I don’t usually love brands or follow companies religiously, but MoBike is different. Before explaining why here are the bare essentials of MoBike.
MoBike is a bike-sharing App that allows you to access the use of MoBike’s fleet of bicycles around the city. A MoBike is found using the app’s GPS location device. To ride the bike, you scan the QR code found above the back wheel, once your phone acknowledges the bike the lock will automatically come off to open and free up the back wheel. You are then charged RMB0.5(5pence) for 30 minutes of cycling. To park the bike, you find a free space on a curb, then you lock the lock on the back wheel.
MoBike in my eyes has transcended being a brand, it is a lifestyle choice, a city accessory. The beauty of it is its simplicity, its carbon-neutral option, its cool chic yet sturdy design.
In August 2016 it launched in Beijing. Like wild fire, they were all over the city within days.
I had a head-start on this craze. The weekend before I had been down in Shanghai, the first city it launched in (despite being a Beijing company). So enamoured by its design and simplicity, the trip was fondly remembered for downloading this app, paying the 299RMB deposit and trying it out this technological masterpiece for the first time.
So why am I such a fan?
- Cool look. The first version of the MoBike was a BMX style model that you see above you. Although riding it was heavy on your thighs, they looked appealing and the rider looked cool. There are many other bike-sharing App companies in China, the biggest competitor being Ofo. I believe MoBike has stolen the market and my heart because of this first version that made riders stand out on the street.
- Adaptability. Extended on to Point 1 is MoBike’s willingness to bring out a new style of bike to manage the problem of its first version being tough on your thighs and also being quite pricey. Their MoBike Lite is not only cheaper to use but a much more comfortable ride.
- Environmental Footprint. It is a success of the modern day market. Previously the Government had been putting out bike-sharing stands that were a good initiative but frankly no-one used. Then through ingenuity of its Chinese and former Uber executive founders, the market has given us a better option. The city and its inhabitants can move without making a carbon footprint. The company is making a real impact on city mobility.
- Navigation. What the the government scheme bike stand lacked was a location sensor, you need only take one look on your phone to find a MoBike. There are now 100,000 bikes in each of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, plus they have also launched in 13 other cities in China, soon to be Singapore and further abroad. You do not need to go far to find one.
- The last-mile. This is the problem which the company promotes itself at solving and boy it does. Ever been late for a meeting/class/ date? or perhaps you just want to get to a club/concert/ your home a little faster than your legs can carry? By transporting MoBikes strategic points (subway stations), MoBike allows its uses to cut the time of that last mile, giving you back your time.
- Chinese. It is often a critique aimed at China’s home grown production, that the country has produced too few Global Brands. This is changing with the likes of HuaWei, Lenovo, XiaoMi etc. However I think MoBike is a brand, that can Go Global*. I also believe is a world changing device because of the impact it has on people’s lives in a city in an urbanising world. It makes it all the more special that it is from China.
*There is the problem that all payments for the bike are taken through WeChat.