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Beryl introduces new rental fleet to North London

Cyclist tries the latest dockless rental bike launch

Joseph Delves
1 Jul 2019

Supplying the snazzy laser lights that project a little logo of a bike ahead of TfL’s current rental fleet, Beryl clearly felt like carving out its own share of the market. It’s just introduced a fleet of dockless rental bikes to Enfield in North London. Joining a crowded commercial rental market that currently includes Mobike, Lime, Freebike and Uber’s Jump, along with several canals’ worth of failed schemes, Beryl currently has this corner of North London to itself.

Looking to avoid the mistakes of some providers, Beryl has worked closely with a supportive council in introducing the scheme. Part of an ongoing makeover that’s seen the creation of multiple on- and off-road cycle lanes across the borough, the Beryl bikes will give currently cycle-less residents a way to give them a try.

Locatable via an app, the bikes will be dotted across Enfield. Although dockless, a £1 fee to leave the bike outside of one of the borough’s 50 designated parking bays aims to keep most herded together. Those that do end up in odd spots should eventually be collected and returned by Beryl’s staff.

Already up and running in Bournemouth, on the morning of the scheme's London launch we hopped aboard one of the silver and teal bikes to bring you a review.

Shiny new bikes

The Beryl bikes themselves strike a good balance between being robust and vandal-resistant, and not being absolute lumps. With small 24-inch wheels and pneumatic tyres, they’re nimble yet stick to the road.

Bucking the trend for electric-assistance, their user will have to supply all the propulsion themselves. Nonetheless, we’re happy to say they seem very efficient. Using ultra-reliable Sturmey-Archer three-speed gearing and drum brakes they shouldn’t require too much attention from Beryl’s team of mechanics either.

Originally known for its safety lights, the bikes feature the brand’s smart brake-indicator light on the back. This glows when you slow down to alert any following traffic. On the front of the bike is a decent sized rack that’ll easily hold a large backpack.

How much will I pay?

Current costs vary depending on how you plan to pay. On a ‘pay as you ride’ basis there’s a £1 unlocking fee followed by a 5p a minute charge.

For more frequent use you can buy 100, 200, 300 or 400-minute ride ‘bundles’. Allowing you to escape the unlocking fee, this works out somewhere between 5p and 2p per minute. Alternatively, you can buy an unlimited ‘day pass’ for £12.

Given how the costs of other launches have fluctuated, it wouldn’t be a surprise if these later edge upwards.

Inner London’s next bike hire scheme

With the fleet soon to also appear in the City of London, the question is: does London need another scheme of this type?

In a busy market place, Beryl does appear to have plenty going for it. For one, its team are working with a supportive council in Enfield, and seem keen to not annoy local residents.

The bikes are also an instant hit, being by some distance the best non-electric models we’ve tried. They also look to be relatively theft and damage resistant.

As a company, Beryl also seems less ethically dubious than many. This counts for something when Uber, a company judged by both TFL and Westminster Magistrates Court as ‘not a fit and proper firm’, is also getting stuck into the market.

Now several years into the global experiment with dockless rental bike schemes, the quality is definitely improving, as the various contenders compete with each other.

From our quick spin around Enfield, if Beryl ends up as one of the last providers standing, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

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