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With all sorts of rideshare apps rapidly taking off around the world, it’s no wonder shared electric scooters became one of the biggest trends in the United States in less than two years. Today, the e-scooter wars are bringing many major players in transportation together to compete for user loyalty and dominance in their markets. But even through the competition, many of the original dockless scooters continue to shine — including Spin scooters.
While Bird was the first shared scooter company to gain national traction, Spin was never far behind. Spin entered the electric scooter market just five months after the launch of Bird. Less than a year after that, Ford Motor Company acquired Spin for nearly $100 million.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how Spin scooters work and how you can start riding one today.
- What Is Spin?
- How Much Do Spin Scooters Cost?
- How to Use Spin Electric Scooters
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Spin?
Spin was founded in 2016 in San Francisco, the home of the biggest rideshare companies. Spin was originally launched as a dockless bike-share company that expanded to many major cities and college campuses. However, shortly after the successful launch of its dockless electric scooters, Spin hit the brakes on its shared bike program in favor of its newer product.
Ford’s big acquisition, which soon followed, allowed Spin to develop some of the highest quality electric scooters around. With more anti-theft and vandalism measures, a new battery range of 37.5 miles, and a safer, sturdier design, Spin scooters have proven to be a reliable option for anyone seeking an eco-friendly ride.
Today, Spin successfully operates in over 50 cities, competing with rideshare giants like Lyft Scooters and Uber-backed Lime scooters. These cities include Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, Omaha, and Washington, D.C.
Spin also operates directly on nearly 20 college campuses, including Duke University, Virginia Tech, and University of California, San Diego. Ford plans to double Spin’s markets by 2020.
How Much Do Spin Scooters Cost?
To use a Spin scooter, users are required to pay a base fee of $1 for every ride. In addition, you’ll be charged a location-based fee, ranging from 15 cents to 33 cents, for every minute that you use the electric scooter.
As an example, if you use the scooter for 30 minutes — counted from the time it’s unlocked to the time it’s returned — and your city’s per-minute fee is 25 cents, you’ll be charged as $8.50 (plus tax) for the entirety of the trip. Here’s how we got to this number:
- Base Fee + (Per-Minute Fee x Number of Minutes) = Final Price
- 1 + (0.25 x 30) = 8.50
This cost is directly comparable to Spin’s major competitors, which all use the same fee structure. While the app with the cheapest per-minute fee will vary from city to city, it’s unlikely that any service will charge much more or less than the next.
However, Spin only allows users to load their balance in increments of $10. This means it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be able to use up the entirety of your balance when using this service, so other e-scooter options may be better for riders who don’t plan to use the service on an ongoing basis.
How to Use Spin Electric Scooters
Part of the draw of Spin scooters are the fact that they are incredibly easy to use, as all transactions can easily be controlled through the Spin app. All you need to do is sign up, load money into your account, locate a scooter near you, and start your trip. Here’s how to do so:
To sign up for the Spin scooter service, you simply need to download the Spin app from your Google Play Store or iOS App Store. Once you open the app:
- Sign up with your Facebook account or email.
- Scan your driver’s license if prompted by the app. This is only required in select cities due to local laws.
- Open your menu and select the “Balance” tab.
- Add your payment method — you can use your credit card, debit card, or Google Pay account — and load your first $10 into your balance. This currently unlocks a free first ride for new users.
While this process is pretty effortless, you should be aware of rider requirements hidden in Spin’s user agreement before actually using the service. For example, Spin states that users must:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Wear a helmet and tied sneakers while using Spin scooters
- Inspect their scooter for proper charge and signs of excessive wear before operating
Start a Trip
Once you’re signed up and are sure you meet all rider requirements, follow these directions to start your first trip:
- Open the Spin app.
- Find and tap the scooter icon closest to you. This will tell you how much charge is left — full charge should last you a full day — and how much your per-minute fee will be.
- Walk to the scooter and scan its QR code, located between the handlebars. This will unlock your scooter and begin your trip.
Use Your Spin Scooter
Once your trip has begun, using the scooter is as simple as kicking off with one foot and using the throttle on the right handlebar to accelerate. Both feet can stay on the board throughout your ride, as braking is fully controlled by the switch on the left handlebar.
While riding, Spin requires you to stay in bike lanes when they’re available. Plus, you can only ride in permitted areas, which are marked in orange on your map.
As soon as you’re done with your scooter, you can easily end your trip by swiping right in your Spin app. At this time, your scooter must be placed in a permitted area, preferably close to a curb or at a designated motorcycle spot, but always in a place that doesn’t block pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
Spin does have the right to suspend your account if you frequently park at no-park zones (designated on the map), bus stops, loading zones, or on private property, so make sure you’re not violating any of Spin’s return policies at the end of your trip.
Frequently Asked Questions
No matter what major American city you find yourself in, there’s a good chance you’ll see scooters flying by. If you’re already considering joining in, here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about what Spin can do for you:
1. Is there a time limit for Spin scooter rentals?
Yes. Spin limits all scooter rentals to a maximum of 24 hours. If you exceed this time limit, you’ll be charged the fees you accumulated in those 24 hours, plus a $25 service fee and $200 per calendar day that the scooter remains checked out.
Spin has the right to submit a police report and charge even heftier fines if the scooter remains missing for over 48 hours.
2. How fast can Spin scooters go?
When using a Spin scooter, you can get speeds of up to 15 miles per hour on flat surfaces. While electric scooter products can technically be built to go faster, this is the maximum legal speed limit set by most cities. Some cities are starting to limit speeds to 10 miles per hour.
Regardless of speed limit changes, there’s no need for you to worry about speed limits when riding a Spin scooter. Scooter companies place speed limiters on their inventory to ensure compliance with local regulations.
3. Can I ride Spin scooters at night?
Spin doesn’t have any restrictions on when you can use its scooters, though some cities and campuses may restrict scooter usage between dusk and dawn. The electric scooters are equipped with small front lights for nighttime riding. Of course, be mindful of where you’re using your scooter at night, as this front light isn’t extremely bright and can make you difficult for drivers to spot.
Join in on the E-Scooter Trend
Nowadays, many major cities in the United States and beyond are implementing enormous amounts of scooter shares in their cities. Spin has gained popularity among users as a convenient, affordable, and fun riding experience that can help you get to work, explore a city, or simply enjoy a nice day out. While we still have yet to see if electric scooters are a sustainable form of transportation or an explosive fad, now’s the perfect time to unlock your free Spin scooter ride by signing up.
Want to try out a lesser known dockless scooter company? Learn about Skip Scooters, a newer brand that’s starting to take over Long Beach, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.