Cheetah Global has come out with freshly-minted statistics on the state of the bike rental economy in the world. Public bicycles were first started in Europe but have seen their biggest success in the East starting from China’s dockless bike systems ofo and Mobike.

According to the global distribution of active users gathered by Cheetah Big Data, Asian regions dominated by China and Singapore are the most popular areas for renting bicycles. European and the US market are beginning to see bikes pick up.

There is much more room to grow in the international market. Bike sharing started its globalization in March 2017 with ofo and Mobike spreading their wings. Since then they have recorded a whopping weekly penetration rate of 2440%.

Number of bike rental users in the world. Red represents higher numbers and green lower. (Image credit: Cheetah Global)

Cheetah expects that the number of bike rental users in the world will increase to 306 million in 2019. The research also forecasts there will be 5 to 10 times more room for expansion in the overseas market in the next 2 years. Chinese bike operators will take most of the cake.

In China, ofo ranked number 1, Mobike comes second and Hello Bike is in the third place. The top two players dominate 90% of the Chinese market. Ofo’s weekly active penetration rate is ahead of Mobike for most of the time with a 1.3-percent advantage on average.

Weekly user penetration rates for ofo (blue) and Mobike (orange) (Image credit: Cheetah Global)

Ofo has an edge outside of China too. Ofo is so far present in more than 250 cities in 21 countries while Mobike has entered 11 countries.

When it comes to the biggest market outside of China—Southeast Asia—ofo is the dominant player, followed by Mobike, oBike, Gobee, and Limebike. Singapore is by far the most active country for bike rental. 78% of ofo’s and 85% of Mobike’s overseas active users are in Singapore. Their biggest rival in the country, oBike, only reaches one-tenth of their numbers. Thailand is another country where bike rental is big.

Europe is also embracing bike rental with the market dominated by ofo. The company is No. 1 in Europe’s most active markets—Italy, France and the UK. The US, however, has its own champion, Lime Bike which overs 20 cities and campuses across the US, with a total of more than 10,000 bikes. The second favorite among Americans is ofo.

Weekly penetration rates for bike rental globally (blue) and in China (orange) (Image credit: Cheetah Global)

Right now, China’s market is transforming from explosive to a more steady growth. Chinese bike rental operators are carefully calculating their moves: they face different policies and different competition in every country they enter.

Another interesting point: bike rental is not the only source of revenue for bike rental companies. There is body advertising, big data services, and some are even experimenting with e-commerce and blockchain, arguably the most popular buzzword of the year. Taxi services and bicycles are increasingly infiltrating each other which is what DiDi is trying to do with ofo in China. Ola, India’s taxi company, launched Ola Pedal, their own bike sharing service. Southeast Asian Grab partnered with oBike to launch Grab Cycle.

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.

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