oBike... not Mobike (yet): Boris' biking legacy comes under pressure as bike-sharing firms eye London cycling revolution

Oliver Gill
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Some 400 cycles will be launched by oBike in London today

A cut-price rival to London's iconic Boris Bikes will today set up camp in the capital as Britain's bike-sharing revolution gathers pace.

Singapore start-up oBike is first station-less bike-sharing platform to come to London. It will launch by rolling out 400 rental cycles to Tower Hamlets.

The bike-sharing phenomenon has proved extremely popular in Asia and has grown exponentially in a matter of months. At the end of June rival Mobike hit British shores, launching in Manchester.

Mobike is in advanced discussions with a number of London's local authorities to bring its platform to the capital, the firm's UK head told City A.M..

Read more: The Chinese are coming: Boris bikes under threat from a new kid in town

Mobike, mo' problems

It hasn't been all plain, er... cycling, though. Just days after its launch in Manchester Mobike police reported bikes had been vandalised and locks had been broken.

Mobike UK general manager Steve Pyer said:

A number of these reports have been related to suspected (and mistaken) bike abandonment, reported those unfamiliar with Mobike’s innovative dockless sharing system.

oBike vs Boris Bikes

Meanwhile, oBike is aiming to undercut the price of Transport for London's Santander Cycles (aka Boris Bikes), which are part funded by the taxpayer.

A deposit of £49 is required for oBike users, with rates at 50p for a 30 minute ride. This compares with TfL's scheme which has a daily membership cost of £2 per day, the first 30 minutes is free, the it is £2 thereafter – an initial £3 registration fee is also payable.

Bike-sharing is proving popular with investors. In June Mobike secured $600m (£470m) investment from, among others, Chinese tech giant Tencent.

Meanwhile, last week ofo – which claims to be the world's first station-free bike-sharing company, a similar claim made by Mobike – announced a $700m investment from a number investors including Chinese online marketplace Alibaba and Hony Capital, the owners of Pizza Express.

Read more: Chinese bike-sharing firm goes bust after cycles disappear

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