No matter whether you’re in Frankfurt am Main just for a day, a week or a year, renting a bike is always an excellent option to either explore the city or quickly get to your business meeting. To quickly find the best bike sharing app in Frankfurt, here’s a handy comparison for both tourists and locals.
Note: For the impatient ones, please scroll down to the conclusion section to find out which the best bike sharing app in Frankfurt am Main is.
Why Bike Sharing Apps Are A Must-Have – And Beat Owning A Bike
Bike sharing apps have become increasingly popular worldwide for many reasons: They are superbly handy, convenient, save the environment, keep you fit and are much cheaper than public transport or taxis. As registration and membership is usually free of charge, every money-, environment- and health-savvy traveler should have a bike sharing app on her phone.
Related: Compensate your CO2 emissions: B’n’Tree plants a tree whenever you book a bed.
For the occasional local biker bike sharing apps even beat owning a bike, since you don’t have to worry about repairs or a stolen bike. Also, rented bicycles offer the convenience of one-way rides, without wondering where you last parked your bike or how to get it back home.
Even if you’re a hardcore biker, it makes sense to use a bike sharing app for the occasional ride to town or meeting friends in a bar. You wouldn’t want your 4,000 € bike to be demolished or stolen while having a drink.
The Five Bike Sharing Companies In Frankfurt Am Main
Frankfurt am Main is a city with five different bike sharing companies. Byke, Call a Bike (Deutsch Bahn), LimeBike, NextBike and OBike all compete for your business. Surely some of these will disappear over time, but currently it is quite a challenge determining which bike sharing app is the best in town.
Byke is a Berlin startup founded in 2017. It operates in Frankfurt am Main, Berlin and the Ruhr area (Essen, Duisburg, Mühlheim). The German newcomer offers the cheapest rates on the market, plus a signup bonus.
Byke has a storage center and a garage in Langen, where all Frankfurt bikes are maintained.
Website: http://byke.de (Website is in German only, but app is available in English.)
Call A Bike (By Deutsche Bahn)
Call a Bike is the bike sharing app by Deutsche Bahn. It was first introduced back in 2000 in Munich.
Currently, the system covers 40+ German cities – however, in most cities you can only rent and return bikes at ICE (German fast train) train stations. In Frankfurt, dozens of stations are available all over the city.
Besides nextbike, Call a Bike claims to be Germany’s largest rental bike provider.
LimeBike is a Californian-based bicycle-sharing company founded in January 2017. Today, it operates in over 60 cities in the US alone. In Europe, you currently find LimeBikes in Berlin, Bremen, Frankfurt and Zurich.
In addition to bicycles, LimeBike also offer scooters and e-bikes in some of their locations (Frankfurt not yet).
NextBike (in Frankfurt sponsored by Visa) claims to be Germany’s biggest bike rental company. Founded in 2004 in Leipzig, Germany, it now operates in 50+ German cities and 25 other countries on 4 continents worldwide.
OBike was founded in Singapore in 2016, where it started with 1,000 bicycles. They have hence expanded to 24 countries including the Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Sweden.
OBike also currently offers a signup bonus.
Rating Criteria: How To Become Frankfurt’s Best Bike Sharing App
To determine Frankfurt’s best bike sharing app, we have compared the following criteria for you.
Convenience looks at the ease of use of the different bike sharing apps, plus the number of bikes available in Frankfurt. As most companies don’t reveal the exact number of available bikes per city, the latter criterion is based on our opinion and experience.
Convenience is obviously the most important rating criterion, since the best bike sharing app doesn’t help you at all if you cannot find an available bike, and having bikes all over the place doesn’t help either if it’s a nightmare to unlock and ride them.
Costs are the second most important criterion. Should the bikes be too expensive, you might as well take public transport, rent a bike from a public bike rental company or consider buying a bike in case you’re staying in town for a while.
Costs include registration fees and the user fees, both per 30-minute ride and per day. As we expect you to comply with the rental rules of the bike sharing provider of your choice, we have not rated potential penalty fees, e.g. for parking the bike incorrectly or deliberately destroying it.
Related: Making and saving money.
Other Notes And Comments
Finally, we take other potentially important factors into account, such as the (inter-)national network of the bike sharing company, app ratings and more.
Convenience Of Frankfurt’s Bike Sharing Apps
Convenience is split into two parts, the number of available bikes as well as the ease of use.
Call a Bike and Byke clearly offer the most bikes in Frankfurt, possibly with Call a Bike having a tiny edge here. These two are followed by Next Bike, Lime Bike and OBike, in that order.
Regards ease of use, Byke, Lime Bike and OBike are ahead of the competition, as they rely on GPS-based systems. Like Car2Go, your app will show you the nearest available bike, which you simply unlock by scanning a QR code. The advantage of this system is that you do not have to look for the next official bike station, but can park the bike wherever you end your ride (legal bicycle parking spots only).
OBike earns an extra point here for the “reservation” feature, which lets you reserve a bike to ensure it doesn’t get snatched away right under your nose.
Call a Bike and NextBike rely on the outdated station-system. Bikes are available at dedicated parking stations and must be returned to such a station as well. Should you prefer these for any reason, Call a Bike has more stations available than NextBike.
Costs Of Frankfurt’s Bike Sharing Apps
The standard costs of Frankfurt’s bike sharing apps vary greatly.
Byke is ahead of the competition here, with no registration or membership costs, and only charging 50c per 20 minutes’ ride. In addition, they offer bonus payments when you top up your account. Bonus payments increase from 1 € bonus for adding 5 € up to 25 € for adding 50 € to your account.
Call a Bike, NextBike, OBike and LimeBike all charge 1 € for 30 minutes. That’s double as much as Byke, but still considerably cheaper than public transport in Frankfurt. For the latter three, registration and membership are free of charge as well. Call a Bike charges a 3 € annual membership fee in their basic tariff.
The maximum costs per day vary between 3 € (Byke) and 15 € (Call a Bike).
Related: 9 ways to make money online
Both Byke and OBike currently offer a signup bonus upon registration.
For Byke, use the referral code KB1FB4V upon sign up, and you and I both receive 10 free rides (without time restriction). Enter the referral code right after downloading the app, at the beginning of the registration. Keep your eyes peeled – the referral code field is not as evidently placed as it could be. Then invite your friends to earn both them and yourself further free rides.
OBike currently offers a signup bonus of 3×30 free minutes. To qualify, simply register via their website. There’s no bonus for referring friends.
Related: Make money with referring friends: The Top 5 Best Affiliate Programs for Beginners
All of the five bike sharing apps in Frankfurt offer paid membership options. These include several 30-minute rides a day for free, and cost between 10-20 € a month. (Cheapest long-term deals: NextBike at 48 €, Call a Bike with 49 € and Byke with 50 € per year.)
Should you use your rental bike multiple times per day, these options could be for you. Please refer to the respective websites for further information, as terms and conditions vary. Listing all of them here would go beyond the scope of the article.
Other Notes And Comments
In addition to the bike rental service these bike sharing apps offer, there are several extras you may be interested in. Check out which extras your favorite rental bike provider throws into the ring.
Payment is possible with Stripe, Paypal and Credit Card. App ratings are 4.6 in the Apple store, 4.2 in Google Play.
Nice touch: When finishing your ride, the Byke app tells you how long your ride was, the distance you covered, the calories you’ve burned and the amount of CO2 you saved.
Related: More free tree planting: An Honest Ecosia Review
Call A Bike
One bonus for Call a Bike is that you can temporarily park the bike, e.g. to dash to the bathroom or buy a bottle of water in a supermarket. Simply lock the bike and unlock it with the code shown on the bike’s display.
Call a Bike allows you to rent out 2 bikes at the same time. Considering that the luggage racks are the most comfortable amongst any bike sharing company in Frankfurt, you can easily transport 4 persons in one go (for 1 € per 30 minutes).
In case you often travel to Hamburg, Lüneburg or Stuttgart, you may be excited to hear that the first 30 minutes of your ride are free of charge in these three cities.
Also, in case you own a BahnCard (discount card for German train rides), you enjoy discounted rates on their annual membership rates.
Google Play app rating is 3.2.
LimeBike enjoys the best app ratings amongst any of the bike sharing apps in Frankfurt. On Google Play they score 4.5, on Apple even a whopping 4.9!
LimeBike’s website also states there’s an option to pay in cash for the bike rental. Should you have experience with this, please drop a short comment below.
One downside is that the website does not explain the pricing structure. Again, please comment below in case you can find it.
NextBike, same as Call a Bike, allows you to take a break from your ride and lock the bike temporarily.
Their app ratings are the worst amongst all the listed bike sharing apps, with Google Play reviews averaging at 3.4, Apple users at a desastrous 1.1.
The OBike app offers the option to reserve a bike 10 minutes before departure, which is a great feature to ensure the bike of your choice isn’t snatched away right before you reach it.
There also are rumors one soon can pay OBike with cryptocurrency. Their own coin, OCoin, is developed as you read.
One big downside is that you have to pay a deposit before you can use a bike. This is mentioned in the T&Cs, but nowhere on the main pages of the website. Deposits are between 49 USD and 79 EUR, varying by country.
Google Play store rating is 3.9, Apple store 2.9.
Conclusion: The Best Bike Sharing App In Frankfurt
Considering all the above points, Byke is Frankfurt’s best bike sharing app. The ease of use and the low costs convince. Remember to use code KB1FB4V when signing up to receive 10 free rides.
Should you often travel domestically or internationally, and money is not your most pressing issue, you may want to consider giving one of the other apps a shot as well.
NextBike offers the largest network in Germany. While Call a Bike isn’t much smaller, the fact that Call a Bike is only available at ICE train stations in many cities is a turnoff. And so is their annual fee.
As a US citizen you may find LimeBike operating close to where you live. Asians will probably find OBikes closer to home.
One Last Hack For Bikeshare Lovers Worldwide
To all you bikeshare lovers out there: There’s a sensational Google map available, listing all the different bikeshare operations worldwide. You should definitely check it out.
Over To You
Which is your favorite bike sharing app? Will you try one of these five? Do you have any comments or experiences that can help other bikers make a better decision?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and join our Facebook discussion on the best bike sharing apps in Frankfurt.