The brakes are bad, the wheels run sluggish and have unsafe apps: rental bikes are enormously popular, but also pretty bad. German consumer organisation Stiftung Warentest investigated the situation with popular models and it's not a pretty picture. Four out of six providers fail the test all down the line.
Stiftung Warentest took a closer look at six suppliers of rental bicycles and examined how safe they are. The result is clear: four out of six rental bikes fail the test. Only Nextbike, with an overall score of 1.9 and Call a Bike, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, passed the test with a score of 2.3. The rental bikes of Donkey Republic, Mobike and Byke as well as the Limebike's pedelec also come off poorly. Especially bitter: The best bikes from Nextbike and Call a Bike were only average in the technical test with scores of 2.8 and 3.4, but they were clearly better than the rest.
A normal bicycle must be able to stop a weight of 150 kilos in the brake test. Sharing bikes only weigh 120 kilos, but that's too much for most rental bikes. Platzhirsch Mobile didn't pass the test any more than Byke and Limebike, at Donkey Republic one of three wheels after all. In a Byke test bike, the front brake already gave up at 22 kilograms - roughly equivalent to the weight of the bike without a rider. The Limebike pedelecs also lack a prescribed safety mechanism for the electric motor. That's anything but reassuring.
There is another aspect to security, however, and that is data protection. Here Mobike again comes off badly, because their app transmits the phone number unencrypted, for example. In general, the apps don't necessarily perform well in the test. Call a Bike provides an example of how things can be done differently. Their app is well positioned in terms of data protection, although it requires a lot of data for registration.
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Do you use rental bikes? Which provider is your favorite?