oBike Review -- Is it any Good?


#1

I just recently learned about the oBike sharing system. I think it originates in Singapore and has been used there for a while. Similar systems are tried in China I believe. Never noticed the bikes in Taipei, but apparently they have been here since earlier this year. So I downloaded their app, reluctantly entered my credit card info and looked for the location of the bike nearest to me on the app’s map. I couldn’t find the first two bikes no matter how hard I tried. Then I went to Taiwan University and found two (different models) and tried to unlock them. Stupid as I am I did not press “Allow” when asked if the app could use the camera. You need to allow that to enable the scanning of the QR code. Alternatively you can key in the number that is written on the bike near the pedals. First few tries the lock didn’t unlock. Then finally it worked.

So I did a little comparison with a uBike and I think right now the uBike wins in most aspects. Better quality overall, working brakes, gears, higher saddle adjustment, bigger frame and wheels. I like the idea of leaving the bike where ever I want. But problem is, at least in downtown Taipei, you have to look hard to even find a designated parking space for bikes. Then other bicyclists will push that obike around, damaging it etc. What if someone moves it away and the latest rider (you) is blamed for it? Also the brakes not working on two different bikes was kind of alarming. I wanted to report those bikes, but didn’t find an easy way to do so online. The website is not in English… The app is. The app is actually quite easy to use.

My advice to oBike is: Provide bikes that are of similar or better quality than uBike, then we are talking. Until then I probably will use those bikes only where uBikes are not available. Like in Hualien and Taitung. But then, there might be rental shops that also offer better-quality bikes like Giant. Quality is always the key.

Here is my experience on camera:


#2

@hannes thanks for the write up

I have been seeing these oBikes around the city in really really random spots, but never got around to experiencing it for myself.

I’m on the work PC, so can’t sit here and watch your youtube clip, not sure if you mentioned the cost, but I am hearing it’s 15NT per half hour? If the bike itself is higher quality than the Youbike, I see this is a valid fare.

For Taipei, my main concern is convenience. If it takes me 10 minutes to locate an oBike, I’m pretty sure I’ve already passed 1, maybe 2, Youbike stations. There’s no doubt in my mind, I’ll go with the cheaper and more convenient option unless my final destination is nowhere near a Youbike station. It’s highly unlikely I’ll end up at a place farther than a 10 minute walk from a Youbike.

I agree that oBike could work really well in places like Hualien, Puli, Shuili, JiJi over in Nantou or even Tainan where there’s not too much sidewalk space or park area that’s not a memorial or old train station for a Youbike station. This is where the oBike may prosper. However, locals to those towns will definitely think twice about spending 15NT on a half hour ride.


#3

The rental fee for oBike right now is NT$2 per 15 minutes = NT$8 per one hour, which is less than the NT$20 uBike is charging. Also uBike charges more after 4 and then 8 hours, while oBike’s rate stays the same (as far as I know). I think right now, because of the bikes’ inferior quality and less visibility (not many people seem to know about them), I think the company is not going to make any profit anytime soon. Unless they can make a significant upgrade and run widespread ad campaigns I don’t think they will stay in business for long. I think finding a bike is OK, as long as the app gives you the exact location and the bike is not stashed away in a private spot.

I also wonder how they maintain the bikes. Must be quite a challenge for the staff to get to the bikes and check upon them. That must drain their financial resources too and/or mean that they have difficulties keeping the bikes running (failing brakes is not a good sign).


#4

I was going to bring this up in my previous post, but it went over my head.

oBike is charging less (but lower quality) bike than Youbike. However, I assume they don’t need too much manpower/resources to maintain the bikes due to low ridership? I have to assume a single oBike gets much less usage over a one week time frame than any given Youbike. Normally, the less a bike is ridden, the less likely things are likely to need to be maintained.


#5

That’s true. However, because they are not returned to docking stations but left among other people’s private bikes or in worse places, they are more likely to be pushed around, to fall over, or to be damaged by other causes than being ridden around.


#6

There’s no need to introduce another bike share system to Taipei. I’m perfectly happy with the Youbike.


#7

Well, the oBikes are technically available anywhere in Taiwan, so for places without Youbikes the might be a good alternative.


#8

Almost like not needing to introduce another MRT line in Taipei, but they keep adding them anyways. It just adds to the convenience and caters to a very niche consumer base. Despite the small user base, at this point in time, it still gives Taipei citizens another reason NOT to scooter or take the car.

Less gas guzzling vehicles and less air pollution can lead to many awesome things.


#9

Couldnt agree more. I love the idea of the oBike, it fills in the gap with the uBike service. However, the bikes are not nice to ride. I will continue to support them and any other initiative that can help to get rid of the gas-guzzling pollution machinese that are scooters.


#10

We have one parked in front of the restaurant for almost a week now, no one cares I guess.


#11

for a start, we don’t need it. we have youbike which is a great system already and they are everywhere. in taipei atleast. although i found something almost identical a few days ago in taichung.

even without seeing whats happened in china, parking bikes anywhere is a stupid idea(and ultimately a flawed one). its a public nuisance, and the bikes (which has been said are cheap if i am not mistaken) are not well maintained nor are they going to be. the plan for these is to make money up front. imo you need some restrictions on this, parking anywhere and no maintenance isn’t a good enough service, and worse its a nuisance. and after seeing what has happened in china there without a doubt should be restrictions. its an abominable mess.

luckily youbike kind of cancels the need for these with better bikes and already frequent bays. so i dont see it taking off at all.


#12

If it’s cheaper I’ll use it. I’m very price conscious and the further south you go the more price conscious the customer is. They should stick to the south perhaps if they want to profit, Taipei isn’t a good market.


#13

I assume they use the cheapest bike option out there, about 1600NT$. The most expensive thing on those bikes must be the electronic lock.

Eight hours use per day would be 64 NT$, ten days 640 NT$ and after 25 days the 1600 NT$ are back.

There is no use having the bikes linger around. The faster they get them to 200 hours of usage the better.

I wonder if they even bother repairing them? Maybe, they recycle the lock and that’s it.

Not very good for the environment!


#14

yea thats it, you figured out the business plan. take a look at the pictures from china if you want your answer about maintenance.


#15

They just turn into trash and become a nuisance,.ubike is far more sustainable.


#16

“… the colourful dockless share bikes are everywhere. They are parked up by the hundred outside shopping malls and metro stations, often blocking the pavement; others, rendered useless by missing saddles, broken locks or scratched off QR codes, are simply dumped in flowerbeds and bushes.”

The picture of China!


#17

and that’s a rather pleasant description of it.


#18

I highly doubt they are the cheap 1500-2000NT grandma bikes that you see being sold at Carrefour and RT Mart. Just by looking at the frame geometry and build, it’s much nicer.

I would really have to get on one to see how it fares compared to the Youbike in terms of comfort and rideability, but with this never ending rain, doesn’t seem like I’ll be able to give a first hand experience anytime soon.


#19

Just came back from a ride to my coffee shop. Switched bikes along the way. There seem to be a lot more obikes in my neighborhood all of a sudden. Now, many have no baskets. Did they run out of baskets at the factory? After riding a dozen different bikes now I think I can safely say that the quality starts with the production team. Lot of the bikes look unused but already have loose parts, failing brakes, and the wheels are kind of “wobbly.” But I like that I can ride back up to the door of my office virtually. And the bike will most likely still be out there when I crave coffee the next time. :slight_smile:


#20

I just downloaded the app and joined. It looks convenient as I can already see a lot of bikes around my neighborhood and even right outside the door.

It’s a very different concept from ubike. You can just walk down the street anywhere and find a bike and then park it anywhere without searching for or worrying if the parking area is already full. It sure makes things convenient when you can ride right to your door wherever you want to go instead of going to find a parking lot first.

You can also reserve a bike. If you are sitting at home and see one you want on the app, just reserve it so no one else can take it before you pick it up.