The expected end for Gobee.bike

In december 2017, I published a review about the problematic operation of the Gobbe.bike service in Lille. It was the first dockless bike-share service to be launched in France in october 2017. The green bikes then appeared in Reims, Paris, Lyon, Brussels (BEL) and Torino (ITA) by the end of 2017… but not for long.

So after 4 months of operations and having equipped 5 cities, the company has been forced to cease all activities. The main argument beeing vandalism and theft. In Reims, 380 out of 400 bikes were out of order after only a month…

Are French’s, Italians and Belgians less respectful than other Europeans? Such services are working reasonably well in UK, Germany, so do we face a cultural specificity? According to Ofo France’s CEO Laurent KENNEL, the cost of vandalism and theft is not higher in Paris than in UK, Spain, Italy or Austria (at 20’30”). Gobee.bike says they did integrate its cost, but under evaluated it. Well, having the numbers of Vélib’ in hands for the last ten years, we can only think that they forget to take into account the quality of their bikes!

As I walked for a kilometer on january 9th in the streets of Paris, I went across 14 Gobee.bikes. Every single one damaged, with a missing saddle, handlebar, brake, the smart lock destroyed or the rear wheel looking a bit weak with only 4 spokes… And on every bike, you can also see many rusty parts (seatpost, brake screws, V-brake cable housing…). Well, we are talking about bike-sharing here. You know, bikes that needs to remain for years under the rain, the sun, the snow, and have to face vandalism and smaller incivilities. Gobee bikes were too light and weak to endure that. When you look at other brands (Ofo, Mobike) in the streets of Paris, you realised quickly that the vandalism rate was way lower… So there was definitely a quality problem with those bikes.

Speaking of quality, we can wonder if the quality of service was an important thing for Gobee.bike. Damaged bikes could stay for days without beeing removed or repaired. OK, let’s agree that the vandalism level was higher than expected. But if you see that after one month, 95% of your fleet is dead (what happened in Reims), it might be time to hire in your maintenance team? So why did’t they? I guess the answer is obvious: because they just cannot offer it. Because the business model is based an low cost bikes and low cost service.

It ends up with a low lifespan for the service.

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