Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ofo public bikes you can leave anywhere

Just when we were getting used to Mobikes a new bike share company popped up. We like them already because they didn't copy the Mobike color. This is just outside a train station, you can see a whole bunch of old mobikes (orange) and several of the new ofo bikes (yellow).

Another reason I like them: they chose the actual name of their company because the English characters "ofo" kind of look like a guy riding a bicycle. The Chinese written language is "logographic" and the visual look of the character sometimes is related to the meaning. I think it is great they are doing the same with the Latin alphabet without asking permission.

But the best thing about ofo bike is that they invented a bike you can leave anywhere and unlock with your phone ... that doesn't have any electronics! No GPS and no network connectivity of any sort, meaning they can pump out a huge number really cheaply. How do they do it?

The first difference from mobike is the lock, it is an old-school mechanical combination lock. When the code is right pushing the button unlocks the bike immediately. Like mobike, manually closing the lock locks it again.

You use the app to get the combination lock code by punching in the license plate number of the bike.

When you start riding it keeps track of your location and tells you how far you went. When you tell the app you are finished riding - it used the GPS on your phone to estimate where the bike was left. You are on the honor system to lock the bike and scramble the combination. Naturally this isn't as accurate as having GPS built into the bike ... but they have made so many of these cheap bikes that you really don't need the app to find one ... they are everywhere.

Literately dropping them off the back of trucks all over Shanghai.

They ride fairly nicely - though like mobike - their seat is too low to be comfortable on long rides.

And guess what ... another primary color has been taken over by yet another public bike network. This one doesn't have any English options, and I'm not in Shanghai anymore so we'll have to leave it a mystery. 

Footnote on Chinese logography: The word bird   kind of looks like a chicken looking to the right, the word for "big" 大 kind of looks like a man with outstretched arms and the word for "fire" 火 kind of looks like a man waving his arms like he's on fire and also kind of like a bonfire.

1 comment:

  1. Re "their seat is too low," maybe your legs are just too long?