The most popular way of getting around Tokyo would definitely be by train, but once in a while, whether it’s wanting to take in the sights and sounds of the city at your own pace or to get somewhere nearby without having to deal with 2-3 train transfers, a bike is definitely an equally affordable option to consider!
Docomo Bike Share
The rental service with the most extensive network of bike stations covering 11 wards in Tokyo. Easily spotted with their bright red exterior and generous matte black front baskets. All bikes offered are also e-bikes, which means minimal effort required to cruise around quickly. There are 3 pricing plans you can choose from:
You pay based on the number of minutes you accumulate on the bicycle at a rate of 165yen for every 30 minutes of use. Installing the app and registering your credit card information on it is required to use this. It’s a good option for people who only bike once in a while.
1 Day Pass
The most attractive option for tourists and anyone interested in exploring Tokyo on bike for a day. You don’t need to download the app. Purchase the pass here. The pass will be valid for a year and is activated only when you unlock a bike. The pass will remain valid until 23:59 of that day, so you can either hold on to the bike you’ve chosen until then, or even switch out bikes at no additional cost as and when you wish.
This applies mainly to those who are staying in Japan for a while and will be using a bike almost daily. Costing 2200yen/month, the first 30 mins of your ride is always free for that month. Anything beyond that is charged at a rate of 165yen for every 30 mins. It’s a cost-saving option for those who commute to school or work by rental bike daily.
Things to note:
- Do check that the tires are not flat, brakes are working, and that battery levels are sufficient. There is a short grace period when you can cancel a reservation immediately on the app if you are dissatisfied with the bike you’ve chosen.
- The bike has to be docked at a bike station. These can be seen on the Docomo cycle app, or found on Google Maps by keying in ‘Docomo Bike Share’. Be careful as some bike stations are not open 24 hours so check in advance before trying to dock there. If you try to leave the bike at a random place, it will inform you that you cannot end the ride and you’ll continue to be charged for the minutes accumulated.
Are bikes not really your thing? Then consider trying LUUP’s line-up of e-scooters! They have e-bikes too, in case your friend wants to use an e-scooter but you still think you’re better off on a bike. LUUP has ports in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Kyoto.
Unlocking the e-bike or e-scooter of your choice costs 50yen and each minute after is charged at 15yen. There is no price difference between using either of them, but it’s a little pricey as a 30 min ride sets you back 450-500yen. That said, most of the bikes and e-scooters are in a relatively new condition as LUUP was launched not too long ago.
Things to note:
- You need a valid driving license (international is alright too) to use the e-scooter. Proof is uploaded when you register for the app.
- You need to download the app to use the service.
- Network is not as extensive as Docomo Bike Share yet.
Arguably the most stylish option of them all, Tokyobike originated in Yanaka Ginza, considered a shitamachi area, one where the buildings and streets retain storefronts and fixtures reminiscent of another an older era. The atmosphere in these areas are often calmer with a slower pace of life. Aside from Yanaka Ginza, Tokyobike stores can be found in Kiyosumi-Shirakawa (big coffee culture here), Nakameguro (known for its cherry blossom-lined canal), and Kichijoji (trendy district, also where Ghibli Museum is).
None of Tokyobike’s line-up are e-bikes, but that ties in nicely with slow city cruising culture that the brand encourages. Each bike also boasts 8 gears, more than enough for a comfortable ride. Rental fees for a day are a flat rate of 1500yen. If you rent for more than a day, the flat rate drops to 1000yen/day from the second day onwards.
Things to note:
- The bikes have to be returned to the same store they are borrowed from.
- Bikes have to be returned during operating hours, which vary across the stores.
- Bookings can be made online here.
So take your pick from the convenience of Docomo Bike Share, the e-scooter options of LUUP, and the stylish offerings of Tokyobike. Let that Pasmo/Suica card take a rest for a day and rent a bike to start your city adventure!
Cover Photo Credit: Jezael Melgoza