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“Tricky to use - but great fun once you've got it figured out” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Santander Cycles

Santander Cycles
Ranked #35 of 184 Outdoor Activities in London
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Owner description: Santander Cycles is London's self-service, bike-sharing scheme for short journeys. You can hire a bike from as little as £2. Simply go to any docking station with your bank card and touch the screen to get started. There's no need to book - hire a bike, ride it where you like, then return it to any docking station.
Salt Lake
Level Contributor
13 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Tricky to use - but great fun once you've got it figured out”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 August 2011

These bikes are worth figuring out how to use because crusing around London on a bike really enhances your experience. The initial rate as of August 2011 was 1 pound per 24 hour period per bike, which is a great deal. Then your bike use is free as long as you correctly repark them at a Barclay's bike stand within 30 minutes. If you don't make it to a stand within the 30 minutes you'll be charged 1 pound for the next 30 minutes and 4 pounds for one hour. There are stands all over Zone One in London, probably no more than 2-5 minutes ride apart so you should be able to get lots of riding in without paying anymore than the initial 1 pound.
A few hints:
- The bikes are super sturdy and heavy, so very small adults and kids under teenagers may have trouble using them.
- we had some trouble with using our American-issued credit cards that don't have the chip that most European cards apparently have, but we were finally able to "swipe" them if we followed the rather complicated instructions very carefully. It took us a little effort to get through that process the first time, but we quickly became pros at it.
- start with using a stand where there are lots of bikes, because it seems like a lot of them are not operable for some reason (indicated by a light on the stand).
- when you get your 4 digit code (printed on a slip that you get from the stand) proceed to the closest bike in that stand NOT flashing a red light (disabled) and tap in your code. The code buttons are sensitive, so be careful to only push them very lightly.
- when the light on the bike indicates you have successfully entered the code, lift the bike from the stand. If it resists, lift the BACK WHEEL of the bike way up in the air, then pull the front end out of the stand. I don't know why that was necessary on at least half of the bikes we used, but once we figured that out, we had a much easier time finding cooperative bikes. This is a two-handed process, so make sure you have your hands free.
- set your watch for 20- 25 minutes and start riding! When your alarm sounds, start looking for stands to hang the bike up on. They are everywhere that typical tourists might want to go, but are sometimes pretty hard to spot - look for the blue Barclays logo. They are very common around Tube stops and major museums, etc.
- take a look at the map that accompanies any stand that is full of bikes to see where the next closest stands are located to help you locate a vacant parking spot.

Sounds very complicated (and it is much more complicated that any of the other bike hire systems we used in other European cities) but it was still worth the effort. I highly recommend riding in Hyde Park, riding just about anywhere on Sunday morning, and riding at night. Lights are built-in and are pretty bright. Be careful and have fun!

Visited August 2011
8 Thank Freqtflyr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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333 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“HUGE Fees a month after I got home”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2011

WARNING Barclay's Cycle Hire is a scam. I used a bike in London a couple times, no more than 2 hours. WARNING: docking doesn't work properly. I assumed the charges would be as advertised: 6 pounds for 2 hours. WRONG. A month 1/2 later I got my bank statement and found a $165.10 charge for Barclays Cycle Hire.

So then came the hassle of 1) trying to call overseas to straighten this out 2) no documentation to prove the charges are wrong. 3) non-helpful contact forms 4) non-helpful customer service folks

After several expensive international phone calls, and they told me I would probably not get a refund.

Visited May 2011
20 Thank carisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
58 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“An exciting way to see London”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 6 May 2011

I had a great idea for the 4 of us. What better way to see London than really, really close by cycling along with the taxis and red double decker buses. Well if you want to get a 'feel' for this live wire of a city, then this is it. The Barclay's bicycle hire system is scattered through out the city of London and is basically a good idea. BUT unfortunately there are a few hiccups. The deal is you pay 5 pounds with your credit card in one of the many bicycle docking stations, per bike you want to hire. Then you receive a printout of a code which you punch into the docked bike releasing it for you to ride. Now here's the tempting bit. If you only ride for 1/2 hour the ride is free. If you go over the 1/2 hour, there is an extra cost which goes up in price quite dramatically, each hour you are over time in docking. So the 'plan' is to ride around London stopping at any docking station within the half hour radius, dock the bike, wait for 5 minutes then using your credit card to validate who you are, you receive another code to punch into one of the docked bikes and off you go again. This has to be done for each bike so it takes considerably longer if you are travelling in a group like we were. It was great fun if not rather dangerous. Well the problem is that there really should be more docks for the bikes than there are bicycles. The major glitch we ran into was that often when we arrived at a docking station within the 1/2 hour, IT WAS FULL of bikes. Or the few bikes that were there to swap over to were broken. So we spent most of our time looking for empty docking stations and/or bikes that weren't out of action. I think if the bicycle was free for each hour and there were more bikedocks than bikes, it just might work. But if you like danger, don't mind a little inconvenience and have enough money in your bank account when you get home to pay for the all the late penalties, then DO IT! It was still a lot of fun, especially the late night ride through Hyde Park looking for a spare dock to return our bikes.

3 Thank gozziestravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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