3 Electric Bike-sharing Services in Tokyo You Should Know

Last Updated on 24.11.2022 by Simone Martin

Tokyo is well-known for its efficient and timely public transportation system. The capital’s dense network of train, subway, bus lines and taxis will likely easily take you whenever you need, within a short time.

However, when you want to avoid overcrowded trains, or simply enjoy the fresh breeze, riding an electric bicycle could be the best option to take you to your destination. Luckily, Tokyo counts different shared e-bikes choices for you. This article explores all you need to know about the three main bike-sharing providers in the capital—Docomo Bike Share, Hello Cycling, and Luup.

Riding a bike in Tokyo could feel quite liberating, and will allow you to discover some incredible spots on the road that would be otherwise lost in the limbo of the extensive metro network.

What’s more, as all of these three providers offer electric-assist bikes, it will be much easier for you to go up Tokyo’s many hilly roads. Just switch on the assist function on your bike to activate the electric assistance, which will offer you three different speed modes. E-bikes in Japan typically provide the rider with assisted power up to a speed of 24km/h while pedaling.

To join any of these companies services, you first need to sign up through their website or standalone apps. While Docomo Bike Share and Hello Cycling have English websites and dedicated apps, different sections of these platforms are still only available in Japanese, so it can be handy to use the help of a translation tool such as Google Translate during the registration process. The good news is that all providers accept international credit and debit cards, so foreign residents and tourists can quickly sign up and start using the service in a blink of an eye.

If you want to try out exploring the capital on a rented e-bicycle in Tokyo, here’s what you need to know about Tokyo’s top three bike-sharing providers.

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1. Docomo Bike Shares

Electric Bike-sharing Services docomo bike shares

Available in Tokyo and other 20 cities across Japan, Docomo Bike Share is Japan’s largest bike-sharing network. You can easily find Docomo’s notorious red electric bikes in several points of the capital and suburbs.

The service’s usage fees and business hours can vary according to the serviced area, but here are the rates for the capital: for occasional usage, rates start at 165 yen for the first 30 minutes and 165 yen for every additional 30 minutes. Monthly memberships are available for a flat price of 2,200 yen for the first 30 minutes (as many times as you want), but every additional 30 minutes will cost you an extra 165 yen.

Last but not least, daily passes are also available for 1,650 yen from pick-up moment until midnight. This could be a sweet option for tourists looking to get the best bang for their buck.

To join the service, customers need to visit the company’s website, or download the app and sign up. It is worth noting that you need a phone able to receive SMS to get a verification code. According to the official webpage, overseas SMS authentication has not been available since September 2021, so you will either need your own local phone number or ask for the help of a friend in Japan.

Once registered, it is now time to find the nearest dock to start your adventure. Users can unlock the bikes via a web browser or through the Bike Share app. The app, available in English, is quite intuitive and lets you visualize in advance the level of charge of each e-bike. It is also possible to check available ports near you to reserve a bike that you can reach within 20 minutes.

Docomo bikes with the oval devices unlock system are usually newer and more comfortable models. The app lets you visualize in advance the bikes with such system.

A pro tip is to look on the app for available e-bikes with the “oval unlocking device,” which can be unlocked by scanning a QR code. Bikes with this unlocking system tend to be newer and in better condition compared with bikes with the traditional “rectangular unlocking device,” which needs to be unlocked by typing a four-digit code.

To unlock a bike, simply go to the port, press the “start key” button, and depending on the unlock unit, either enter a four-digit pin code provided by the app or scan the QR code on the device. After it, the bike should automatically unlock.

However, before unlocking the bike, better ensure that the bike has enough battery left for your ride and has no flat tires. If you encounter any issue after unlocking the bicycle, you can return it, free of charge, within five minutes.

To drop off the bike after the ride, just use the app to find the nearest port. Once there, ensure to manually secure the bicycle’s wheel lock. After that, click on the drop-off button on the keypad in the middle of the handlebars. Finally, check on the app that the devolution has been successful.

Pros:

  • Widely available in Tokyo and other cities across Japan. -Easy registration process.
  • Monthly membership is available.
  • English app.

Cons:

  • Bikes are often in not optimal conditions.
  • Many pick-up and drop-off points are offbeat from the main streets.
  • At peak hours, it could be hard to find available bikes to rent.

2. Hello Cycling

Hello Cycling is the second most popular electric bike-sharing service in Japan. As of now, the service is available in Tokyo, Yokohama, Sapporo, Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Shizuoka, and Shodoshima Island.

In Tokyo, however, this provider distinguishes for having more ports in the suburban districts of the capital, yet fewer bikes in the city center.

Hello Cycling bikes are characterized by their yellow and white color. Bikes are newer, bigger, and arguably more comfortable than Docomo bikes. To register for the service, users need to sign up for the service through the website or the company’s app.

Rates in Tokyo start at 130 yen for the first 30 minutes and 100 yen for any additional 15 minutes. Using a Hello Cycling bike for up to 12 hours will cost you a maximum of 1,800 yen. Monthly memberships are not provided.

To unlock the bikes, the system is similar to Docomo bikes. You only need to find a port near you, book a bicycle, and get there within 30 minutes to unlock the vehicle. If any problem is encountered after unlocking a bike, Hello Cycling allows you to return the bike, within three minutes, free of charge. To return the bike, just find another available port, lock the bike, and press the return button.

The Hello Cycling app is available in English. However, some information is only displayed in Japanese.

Pros:

  • Bikes are comfortable and in good condition.
  • Cheaper prices compared to Docomo Bike Share.
  • This provider offers many available ports in the suburbs of Tokyo.

Cons:

  • Fewer ports points across Tokyo’s central area.
  • No monthly membership.
  • The app has many sections that are only written in Japanese.

3. Luup

Electric Bike-sharing Services Tokyo Luup

Offering e-bikes, but also electric scooters, Luup is a relative newcomer in Japan’s shared mobility sector. The company operates in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Kyoto. In total, it has around 1,100 ports across the country.

The company’s e-scooters and e-bikes are recognizable by their bluish color, with rates starting at 50 yen after unlocking the vehicle, plus 15 yen per minute. For instance, a short five-minute ride will cost you 125 yen, while a one-hour ride will leave you with 950 yen less in your pocket. Prices are equal for e-scooters and e-bikes.

Yet, due to the current regulations in Japan, only riders with a valid driving license (Japanese or international document) can ride e-scooters, and users are required to upload a picture of their driving license to have the option to unlock e-scooters.

To join the service, you need to download the app and follow the registration process. Please note that the app is only available in Japanese.

To pick up or drop off a vehicle, the process is quite similar to Docomo Bike Share and Hello Cyling.

The Luup app is currently only available in Japanese.

Pros:

  • E-scooters are also available.
  • Modern and newer vehicles.
  • E-bikes are quite small and could be uncomfortable for tall riders.

Cons:

  • Limited amount of ports.
  • A driver license is required to drive an e-scooter.
  • It can become a bit expensive if used for long periods.

Things to Know When Riding a Shared E-bike in Tokyo

It is worth noting that all current bike-sharing services in Japan require you to return the bike to a docking station when you end your ride. This could be something to consider if you are in a rush, as some docking stations within the capital and other cities are sometimes difficult to find.

However, if you need to temporarily park your bike, you can just find a proper parking area and lock the bike by hand. You will still pay for the renting service while the bike is temporarily parked, but this will allow you to perhaps enjoy a quick coffee in one of Tokyo’s many awesome cafes.

As it is usually forbidden to park your bike on sidewalks or public areas, so be sure to find the closest churinjo (bicycle parking lot) to temporarily leave your bike. Rates are normally 100 yen to 200 yen an hour.

It is also important to know that Japan can be quite strict with its rules on the road. For first-time bike riders in Tokyo or any other city in Japan, there are a few important rules that need to be respected.

First, you need to ride on the left side of the road, and you have to respect traffic lights, always. In easy words, pretend you are a car, and never run a red light.

It is also worth mentioning that it is illegal to drive a bike under the influence of alcohol. Also, refrain from using the bell on your bike unless truly necessary. Of course, avoid using your phone and headphones when riding, as officials could fine you for it.

Tips on Riding E-bike in Tokyo

With more bike-sharing services readily available in Tokyo, the popularity of e-bikes is rising quickly, especially in the city center. When you need a bike, it is advisable to check in advance the closest port to book the most fully charged bike. This will avoid the unpleasant surprise of arriving at the station only to find out that all bikes are gone.

Also, if you need to rent a bike to go to a specific place, it is better to check in advance the availability of ports near your final destination. Even if there are now more bike-sharing ports than ever before, there are still some areas of the capital where no service is provided. After all, you don’t want to get to your destination to then find out that the closest dropping port is a couple of kilometers away.

Cycling on the sidewalk is fine, but don’t speed up too much, and always allow pedestrians the right of way. Observe what other local cyclists do and follow up. Japan’s capital is quite a safe city to ride a bike, in big part due to to the fact that most citizens obey the rules.

Be patient, and respect traffic lights and the rules of the road. Tokyo is a city that offers a lot of diversity in its surroundings, and one of the best ways to truly discover it is by walking around or well, riding a bike.

What are the common bike renting services in Tokyo?

Docomo Bike Shares, Hello Cycling and Luup are three popular e-bike companies, and they have different pros and cons.

Which side of the road should you ride your bike in Japan?

First, you need to ride on the left side of the road, and you have to respect traffic lights, always. Going against the traffic is dangerous.


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