Rentcentric online reservation system

It is a new year and we have expanded our entrepreneurial scope. We have decided to incorporate a system that makes renting easier for our customers. It gives real time inventory information. It removes double booking and scheduling outside of normal business hours. It shows our schedule live. It will be just like any other transportation reservation: car rentals, flights, train & bus tickets. The system will be automated at the beginning of April.

 UPDATE: It took a whole year before we got this major switch in place. Starting May 2017 you will see the new system in operation. 

Expansion Plans for Autumn 2016

Around our anniversary we like to consider our future as a facilitator of cycling in DC. We look forward to improving service simultaneously using less effort doing so. We like to borrow from tech companies ideas for productivity. There must be a better way to do something.

It is why we have no storefront. It is why we take payments online versus upon arrival. It is why we have daily rates as opposed to hourly options. Soon, we are transitioning to real-time inventory service, which will change they way the site operates and looks. It will have a Zipcar-like feel to it. We're almost ready to show you. 

They say luck is where preparedness meets opportunity. It appears we have come across some good fortune by partnering with the Omni Shoreham Hotel and WABA. They expressed interest in our hardware for their patrons. The hotel will house a 15 bikes on the premises, operating from a rental kiosk inside their spa/gym area. These stored rentals would be hybrids available daily from sunrise to sunset only, at a lower rate than our usual deliveries.

WABA wants 13 to 24 bikes for their weekend morning adult cycling classes. Who are we to deny assistance? Every weekend morning, weather permitting, they have 3 hour classes at varied locations offering the rookie rider a way to learn skills on the cheap.

We know we will convince other luxury hotels that our service improves theirs by keeping them up to date with our Nation's Capital's title as a cycling destination and transportation option for sightseeing. Two wheels are better than four!

Finally, we are gathering the resources for this doubling of our fleet. But along with the increase on bikes, we stumbled upon a unique find. An electric van able to travel 100 miles per charge and 21 feet in length. It could potentially hold 20 to 24 bicycles with the right equipment. This van was only sold to fortune 500 companies willing to experiment with this expensive piece of technology. It will make a great upgrade from our 2015 Nissan Leaf we modified to carry 12 bikes.

UPDATE: We have partnered with the Four Seasons Washington, DC in October 2016. Their guests will also have immediate access to a great bicycle, helmet and lock. 

UPDATE: We will be completing expansion plans in 2017: van purchase, fleet update & increase.

Monthly Rental Bikes

UPDATED ON APRIL 5, 2017. 

As of April 18th, we have a monthly hybrid option due to demand. It is limited in supply. No accessories will be provided. 🚴 Hybrid only. If that is not sufficient, then please read on.

Washington, DC has a unique bicycle business market. The retail shops do not rent. The 10% of shops that do, have a handful of beaten bikes. The Capital Bike Share program has actually reduced the likelihood that stores would try another retail rental venture. I've even heard customers don't like the idea of bringing the bikes back after use. Again, bike share and our business have the advantage. 

We have high end road bikes, for the competitor. Something else no other rental company offers. We have hybrid bikes for the leisure set. And yet our customers want more...and want it for longer.

Some long term visitors seek monthly rentals. Interns want cheap transport during their stay. CapitalBikeShare can add up and is inconvenient at times, especially when you are riding at rush hour or to popular places.  We offer weekly rentals for many of our bikes.

But even with a big discount, we (& our competitors) would still have monthly rates more the purchase of a new bike. Our bike shop affiliates would love to have your business, even for a month. In this city you can be assured that if you purchased a good $470 3 speed belt drive bike, you could easily sell it for at least half of what you pay for it. We might even buy your 2017 bike from you if it is a Gotham Priority Bike or Focus Planet Plus. But it is easy to sell it on online yourself. 

If you are on a serious budget, you can always buy a bike on Craigslist and sell it when you are done with it. Beware that when you buy used, you buy the used bike problems too. The money you save may still end up at a bike shop, just in the repair department.

Finally, Spinlister.com is a site where people offer their bikes for rent. It is a true bike share business.

Welcome to the New Cyclist Renter!

We had another great summer with 2016. We enjoyed the wave of new interest in cycling from our expanding customer base. Repeat customers know the drill. This is for the rookie renter or the infrequent cyclist. If you are renting as a group, please check with each rider that they know how to ride a bike. Ask when was the last time they rode a bike.

Our site is an attempt to emulate a car rental company site. On car rental sites you pick the date, time of your reservation & the car.  With us, you pick the vehicle first, then schedule it. Remember, all bikes are not the same. If you've chosen a carbon bike of any sort, then you have to choose a pedal option because carbon bikes pedals are sold separately. Here are examples of our form.

If bikes are all the same to you, then you may want to just know the cheapest price. It would be a kid's (under 5 feet tall) bike rental. So if you fit that height requirement then you can have a bike for $45 for up to 24 hours delivered in DC for free.

Our minimum rental option for any* bike is one day. You DO NOT have to keep the bike for a full day. You can rent for 4 hours if you wish, but the minimum rate for a hybrid is $55 = day = up to 24 hours. Choose your size on the checkout page along with scheduling.       [*except a cargo bike]

The White House we use as a center point measuring driving distance. We try to serve as many people as possible, but if we are roaming around the outer suburbs we cannot do that. So we only travel as far as 17 miles from the center of town by car.

When you rent from us, you may lock and leave our bike anywhere in Washington, DC. We will pick it up during business hours. Please text or email us when you do this. Photos help as well. You can leave the bike in DC suburbs too if you've paid the fee for service outside of DC. The wheels and seat are bolted on.

Please be aware of the rules of the road wherever you ride your rental bike. Here's info on laws in DC, MD & VA. Lights are legally required for riding at night, so please select the accessory on the checkout page. Directions and bike mapping cannot be better than Google.

If you are renting a road bike & riding one for the first time, then please review this video teaching you how to shift gears. If you want to know shifting gears on a hybrid, then this video instructs you. NOTE: Hybrid shifters have LOW & HIGH etched into them.

Finally, a bike saddle is firm because you need support for long periods in a leaned over position. Think of the difference between your office chair and your living room chair. You wouldn't switch one for the other since they perform well for their environment. Another similarity to office chairs is you can change the height and angle of bike saddles. If you prefer plush or lots of give to your saddle, please check with a bike shop for saddle covers.

We are a bike rental company ONLY. We are not located at the White House! There is no storefront! We come to you! 

The Experienced Cyclist

We blog posted for the rookie cyclist which covers the majority of the American population that doesn't ride daily or weekly. This post is for those that do ride consistently. We want to make clear our capabilities to those who may not have limits when on their bikes. Examples of our rental form.

We assist in adjusting your saddle position, but we DO NOT do fittings. So, do not send or bring your measurements from your bike. That would be akin to bringing your tailored suit's data to a tuxedo rental place. Instead bring a tape measure if so inclined. Our driver is NOT a mechanic. NOTE: One measurement does not apply to all bikes or manufacturers.

You may install your own pedals. It is the extent of modification to our rental bikes. If you choose to further modify our rental bikes by changing the stem's position in any manner or swapping saddles, then be prepared to pay if damage is done from your tampering.

We do not have all pedals from every manufacturer. We are not a bike shop. If you use Look, Frog or anything not Shimano compatible, then you should bring your pedals and not risk making an error. Most pedals can fit inside shoes.

Our bikes have 5mm hex skewers as opposed to quick release skewers for safety and security. But if you would like to be prepared for flat repair, please bring your own CO2, 700x23 tube & levers. We do not recommend self repair because, as stated at the start of the post, most customers are not experienced with bikes. We (our lawyers) can assume even less of the population is skilled at high pressure road tire replacement. So, we ask that you get repairs done by a professional when possible. We will refund you the cost.

We pump tires upon delivery. This reduces chances of flat by more than 60%. Most of renters enjoy a flat free ride. We cannot stop customers from doing what they want, but understand the consequences when using our fleet. We tried to make it like renting a car. We hope you apply the same care and logic.

 

The Rare Unhappy Renter

In an effort to be transparent, we have taken it upon ourselves to discuss an email sent today from an unhappy customer. If you look at all review sites thus far, we have garnered excellent ratings. However, you cannot please all of the people all of the time.

Admittedly, our most difficult task is timing traffic at the end of a business day. Google Maps and their competitors are not as precise around our nation's capital, due to having America's number one traffic. So, we attempt to compensate at times for this fault in the system.

We always hope customers give themselves a bit of a window for pick ups & drop offs since just about anything could happen (for example the President stops traffic). We ask for customers to give a specific time and we are on time 90%. Delivering a bit early to cyclists who can adjust their own saddle or have rented previously, can also smooth things out.

Our driver is generally pleasant, there to assist if need be. The driver also seeks efficiency especially at the end of the day or on weekend mornings. For this customer, our driver appears to have arrived 30 minutes too early at the end of her 7 day reservation. The owner of the house, which she isn't, answered the door and kindly assisted, without our request, returning the rental bike, after we phoned the person for whom the bike was rented (her brother). You may wonder, if the home owner was not present, what would have occurred? We would wait, of course. 

We sent an email apologizing for being 30 minutes early at the end of her 7 day rental. It is the first time we have had to apologize for that. Her email listed tardiness and lack of communication on pick up and delivery. To be clear, our driver acknowledges this delivery showed up almost 15 minutes late and upon arrival apologized to the customer, though at the time the customer made no complaint.

Driving while texting is forbidden and illegal for us. Phoning or calling while driving can be taking multitasking too far when looking for an address for the first time.

No negative comment was made on the quality of the bike or the pleasure of use. We hope this transparency is useful to our future clientele. We aim to improve our service as we hope to expand the joy of using bicycles in our Nation's Capital. Stay cool this summer!

Arnold S. Went Out on More than One of Our Bikes This Week

At first I was told the renter was a certain height. So I gave him a medium. But the next day they said he liked a more upright ride. And a bigger bike. So, I told them, "I'll be back!" Little did I know, until Jeff mentioned it & Liv Cycling USA shared a post on Facebook.

They're giving him grief about a helmet on Liv's page. But he's a movie star! How many movie stars you've seen in publicity photos intentionally hide their mug or wear something that makes their head look huge?!?!

You wanna live a long time, this is how you live a long time. On a bike! 

Hotel Bike Rental Affiliation

Bikes To Borrow, the company that brings rental bikes to your door, is looking for hotels, Inns and B&Bs interested in giving modern amenities to their guests. Washington DC is well known as a biking town in 2016. Any local business in the hospitality industry would attest. What we offer is to make the pleasure of cycling synonymous with you by having our bikes on the premises.

We take the responsibility of the bikes, locks & helmets which need:

Maintenance

Liability Insurance

Security

Scheduling (through our site)

Our standard delivery services will also be available for guests who need something to compete with or carry children. Guests can coordinate bike reservations online, guaranteeing cycling for their whole group or travel party, as opposed to first come first served (which often happens with CapitalBikeShare).

We would store 4 bicycles within enclosed car parking or storage rooms on your premises. Secured with combination locks, the bikes would be valet accessible. The front desk could store helmets. Emails notifying desk staff would confirm scheduled guests reservations. Our site also has great references regarding bike tour guides, group fitness rides or personal training rides. 

So let our expertise in two wheeled services elevate your reputation as your guests visit the nation's capital. We know you'll enjoy the ride with us.

August Oddities

  May has been our best month year after year. It's a month where we work the hardest to please the most customers. But August 2015 has been a most unusual 31 days. It might have something to do with the amount of tourists in August versus other months of the year. There were many more last-minute reservations. There were more mishaps and confusion with how our service works, how our bikes work, what we charge and riding bikes in general.

May is still our top grossing month, but August now competes with May as the month where we work the hardest giving our great bikes to eager cyclists. We know that as more people become familiar with bicycling, the critical point and culture of riding shall become commonplace. A new Copenhagen, if you will. DC will become oriented to two wheels as the traffic gets worse thanks to the incredible desire for people to work, reside and visit here.

We have noticed that cyclists are more pleasant than drivers, more helpful, and more attractive too. 

 

Bikes To Borrow Update

From 2012 to 2015 our delivery vehicle has worked hard, powered by electrons, to bring you bikes, ordered with electrons. Now its time to lease anew. We considered all of the EVs out there, and we decided to stay with Chevy Chase Nissan as our dealer. A 2015 Charcoal Gray Nissan Leaf will be shuttling your bikes from now on! We will be putting a new wrap this car after we raise funds, which will probably be next year. Meanwhile, we need to design the new graphics, since our website and logo has changed since 2012.  Want to help? Email us.

Secondly, we plan to take winter vacation from November 2 to March 11, 2016 unless demand is significant enough to change our plans. Business is great this season. We have never been so busy. But all good things come to an end, sometimes briefly. Let us know if we should keep our doors open for you this November or early March 2016.

Finally, we are looking for hotels that are interested in keeping our bikes on their property for easy access. An amenity that stands out from the rest, impressing the most discerning guest. We can install great bikes that need almost no maintenance, multi-speed, beautiful bikes made in the USA. Just let us know.

 

Bike Enthusiasts 2015

We have seen a big jump in the amount of road bike rentals. We didn't see this last year, so could it be better advertisement, word of mouth, or better weather? We are seeing people who are riding road bikes for the first time and seasoned veterans. Repeat customers are definitely a sizable unexpected presence. Group rides, which we have also seen an uptick, are gateway activities to long term riding.

In Washington, DC, a bike is the best way to this small town all year round. Well, maybe not last winter when we saw more single digit temperatures than I can remember. The density of bike commuters is astounding and must have something to do with the decreasing average age of the citizenry. The self employed population may also appreciate the freedom of the bike. 

However, even though the NYTimes penned that cargo bikes are the new family vehicle, it doesn't seem to have caught on in the nation's capital. We have yet to rent ours once a month. We even have a leather seated vinyl canopy from Europe on ours. We try to advertise it, but its a bike that needs to be ridden to be advertised. So its a chicken and egg scenario.  

Sega and Tiana on TV

HGTV aired our episode of Caribbean Life, Season 3, Episode 9. From DC to St. Maarten. Hope you enjoy learning about the owners. In case you're wondering the bike rental business will still be in working order in Washington DC in the future. We look forward to renting to you in 2015.

ATTN: They made an error on the show's description. We are starting an electric car rental service and not bike rentals. Similar to Zipcar. You can see the episode on Amazon Instant Video too.

The Novice Biker & The Skilled Cyclist

Bikes to Borrow was created for selfish reasons. Access to bikes where and when needed. We read about bike sharing and didn't want to wait. We wanted great bikes for us and our friends, if they visited or competed like we had in the past. We wanted more cyclists in DC, supporting efficient travel in a tiny town. Less than an hour to get from one side of town to the other by bike. Never did we think there would be so many like minded people in the area.

20 years ago it became obvious that all able bodied Washingtonians should / would be riding bikes as transport & entertainment since the city was a certain size, never to get larger. The population density necessitated it, no matter what added trains, lanes or car sharing / pooling developed. Cost of living and lack of income parity mixed in the metro area shifted the lifestyle choices from house, car & maybe kids, to shared housing, two wheeling, college debt carrying citizens making ends meet. Create a job or form a career from disparate activities. Millennial satisfaction. Hipster happiness.

Did not realize that our tastes were appreciated until we added good road bikes for rent in 2008. All anyone wants is to have the right bike for the job. We thought the same thing. So, we added levels of road bike for the competitive racer. Cargo bikes for our family that we were creating.

Skilled cyclists know of the things we offer. They know because they are the ones that found us through the DC bike shop network, which only deals with retail and repair. Rentals are left to rental businesses in this metropolis. We started by catering to these cyclists. They are as demanding as we are.

Novice bikers call themselves bikers without thinking of leather clad Harley lovers. Details of bicycle types appear subtle. Pedals and component groups don't readily show their features. 2 hours on a bike versus 5 hours nonstop are things only less than 1% know about. Less than 1% of the USA bike commutes or competes and therefore knows very little about our two wheeled world. Hybrid bikes usually cover all of their needs. A road bike for them is like a Ferrari or Lambo for a car commuter or racing rookie.

Like many things we start out with, as our experience expands, the faster we get over the learning curve. The subtleties become obvious and the upgrades make sense. And the passion kicks in converting you to an actual skilled cyclist.

 

Uncommon Rental Questions

Our business is a simple one. Rent bikes through our site. Receive them within our metro area. However, it seems that we occasionally field questions that surprise us. In the fashion of sharing is caring, here are a few very intriguing quandaries.

We are cycling from one state to another state, with a state or 2 in between, and wondered if you delivered, or picked up, X states away?  This recent question seems to stem from the slight popularity of bike touring along a loose federation of bike trails linking regions of the USA. But this is a guess. It is a rare person who decides to ride this type of distance. Therefore no bike businesses cater to this subgroup of cyclists. They tend to have their own touring bikes. They are cycling pioneers. Their population size and distinctiveness are similar to triathletes.

Our business model: Deliver within a 20 km radius to serve the most cyclists in our nation's capital. There is currently no nationwide bike rental system, unlike car rentals, since not even 2% of America rides a bike to work and 14% ride on fun short routes.

Can I rent a bike for a month or a summer? This question comes from the idea that if a business rents for a day or a week, then there is no limit to what is possible. Of course, any business would be happy to accept money from the willing. But the logic of renting something that costs $40 a day, even with a 60% discount would surpass the actual value of buying a bicycle within a month's time.

Secondly, there is no bike rental insurance in America. If the renter loses or damages the bike rented, then they are responsible for the full new value of that vehicle, according to most waivers and agreements nationwide. It isn't advantageous to give a bike away for that long even if it comes back pristine, because it could have been making more money a single rental at a time. Finally, If you require a bike for a season, but not afterwards, then you might consider buying one new or used, keeping it maintained, then selling it before departure, to someone just like you. This town is full of students, don't forget.

Do you rent, shoes, bags, repair kits, or anything that isn't on this site? This question stems from the idea that something as convenient as delivery must also have unlimited other amenities hidden from plain view on our site. Our site has ALL items available on the home page, except for helmets & locks, which are free accessories. No secrets here. Since we are NOT a bike shop, many think anything bike related can be obtained for inclusion into their rental. Not so.

Tube/tire repairs have happened less than 6 times in the more than six years of operation, thanks to the upkeep we provide. Our bikes are not more than 2 years old. Finally, we have a waiver that includes limiting the renter from doing their own mechanic work on the bikes for liability sake. We cannot assume all renters are capable of doing repairs safely. We prefer that a renter take our bikes to a shop & we reimburse them upon return with a receipt of work done.

Can stems be swapped, aero bars added or handlebars raised? No. See last paragraph of previous question.

Can I have a bike delivered right now? I thank the internet for its creation of my business minus a storefront with all of the overhead & capital required. But it also makes people think that everything is just a phone call away, when you want it. We serve the Washington, DC area. Washington, DC is #1 in TRAFFIC in the USA. Secondly, if anyone is interested in a riding immediately, then they probably aren't the first ones with the idea to contact us for use on that day. Some get mixed up by the bike share system in DC, assume we are those guys and deliver those red bikes on call. Not so. The early bike reservations get bikes first. No different than car rentals. We'd love to get a bike to you but we are limited by space, time & physics.

If by "now" you mean within 90 minutes or so, we may be able to fulfill your needs. Even if the day is slow for us, traffic still has to be accounted for, as well as distance from where our bikes are to you. You cannot come to us, since we might already be out picking up or delivering a reservation made in ADVANCE.

The 2014 Bikes are coming!

We are sooo looking forward to this Spring and the new fleet of bikes! We noticed a really nice carbon hybrid bike that we think the upper crust cyclist will appreciate. That means, there will be two levels of hybrids. 

As for the road bikes, wee are expanding to 3 groups sets. Our basic 105, our Ultegra group, and the early adopter can try the Di2 electronic shifting set. All road bikes are still carbon fiber. If you know of anyone interested in our previous fleet of high end bikes, we are selling them all. Just email us info@.....

2 Year Old Hybrids go for $200.

2 Year Old Carbon 105 goes for $1000

2 Year Old Carbon Ulterga goes for $1200

United Spokes of America

The annual National Bike Summit is here again, the first week of March! We look forward to helping them out around town with a special rate found on our Twitter account @bikestoborrow. If you didn't get into bike advocacy yet, there's no time like the present. Bicycling magazine has an advocate list of citizens all over the country, which anyone could learn how to lead through cycling.

We were happy to see that women have jumped on the bike-wagon! It may be the year they gain population parity with men who cycle in the USA. Washington, DC is adding more bike lanes with barriers to cars, which helps ease the safety fact significantly more than any other recommendation, including lights and apparel. Its the system, silly. Its gotta change and advocacy is the way.

Jakob Wolf Barnett, is COO of the Bike League and we send a hello to him too. Great to see him go from the local to the national bike stage. Great guy.

DC Biking 101

Washington Area Bicycle Association, WABA, is this city's well known advocate group on two wheels.  League of American Cyclists is their nationwide equivalent.   Transportation Alternatives is a powerful New York based sister organization. Every major city has an association promoting safe biking for transportation & pleasure (not mutually exclusive).

Knowing where to get help in relearning what our grandparents & family members before them knew about self propulsion in the community is the first step to developing a better cycling environment for all. 

We get all skill levels of cyclists as renters. All could use some of the expertise the groups above offer. For those without any town based group, the Bike League is a great start. In many cases they may inspire the birth of a local organization for likeminded local riders. 

WABA has classes for riders, and great materials for easing your way onto a saddle (not seat).  Free maps, membership discounts at shops around town along with popular events to socialize and energize you for the bigger world of cycling as a part of life.

In an ideal cycling world, separate lanes from cars would be everywhere. Study after study shows that the greatest action to improve the safety of riders is reducing and removing interactions with motorized vehicles. The second thing is improving rider skills and bike maintenance, which all of the previously mentioned groups provide.

Although we endorse helmet use to our adult renters, it is not mandated or legally required, unless you are under age 16 in DC. Experienced cyclists know there are billions who ride and have never donned a helmet. And in those countries of varying car driving densities, there is no epidemic of bike injuries. Sometimes anecdotal evidence can be taken as absolute fact. Listen to the European experts that American cities are slowly beginning to copy.

Copenhagenize is a site about one of the most cycle friendly cities in the world. 15th Street NW has a two way separated lane, north to south. By the end of October 2013, there will be a protected lane on M Street from 14th Street to 30th Street NW, east to west. The west to east protected lane exists on L Street NW. There are still learning curves for drivers on how to navigate, so be aware.

Now that there is a start in the Nation's Capital to improve and increase the routes for cyclists safety, knowledge must be dispersed, skills need to be honed, and fun must be had all around. Reddit has even gotten in on the fun in DC cycling. Please feel free to comment here or on any blog posts.