JUMP‘s mission is to make riding a bicycle fun again and it has gotten an EXCLUSIVE 18-month license from the SFMTA to show San Franciscans that it can deliver. Dockless bicycle rentals are a huge hit in Chinese urban centers and this is one of the few instances where US startups copy from Chinese startups.
Bicycle rentals have been on many cities’ agendas for a long time but user acceptance has been low because:
- Rentals are expensive and/or require a steep deposit
- Rentals can only be picked up and returned from docking stations
- The bicycles tend to be of low quality
- SF has steep hills, which makes regular bicycles useless (mountain bikes or racing bikes are fine)
JUMP has delivered something quite different:
- Bikes can be picked up and rented anywhere inside the approved zone (most of San Francisco is covered)
- Bikes have GPS so you can easily spot them on a map
- The bicycles are electric which makes them heavy but you won’t feel it since the electric motor is strong, so it’ll be the fastest bicycle you ever rode
- Hills are now a welcome challenge rather than a threat to using a bicycle
- The whole process is seamless. mobile and run by a friendly team who provide great support
Uber has recognized this and bought the company for $200 million just a few weeks ago. Bike rentals are not yet available in the Uber app outside of a small base of targeted users but this is about to change soon.
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Bicycle Review in San Francisco – My Experience
Here is my experience using the JUMP bicycle rental service.
Download, installation and sign-up for the JUMP app was as quick as it gets. I needed to verify my phone number and provide a credit card for the charges. A $2.00 deposit is charged upfront.
Depending on the time and day, it can be tough to find a bike in your immediate vicinity. When I tried over a busy weekend, though, it never took me more than 10 minutes to reserve one on the app, walk by and unlock it.
The app will tell you how much battery is left and thankfully you can reserve it before you hike to the bike (no one else can pick it up while you have a free reservation).
You don’t need your phone to unlock the bike – just type the PIN into the panel on the back of the bike. I had some bikes where the display was broken but the code was still accepted just fine.
A bicycle helmet is required and you need to bring your own – the bike rental does not include one – and all bicycles come with a basket, which makes it great for quick shopping runs.
I wasn’t sure how to master the electric assisted pedaling (I had never tried before) but after just 30 seconds I found it so intuitive that there is really no learning required. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride JUMP bikes.
I noticed the acceleration when starting up quickly at a traffic light. You will win a drag race against all but a Tesla with those JUMP bikes. Despite the heaviness, they accelerate fast! All bikes come equipped with 8 gears and brakes for both wheels.
I had a great time running the bike all along the SF Embarcadero.
JUMP bikes need to be returned within the coverage area. You can lock it to a bike rack or some of the parking/street signs also work. The bikes come with a sturdy lock.
However, oddly enough, the coverage area EXCLUDES the immediate SF waterfront area (it seems more like a mistake on the map) so you have to walk/pedal about two blocks away from the roads accessing the waterfront to park your bike. This seems odd given that this is where the most popular bike routes are located.
If you park it outside of the coverage area, a $25 fee will be charged (though it is usually waived if you call support and explain why you did that).
JUMP Bicycle Review in San Francisco – Pricing
Rentals are priced at $2 per half hour. This flat fee should cover 90% of your trips; it would be great to have a cheaper option for shorter trips.