So here’s the thing, Shanghai. I’ve been living in the city for 15 years – fifteen years – and all this time I’ve been harboring a shameful, soul-burdening secret.
I’ve cycled the city like a mofo on an Ofo. I’ve stood for hours in the rain to hail a taxi; I’ve tolerated driver dog breath. I’ve ridden the metro from Jinshan to Jiading. I’ve been in every type of DiDi from Discount Express to the dizzying highs of a Luxe. I’ve taken the bus from downtown to PVG (and back). I’ve hit warp speed on the Maglev. I’ve even had my mind melted by the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel.
In 15 years – fifteen years – I’ve *whisper it* never ridden a scooter.
That’s right, I’ve never taken that most Shanghai form of transport. Now, I’ve known the guys behind MUTE Garage since way back, and they've been pestering me to check out the good thing they've got going on since they founded it in Shanghai back in 2017.
So it was, one afternoon a couple of weeks back, I headed over to Yanping Lu to finally take them up on their offer, and take one of their scooters out for a spin. Aided by the ever-accommodating Kade, who set me up with a handsome helmet and sweet pair of electric wheels, we had a whizz up and down the lane behind the garage.
What can I say? It really couldn't be any easier. It's fun zipping around on an electric scooter, especially with the coming of summer. And I could certainly see the convenience factor; DiDi's are always late when you need them most. What have I been missing out on all these years?
"I suppose you need a license and to fill out a load of paperwork though?" I asked Kade, trying to work out what the catch is. "No," says Kade, explaining that electric scooters are on the same level as the humble bicycle under Shanghai law. "You just fill out your details, and away you go."
So you know what I did? I filled in my details. And away I went. I am, officially, a Mutant.
So What is MUTE?
There is none more zealous than the newly converted, so allow me to wax lyrical about my new religion. Here's how it works: MUTE is a subscription program for Electric Vehicles (EVs) that eliminates the noise of ownership and, by replacing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, helps our planet.
You pay a monthy subscription fee of just RMB280-420 (depending on your ride), which gets you a registered, insured scooter. Scooter breaks down? MUTE fixes it. Scooter gets stolen? MUTE replaces it. Scooter not your cup of tea after all? MUTE takes it back, no questions asked.
Walk in, and ride away. No contracts, no hassles, hand back when you like. Don't believe me? Hear it from the Mutant's mouth...
Rather than a scooter rental company, however, MUTE looks at itself as a zero emission lifestyle brand that provides a planet-friendly solution to urban transport. They plant a tree for every member to offset the CO2 of the electric, with 5,000 planted for their 5,000 Shanghai members so far, and counting.
Speaking of members, there are benefits aplenty, both locally and globally. Locally, MUTE is forever throwing events, parties and classes for their community, often completely free of charge.
Members also enjoy a whole load of discounts and deals across town, that are updated monthly. That 24/7 Happy Hour at The Smokehouse is certainly to be taken advantage of...
Globally, as a MUTE member, you get international use of E-bikes in their other locations at no extra cost. As well as Shanghai, they are currently in Taipei, Bali, London and Perth, Australia, and will soon be expanding to Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, France and Germany. Just get on the app, and get your E-bike delivered to you on your travels.
So there you have it, it couldn't be any easier, or much more beneficial, to join the MUTE green transport revolution. Who knew the war on global warming could be so fun?
Scan the QR code for the MUTE mini program:
See a listing for MUTE Garage
That's Shanghai Lifestyle Awards
MUTE Garage has been nominated for Sustainable Brand of the Year in the That's Shanghai Lifestyle Awards. Scan the QR code below to register your vote in that category, and many, many more: