3 Shared Bike Brands Still Rolling in China

By Ryan Gandolfo and Phoebe Kut, September 24, 2020

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It’s been a wild ride for China’s shared bike market, to say the least. In 2016, shared bike startups started popping up in China and sidewalks were soon infiltrated by brightly colored bikes. The following year, aerial shots of ‘bike-share graveyards’ started surfacing on the Chinese internet, signaling a gross surplus of cycles. In 2018, Ofo went bankrupt in truly ugly fashion as millions were unable to redeem their RMB200 deposits – as of publication time, more than 15 million users are still waiting for their deposits.

But now it’s 2020, and the market appears to have settled down with a few key players still in the mix. Here, we update you on some commonly seen shared bikes still in business around China’s biggest cities.

Hellobike 

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Alibaba-backed Hellobike got started in 2016 in China’s smaller cities and towns before pivoting to larger markets. TechCrunch reported that the strategy helped the company avoid fierce competition with Ofo and Mobike in those early days. According to its official website, Hellobike presently boasts 300 million registered users and nearly 19 billion accumulated kilometers traveled. Hellobike is also in the middle of a pivot to electric, with a range of mobility services like shared e-bikes and electric scooter rentals becoming more accessible for users in certain cities. You can access Hellobike via its app or Alipay.

Deposit: None
Cost: RMB1.5/30 minutes, RMB25 for 30-day pass
Penalty: RMB5 for docking in no-park zone
Saddle comfort: 4/5
Build quality: 5/5
Style: 3/5

Meituan Bike (formerly Mobike) 

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Mobike emerged semi-victorious after the bike-sharing bubble burst in 2018. As many companies folded, bikes were stacked up and thrown away; however, Mobike (sort-of) weathered the storm. Shopping behemoth Meituan-Dianping bought the company and began to rebrand the bikes to Meituan Bike, but it’s still likely that you’ll find the classic orange bicycles around town. Be sure to snag a newer model, as the brakes have worn out on older bikes we’ve hopped on, and remember to dock the bike in park-free zones. You can access Meituan Bike on Meituan or Mobike apps.

Deposit: None
Cost: RMB1.5/30 minutes
Penalty: RMB5 for docking in no-park zone
Saddle comfort: 4/5
Build quality: 4/5
Style: 4/5

Qingju Bike

WechatIMG209.jpg

Arguably the smoothest ride we’ve taken on a shared bike, DiDi Chuxing-backed Qingju started in Chengdu in 2017 before expanding to other cities such as Beijing, Tianjin and Guangzhou later on. You can access Qingju via DiDi or WeChat.

Deposit: None
Cost: RMB1.5/30 minutes
Penalty: RMB5 for docking in no-park zone
Saddle comfort: 5/5
Build quality: 4/5
Style: 3/5

Ofo’s Obituary

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Image via @frantabina/Instagram

Ofo was a tech darling until the company went bankrupt in 2018. In July 2019, a court ruling in Tianjin determined that the company had “basically no assets.” The company was at one time valued at RMB2 billion. You’ll still find some bikes scattered in cities, and the app is still live. Interestingly, the app was redesigned this year with a shopping focus. Instead of returning deposits to users, the company is now offering rebates in the app.

READ MORE: Two Expats Rode Shared Bikes from Shanghai to Hangzhou So You Don't Have To

[Images via That’s]

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