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Writeup on servicing ofo dockless bikes

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Writeup on servicing ofo dockless bikes

Old 06-09-19, 11:15 AM
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Writeup on servicing ofo dockless bikes

Seeing as ofo is well and truly dead everywhere but China now, I felt comfortable letting the cat out of the bag about the specific tools used to service ofo's US-market bikes (and only ofo - LimeBike uses different tools, so this shouldn't have any affect on those).

This may benefit a few charities and bike shops, seeing as a fair amount of them are around in ofo's wake.

There is one specific socket that I have no idea what it is, where to get it, or if it's truly a bespoke tool, so if anyone wants to chime in, I'm all ears.

How to fix an ofo dockless bicycle - The Bike Share Museum

Hope it's of use. Keep in mind that a lot of these bicycles use Nexus or Sturmey hubs, and 6V generators, so even if the frames aren't of interest, there are some interesting parts that can be repurposed on these before they go to scrap.

-Kurt
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Old 06-09-19, 09:30 PM
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This is interesting hopefully more people post links on fixing these other hunks of crap so people can just ride them or strip them and put what is useless into the trash where it doesn't belong but unfortunately has to end up because these companies built trash.
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Old 06-09-19, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
This is interesting hopefully more people post links on fixing these other hunks of crap so people can just ride them or strip them and put what is useless into the trash where it doesn't belong but unfortunately has to end up because these companies built trash.
What a pile of stereotyped rubbish. Many of these dockless bikes are the Schwinn Collegiates of this era: Heavy, but bombproof, weatherproof, and kid-proof. What other inexpensive bicycle can you beat up, leave outside for a year, and then ride away on like nothing happened?

Seeing as we don't make any affordable bicycles in the US (and don't get me started on the overpriced, rough-as-a-cob anvils that are Worksman and the garbage Wald hardware that goes on them), this is the best inexpensive option to show up from the same factories that produce bicycle shaped objects for big-box retailers. You know, the retailers who couldn't give a damn what the quality level of the bike is, so long as the price is $69.99 including the "assembly" by the highly-unqualified floor staff in the back room.

I'd much rather see these ofos filling the gap in the affordable bike market instead of Wally-Mart's 21-speed, dual-suspension, Mag-Nex-a-Masters that are well and truly junk.

Put simply, these ofos open a door for curious newcomers to spend very little to experience what it's like to use a bicycle for simple commutes or errands and are much less likely to disappoint their owners than cheap MTBs - especially after they leave the latter outside in the rain and wonder why "the chain and gears are really rusty and don't work anymore."

Not everyone can afford to pour money on a similar IGH equivalent with more brand appeal and a bit less weight. Bike shop equivalent IGH bikes with Nexus (or Sturmey) 3-speeds start at $400 in most bike shops, and you're lucky if you get the 6V dynamo in the process. Retired ofos on the other hand usually run anywhere from $50-125 when charities are selling them off.

They most certainly have a purpose - and just because some companies over-deployed them and pissed residents off isn't an excuse to hate the bikes themselves.

-Kurt

P.S.: Trek's Precaliber 16" and 20" kids bikes - in the $250 range! - come with cup-and-cone bottom brackets that are identical to Wal-Mart/Target bikes. They're low-end, cheap ripoffs of the old Raleigh BBs from the '70s (which are Raleigh's own copy of their much better cups from the 1950's). The ofos come with sealed BBs. Which bike has the better parts at a better value? I don't even have to answer that one.
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Old 06-10-19, 12:33 AM
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Excellent info. I see many carless folks (not "car free," which implies a lifestyle and choice) riding junk bikes that barely function. These abandoned bike share bikes would make good transportation.

Replacing those heavy solid rubber tires would resolve one issue: a bike that's too heavy would be awkward to load onto city bus front racks. Good to see it's possible to mount regular pneumatic tubes/tires without too much difficulty and only drilling a hole for the valve stem.
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Old 06-10-19, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Excellent info. I see many carless folks (not "car free," which implies a lifestyle and choice) riding junk bikes that barely function. These abandoned bike share bikes would make good transportation.

Replacing those heavy solid rubber tires would resolve one issue: a bike that's too heavy would be awkward to load onto city bus front racks. Good to see it's possible to mount regular pneumatic tubes/tires without too much difficulty and only drilling a hole for the valve stem.
Yep - changing those tires out could shave off around 4.5 to 5 pounds (possibly more) once the replacements are put on. Even then, there are some riders who'd probably be better off with the solids, since they wouldn't inflate the conventional tires regularly.

I don't know what the effective seatpost diameter is if one removes the adjustable post either. That's another area where it can be lightened up. Removing the lock shaves a few pounds good too.

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Old 06-10-19, 02:29 PM
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BTW, I shared your site on my FB page. Dockless bikes caught a lot of negative publicity, in part driven by folks with a vested interest in the regulated docked bike system. But there's a potentially valid place for dockless bikes. I'm hoping your website will persuade some folks not to disparage the mere appearance of Ofo and Lime bikes in public, or worse, vandalize them and toss 'em in the river, as some local college students videoed themselves doing. These abandoned/liberated dockless bikes could help low income folks get affordable and useful transportation.
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Old 06-10-19, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Seeing as ofo is well and truly dead - not only did they leave the US, but it looks as if they shuttered their Shanghai office - I felt comfortable letting the cat out of the bag about the specific tools used to service ofo's US-market bikes (and only ofo - LimeBike uses different tools, so this shouldn't have any affect on those).
Wow, I am sorry about that. They were very much pioneers, with the operation conceived by students out of Peking University in my memory. Mobike only came next. Are they dead all around the world? Of all places I saw their bikes in Milan, Italy, just weeks ago, but, being in a nonriding company, I did not inspect their use.
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Old 06-10-19, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Wow, I am sorry about that. They were very much pioneers, with the operation conceived by students out of Peking University in my memory. Mobike only came next. Are they dead all around the world? Of all places I saw their bikes in Milan, Italy, just weeks ago, but, being in a nonriding company, I did not inspect their use.
My mistake - I just did some re-verification of information (it's pretty hard to get a straight answer on this sometimes). It's Singapore that they've pulled out of along with the entirety of their international operations.

The home market is still active, but they've considered filing for bankruptcy, and the most recent article about them speaks of huge lines at the Beijing office for refunds:
https://www.scmp.com/tech/start-ups/...beijing-office

It's just a matter of time. I agree with what many have said - most dockless startups were never sustainable. Investment Ponzi schemes, basically.

-Kurt
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Old 06-10-19, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
BTW, I shared your site on my FB page. Dockless bikes caught a lot of negative publicity, in part driven by folks with a vested interest in the regulated docked bike system. But there's a potentially valid place for dockless bikes. I'm hoping your website will persuade some folks not to disparage the mere appearance of Ofo and Lime bikes in public, or worse, vandalize them and toss 'em in the river, as some local college students videoed themselves doing. These abandoned/liberated dockless bikes could help low income folks get affordable and useful transportation.
Thank you for sharing it.

I share the same opinion about dockless, though I do think the business model is very difficult to make any sort of profit on.

Still, I can think of more than one occasion where I've cursed out fate (and the local government) for all but making them disappear - I could have used one during those moments.

-Kurt
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Old 06-10-19, 07:29 PM
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Yeah, the business model for dockless-anything is sketchy. But there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of a good opportunity to salvage some useful bikes.

Heck, this kinda tempts me to see if I can buy one locally. If it works out I might consider selling my Globe Carmel comfort hybrid errand bike. The step-through frames of city rental bikes are more practical for hauling groceries.

Toughest part of my errand bike rides is hoisting an aging leg over the back of the bike after it's loaded with up to 50 lbs of stuff on the rear rack. And the Globe's sloping top tube isn't quite low enough to flip a leg across without snagging my foot and stumbling. Usually I walk the loaded bike to a curb and step up to gain a little height to swing my leg across the bike.
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Old 06-10-19, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Yeah, the business model for dockless-anything is sketchy. But there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of a good opportunity to salvage some useful bikes.

Heck, this kinda tempts me to see if I can buy one locally. If it works out I might consider selling my Globe Carmel comfort hybrid errand bike. The step-through frames of city rental bikes are more practical for hauling groceries.

Toughest part of my errand bike rides is hoisting an aging leg over the back of the bike after it's loaded with up to 50 lbs of stuff on the rear rack. And the Globe's sloping top tube isn't quite low enough to flip a leg across without snagging my foot and stumbling. Usually I walk the loaded bike to a curb and step up to gain a little height to swing my leg across the bike.
Where in Texas are you? A&M had a bunch of them, and the Dallas ofos are for sale in Richland Hills. The Dallas models have the Sturmey drum brake rear hubs.

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Old 06-10-19, 08:11 PM
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I'm in Fort Worth. I may check those out. Thanks.
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Old 06-10-19, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I'm in Fort Worth. I may check those out. Thanks.
If you go to Steve's Certified Auto Repair for them, let me know if that elusive tri-wing tool happens to be in one of the original boxes. The bikes come two to a box.

-Kurt
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Old 06-11-19, 06:20 AM
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FYI, I sent this to 3D Hubs to see about stainless printing; they countered that CNC would be better. Probably will run $150 for this though, so it's worthwhile to keep hunting for the ofo tool.




I also received a reply from Loss Prevention Fasteners - they have no idea who made the tool, and guessed that it's bespoke.

-Kurt
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Old 06-11-19, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
that elusive tri-wing tool
Have you considered a little crude blacksmithing? If you can get some crude indentations in a piece of a drill rod, and then file to fit, harden, and temper you might end up with something decent. We made straight screwdrivers that way in high school shop, and something more complicated should be possible, worst case you do it all with a file or maybe start with a dremel disk. If you don't harden and temper it it might still last to get the originals out, and then maybe you could replace with a standard head fastener. It's also possible something that only hit two of the three wings would work for extraction. Or what about just taking them out with a left hand drill bit and screw extractor set?
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Old 06-12-19, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Have you considered a little crude blacksmithing? If you can get some crude indentations in a piece of a drill rod, and then file to fit, harden, and temper you might end up with something decent. We made straight screwdrivers that way in high school shop, and something more complicated should be possible, worst case you do it all with a file or maybe start with a dremel disk. If you don't harden and temper it it might still last to get the originals out, and then maybe you could replace with a standard head fastener. It's also possible something that only hit two of the three wings would work for extraction. Or what about just taking them out with a left hand drill bit and screw extractor set?
I've considered it, though I dare say it may be pretty difficult to to make any sort of change onto an already-hardened drill blank.

I know I can easily remove it with a Torx T30, but I'm rather set on finding this tool. I want to keep the two ofos I have as original as possible.

-Kurt
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Old 06-12-19, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
I've considered it, though I dare say it may be pretty difficult to to make any sort of change onto an already-hardened drill blank.
Drill rod is sold in soft condition as you harden it after machining. Don't recall what the situation is with drill blanks.
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Old 06-13-19, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
I know I can easily remove it with a Torx T30, but I'm rather set on finding this tool. I want to keep the two ofos I have as original as possible.

-Kurt

You might be able to go the other way, with T45 or T50 with 3 of the teeth cut out.
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Old 06-13-19, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
Wow, I am sorry about that. They were very much pioneers, with the operation conceived by students out of Peking University in my memory. Mobike only came next. Are they dead all around the world? Of all places I saw their bikes in Milan, Italy, just weeks ago, but, being in a nonriding company, I did not inspect their use.
Rode some Mobikes for a few days while in Milan for work, and they were TERRIBLE. Yes, all caps, terrible. And I rode quite a few of them, with slight variations in the models (some chain drive, some belt drive), and they were all absolute junk. They were so bad that I almost regretted riding rather than using public transportation.

A few days earlier I had rented a more traditional style bike in Parma, and it was a completely different story. Heavy and urban, but a pleasure to ride and well maintained.
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Old 06-13-19, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Rode some Mobikes for a few days while in Milan for work, and they were TERRIBLE. Yes, all caps, terrible. And I rode quite a few of them, with slight variations in the models (some chain drive, some belt drive), and they were all absolute junk. They were so bad that I almost regretted riding rather than using public transportation.

A few days earlier I had rented a more traditional style bike in Parma, and it was a completely different story. Heavy and urban, but a pleasure to ride and well maintained.
I have a Mobike account tied to a Chinese SIM, but for some reason that SIM did not want to work in Italy, even though it works fine in US. In any case, I have been riding Mobikes in China and they are a step up, seriously, compared to the share bikes that Chinese city governments started a few years earlier. Yes, they are klutzy and abused by customers. I usually run around to find one with working brakes, straight pedals and saddle good for my height. I carry some basic tools with me and often am able to adjust the saddle height, if there is no other way out.

As to Italy, I rented on different occasions from small operators in Bologna, Frascati and on Sicilly. All places were delightful in terms of the people running the operations, who were bike enthusiasts and seemed to enjoy keeping the society riding. Bikes ranged from an acceptable in Bologna to top notch in Frascati, better than I normally ride. The bike in Sicilly had a hydroformed frame that I found quite pleasant to ride - I normally stay away from alu. Milan seemed to have an abundance of share systems, but I had no chance to try any.
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Old 06-13-19, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
I have a Mobike account tied to a Chinese SIM, but for some reason that SIM did not want to work in Italy, even though it works fine in US. In any case, I have been riding Mobikes in China and they are a step up, seriously, compared to the share bikes that Chinese city governments started a few years earlier. Yes, they are klutzy and abused by customers. I usually run around to find one with working brakes, straight pedals and saddle good for my height. I carry some basic tools with me and often am able to adjust the saddle height, if there is no other way out.
Wow, I can only imagine how bad those other bikes must be. I probably rode 5-6 different Mobikes, and they just made it feel so difficult to make any sort of meaningful progress. And it wasn't always a question of gearing, because some of them had Shimano three speed grip shifters.

The bike I used in Parma was from this service, and as I mentioned it was great by comparison. While waiting around at one point I spun the front wheel in the air and the bearings seemed perfectly maintained and adjusted, and the wheel very true.
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Old 06-13-19, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Wow, I can only imagine how bad those other bikes must be. I probably rode 5-6 different Mobikes, and they just made it feel so difficult to make any sort of meaningful progress. And it wasn't always a question of gearing, because some of them had Shimano three speed grip shifters.

The bike I used in Parma was from this service, and as I mentioned it was great by comparison. While waiting around at one point I spun the front wheel in the air and the bearings seemed perfectly maintained and adjusted, and the wheel very true.
In China they are all single speed and have no lights. I noticed some electric ones, but did not try them. My good Bologna experience was with the company below. Within the basic price they provided a helmet and gave a city map and, when it became apparent that I fix bikes, they wanted to supply me with a tire repair kit, pump and some tools, at no charge. I travel with those, but I still took something to make them feel accomplished . They also had better bikes, but a city bike was sufficient for most of my needs.

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Old 06-13-19, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
You might be able to go the other way, with T45 or T50 with 3 of the teeth cut out.
Thought about it, but the teeth are still pretty narrow on those. I might get engagement, but I'm not sure if I'll snap the tool.

I did find 32mm #6 , #7 , and #8 tri-wing bits from KC Tools, but those were too big. I ordered a #5 from them, just to see if the German-made bit has a different pattern from the Chinese ones.

Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Rode some Mobikes for a few days while in Milan for work, and they were TERRIBLE. Yes, all caps, terrible. And I rode quite a few of them, with slight variations in the models (some chain drive, some belt drive), and they were all absolute junk. They were so bad that I almost regretted riding rather than using public transportation.

A few days earlier I had rented a more traditional style bike in Parma, and it was a completely different story. Heavy and urban, but a pleasure to ride and well maintained.
Any particular reason for their infamy? Heavy, or just poorly assembled? I haven't had an opportunity to see one of these in person, so I know zilch about them.

I know some of them have airless plastic tires, which seems like a pretty terrible idea.

Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
I have a Mobike account tied to a Chinese SIM, but for some reason that SIM did not want to work in Italy, even though it works fine in US. In any case, I have been riding Mobikes in China and they are a step up, seriously, compared to the share bikes that Chinese city governments started a few years earlier. Yes, they are klutzy and abused by customers. I usually run around to find one with working brakes, straight pedals and saddle good for my height. I carry some basic tools with me and often am able to adjust the saddle height, if there is no other way out.

As to Italy, I rented on different occasions from small operators in Bologna, Frascati and on Sicilly. All places were delightful in terms of the people running the operations, who were bike enthusiasts and seemed to enjoy keeping the society riding. Bikes ranged from an acceptable in Bologna to top notch in Frascati, better than I normally ride. The bike in Sicilly had a hydroformed frame that I found quite pleasant to ride - I normally stay away from alu. Milan seemed to have an abundance of share systems, but I had no chance to try any.

I think I know the model of Mobike you speak of from Sicilly - hydrofomed shaft drive area, like this one?


Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Wow, I can only imagine how bad those other bikes must be. I probably rode 5-6 different Mobikes, and they just made it feel so difficult to make any sort of meaningful progress. And it wasn't always a question of gearing, because some of them had Shimano three speed grip shifters.

The bike I used in Parma was from this service, and as I mentioned it was great by comparison. While waiting around at one point I spun the front wheel in the air and the bearings seemed perfectly maintained and adjusted, and the wheel very true.
I find that the Shanghai General ofo feels a bit like that - a really dead ride. By comparison, the Tianjin Fuji-Ta I acquired from the Dallas fleet feels comparatively zippy. They're both heavy, but the Shanghai uses a Nexus Inter-3, and the Tianjin a Sturmey-Archer X-RD3.

If I had to guess, the Nexus feels like it's much less mechanically efficient than the Sturmey. Maybe it's just me, or the Sturmey is also geared higher, overall. Still doesn't explain why I feel like I can shoot off pretty quickly in first on the Sturmey, and keep a good clip into second, while the Nexus constantly feels like I'm pushing a dragging brake at any gear. And I've checked - neither band brake is dragging.

Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
In China they are all single speed and have no lights. I noticed some electric ones, but did not try them. My good Bologna experience was with the company below. Within the basic price they provided a helmet and gave a city map and, when it became apparent that I fix bikes, they wanted to supply me with a tire repair kit, pump and some tools, at no charge. I travel with those, but I still took something to make them feel accomplished . They also had better bikes, but a city bike was sufficient for most of my needs.
Don't the bluegogos have Nexus 3-speed hubs? Pretty sure they do.

-Kurt
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Old 06-13-19, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
I think I know the model of Mobike you speak of from Sicilly - hydrofomed shaft drive area, like this one?
I rode occasionally shaft bikes, either Mobikes or city share bikes. In the share system they were often a better choice than chained bicycles, as they were easier to propel. The chains in the share bikes were as a rule rusted with no trace of any grease.

The Sicilly bikes were of a reasonable market quality. I looked around the web for any illustrating photos and the one below shows a group of tourists with bicycles that look pretty much like those that we rented.




Group of tourists with manager of MTB Sicilia



Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Don't the bluegogos have Nexus 3-speed hubs? Pretty sure they do.
There are many share companies with just a local reach. I went with Mobike, so that I could use my investment at different locations. In China to start a Mobike account you needed at the time a Chinese phone number, Chinese bank account, photo uploads, WeChat Pay and a deposit, operation you would not want to repeat for just an incidental benefit.
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Old 06-13-19, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Don't the bluegogos have Nexus 3-speed hubs? Pretty sure they do.

-Kurt
At this point...after the high-tide of bike-share bikes in 2017...are any of these companies actually left? BlueGoGo got taken out with SpeedX or rather vice versa.

There was a long write-up on the demise of SpeedX, of which BlueGoGo was an offshoot and the collapse of the bike-share market was a huge factor.

https://cyclingtips.com/2019/06/what...ned-to-speedx/

Worth the read for the cycling-history curious, curious-enough to read a 9K word essay on a bike-startup. Thought of posting it in General, but figured it would go political pseudo-bike-religious fast.
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