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How to use the YouBike bicycle rental system

Youbike guide

Taiwan is a bicyclers dream, with purpose built routes all across the island. For tourists and locals alike, YouBike has become one of the best city bike rental systems in the world. Located in cities and towns on the north to west coast, it has thousands of rental spots across cities like Taipei, New Taipei, Miaoli, Kaohsiung and Taichung. While other cities across the world have tried to implement such a system, what makes YouBike so great is the seemingly countless rental spots and the super low cost to rent the bicycles.

Prices start from NT$5 for the first 30 minutes in Taipei, but in some cities like New Taipei the first period is actually free. There are rental spots in rural areas, as well as in the cities too. In a city like Taipei, it seems that almost all the Taipei Metro stations have YouBikes outside. They are so numerous, it becomes normal just to presume there will be a YouBike spot wherever you are going.

What do I need to use the YouBike system?

  • An EasyCard or iPass card with enough credit. Some credit cards can be used to pay and rent bicycles, but it’s easier just to use a EasyCard or iPass card as you’ll be using that for buses, trains and the subway anyway. Using a credit card will require a NT$2000 deposit to be taken, which is canceled after you return your bike.
  • The YouBike app and website will show you where the local spots are. This is very important, as sometimes the YouBike spots become full, so you can’t drop a bike off, or become empty of bikes during peak times. The app will give any such details beforehand, so you can usually just divert to a nearby spot in such a situation.

How do I sign up?

Head over to the official YouBike website or download the app, then you can use your EasyCard or iPass to register for the service. Note that an ID number, such as your passport number, may be required. English is available on both the website and app. You can also register on the Kiosk machines at some YouBike rental spots.

Riding the YouBike
There are amazing cycling routes all across Taiwan

How do I rent a YouBike?

It’s a really easy, stress-free system to take a bike. Note that there are currently two systems, YouBike 1.0 and YouBike 2.0. The old bicycle stations are being upgraded to 2.0, which has the sensor on the bicycle itself rather than the bike rack.

YouBike 1.0

Taking a bicycle out:

  1. Find a bike and check that all is ok (tire pressure, seat and so on).
  2. Tap your EasyCard/iPass on the sensor next to the bike..
  3. The green light will then appear and emit a beep, meaning you can take the bike out of its dock.
  4. Take your bike and enjoy!

Returning a bike is just as easy:

  1. Push your bike into an empty dock. A loud sound will emit to indicate that you have inserted it correctly.
  2. Tap your card on the sensor to the side of the dock. When the light changes to green, you have completed the return process.

YouBike 2.0

Taking a bicycle out:

  1. Find a bike and check that all is ok (tire pressure, seat and so on).
  2. Press the green start button.
  3. Tap your EasyCard/iPass on the sensor.
  4. The confirmation message (請取車) will then appear, meaning you can take the bike out of its dock.
  5. Take your bike and enjoy!

Returning a bicycle:

  1. Push your bike into an empty dock. A confirmation message will appear on the screen (還車成功請靠卡扣款).
  2. Tap your card on the sensor on the bike to finish.

What are the costs?

These are the standard rates (some cities give discounts, like the ones detailed above):

  • NT$10 per 30 minutes within the first 4 hours.
  • NT$20 per 30 minutes between 4 to 8 hours.
  • NT$40 per 30 minutes exceeding 8 hours.

Is it worth using a YouBike?

It often is, especially if there is limited or no public transportation to where you want to go and the spot is reachable on bicycle. With the help of Google Maps and the YouBike app, you’ll never get lost and save a bunch of money, and hassle, that comes with using buses or taxis. It is sometimes not a good idea if you are going through a very busy neighborhood though, and in this case it might be better just to walk. But usually locals, and travelers, will use the system on an almost daily basis to get around.

Written by Matthew Baxter

After writing a few books about Japan and New Zealand, I've decided to explore Taiwan and put my expertise into writing about this beautiful place. I love to travel around Taiwan!

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