It seems like bike share services have taken over Shanghai in the last few months. First came the iconic orange Mobike and bright yellow Ofo, then sky blue Xiaoming Danche. Just the other day, our editor in chief spotted a red bike nearly identical to the new Mobike, called Beiqing Danche.
Now, Xiangqi Chuxing is adding another color to the bike share rainbow.
While the other platforms all offer similar services, Xiangqi is the first to break into the rentable e-bike market. Their green, chargeable electronic bikes are found primarily around select metro stops in the city. The platform has been around since the beginning of 2016, but it has only recently started to spread like a colorful plague around the city.
So how do you get started with the latest in transportation convenience, and is it even worth it? We took to the streets to find the answers.
To get started, download the app, called 享骑电单车. It is available on most app stores and can also be downloaded from the platform’s official Wechat.
The app is all in Chinese, which is a definite deterrent to many foreigners in the city. However, once you learn some basic reading skills, the interface isn’t hard to figure out.
The service is easier to sign up for than its analog counterparts. You will need to pay a one-time deposit of RMB299 and provide a Chinese phone number for verification. You must also provide your ID or passport number but do not need to take a photo of yourself with your ID, and there is no waiting period for verification.
Almost immediately, you’re ready to ride.
To find a bike near you, open the app and tap one of the green dots on the map. Each dot corresponds to an official “docking” station with available bikes. The app will tell you how many bikes are at port and the exact distance and number of minutes estimated to walk there from your current location.
Clicking on “我要用车” at the bottom of the screen will open a QR code scanner. Scan the code and you’ll be shown a screen telling you how much juice is left in the engine and how many kilometers of ride time that corresponds to. If you’re not satisfied with the level, the app gives you the option to choose a different bike.
When it comes to the bikes themselves, they’re a bit unwieldy. The kick stand is a pain to push up, the bike is heavy and the seat is hard. If you can get over these things, however, the bikes are a joy to ride. The seat is relatively high and the pace brisk and smooth.
When you are done riding, bring the bike to an official station and click “我要还车” at the bottom of the screen. You also have the option to temporarily park the bike and pick it back up later, but the meter continues charging you during that time. Make sure to park the bike at an official station only. If you fail to do this, you could incur a RMB150 fine, but such an incurrence seems unlikely as the bike won’t even lock until you confirm your location.
The bike doesn’t clearly state how much it costs to ride, but for a total of 12 minutes using the bike, our account was charged RMB2.
So what’s the final verdict on the mean green engine machine? Xiangqi fills a unique niche in an otherwise saturated market, and if the platform increases the number of official parking stations around the city, we can see ourselves becoming frequent costumers.
Now who’s going to start a platform with indigo and violet colored bikes? We want to ride the whole rainbow.
Xiangqi Chuxing Fast Facts:
Available: Android and Apple (Chinese app store only)
Price: (Estimated) RMB1 per 10 minutes