What an amazing weekend in the city! The weather couldn’t be any better and city life seemed to be at an all time high. Coincidence? Absolutely not! Anyway, after throwing in the towel at work, partying it up just a tad, and watching the sun rise come up this Sunday morning, I still felt my weekend was missing a little something. So what did I do to fill that void? I jumped on one of ’em Bixi bikes! Read on…

I’ll admit I don’t live even remotely close to a Bixi station but seeing as I was working the evening shift, I figured I’d hop the metro and get off at Mont-Royal (which seems to be the main Bixi station). As I made my way over to the pay station, I couldn’t help but notice that the display icons were slightly confusing. Lucky for me, a Bixi clerk was nearby and more than helpful in getting me going. A few taps on the screen, a quick credit card swipe, an activation code and off I went.

I know, you’re probably thinking this all sounds like a lot to take in. It really isn’t! Anyway, the next step was to choose a bike on the rack and type in the code which I was given at the pay station. A quick yank and the bike was released.

So, what exactly did I get for my buck? Well the bike itself has a very solid frame. The handlebars are probably the most unattractive part seeming somewhat clunky but, they serve their purpose. The actual bike itself has a total of 3 speeds, an adjustable seat, a small metal basket with a bungy chord, and a very errr… interesting bell.

The ride, I’ll admit is quite comfortable. That said, this bike is designed for the city so don’t expect the qualities of a fancy shmancy mountain bike. Again, it serves it’s purpose.

The one major downfall that comes to mind is if you intend on using the Bixi to run errands. How so? Well, at the time being, Bixi stations are quite limited. That said, let’s say I’d be to pick up some groceries along the way back home, I’d need to either find a nearby Bixi station to secure the bike or lug around a heavy duty lock.

The second downfall comes with regards to availability at each station. Although a real-time monitoring service is available online this is only convenient for those who have online access within reasonable distance of a Bixi station. For those of us (aka myself) who don’t own a technologically advanced mobile telephone with internet access, this is not really useful. Therefore it’s not always easy to know if the Bixi station you’re heading to has bikes available or if they have room to return a bike.

Despite these minor issues, I must admit that I was quite impressed with the whole initiative and will definitely try it again throughout the summer.

The dailly rate (24 hrs) is $5, the monthly rate is $28, while the yearly rate (May through November) is $78. The first half-hour is always free and then a $1.50 applies for the second half hour increasing exponentially. Here’s a better way of explaining it… (Thanks to david Cohen for the correction)

Bixi Bike Pricing Chart