In the Netherlands, subscription bikes have proved to be a successful alternative to buying a bike. Now this concept has arrived in Austria: rental bikes including repair service and insurance for a fixed monthly fee. The Financial Times recently listed the Dutch bike subscription service startup ‘Swapfiets’ in the top ten most rapidly growing businesses, such is the booming international demand for bicycles. Alongside Swapfiets, EDDI Bike and Bike Gorillaz have been offering bike subscription services in Vienna since the spring. What can this subscription service provide?
Cycle Competence member Radlobby has tested all three services. Below is a summary of the findings with links to more details.
Swapfiets offers Dutch know-how
The successful Dutch business Swapfiets now has a presence in many European cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris. The eye-catching dutch townbikes are available to rent with a range of different options. With the creation of a complete cyclical process from repair, re-use, replacement and recycling, Swapfiets has proven that bike subscription services can contribute to the livability and sustainability of cities. A recent lifecycle analysis of the most popular Swapfiets model demonstrated an efficiency of 88%, considerably higher than the linear production life of a comparable purchased townbike.
As well as singlespeed and 7-speed varieties, an electric version will soon be available. All models are equipped with a unisex frame, dynamo lights and a wheel lock. An extra chainlock is, however, essential in order to reduce the insurance premium from up to 400 euros to 40 in the case of theft.
The bikes impressed with their maneuverability in the Radlobby test: “The good gear ratios make acceleration on the flat easy, however the ‘original’ model could use an extra low gear in order to deal with Vienna’s undeniable gradients. In contrast, the ‘Deluxe 7’ model offers everything that a townbike should: at traffic lights and uphill, acceleration in the lowest gear is very easy, whilst the higher gears enable a good tempo on the flat, the upright position providing a clear overview of the surrounding traffic.” More information here from Radlobby Wien.
EDDI Bike counts on recycling
The Vienese startup EDDI was founded in January 2021 by four University students. Corporate clients such as delivery companies and the ÖBB are already on board. EDDI stands for “ecological, diverse, dynamic, innovative.” Broken bikes are repaired and are put back into circulation. The business seeks to integrate socially disadvantaged groups and support social projects. The company offers either monthly or yearly subscriptions. In the case that the bike needs repairs or is stolen, it is replaced within 48 hours. In the case of theft, the customer has to pay an 80 euro processing fee.
The 3-speed hub gear worried the Radlobby test team – “Wien isn’t Utrecht, we do have some hills! However, in practice, the bike surprises simultaneously with its agility and secure grip thanks to wide tires. On the flat the bike flows along nicely, even small hills are easily dealt with, however unless we want to integrate a daily workout into our ride, we wouldn’t ideally like to take it up steep hills.” By the end of the year EDDI wishes to reach 1000 units, including 7-speed models, with e-bikes planned to follow. More Information here.
Bike Gorillaz counts on E-Power
The startup Bike Gorillaz rents E-Mountain bikes and E-Touring bikes for adults and children. Founder Arjun Ahluwalia discovered his love for bicycles during the Coronavirus lockdown, before which he only drove cars or motorbikes. The adult subscription lasts between 6 and 8 months, the children’s subscription either 3 or 6 months. The costs of insurance, delivery, replacement parts and servicing up to 1300km are included. There are no costs to pay if the bike is stolen and when the subscription expires there is the option to buy the bike.
The Radlobby Testresumée: “Being a hardtail, the bike does away with rear suspension. The result is a lighter, simpler, more user-friendly bike, which is also cheaper. The bike is perfect for people who want to ride easy off-road trails. The comfortable position and strong motor, mean uphill sections are no problem. The only minus-point is the suspension fork.” More information here.
Photos: Ines Ingerle, Radlobby