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. In my experience, they know how to recommend the right bike for your budget & level. The aftersales service is also top-notch. Stadler has 2 shops in Charlottenburg & Prenzlauer Berg.
Other main stream options include
- Bike Market City in Wilmersdorf
- Bike Market in Tegel
- FroschRad in Kreuzberg
- Decathlon at Alexanderplatz
As a rule of thumb, going to competent, smaller shops is guarantee that you will get your individual needs met, even after the bike sold.
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, Facebook Marketplace & 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 & Berliner Fahrrad Markt are platforms organizing flee markets for bikes every month or so with the added bonus of independent assessment of bicycles’ quality on site! The Facebook group Sell your bike in Berlin is also great.
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 Friedrichshain
- 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 & here.
What about online shops?
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.
About bike 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 or Getsafe, which can service you 100% in English. 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.
Where to rent a bike in Berlin
Renting a bike for a few hours, a few days
First off, check with your local bike shop. Most of them offer bikes for rent at a reasonable price. Support your local shop.
Bike sharing services are now numerous in Berlin and they provide a great amount of flexibility for tourists, visitors or simply when your own bike is out of service. I have been using several of them. They all work the same: first register with the app, add a payment method, and unlock the bike.
- Call a Bike by Deutsche Bahn – the best bikes.
- Sturdy, well-maintained with enough gears to get fast across the city. A bit hard on cobble stones
- Give back the bike for free at any bus stop, U/SBahn stop in the city.
- They are everywhere
- Donkey Republic – the most comfortable bikes
- The bikes are well-made with a nice upright position. You can go fast but not too fast.
- Pricing is real friendly. Great for visitors staying a few days.
- BikeSurf.org – the best value bikes
- A non-profit putting decent bikes on the road for you
- Pay what you can
- Nextbike – If Call a bike is not possible
- The bikes are as good as Call a Bike, but they don’t have enough gears.
- They are more comfortable though than a Call a Bike.
- Lots of drop off locations.
- Mobike – I haven’t personally tested
- I have heard it’s not the best riding experience (not enough gears, small wheel base, hard tires)
- Lime/Uber – Electric assist for a price
- Nice upright ride but heavy bikes
- Electric assistance is average & provides boost only the first few meters
- Premium cost not justified in Berlin, where the terrain is really flat everywhere.
Rent a bike for several months
We are all familiar with the concept of leasing with cars. It is also possible to have the convenience of a good bike, without investing in buying one. Some companies rent bike on a subscription basis. For a monthly fee, the bike/lock and maintenance is included.
Where to rent a cargo bike in Berlin for free
The German biking association (ADFC) maintains a fleet of cargo bikes that can be rented for free on fLotte. Simply check the availability for bikes, register for an account and bring your booking code with you (as well as your ID).
That’s handy for a BBQ afternoon, moving instruments or carrying those 4 crates of beer!
Where to learn to ride a bicycle in Berlin
If most people learn to ride a bicycle from a young age, others just don’t get the chance to learn in time. It could also be that it has been a long time since your last ride and you lack practice. That is simply too bad in a city that is best explored on 2 wheels.
There are courses especially made for adults, where the goal is to learn and improve your confidence over 6-9 classes. You can turn to English-speaking offers:
Bike registration with the Berlin police
That’s sad part of living in Berlin: bike theft. It’s very common with almost 30 000 thefts every year. That is one every 18 minutes! To avoid that, you can lock you bike securely away from theft hotspots (avoid these areas at all cost btw). You can also register your bike with the police for free. This makes sure the bike can be returned to you, if needed.
You simply need to show up at one of the registration sessions listed on this page.
How to navigate the city
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 and let me know if you have any questions in the comments ! 🙂