Frankfurt is a big city masquerading as a small city. There’s every possible thing you’d need from a big city in the size of a village. Getting around Frankfurt is actually a joy with short distances being easily serviced by the U-Bahn and S-bahn. Walking and biking are in my opinion the best way to get around the city and Frankfurt is blessed with numerous bike sharing programs, as well as new E-scooters.
This post will go into the different options for bike sharing that I’ve seen in Frankfurt. As of June 2019, numerous companies have opened up e-scooter sharing in Frankfurt and nowadays, all I see are people zipping around in their scooters.
Update: As of 07/2019, Swapfiets, which is a monthly bike subscription program finally opened up shop in Frankfurt. Unlike bike sharing, you are essentially renting a bike entirely for use by you for a monthly price. I’ve since tried them out and would highly recommend reading my review if this is something you’re interested in!
This post is all a part of my guide to living in Frankfurt, Germany where I list out all the things you need to know as an expat in Frankfurt and Germany.
The bike sharing contenders
Frankfurt has three bike sharing programs that I’ve been able to locate. These bike sharing programs all function in the same way; sign up for their app, get a bike, drop it off, pay either per ride or on a subscription based plan.
I’ve played around with all the bike sharing options and here is my breakdown of which is best. If you just want the results and to skip all the nonsense, go with Windbyke.
DB Call a Bike
Callabike is provided by Deutsche Bahn, which is why it is available in large quantities outside of the main train stations across Germany.
There is one key benefit to Callabike in that if you have a Bahncard or a student ID then the first half hour is free. There is actually a deal with Goethe University as well that all students have to pay a fee as part of their registration and then get unlimited access to Callabike. Great if you want it, annoying if you don’t.
The bikes are not bad but not great in my opinion. For the purpose of city cruising, the bikes are constructed in an uncomfortable manner such that you need to bend over more than is comfortable. Like a race bike almost. As far as biking goes, there are 7 gear choices and they lowest gear is great for getting speed. There is no basket in the front however which I really enjoy from Windbykes.
DB Bikes have the best rates of all the bike sharing programs. For tourists, it is €3 registration, and €1 for every 30 minutes thereafter. For long term users, it is a very cheap €9 a month for unlimited rides, and €49 per year! If you know you’re here for a year or more, then latter option is fantastic.
DB Bikes can only be picked up and dropped off at certain locations.
NextBike is similar to DB in that it can only be picked up and dropped off at certain locations. The bikes are similar to DB in that they are uncomfortable and heavy, but have great lower gear power. The cost for NextBike is a flat €1 per 30 minutes or €10 per month. There is no fee to join so this could be a good option for those visiting.
NextBike also has a huge network of bikes encompassing much of Europe. If you plan on visiting places in Germany like Cologne, or Hamburg, you can use NextBike in those cities without paying anything extra. It’s also available outside of Germany in places like Austria and Poland.
Windbyke has been in Frankfurt for many years now. It is the only bike share service that allows you to drop off wherever you want in the city of Frankfurt. The bikes are also comfortable, but make sure to use their newer teal colored models as opposed to their older blue bikes that I swear are meant for children.
Because you can drop off the bike anywhere, sometimes it can take some time to find a bike especially if you live in a more residential neighborhood. I’ve mostly been satisfied with the App but often times it will give you a bike location on their map, but there is no bike to be seen. Sometimes the bike is just down the street or across the road but I’ve been in many situations where the bike was nowhere close to the marker. Perhaps people just take the bikes into their houses which would not be nice.
The cost to ride is €1 on a ride as you go basis. This is good for 20 minutes which is enough for most rides around Frankfurt but a little short for me. Wind bike also doesn’t require a German mobile number to register and accepts credit card or mobile payment options.
They have numerous subscription plans depending on how much you ride. Their monthly subscription ranges from €10 which is two rides a day to €15 to 4 rides a day to €20 for unlimited rides up to 2 hours per ride. I used the unlimited ride package as they had it on sale for €15 when I joined. If you’re biking to work 2x a day, the monthly subscription is a no brainer.
Swapfiets is a bike subscription program from the Netherlands (of course) that rolled out in Frankfurt mid 2019. Swapfiets provides you with your own personal bike that you can use whenever, wherever, however for a price under €20 a month. They offer Dutch bikes with 7 gears and are made of impeccable quality. What separates Swapfiets from the rest is they provide on-demand repair and maintenance services.
If something is wrong with the bike, you can schedule an appointment on their app and someone will come to you to fix it. If they can’t fix it, they will just give you a new bike to use. They also provide you with locks and bike insurance is all included in the monthly price.
I’ve since got myself a bike through Swapfiets and think they are total geniuses providing a service that is much needed. Make sure to read my full review of Swapfiets if you’re interested in such a service!
E-Scooters in Frankfurt
E-scooters are all the rage around the world now. While traveling around the Baltic countries, there were scooters everywhere. Frankfurt finally got its own scooters in June 2019!
There are three companies to choose from in Frankfurt; Tier, Circ and Lime. I’ve ridden all of them and I must say that riding an e-scooter is definitely the most fun and quickest way to get around the city. I don’t think I would make e-scooters my day to day form of transport because I prefer the exercise of biking but it’s definitely something fun. As a tourist, I would not hesitate to use these scooters to get around Frankfurt!
As for the scooters themselves, they are mostly the same models and their speeds cap out at around 30 km/hr which is plenty enough to get around the city. They are heavy duty and can probably fit up to 200kg per scooter. I’m not sure if this is the official limit but I’ve seen couples and sometimes two dudes riding on the same scooter!
Cost of scooters in Frankfurt
The cost is €1 to start the scooter, and €0.20 per minute. So if you ride the scooter for 10 minutes, this will cost you €1 + €0.20 x 10 = €3. This is about the same price as the U-Bahn so this could be a viable alternative for people. As of now, none of the companies offer any subscription plans of any sort.
All scooter companies do not require German mobile numbers and can be paid with by credit card or PayPal. Scooters are perfect for tourists looking to have fun and explore the city quicker.
I think as competition flourishes between these companies, price cuts will be had and various incentives will be made to entice people to use their services. I think at some point one of the three companies will pull out of Frankfurt. Things are bound to change!
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