The majority of people don't use their skis or snowboards except for one or two weeks of the year. Even many bikes spend more time in the shed that out on the road. But they don't have to just gather dust. How about renting them out?
Spinlister.com is looking to be a major player in the growing share economy, allowing people to rent their bikes and winter sports gear to other users. The original tagline “Your bike is money” had a slight mercenary feel, but the aim is to create a peer-to-peer network based on trust. You type in a specific city or neighborhood, then search through listings to find the best offer for your height and other requirements.
This month, Spinlister is branching into ski gear, just in time for the European and North American winter seasons. You can list your snow gear on the site now and people we will be able to start renting it from mid-December. It has also just launched Android and iPhone apps.
But why mess around contacting a stranger to arrange a pick-up time when you could just go to the local hire shop? The site – which takes 12-17% commission – works best for those looking for a particular style of bike, or someone looking to get a longer-term deal (many offer a weekly rate). Sample listings include a family bike with a built-in cargo trailer in Oregon, a Brompton in London, and a tandem in Paris (all £12-£16 a day, cheaper for a week). This fetching bike in Portland will even get you laid, says the owner.
There are measures in place to prevent someone riding off into the sunset with your gear. Renters are required to sign up with a valid credit card, so they can be charged for damage, say, or late return. The company also has a guarantee scheme for bikes (currently only in North America, but expanding in early 2014). Users are encouraged to review other users, and to verify their profile by linking to social media profiles. Put more simply: anyone who really wanted to steal a bike would be better off sticking to chain cutters.
The site has had plenty of ups and down since launching in the US in September 2012. First it tried to rebrand as Liquid, then it shut down completely, before returning in April to make a more serious go of it. Backed by a Brazilian entrepreneur in the US, Marcelo Loureiro, the plan for the year ahead involves rolling out to cover more outdoor equipment, including surfboards and camping gear.Other bike websites worth bookmarking
Bikesharingworld.com: This site points to a simple, but highly comprehensive Google map of public bike-sharing schemes around the world. It also shows projects in the pipeline and those that have folded. You can also follow the updates on Twitter, @bikesharingmap. See also bikes.oobrien.com, created by a UCL researcher, which goes as far as showing docking stations and their realtime usage.
Bikeshare.com: Public bike sharing is now so popular that it is now a fully fledged industry with specialist consultancy firms. One such company is Cyclehop and this is their blog. It keeps tabs on new schemes and trends, with various reviews thrown in too, such as this report on bike schemes across Asia.
Travellingtwo.com: If you are planning a bike tour, seek advice from a couple who have already done it – extensively – in more than 30 countries. The site is packed with resources and yet retains a personal feel. Their book, Bike Touring Basics, is free to download.
FreewheelingFrance.com This is a great, independent site for leisure cyclists and tourers. The new accommodation section has plenty of cycle-friendly information, such as details on secure bike parking, and there is also a handy directory of bike hire companies across the country. More serious cyclists looking to tackle the Alps and Pyrenees should also try Cycling-challenge.com.