A cyclist tries bike-sharing company Mobike's new orange bike in Manchester. (Photo/provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
Chinese bike-sharing startup Mobike is expanding beyond Asia with a pilot scheme in the United Kingdom city of Manchester.
Mobike, which is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, already operates its dock-free bike sharing service across dozens of cities in China and in Singapore.
On Thursday, 1,000 of the company's distinctive orange bikes became available in Manchester in Mobike's first foray into Europe.
The Mobike service differs from a bike-sharing service available in London in that no docking is required.
Its bikes feature non-puncture airless tyres, GPS trackers, built-in locks, chainless transmission and disc brakes. Using a smartphone app to locate and unlock a bike, Mobike users can ride to their final destination for a small fee in order to beat the traffic on clogged roads. Manchester cyclists will be charged 50 pence (.65) for 30 minutes.
Rhys Whalley, executive director of the Manchester China Forum, said the Mobike trial is an "excellent example of the potential for China's rapid innovation and smart city solutions to be applied in overseas markets".
Steve Pyer, general manager of Mobike UK, said the company's unique advantage is its ability to drive down costs through large-scale manufacturing and eliminating the process of installing docking stations.
"Mobike's capacity to manufacture 100,000 bikes a day creates a big economy of scale," Pyer said. "Because our bikes are not chained to docking stations, we save all the costs related to docking station installing."
Pyer said Mobike, which now operates 5 million bikes, is in talks with a number of other cities around Europe. Ofo, a Chinese rival to Mobike, started a bike-sharing scheme using 50 bikes in the UK university city of Cambridge in April.