A Guide to China's 6 Leading Bike-Share Models

By That's PRD, July 28, 2017

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Curious which bike-share company you should register with? With so many options available, it can be hard to know whether you should opt for the orange, blue or yellow bikes. But don't fret – our handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about China's leading bike-share models!

1. Mobike Classic 

model-1-mobike.jpg

In the beginning, there was Mobike. Mobike Classic, to be exact. Sporting a V-chassis, the seat and handle bars were set wide enough to summon your inner BMXer, though the bike was much too heavy to ever catch air with.

The internal pedal-powered generator was ditched for Mobike Lite, which relies on a solar panel at the bottom of a bike basket to keep the GPS charged.

With millions of dollars in backing by Tencent and an American private equity firm, there are big bets the bikes will be the ‘last kilometer’ transport of choice for hip, careless millennials. Plenty are betting big on Mobike’s ability to stand out from the rainbow of shared bicycles clogging major city streets. 

The bike targets those with enough spare cash for the deposit, but those without a car – billing itself as a solution to the last kilometer of travel.

Deposit: RMB299
Weight: 26kg
Cost: RMB1/30 min
Saddle comfort: 3/5
Build quality: 5/5
Style: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

2. Mobike New 

mobike-new-1.jpg

Mobike’s latest incarnation builds on the tough-as-nails philosophy with metal 'spokes' and a heavy bike frame, while addressing the complaints the first generation saw. Now with an adjustable seat and front basket, the torque has been toned down, meaning those hoping for a high velocity ride will be pedaling twice as fast, while charging the internal battery. Changes to the frame make it a decidedly 'sit down' experience.

Deposit: RMB299
Weight: 23kg
Cost: RMB1/30 min
Saddle comfort: 5/5
Build quality: 5/5
Style: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

3. Ofo

ofo-1.jpg

Ofo, nicknamed xiaohuangche (little yellow bike), started as a bike-share scheme at the campus of Peking University in 2014 but was not operated outside of university campuses until November 2016. As of March, Ofo boasted around 2.5 million cycles and 30 million users in both China and overseas, including San Francisco and Cambridge in the UK. 

Users think highly of the bike’s comfort, and we too found Ofo’s saddle to be the most pleasant of all the six models we tried. Unlike other models, the lock is mechanical – it requires a passcode sent to the user via text in order to manually unlock the bike.

Ofo targets students and teachers in particular, who can ride for half the price of others.

Deposit: RMB99
Weight: 15.5kg 
Cost: RMB1/30 min; RMB0.5 for students, teachers/30 min
Saddle comfort: 5/5
Build quality: 1/5
Style: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

4. Bluegogo

model-4-bluegogo-1.jpg

Bluegogo is a relatively new arrival in the PRD, entering the fray well after Mobike and Ofo had already staked out significant claims. However, having raised hundreds of millions of yuan in funding, Bluegogo is putting up a good fight.

The fact that Tony Li, the mastermind behind ‘smart bike’ company SpeedX, is Bluegogo’s founder probably doesn’t hurt. While the bicycles aren’t top-of-the-line, they do have a cool gimmick: a solar panel inside the basket powers both the lock and taillight. 

Overall, the ‘little blue bikes’ are suited for the casual cyclist, moving easily after just a few strokes on the pedals. The seat is adjustable and fairly comfortable, although its shape proves to be a problem: a slight incline means that we have to brace ourselves to stop from slipping.

Deposit: RMB99
Weight: 15kg 
Cost: RMB0.5/30 min
Saddle comfort: 2/5
Build quality: 4/5
Style: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

5. Xiaoming

xiaoming-1.jpg

The Guangzhou-based Xiaoming Bike entered the market last October after receiving financial support from from France’s bike manufacturer Cronus. The azure bike claims to target “sport lovers and fashionable bikers,” but after a 30-minute test ride, we decide it suits just the opposite: the out-of-shape. Peddling a Xiaoming is much less demanding than a Mobike – it’s also very slow.

One design feature we appreciate is the plastic wrap on Xiaoming’s chain, which guarantees stain-free pants. 

Its strategy to attract more users – whereby you can ride for just RMB0.1 per half hour if you invite 10 friends or more to join – is the most alluring of its kind in the market so far.

Deposit: RMB199
Weight: 23kg
Cost: RMB1/30 min
Saddle comfort: 4/5
Build quality: 2/5
Style: 3/5
Overall: 2/5 

6. Coolqi

coolqi.jpg

Also known as the ‘Tuhao Gold’ bikes, Coolqi bicycles come in a garish shade of metallic gold. Featuring a wireless phone charger and selfadjustable seats (once you key in your height), the golden bicycles are kinda, well, cool. With a name that sounds suspiciously similar to ‘Gucci,’ it makes sense that Coolqi is the most expensive bike-sharing option. But hey – if you’re tuhao, this shouldn’t be a problem.

Deposit: RMB298
Cost: RMB1.5 per 30 min
Saddle comfort: 1/5
Build quality: 2/5
Style: 4/5
Overall: 3/5 

READ MORE: The Rise of Bike Sharing and China's Love Affair with Cycling

[Images via Mediaclub, static.leiphone.com, bluegogo.com, Tristin Zhang]

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