Mobike Vs Ofo Vs Bluey - The Ultimate Review
While certain areas of Shanghai have had really shitty rental bikes in place for several years, no one really got excited about signing up until Mobike and Ofo bikes started popping up like a city-wide case of herpes earlier this year. For this week’s Fun Shit Friday me and the rest of the team at Shanghai Expat held a race across Shanghai to settle once and for all which of these rental bikes you should sign up for.
For our review we stuck with the three main companies you see all over the city, Mobike, Ofo and 小鸣单车 (we’ll call it Bluey). At present Mobike offers both the Mobike and the Mobike Lite, Ofo offers two versions of its bike but hasn’t given them names, and Bluey only has one bike on offer.
Signing up on Mobike’s app will give you access to both of their bikes, as does Ofo’s.
Sign up is all done through the different companies’ apps. At the time of writing Mobike and Ofo seemed to be available universally, while Bluey’s app was available on Android but was limited to just the US and Chinese App Store on the iPhone.
Mobikes – Send in a picture of the photo page of your passport as well as a selfie of you and the photo page, pay a ¥299 refundable deposit and wait a few hours*.
Ofos – Same picture requirements as the Mobikes but you’ll have to pay a ¥99 deposit and wait 5/6 days*.
Bluey – Send in a picture of the photo page of your passport and a selfie of you and the front cover of your passport, pay a ¥199 deposit and wait 5 days*.
*Times based on our experience.
Mobike and Bluey are running almost identical apps that show you where you can find the nearest bikes. They also track your ride, showing you how far you’ve gone, how many calories you’ve burned and for how long you’ve been cycling. Unfortunately, Bluey’s app is only in Chinese at the moment.
Ofo’s app is a crock of shit. When you open it, it tells you how many bikes are near you but doesn’t show you where they are because none of their bikes have inbuilt GPS chips. Basically, if you need an Ofo you’ll have to wander around and hope you find one. Oh, and the app is also Chinese-only for now.
The Mobikes and Bluey use a QR code system to unlock the bikes. You scan the QR code, the app registers it and the bikes are sent an unlock message from HQ. When you’re finished, you push the lock down and the app will register that the ride has finished.
Ofo uses an old-school combination lock to secure their bikes. To get access, you enter the bike’s serial number into the app and you’re then given the combination to the lock. The app then tracks your phone as you cycle. Once you’ve finished cycling, you press the ride finished button in the app, lock the bike and walk away. While the combination locks are antiquated compared to Bluey and Mobike, it works perfectly well. Interestingly with this method, in theory, you could get the code to a bike, immediately end the journey in the app without locking the bike and then have a free ride all day. Don’t be a cheap asshole though.
Mobike: Built like a tank, the Mobike is heavy, clunky and could probably survive a direct hit from an atomic bomb. Anyone over 1.8m (5’9) is going to be incredibly uncomfortable riding it and will have to alternate between standing up and sitting to pedal. Its solid rubber tyres also mean every single crack in the pavement you cycle over can be felt in the handlebars. Oh, and don’t cycle it in the wet because it slides all over the place on China’s slippery roads.
Mobike Lite: Slightly lighter than the original Mobike, the Mobike Lite comes with a basket and handlebars that are a bit closer to the seat. This means if you’re tall, like me, you’ll regularly be hitting your knees against them. The ride comfort is pretty similar to the Mobike, it slides in the wet and its solid tyres make it uncomfortable. Also despite its lighter build I felt it took more power to cycle.
Ofo Classic: One huge advantage the Ofo Classic has over the Mobikes is that it’s designed like a traditional bike. The tyres need air, the frame is light and it’s fairly comfortable to ride. My main criticism is the cheap seat. I’ve seen several Ofos across the city where the seat has just fallen off and you can feel why when you cycle. The seats feel cheap, they creak, and they move a little. You can’t help but feel like it’s going to snap off every time you go over a big bump. Having said that, the Ofo isn’t too bad of a ride, even for tall people.
Ofo 2.0: So one of the problems with the Ofo Classic is that the traditional tyres made them highly susceptible to punctures. As a result, the Ofo 2.0 has been “upgraded” to have solid rubber tyres. While not as uncomfortable as the Mobikes, the 2.0 isn’t as comfortable as its predecessor. One massive advantage it does have however is an adjustable seat that can be changed depending on the rider’s height.
Bluey: Surprisingly, for a bike with rubber tyres, Bluey isn’t too bad. Its main benefit is the adjustable seat which goes up higher than the Ofo 2.0, meaning people under 2.0m (6’5) should be fine to ride it. It also has a fairly light frame and feels more like a traditional bike than either of Mobike’s current offerings.
Mobike – ¥1 every 30 minutes
Mobike Lite: ¥0.5 every 30 minutes
Ofo Classic + Ofo 2.0: ¥1 every 30 minutes
Bluey: ¥0.5 every 30 minutes (price can drop to ¥0.1 depending on how many friends you invite to sign up to Bluey)
If you live fairly central, go for Ofo. While you can’t see where their bikes are on the app, the sheer number of them in central Shanghai means they’re easy to find.
If you’re tall go for Ofo and Bluey. Both offer models with adjustable seats, they’re fairly comfortable rides and having both apps means you’ll be covered for most areas in Shanghai.
If you’re primarily concerned with availability, you’re short and you don’t mind feeling uncomfortable then go for the Mobike. It is worth mentioning that Mobike will be releasing a new model in Shanghai in February that will feature an adjustable seat.