Urban Cycling

Swapfiets: The Blue-Wheeled Bike Leasing Trend Taking Over Europe

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Described as the ‘Netflix of bikes’, Dutch company Swapfiets offer a rental style service to cyclists in some of the world’s busiest cycling hotspots.

And having cornered the rent-a-bike market in much of Holland and Germany already, it might not be long until they come to a street near you, too.

But what exactly is the service that Swapfiets offer? How much does it cost to rent one of their bikes? And where in the world can you use them?

What are the ‘Bikes with Blue Wheels’?

Swapfiets is a service renting out bikes with distinctive blue front tires across an ever-increasing number of European countries.

It began in the Netherlands in 2014 as a start-up which rented refurbished bikes – Richard Burger and co-founders Martijn Obers and Dirk de Bruijn initially posted 40 second-hand bikes on the Dutch version of eBay, Marktplaats.

Now, it boasts more than 200,000 members across its existing cities, having already taken Holland by storm and expanded in Germany, Denmark and Belgium.

No longer does it stick to just renting out single-speed Dutch bikes, either – they also offer plenty of choice in geared and electric bikes these days.

Swapfiets: How Does it Work?

Using Swapfiets’ rental system couldn’t be simpler. Just sign up, and for a fixed monthly, fee you’re all set.

Either via their official app or website, you can order your own Swapfiets bicycle, as well as where and when you want it delivered. There are no additional fees, either – delivery is completely free.

And if your Swapfiets bike is broken, don’t fret. You can plan an appointment through their app, and within two days they promise to either repair it or provide you with a working replacement at your chosen location.

This, again, comes with no extra costs, and truly lives up to their motto – ‘an always working bike’.

“With Swapfiets, if you park your bike at the supermarket and come back you will always know that the bike is still there,” Burger said in 2018.

“But the [dockless] bikes that are left at a random location, it’s no one’s responsibility. Just having that security and knowing if you break down we will be there to fix it.

“It’s the feeling of being taken care of. Someone is taking care of you. Someone else is solving your problems. That’s what I hear people like when I talk to them about Swapfiets.” 

How Much Do Swapfiets Bikes Cost to Rent?

For a fixed monthly price, Swapfiets will provide a bicycle and all necessary repair costs.

‘Subcribers’ receive a bicycle for a flat fee of €15 per month (€12 for students, €19 for a more luxurious model), free repairs within 12 hours, or a replacement bicycle if it can’t be fixed or is stolen.

You can either set this up as a more long-term bike rental with a six-month subscription, or in a monthly contract with a one-month cancellation period.

When is Swapfiets Launching in London?

Mass cycling on Victoria Embankment © Stephen Craven cc-by-sa/2.0 ::  Geograph Britain and Ireland

It was initially announced in July 2020 that Swapfiets would next be putting down roots in London, as well as Milan and Paris, having already made a splash in Germany, Belgium and Denmark and taking over much of their native Netherlands.

According to their site, Londoners can start renting their blue-wheeled bikes from December 2020.

It should provide a more cost-effective alternative to London’s new Buzzbike scheme, which perhaps boasts a more advanced range of bikes but is priced at roughly twice as much at £29.99 a month.

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