down and divvy

Two weeks ago, a guy on a Divvy bike passed me in the bike lane and I was like you go, sir, that is impressive! After today’s Divvy bike ride with Tiny Fix’s tallest (me) and smallest (Lauren), I am far more impressed, because hot damn it is hard to go fast on a Divvy.

We went to see if the bikes would fit us both:

Lauren vs tall bike

Lauren and shorter bike

and go for a test ride.

The bike we grabbed was set at a 7 on the seat post height scale, so I didn’t have to adjust it before wobbling off. Yup, wobbling. Divvy bikes are heavy as shit, guys, and the combination of a super heavy steel bike and twitchy handlebars meant that I was like it was my first time without training wheels. Once I got on the street to cruise along, I kept trying to shift into a higher gear (Divvy bikes have three gears, all pretty low) to speed up, but these bikes are designed to cruise, not zip along. I felt like yelling “this is not how I normally bike!” at passers-by so I would feel better about this.

When I got back, Lauren adjusted the seat (yes, a Divvy bike will fit you if you’re 4’10”, but you’ll have to shove the seatpost all the way down) and pedaled off. The handlebars are not adjustable, so she had to reach way up while she rode, which was way less than comfortable.

Lauren says:

On my tallest day, I measure a little over 4’10”. I figured the Divvy step-through frame wouldn’t be a problem for my height, and I was proven right. The good thing is that, for a person of my stature, you can take the seat post down past the numerical indicators for a perfect riding height. The bad news is, it takes quite a bit of elbow and shoulder work to get it down. Aim for the lowest seat post possible at your dock.

I’ve been sharing the road with Divvy cyclists since the program went online and- gonna be honest- it’s part of the reason I’ve begun using alternative routes to Milwaukee Avenue in the past couple of months. Now that I’ve ridden one, though, I feel like I have a better understanding of what the ridership is feeling. As hard as I might roll my eyes when folks on Divvy bikes are going the wrong way in traffic, I sort of get it. You feel invincible on that damn thing- it is basically a combination feel of armored truck and big wheel.

Knowledge for the short set:

  • The handlebars feel ridiculous. If you’re short, prepare to be extending your shoulders outward and upward. I found this to be the worst part of the ride and the major source of discomfort on the bike. Because of the step through frame, and the height of the bars, getting a start can be kind of difficult. I was unable to move on the bike without paying particular attention to where the right pedal was. I’m not used to that on my personal bikes (even with my first bike being a single-speed cruiser with coaster brakes). Worst part? Hand signaling felt less safe (was worried the very twitchy handlebars would react) than normal because of the height.
  • That booty tho. Be prepared to lean forward and be forced into an upright stance regardless of comfort. As far as I saw, you can’t adjust the tilt of the seat.
  • It’s a very slanted stepthrough frame. So, no matter if you’re a short rider with more legs or more torso, you will not have an issue with standing at a light. The bar abides.

I have three bikes and I love them very dearly. If you really love riding a Divvy, I would suggest investing in a bike of your very own. In the meantime, though, there might be times that a Divvy would be useful.

When would Lauren ride a Divvy?

  • If the weather forecast is suggesting a precipitation-filled morning or afternoon that seems like a bear to ride through, so I’m not going a day off a bike.
  • If I had older or bike-averse visitors. The Divvy is the great equalizer, I feel. While riding it, I wondered if it was the particular one I was on or if many elements in the bike construction itself lead to slower riding (I did see a young lady hauling ass, so maybe it was just my particular frame or my own issues).
  • If an asshole stole something from my bike.
  • To and from bike shops (por ejemplo, The Bike Lane has a Divvy station right out front if you ever leave your own bike there for repairs!)
  • Loop riding. It did feel a little safer aboard a Divvy than my own road bike, and the brakes are regularly serviced, so I could see myself opting for that on occasion especially as the weather gets worse and the grates get slipperier. Those thick tires gotta be good for that.

When would Nadarine ride a Divvy?

  • I’m more likely to call up a bike shop and rent a road bike if I’m in a different city and spending any significant time there, but that does get really spendy. (A few years ago, I was in Minneapolis for work, and my bike rental for that week was the most expensive part of the trip.) So if I’m in a new city and public transit doesn’t go to that bar I want to go to, I’d rent their version of a Divvy (Minneapolis has Nice Ride, Washington D.C. has Capital Bikeshare, NYC has Citi Bike, and Oakland/San Francisco has Bay Area Bike Share). It’s cheaper than a cab, for sure: $7 for access to Divvy bikes for 24 hours, with a 30 minute limit for each trip.
  • When my parents visit, because I hate driving their giant car in the city and they don’t like public transit. Let’s go take a lap around the park, Mom & Dad!

Dana Divvy

Things to know:

  • BYO helmet.
  • You don’t need to have a Divvy membership- if you have a credit card, you can just swipe it at the station and get a bike.
  • Trips are limited to 30 minutes, but you can use your access code all day to get as many trips as you can fit into 24 hours.
  • If you pass me on a Divvy bike, I will be endlessly in awe of you.

8 Comments

  • Elizabeth October 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels weirdly invincible on Divvy. I love my road bike, but the sturdiness of Divvy makes me feel a little safer downtown.

    I joined Divvy because at least 2x/week, I’m commuting from my boyfriend’s in Rogers Park all the way down to Hyde Park via 2 Metra trains terminating in different stations 1 mile apart. 1 train allows bikes, the other doesn’t. OR I’m coming from mine but going to his after work, and don’t want to leave my bike in Hyde Park or locked up somewhere random. OR I’m meeting non-bikers somewhere, then departing with them for another location.

    After a couple of weeks of doing this, I’m more than happy to have paid the (discounted) annual membership fee.

    Reply
  • Lizzie & The Urbaness October 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Love this! I’m sharing it with the readers over at The Urbaness.

    Reply
  • Echo October 3, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Great post! Thanks for writing it up! I recently rode Divvy for the first time a couple weeks ago, too. I also found it uncomfortable and twitchy. I actually wrote about it as well:

    http://echointhecity.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/i-finally-rode-a-divvy-and-i-hope-i-never-have-to-again/

    And I’m going to add this post to my “related articles” section!

    Reply
  • I Finally Rode a Divvy…and I Hope I Never Have to Again | echo in the city October 3, 2013 at 3:01 am

    […] Down & Divvy by Nadarine // Tiny Fix Bike Gang […]

    Reply
  • Steven Vance October 3, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Did you notice how comfortable the ride was, though? How the Divvy sailed over bumps and potholes without every bouncing you off the bike?

    That’s the 45 pound aluminum-framed bike cushioning your tush.

    Reply
    • Nadarine October 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      True! It was weirdly luxurious not feeling every bump in the road.

      Reply
    • KC October 8, 2013 at 2:17 am

      geez 45lbs?! Dang somebody should make a tongue-in-cheek workout video of people just lifting the bike up out of the dock and how swoll they’d get in a matter of weeks

      Reply
  • joe February 28, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Divvy installed a bike rack next to my building where dogs are curbed. The dogs now do their business ON the bikes. If you rent a Divvy bike take the time to wash it off. Otherwise you may get dog urine sprayed on you while riding.

    Reply

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