Berlin is a beautiful city, and one of the best ways of getting around while absorbing the beautiful sights, is on a bicycle. So here is your ultimate guide to getting a bike in Berlin.
Cycling around Berlin offers many benefits that driving in Berlin or public transport simply cannot offer. You have the freedom of going wherever you want, whenever you want, plus you won't get stuck in any traffic jams. There are also the health benefits that cycling can bring, so getting a bike in Berlin, could also be considered as a whole workout plan. It's important to consider what type of bike you wish to get. This depends on how often you want to use it, what kind of distances you will be traveling, and whether you're going to need something that's a bit quicker than others. Apart from that, Berlin invests significantly towards safe cycling infrastructure.
There are a few different ways of getting a bike in Berlin. If you are buying one, you have to consider whether you want to get a new bicycle or a second hand one, or perhaps it is easier to rent a bike. These are all viable options to consider.
Getting a New Bike in Berlin
If you are going to be using your bike a lot, then it's wise to invest in a brand new bike. This is of course dependent on your budget, but something around 400-500 euros will get you a very decent bike, with all of the latest safety features. There are plenty of shops in Berlin that you can purchase a brand new bicycle and you will also get the added benefit of a guarantee, free repairs, and maintenance from the shop.
Buying a Second-Hand Bike
If you want to save money, but still want to own a bike, then opt for a used one, that is still in good quality. There are plenty of places to search for pre-owned bikes. The most common ones are eBay Kleinanzeigen and Craigslist. There are plenty to choose from on such platforms, but you will need to view the bike to get a good idea of the quality, as it will be hard to tell accurately, on pictures.Deal My Wheel is a specific classified website for bikes only and Fietsenbörse run monthly flea markets for bikes, so you will actually be able to see the bikes there, and they get checked over by a professional first, so you will know you're buying something fully functional. Going for this flea market rather than just a regular one is ideal when getting a bike in Berlin. In regular non-bike specialized flea markets, you can't guarantee the quality of the bike, and the prices still tend to be quite high for what you get.You can also go to auctions run by the Police or the BVG, which also offer bike auctions. Here they sell bikes that are lost property, and were never claimed by the owners. Bikes can sell for as little as 5-15 euros, so there are really good bargains to be enjoyed.
Getting a Bike in Berlin Online
There are plenty of websites that sell bikes online, and they usually have better prices than in the shops. However, the downside to this is not being able to see the bike physically, before you purchase it. If you do some research and make sure the bike is what you need or seen the same model before, then this is a good option.
Renting a Bike in Berlin
If you aren't going to be using your bike very regularly, it may be more convenient to rent one. There are plenty of places that do this in Berlin, and many are based in Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and near to stations. The hire cost is around 10-12 euros a day, depending on the quality of the model you choose. In general, hiring from a hotel or from a renowned touristic area, is likely to be more expensive. You can also consider hiring an electric bicycle for covering longer distances, at ease.
Type of Bikes you can get in Berlin
There are many different types of bikes that you can get in Berlin, and it's tough to know which one is best for you. Here is some information about the different styles you can buy, plus some pros and cons, to help you decide.
Experience a more relaxed and upright riding position with a Dutch bike. The frame makes it easy for the rider to get on and off, so this would be good for elderly people, or if you aren't that used to riding a bike. They also come with built-in mudguards and chain protectors, and sometimes even integrated lights.
These bikes are popular in Berlin, mainly because of how light and fast they are. They only have a single speed, or fixed gears, so there is less that can go wrong with them, when it comes to maintenance. If you need to get somewhere quickly, and want to ride long distances, this is the bike for you.
Another popular bike to get in Berlin, these are so sturdy that they can take anything you ‘throw at them’. They are quite heavy, but this is what helps them to be the strong bikes they are. The riding position is usually upright, but you can find sportier versions. They also usually come fitted with mudguards, dynamo lights and a rack on the back, making them one of the most practical bikes you can buy, when getting a bike in Berlin.
When getting a bike in Berlin, a folding bike is a great option. Not only will you be able to store it more easily, but you will be able to hop on and off public transport, with your bike, and even take it on a plane with you.
If it's not just yourself that you need to transport around Berlin, then a cargo bike could be the answer. Known as ‘Lastenrad’, these bikes can also carry children or heavy loads on the back with ease. There are lots of different types to suit your specific needs.
These aren't the most popular bikes when riding around a city, but plenty of people use them. You won't necessarily need a top of the range new model, but there are lots of older models for sale that are decent, sturdy bikes. They can also have added features, like mudguards, suspensions, and a rack on the rear.
Bike shops in Berlin
Standert is one of the most reputable sellers and manufacturers of bikes in Berlin. They have shops in Mitte (their main shop) and Kreuzberg and offer events for cyclists, such as their Saturday bunch rides, and Thursday pain sessions, for those searching for a heavy workout session.
This store is based in Hermannplatz, and has its own designer brand of bike. They are also highly invested in the safety of cyclists, and try to make their bikes as attractive as possible in the most innovative ways.
Radkraft offer custom-made bikes and will create a bike that is tailor-designed for your wishes and purpose. They also offer bike maintenance in their workshop, and bicycle accessories you can use to upgrade your bike.
Insuring Your New Bike
Bicycle theft is a big problem in Germany. According to a police report, in 2017, just over 300,000 bikes were stolen across the country, so it's a good idea to get yours insured. The good news is that bike insurance is very common, and it can start from as little as one euro a month. When choosing an insurer for your bike it is important to ensure that they offer the following:Covers all bikes - Make sure they cover the kind of bike you have, but most will cover every type of bike.Theft cover - This will be the main reason for getting insurance, so make sure they cover theft, burglary, and robbery. Don’t forget to read the small print, as they often won't pay out unless your bike was locked.24-hour cover - It's no good having a policy that won't cover you if your bike gets stolen at night, as they most often do, so check that you are covered at all times of the day and night.Lock cover - Find a policy that will insure your lock too, should that get stolen.Worldwide cover (optional) - If you travel around to different countries with your bike, it's a good idea to get worldwide cover, so you're always insured.Full value back- Receive back the full value of your bike so you can purchase a similar one.Minimum term - Check if you are locked into a fixed term for your insurance, or if you can cancel it at any time without any fees.Vandalism - Sometimes protection against vandalism will be included in your insurance, but some companies will require an extra payment for this.Parts theft - Companies should insure the parts on your bike too, as they might be the only thing that is stolen. Sometimes they only cover the parts you need, such as the seat or pedals.
Biking Tips when Getting a Bike in Berlin
The majority of streets in Berlin will have cycle lanes, but they sometimes aren't marked as such. When they are on the road, they are usually marked, but they are most often on the edge of the pavement and are distinguished by red or grey bricks, and sometimes have a bike drawn on them.
As with most places, you must use signaling to let other cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles know, the direction you are going.
You are allowed to take your bike on the U-bahn or S-bahn, but not during rush hour, and you can't go onto the first carriage, or into the first door of other carriages. You also need to pay to take your bike on, by purchasing a Fahrradticket (bicycle ticket) from a machine at the station. They only cost around two euros per single trip.
Wearing a Helmet
Although these aren't legal rules for cycling in Germany, it's always wise to wear one for your safety. Cyclists are at the most risk of serious injury when an accident occurs.You can find a list of Important Rules for Cycling in Germany.
The handlebars are there for a reason and must be held onto with both hands at all times. Holding a phone or a camera whilst cycling is likely to end in disaster.Hopefully by now you are eager to start your mission of getting a bike in Berlin. Follow the advice given above and you will soon be riding around the streets of Berlin, safely and quickly, on your new wheels.