Eyes on the Street

Eyes on the Street: Wear-and-Tear on Hamilton Bike Share Bike 037

It is truly amazing that the SoBi system has been such a fantastic success that the bikes are starting to wear out.

By Kevin Love
Published May 02, 2017

Recently, I took out a Hamilton Bike Share (SoBi) bike and noticed that it had received so much use that the seat was starting to wear out, with a large crack right through the centre. I was annoyed for a second, but then took a look at the bike number: 037, "O'S CLOTHES".

Yes, this was one of the first 200 bikes that have been on the street since January 2015.

It is truly amazing that the SoBi system has been such a fantastic success that the bikes are starting to wear out. Started with only $1.6 million in Metrolinx seed funds, SoBi provides by far the best cost/benefit ratio of any form of public transit.

Hamilton Bike Share bike #037, 'O's Clothes'
Hamilton Bike Share bike #037, "O's Clothes"

This bike has had so much use that the seat is wearing out!

Kevin is a professional accountant and a retired infantry officer with the Canadian Forces. Kevin keeps encountering people who were students of his father, Dr. Robert Love, who was a professor at MacMaster University from 1977-2008. He lives near Durand Park in Hamilton and is currently Vice-Chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.


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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2017 at 10:30:36

Perhaps I should change this section to "Eyes on the Seat"?

I'll let myself out.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2017 at 10:44:48

Biggest frustration with sobi wear isn't the cosmetic stuff but the increasing finickyness of the numeric keypad - half the keys require massive force to press, and half register double-presses. The backspace included. Combined with the slow response of the LCD display makes the entering of ID and PIN into an irritating process of click - wait - click - wait - click - wait.

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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted May 02, 2017 at 12:51:06 in reply to Comment 121464

Yes, that is rather annoying. Particularly on very cold winter days in January and February. The screen response time takes much longer when it is very cold.

I am considering getting a member card that so that I do not have to enter my member number. Just tap the card and enter the PIN code. That would eliminate 7 of 11 keystrokes. See item #2 at:


Has anyone got a member card and can comment on their experience with it?

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By SSnowling (registered) | Posted May 03, 2017 at 15:40:45 in reply to Comment 121465

I've got a member card, and I use it for this reason specifically. I also reserve bikes via the app occasionally for the reason Ryan stated (avoiding typing the number). The app's really good IMHO.

Also, I rode this bike (#037) to work this morning. :-)

Comment edited by SSnowling on 2017-05-03 15:41:18

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2017 at 13:21:16 in reply to Comment 121465

You don't need a member card if you have a smartphone. Just install the SoBi app (for Android or iPhone) and log in using your username and password from the web application.

The main interface is a map of the service area centred on your location.

Main interface

From there, you can tap a hub in order to reserve a bike at that hub. For example, I tapped he hub at Durand Park to reserve a bike there.

Reserve a bike at a hub

The next screen is a confirmation that you want to reserve a bike. Then, when you get to the hub, your bike is all lit up and waiting for you!

Reserved bike is lit up

The display shows that the bike is reserved.

Bike is reserved

On the bike keypad, click the "Unlock" button and enter your four-digit PIN to release the U-lock.

My main gripe about the bike interface is a change they made last year so that the PIN is automatically submitted once you enter four numbers, instead of the earlier interface where you had to enter the four numbers and then press a Submit button.

Since the numbers are sometimes registered twice, I occasionally experience the issue where I hit the third number in my PIN, it goes in twice and the login fails, forcing me to back up and re-enter the PIN - at which point it's entirely possible for the same thing to happen again.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2017-05-02 13:23:19

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By SSnowling (registered) | Posted May 03, 2017 at 15:42:16 in reply to Comment 121466

I've been thinking of changing my PIN to have the last 2 digits the same, to avoid this problem. Kind of reduces the security of it a bit, though.

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