It might come as a surprise for such a spread-out city, but riding a bike in Berlin is often the best & fastest solution to reach your destination. The flat topography of the city, the extended network of bike lanes & the numerous bike repair shops offer a fantastic environment to cruise your way around the different neighborhoods. This is true for the tourist & the daily commuter alike !
Based on a very-biased study entirely coming from my experience; depending on your speed, any trip under 6-8 km is faster by bike in Berlin. Walking is often out of the question, public transportation is efficient but slow & you have to walk to the station/change lines, a car is often stuck in traffic and needs to be parked. A bike is on average the best solution here. And it’s excellent exercise.
With summer approaching, a bicycle in Berlin is definitely a commodity you should consider. There are only a few feelings matching the hot summer breeze cooling you down on your way to the next open-air !
Behold this guide to buying and maintaining your bike in Berlin.
Where to buy a bike in Berlin
There are of course plenty of shops with brand-new bikes, shining behind the front window. If you have the means and you are using your bike everyday, it’s definitely worth investing 400+€ for the vehicle that will have all the safety features to take through the traffic every day of the wear. A good bike is your best protection against an accident (with the helmet of course). A new bike also comes with a guarantee and several months of free maintenance at the shop.
Hands down, the best shop to compare models, with a huge selection to try on the spot in Berlin, that is Stadler. The spot in Prenzlauer Berg is especially nice, close to Storkowerstr. Sbahn. Nice knowledgeable staff, not pushy. Stadler in Charlottenburg & Prenzlauer Berg.
Other options include
- Real at Neukölner Tor has a discount shop on the upper level where they sell bikes.
- Bike Market City in Wilmersdorf
- Bike Market in Tegel
- FroschRad in Kreuzberg
However, we don’t always have that kind of cash lying around, so we must turn to the second-hand market to buy a bike in Berlin. The good news is that there are plenty of options to find the gem.
Second-hand bike in Berlin
The first reflex is to turn to classifieds such as Ebay Kleinanzeigen & Craigslist which both have a wealth of offers, from the cheap good-for-a-summer bike all the way to the vintage options. A lot of choice but it’s often hard to judge the quality on pictures and you will have to go places to have a look at it. The specialized website Dealmywheel is also classifieds but for bikes only. Fietsenbörse is a platform organizing flee markets for bikes every month or so with the added bonus of independent assessment of bicycles’ quality on site!
Of course, you can turn to flea-markets around the city to find your gem, but the relatively high-prices often don’t match the low(er) quality.
Some shops are also selling second-hand bikes in Berlin :
- Each year, this bike rental company Fahrradstation is selling the bikes they used during last season. The quality is top notch, used only one year and at reasonable prices. More info there.
- The company Berlin on Bikes is also doing exactly that via their repair shop Re Cycles.
- The shop Bikeopia is buying old bikes in bulk, fixing them and reselling at a fair price.
- The shop Fietswinkel is renting & selling second-hands bikes too.
- The shop CultureRoad is offering bikes from 60€.
- Fahrrad Recycling – Cheap road-worthy bikes.
- Bike A-way is on a mission to give bikes a second life and sell them at a fair price.
- BikePark is specialized in second-hand bikes in Berlin
- BikeMobil as well
- Gefa Berlin too
The AFDC has a listed a few more options on their website as well.
Last little-known option: auctions ! The Police & the BVG sell part of the bikes they have found but that were not reclaimed. They hold auctions to get rid of those. Prices can be as low as 5€ or 15€ for really good bikes ! More info here & here.
What about online?
The internetz have a wealth of options if you want the best price around. Raddiscount.de has a special category of last year’s products with discounts up to 50% on new bikes. KCP Bikes also have season sales.
Insurance & stuff
The clear advantage of buying it in a store is that you have a proof of purchase that allows you to register your bike, which you can’t do buying from flea-markets or from Ebay. Registering your bike in Berlin allows you to prove the ownership of the bike and help you if it gets stolen. You can register your bike with the police by following this link and picking the next possible time slot.
Insurance-wise you can get you bike covered in 2 ways:
- With your “Hausratversicherung” or home contents insurance. If you haven’t subscribed to one, you should really do. It covers all the things you own in your flat & your bike in that case. However, it’s usually only a partial solution at it often doesn’t cover accessories and can’t get expensive for e-bikes. Full post about house contents insurance in Germany this way.
- Use a dedicated bike insurance policy with providers like Coya. This is recommended for new bikes, e-bikes, performance bikes and when you have a lot of accessories.
Where to fix a bike in Berlin
You’ve already found your precious gem but now it needs some love and a new spare part or two? Before you leave your bike a repair shop, why don’t you give a self-service workshop first? It’s a great way to train your mechanics’ skills while saving some precious euros. You usually need to pay a fixed fee for using the tools & additional expenses occur when you need new spare parts. If you feel lost, there are people to give you a hand or explain you how to do it. That’s my favorite way to fix a bike in Berlin. 🙂
Here are some good spots :
- Regenbogenfabrik in Kreuzberg
- ADFC Berlin in Mitte
- HubSchrauber in Mitte
- Bürgerhaus Pankow e.V. in Pankow
- FAHRbar in Moabit
- unirad at the TU in Charlottenburg
- Velo-fit in Kreuzberg
Sometimes you don’t need to fix your bike but simply a little more air in the tubes of your tires. On the website Pumps of Berlin, you can find all the freely accessible pumps around the city. It is indeed a custom that shops have an electric pump outside their store for people in need.
Depending on where you come from, driving a bike Berlin is either a walk in the park, or quite the helmet-crushing experience. If you want to find the safest street to cruise on, you can turn to several platforms to plan your route, based on data provided by locals. It provides detail turn-by-turn guidance, elevation and surface data for every step of the way. For example:
- Cyclestreets.net: an open source non-profit platform that is most popular in the UK, but also has data for Berlin.
- BBBike: like Cyclestreets but made by German enthusiasts.
- Komoot: A freemium app your can use on iOs & Android where you can plan a trip by theme, difficulty level, road surface, etc.
- Bikemap: A freemium app your can use on iOs & Android where you can plan a trip by theme, difficulty level, road surface, etc.
Drive safe ! 🙂
Tip 1: If you need a bike in Berlin for a few days only but don’t want to spend 12€ a day renting one, you can also bike surf ! If you know couch surfing, this will be familiar to you. Using the website Bikesurf.org, you can rent a bike from the community at very low rates such as 0,50€ or 1€ a day.