FAQBack to Berlin
Surfing the bikes=
- How safe, affordable and easy is it to cycle in Berlin?
- What size of bike is suitable for me?
- From where do I collect the bikes or meet you guys?
- Do I need to bring my own lock, lights, etc.?
- Why do the bikes have such weird/ diverse names?
- Does the project have any affiliation to Couchsurfing?
Background of the project
- What are the aims of this project?
- What difficulties are there in setting up such a bike sharing project?
- Can you sum up your views on cycling in a very poetic way?
- What role does the project play in Berlin?
- Why dedicate so much time/cash to this project?
- How do you trust strangers with your precious bikes?
- How can I get involved or contribute to the project to help it improve?
- How can I help specifically?
Buying/fixing a bike in Berlin
- Where can I buy replacement parts for my bike or the bike I borrowed from BikeSurfBerlin?
- Oh wise one, what type of bike would you recommend me to buy in Berlin?
- How can I get a bike of my own in Berlin?
- What are the basics to look out for when buying a bike?
- Where can I find my bike that was stolen?
# How safe, affordable and easy is it to cycle in Berlin?
- Berlin is flat and the bicycle lanes well developed and respected by other road users
- The street lighting at night is excellent for cycling
- Commercial bicycle rental prices are usually at least 8€/day, decreasing in cost for longer borrowing periods (eg 42€/week)
- Cycling is a fast, enjoyable and healthy way to see more of the city. For example, a trip from the bottom edge of Templehof-Schoneberg to Mitte (14km - see map) would take a non-experienced cyclist (12km/hr) approximately 70 minutes. Please note that this is an extreme example and much further than you would probably need to travel
# What size of bike is suitable for me?
The table on the short/ long hire pages has specific information about each bike's dimensions. Especially important is the stepover height - your inside legs should be at least 2 cm more than this.
The saddle heights can be adjusted, but generally:
# From where do I collect the bikes or meet you guys?
As we have not yet acquired enough money to rent out a space to store and repair the bikes, they are stored in our backyards. Each bike shows the district where it is located. Once your BikeSurf request has been aproved, the exact addresses will be sent to you in a confirmation message along with all the information you will need. Note that you cannot request a certain location, as the bikes cannot be transferred between locations.
# Do I need to bring my own lock, lights, etc.?
No, a bike lock will be provided. However, if you are able to bring your own bike lights for extra visibility.
# Why do the bikes have such weird/ diverse names?
We allow the people who donate the bikes to name them, so the names are as diverse as our supporters.
# Does the project have any affiliation to Couchsurfing?
No. Due to the change of Couchsurfing from a non-profit platform to a profit-making business, we no longer choose to support or promote the plaform. We are part of an initiative against the profit-making goals of Couchsurfing. To know more about it and see how to join us: www.goodbyecouchsurfing.blogspot.com
# What are the aims of this project?
- Allow anyone to cycle in Berlin, regardless of income
- To demonstrate that people are generally honest and respect a volunteer project by not stealing or damaging the bikes
- Encourage our users to choose cycling as a practical way to navigate a city
- Show the social aspects of lending a bicycle
- Inform people how the system works and thereby allow similar projects to start/ grow in other cities
- Allow people to rediscover cycling and bring the spirit of cycling back to their hometowns
- Demonstrate that such a "trust system" is viable for bicycle lending
- Reduce CO2 footprint, dependence on oil and pollution
# What difficulties are there in setting up such a bike sharing project?
- Over-demand of available bikes
- Bike theft - Berlin has a reputation that is deserved (30,000 reported bike thefts in 2015 in Berlin)
- Logistical concerns when fleet of bikes grows - maintenance of bikes, replying to requests. etc.
- Financial viability - reliant on unpredictable donations from those who use the project
- Sustainability - holidays, winter, maintaining enthusiasm of the volunteers
# Can you sum up your views on cycling in a very poetic way?
- When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. ~ Elizabeth West
- Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race. ~ H.G. Wells
- The steps of one's progress are distinctly marked. At the end of each lesson he knows he has acquired something, and he also knows what that something is, and likewise that it will stay with him. It is not like studying German, where you mull along, in a groping, uncertain way, for thirty years; and at last, just as you think you've got it, they spring the subjunctive on you, and there you are. No -- and I see now, plainly enough, that the great pity about the German language is, that you can't fall off it and hurt yourself. There is nothing like that feature to make you attend strictly to business. But I also see, by what I have learned of bicycling, that the right and only sure way to learn German is by the bicycling method. That is to say, take a grip on one villainy of it at a time, and learn it -- not ease up and shirk to the next, leaving that one half learned. ~ Mark Twain Taming the Bicycle. 1884.
- Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~ James E. Starrs
# What role does the project play in Berlin?
We are building a bike fleet from donated bikes and sharing them with everybody. Introducing or strengthening people's interest in a real sharing bicycle project.
# Why dedicate so much time/cash to this project?
- Nice contribution to the CouchSurfing/ BeWelcome community and Berlin
- Promote a greener, healthier way to travel in a city
- Prove that such a trust-based system works and is sustainable
- Inspire and facilitate other people to create their own similar project elsewhere
# How can I get involved or contribute to the project to help it improve?
- Donate cash to BikeSurfBerlin to be used to replace bike parts and improve the website ("Donate" banner is on the website)
- Join the BikeSurfBerlin team to contribute your time and skills
- Start a new BikeSurf city where you live
- If you have any questions or feedback just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
# How can I help specifically?
As well as people who have bike repairing skills, we need people with IT skills, free-thinkers, organisers, enthusiastic types, millionaires, connected people, hippies, musicians (possibly, music is good for morale)... yes, everyone :-)
# Where can I buy replacement parts for my bike or the bike I borrowed from BikeSurfBerlin?
For new parts, we LOVE this shop - has everything at rock bottom prices:
Lampke, Graefestrasse 1
Also: Rad Spannerei, Kottbusser Strasse 8
For second hand parts and advice, our picks are:
- ADFC, Brunnenstrasse 28, Wed and Fri 18:00 - 20:00
- Kopi 137, Köpenicker Strasse 137, Friday afternoon = its very berlin (ie its a squat) but you can pick up parts for nothing but a trifle donation
But there's a longer list:
http://de.fahrrad.wikia.com/wiki/Fahrradselbsthilfewerkst/ (in German): Click here for wiki map and addresses of Selbsthilfwerkstatte in Berlin and details
Here are also a lot of advices : www.settle-in-berlin.com/bike-in-berlin/ (in English)
- Selbsthilfewerkstatt im RAW, Revaler Straße 99, Friedrichshain im Verwaltungsgebäude (Keller), Tel: 030/ 2924695 Mo-Fr 10 - 14 Uhr, Kosten: Material, www.raw-tempel.de
- Regenbogenfabrik, Lausitzer Str. 22, Kreuzberg, Mo-Do 13-18 Uhr (Mi nur für Mädchen & Frauen, Do nur für Kinder), Fr 11-17 Uhr, Tel. 69 57 95 15, Kosten: 3 €/Stunde zzgl. Material, www.regenbogenfabrik.de
- HubSchrauber (Werkstatt an der HU, offen für Studenten + Mit-arbeiter der Berliner Hochschulen), Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 7, Mitte, Werkstatt-Tel: 20 93 41 69, Mo+Do 16 - 18 Uhr, Fr 18.30 - 20 Uhr, Kosten: Material, Spenden willkommen, www.refrat.hu-berlin.de/hubschrauber/main.php
- Bürgerhaus Pankow e.V., Berliner Str. 24, Pankow, Di+Do 10 - 18 Uhr und nach telefonischer Vereinbarung: Tel. 475 84 72, Kosten: Material, Spenden willkommen, es gibt auch professionelle Reparierer vorort, www.buergerhaus-ev.de
- FAHRbar (Selbsthilfewerkstatt im Jugendklub Schlupfwinkel), Kaiserin-Augusta-Allee 98-100, Tiergarten, Mo-Fr 14-18 Uhr (im Sommer), Stadtschloss Moabit, Rostocker Str. 32, Tiergarten, Di 14.30-17.30 Uhr, Spenden willkommen, Tel. 37 30 56 92, www.moabiter-ratschlag.de
- Unirad (Werkstatt an der TU), Einsteinufer 25, Charlottenburg, Di 18-20 Uhr, Kosten: Material, Spenden willkommen, Benutzung des Raumes 1 EUR, es ist auch Ausleihe möglich (10 EUR/Woche), http://user.cs.tu-berlin.de/~uniradpw/cgi-bin/yawps/index.cgi
- Mobile Fahrradwerkstatt; Hilfe zur Selbsthilfe. Nach Absprache kommen die Helfer vor Ort und unterweisen vor allem Kinder bei der Instandhaltung Ihrer Fahrräder. Kontakt: Tel: 030 8090
- L'Etape Fahrradcafé (french coffee and bike workshop), 1. Stunde Werkstatt mit 1 Kaffee inklusive 9€, 2. Stunde 5€. Knobelsdorffstr. 33, 14059 Charlottenburg, www.facebook.com/Etapeberlin
# Oh wise one, what type of bike would you recommend me to buy in Berlin?
Depends on your needs, but city bikes with a few gears and medium thickness tyres would be most suitable for Berlin. Berlin is quite flat, but has many streets that are paved with cobbles. I do not recommend mountain bikes for this city, as they are uncomfortable, cheaply made and inefficient. Racing bikes are cool and very hipster, but the thin tyres get buckled by cobble stones, dangerous on tram tracks and more prone to losing grip when the road is slippy. Single speeds (esp. fixed gear) only recommended for those who know how to ride these, as it is like learning to ride a bike all over again. Generally, I would advise not to get a very flashy or expensive bike, as the rate of bike theft in Berlin is quite high. And of course, when you are finished with the bike, please donate it to our wonderful project!
# How can I get a bike of my own in Berlin?
There are many ways to obtain a bike in Berlin, depending on the following factors:
► budget - approximately €100 if do not want to buy a stolen bike;
► ethics - flohmarkts (flea-markets eg Mauer Park) are renowned for selling bikes that are probably stolen - I would urge you not to support this stolen bike market, even if bikes may be 50% of other non-stolen bikes);
► perseverance - if you have time, you will find your dream bike for a song - especially if you check online regularly or go to the regular 2 monthly BVG and Polizei auctions. For details of upcoming dates, we try to advertise them in "Blog" here.
Get the seller to fill out a printed form of sale (check their ID) to ensure you have evidence of purchase and reduce the risk that the bike is a stolen bike - click here and then click on pdf document "ADFC-Musterkaufvertrag"
Most of the year, every last Saturday of the month, Berliner Fahrradmarkt sells non-stolen, safety-checked bikes click here
If you need to buy a bike quickly and cheaply then the fleamarkets are the easiest (but most bikes are stolen - get them to fill out the form above to see if they are legit):
- Mauer park (Prenzlauerberg) - Sundays
- Arena, Schlesisches strasse (Treptower) http://www.arena-berlin.de/ - Saturdays, Sundays
- Turkish market (at bridge) - Maybachufer (Kreuzberg) - Tuesdays and Fridays
- Toy Town Germany
- Kleinanzeige Ebay
- Facebook groups: Free Your Stuff, Bikes in Berlin, Les Vélos de Berlin (in french), Compro - Vendo - Regalo en Berlin (in spanish), or your own national community, like "Les Français de Berlin"
Bike shops tend to be over-priced, especially in Mitte.
# What are the basics to look out for when buying a bike?
In order of priority (based on cost to replace/ repair):
- Check there are no cracks or bends in the frame and forks - turn the bike upside-down too
- Bottom bracket is secure and does not rattle/move horizontally when you shake the crank
- Tyres are not cracked and thread is not thread-bare
- Cassette teeth are not like shark-fins - they should be shaped like a symmetrical mountain with its top third chopped off
- Crank teeth not broken, bent or look like sharp shark fins.
- Wheel axles run smoothly but do not wobble
Where can I find my bike that was stolen?
- The police hold on to any stolen bikes for a few months after they recover them. click here
- Bikes that are stolen are regularly sold at fleamarkets in Berlin (Mauerpark, Admiralsbrucke, etc.)