Why I do not own a bicycle in Germany

When I move from Portugal to Germany, around 5 years ago, one of the first things I did was to buy a bicycle. Berlin is a fantastic city to ride a bicycle, and I bought one online for less than 300 euros.

My first bicycle in Germany

The bicycle had lights, and most important, a protection for the rain. Soon I discovered that this feature was very important for the winter.

In Berlin I found a place to do the normal maintenance of my bicycle for less than 20 euros.

When I move to Frankfurt the nightmare began… I had to replace a tire from the bicycle, and every store I tried, they were not willing to do the maintenance or change the tire. Instead, almost all stores tried to sell me a new bicycle, normally for a price around 2000 euros.

What did I do? I just left the bicycle in one place without a tire. The bicycle was locked, but as expected, the city took the bicycle to free up the space. It took one week

I now rent a bicycle instead

I do not own anymore a bicycle, however I use one everyday to go to work, or for the daily travels in Frankfurt. Since 2016, I’m a client of the bike-sharing Call a Bike, a bike renting service from Deutsche Bahn.

Call a Bike Map

Heads Up: Call a Bike support speaks english!

Today Call a Bike said that demand for bicycles in Frankfurt and Offenbach has increased significantly in both cities, so the core area of Frankfurt was increased to the west and east, so that it merges with Offenbach. In the announcement, Call a Bike said that the offering will increase by 700 new-generation bikes, and there will be more than 30 new stations.

How does Call a Bike work?

Call a Bike has 4 subscription models, however if you live in Frankfurt, I recommend only the Komfort. You pay 49 euros per year, and you can rent a bicycle every 30 minutes for free. You just need to leave the bike in one station.

If you leave the bike outside a station it costs 1 euro extra.

Call a Bike stations

Call a Bike stations are everywhere in Frankfurt, and normally look like this:

Call a Bike station in Frankfurt

In my case, I pay 78 euros per year and I can rent 2 bikes at the same time. This is good option if you live with your partner. Both can use the same account and save 20 euros on this subscription.

This option is not advertised by Call a Bike, but is available on the price list:

Under the Comfort tariff an additional partner bike can be
added to the booking which costs € 29 for the one-year
pass or € 7 where charging is monthly.

Call a Bike Price List

So because Call a bike exists, that’s the main reason I don’t own a bike. I can rent a bike that received maintenance, and I don’t have to worry myself with that.

What I don’t like in Call a Bike

I like their support, specially that they speak in English. That’s extraordinary in Germany. However I feel sometimes Call a Bike support needs to be more customer friendly. Having a process of giving the benefit of the doubt to subscribers will increase a lot the customer satisfaction. You can see on the app reviews that there are a lot of complains.

There are sometimes technical problems:

  • The passwords do not work (this happened to me like 4 or 5 times in 4 years)
  • The bicycle is locked but it shows up as it was not locked (this happened to me 2 times in 4 years)

I like that I can pay with credit card, but I don’t like that Call a Bike doesn’t send any email when the card is expired. The service just stop working when your subscription is over. No email is sent as an alert.

Apart from this, I give a rating of 4 stars to Call a Bike:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What I would like to have from Call a Bike

  • Better bikes in Frankfurt. I think the Call a Bike bicycles in Berlin are better bikes than in Frankfurt. Bikes in Frankfurt are not so comfortable.
  • That the app Call a Bike had a direct integration with the app Bike Citizens.
  • The support was faster to reply to emails/complains.
  • To be able to see the number of operational/available bikes in Frankfurt, so that everyone could evaluate the quality of service. I have the feeling that some days, the bicycles available are limited.
  • That one third of the bikes have a basket for shopping.