MOBIKE, a popular bicycle-sharing program, yesterday released a lighter and more durable version of bikes for hire that will be half the price to rent as regular models.
The new models will initially operate in Shanghai’s Baoshan, Xuhui and Yangpu districts.
The new silver and orange bicycle named Mobike Lite weighs 17 kilograms, 8 kilograms lighter than the traditional Mobikes.
Mobike Lites will also have solid rubber wheels to end the misery of punctures as well as strong chains to make them more durable. The model will have an intelligent lock and GPS system fueled by solar energy. A basket has been installed in front of the bicycle.
The rental price of the new bicycle has been halved to 0.5 yuan for 30 minutes. The cost of the bike itself is under 1,000 yuan (US$150), the same as its rival Ofo bicycle. The regular Mobike costs 3,000 yuan.
The first Mobikes appeared in the city in April and they quickly became popular with locals for commuting to and from Metro stations.
The company last month announced a successful C-round financing (by which startup companies obtain investment) of US$100 million as investors rushed to tap the growing bicycle-sharing community.
Beijing-based Mobike said it planned to have 100,000 bicycles, both the original and new Lite versions, in Shanghai by the end of this year, which will make the city China’s biggest bicycle sharing city.
However, the innovative scheme has encountered challenges. Some riders are reported to have parked the hired bikes at their homes, or to have damaged the QR code to prevent others from using the bikes, or even keeping them locked up to prevent anyone else using them.
The company has been seeking cooperation with local government officials to help to promote the scheme as well as to resolve the problems.
Baoshan District government, following Xuhui and Yangpu, yesterday signed an agreement with Mobike to promote the green scheme.
The Baoshan government will allow Mobike bicycles to be parked free at 30 Metro stations on lines 1, 3 and 7 within the district.
The district government will also help to crack down on bicycle stealing and damaging as well as promoting the bicycle sharing program among its residents.