Renting Bikes in Beijing, by Spencer Berning

The first thing you may notice when you land in Beijing is just how much of everything there is. How many buildings there are. How many people there are. How many little convenience stores there are. To be sure, there is a lot of everything in China. One thing you’ll see a lot of are bikes, especially rentable bikes. As a foreign teacher in China, these bikes are your new best friend for getting quickly around your new home.

MoBike, the most popular bike renting service in Beijing, is a familiar sight along the streets of the city. You don’t have to look hard to find one, as they will generally be at least one fairly close to you. The bright orange coloring that decorates MoBikes makes them easy to spot when you’re looking for a bike to rent. Renting a MoBike is fairly easy as well. Once you have your WeChat Pay account set up, all you need to do is download the MoBike app, complete the sign-up process (make sure you have your passport!) and link it to WeChat Pay. Congratulations, you’re now able to rent a MoBike!

Thankfully, MoBike has an English language version, but even if it did not, the app interface is so straightforward that you can easily figure out how to operate the app. To unlock a MoBike and start cruising, all you have to do is click the “Unlock” button at the bottom of the app screen, scan the QR code on the bike you want to rent, and the bike’s lock will pop open. Congratulations, you just rented your first MoBike!

So long as you stay inside the coverage area (Which is most of Beijing) you can ride your MoBike as long as you want. Take it wherever your heart desires, and when you’re done, you simply find a convenient place to park it (of which there are plenty) and slide the lock back into place. That easy. The charge will go straight to your account, which can be set-up to automatically be paid by WeChat Pay.

You might be wondering just how much renting one of these bikes cost. Surely you have to pay a decent amount for such ease and convenience. Not so. MoBike is almost criminally cheap. Most quick trips to somewhere around ShiJingShan cost you around 1.5 kuai; that’s about .21 US dollars. So yeah, absurdly cheap. You’ll be wanting to take a MoBike just about everywhere, no matter the distance. From the gym to the store to the little restaurant down the street, a MoBike will get you there. Most rides will probably take you twenty minutes or less. And longer rides aren’t even that much more. I used a MoBike for 3 hours straight once, biked nearly to Tiananmen Square and back. I was sure that I would have to pay 20 kuai, maybe even 30. When I got done and looked at the app, I was shocked that it only cost me 5 kuai for such a long bike ride.

Renting bikes in Beijing will soon become second nature to you. Anytime you have to go somewhere that’s just a little too far to walk, you’ll instinctively be reaching for that little orange app on your phone so you can zip on over to where you want to go.

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