The use of bicycles has increased significantly in 2020. But while most of us learned to cycle as children, many haven’t owned a bike for years (perhaps decades). So what are your options if you want to get back in the saddle? You can, of course, buy a bike. But they’re in short supply this year. And even if you have one, a bike of your own is fine right up until the point that something goes wrong and you have to book it in for a service – again, not so easy currently, with many bike shops inundated with repairs.
An increasingly attractive option is, therefore, to sign up to a subscription that provides you with a new or reconditioned bike of your own, allows you to choose how long you want to rent the bike for (weeks, months, years) and, in many cases, offers pretty much instant repair and service when you need. Here are six options to explore.
This London-only subscription platform reported a 440 per cent year-on-year increase in take-up after the first UK lockdown. For £29.99 a month (or as little as £17 on the Buzzbike to Work discount scheme) subscribers get a brand-new, high-quality, three-speed road bike delivered to their door by a member of the firm’s “rider happiness” team, who will set up and explain the machine in detail. The monthly fee includes a lock, insurance and an on-demand maintenance and repair service. Riders also get access to the Buzzbike app, which shows the savings they’ve made by using their Buzzbike instead of public transport, calories burned, and miles and hours spent riding. Minimum subscription is one month, there’s no contract and the bike can be handed back at any time. buzzbike.cc
Brompton’s small-wheel bicycles have long been popular with commuters. The fold-up design makes them easy to take on trains and to store safely inside at home or work – although, with prices ranging from around £1,000 to £2,180 for standard pedal models (and from £2,725 for electrically assisted versions), buying one is a significant commitment. In August, the firm piloted its Brompton Subscription service, which allows the use of a pre-owned Brompton for £30 a month with a 12-month contract, or £42 a month on a monthly renewal. Customers sign up online, then take a bike from one of more than 50 collect docks at Brompton hire centres in locations that include Portsmouth, London, Manchester and Oxford. The 250 or so bikes made available in phase one are all spoken for, but phase two is set to launch early next year. bromptonsubscription.com
The original European bike subscription business. Founded in the Netherlands in 2014, it has now been rolled out to more than 40 towns and cities across the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Germany. For a base price of €16.50 a month (plus a €15 up-front fee) subscribers get an Original Dutch bike with no gears, or a seven-speed Deluxe 7 model for €19.50. Committing to a six-month contract eliminates the up-front fee. If a bike breaks, riders can contact one of the firm’s stores through the Swapfiets app, WhatsApp or phone, and a repair or replacement is guaranteed within two days. Introducing a new subscriber to the scheme, meanwhile, earns existing users €7.50 off a month’s fee. The Swapfiets subscription is also available with electrically assisted ebikes at €75 a month. swapfiets.de
Zoomo is an ebike subscription platform that sprang from an initiative by Bolt Bikes of Sydney to make electric bicycles available to gig workers. Now available to all in the UK, the US and Australia, the bikes can be hired from £39.99 a month for a lightweight, electrically assisted roadster to £44.99 a month for a cooler-looking small-wheeled Ranger street machine, and £49.99 for the long-range, heavy-duty Zero specifically designed for delivery riders. Unlike other platforms, Zoomo offers subscribers the opportunity to own used bikes after as little as six months of continuous payments. ridezoomo.com
Another ebike specialist, Berkshire-based Hurrecane claims its model represents an affordable way into the pricey world of electric cycle ownership, citing an average daily cost of £1.65. Plans are available at rates of £40-£60 a month, with subscribers tied to a minimum four-month deal. Seven models are available, ranging from a classic-looking step-through design to a fat-tyred extreme mountain bike. A deposit of up to £380 is payable before the bike is delivered to your door – complete with a lifetime warranty that even covers the battery pack and motor. The downside is that you’ll have to buy your own insurance – and will have to cover the cost of a replacement if you don’t take out adequate cover. hurrecane.bike
This claims to be the UK’s leading bicycle and ebike subscription platform and operates in tandem with the government’s Cycle to Work scheme – meaning an employer can pay the entire subscription fee for a bike that’s used to commute to the workplace, or split it 75/25, 50/50 or 25/75 with the user (or an individual can simply sign up independently). Six models are available, ranging from the Radrunner cargo bike for deliveries to the sporty Cowboy 3, as well as electric or traditional Bromptons. Insurance and unlimited maintenance come as part of the package, with monthly subscriptions starting from £52. dashrides.com
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