that has not been fixed). The apps are no longer listed in the Apple or Google app stores, and the copyright notice at the bottom of the page also says 2022, suggesting there have been no changes to the site since then. The phone number listed on their Facebook page has been disconnected, and I have yet to receive a response from their help email. So I think it’s safe to say that Spinlister is dead, at least for now. It had a wild ride, starting as a peer-to-peer bike rental company, then trying to become a dockless bike share company, then closing, then opening again, and now drifting mysteriously at sea like the Mary Celeste. If you are/were a Spinlister user, let us know in the comments below the last time you were able to use the service.

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2 responses to “Seattle bike race promoter launches peer-to-peer bike rental company Spokeo”

  1. Christopher J Stephens

    I was last able to use Spinlister in June 2023, but only barely. I managed to get paid for that rental, but only after a lot of sleuthing and calling around and leaving, um, forceful messages. I moved over to friendwitha, but I prefer the bike-specific nature of Spokeo.

  2. Marsha H.

    I registered, if I recall, a couple of extra bikes on Spinlister in 2020, but never got a bite. Both bikes are now with other owners, and my two remaining rides are not going anywhere without me.

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