Motivate, the company that runs bike-share systems in several large American cities, is now manufacturing its own bikes. That might explain why the timetable for Citi Bike expansion has been getting a lot firmer.
When the current Motivate management team took over last fall, they inherited two big problems. Most of their systems ran on flawed software that crippled reliability and frustrated riders, and the manufacturer of their bikes had gone bankrupt.
Now both issues have been addressed: Replacement software from 8D Technologies installed this spring has a proven track record in other cities, and the new bikes — designed by Ben Serotta — clear up how the company’s fleets will be expanded and replenished.
The new bikes will be used in the expansion of Citi Bike starting later this year, in Jersey City’s upcoming bike-share system, and in any future system operated by Motivate. Bike-share docks will be compatible with both the new bikes and the old models made by Bixi.
The new design retains the thick boomerang-shaped frame — the notable differences are in the guts and components of the bike. Gearing has been adjusted so riders don’t spin so much in the low gear. The seats, notorious for cracking and retaining moisture in the current models, got an overhaul. “The construction and material are both supposed to improve wear,” said Serotta, “plus the hole in the middle allows water to drain and not puddle in the middle… and provides a more comfortable, better ventilated ride.” (Nigel Tufnel will be delighted to see that the seat post size now goes to 11.)
In designing the new bikes, Serotta worked in tandem with Motivate’s head mechanics. In a short email interview, he explained that process and how it shaped the end product. Below is a lightly edited version: