Riding a bicycle is my favorite way to get around any city in the world, and my preferred mode of transport when visiting Mexico City. Luckily for us, Mexico City has spent the last few years making the city more bicycle-friendly. This includes the addition of many bike lanes as well as introducing a rideshare system. Furthermore, on every Sunday the city has an event, Muévete en Bici, that shuts down some of the major roads to allow for bicycle-only traffic.
Bicycling also allows you to circumvent some of the infamous traffic that tends to make travel within the city a pain at times.
According to their website, since 2010 people have taken an Ecobici ride over 51 million times. Fifty-one million. Without a doubt, Ecobici has been a huge success for Mexico City. This is due to their bikes being extremely accessible and affordable. Ecobici stations lie on nearly every corner in the city center. Personally, I have completed over 100 Ecobici rides. If you’ve ever used a Bixi in Montreal or Citibike in New York, it’s the exact same concept.
To sign up for Ecobici is easy. All you do is find an Ecobici station with a terminal that has a credit card slot. You stick your credit card in, choose whether you want to buy 1 week, 72 hours or 24 hours of time. After buying you’re given an account number (do NOT lose this) and you’ll then input an associated PIN code.
Every time you want to get an Ecobici, you only need to enter your account number then the corresponding PIN into any terminal to unlock a bike. To return your Ecobici, place your bike into any open position at any Ecobici station then simply enter your account number and PIN again to confirm the return. Note that you have 45 minutes of time to get to your destination with a 15 minutes grace period before Ecobici charges you for taking extra time.
Ecobici Costs (2018)
- 1 year = 439 pesos (~22 USD)
- 1 week = 329 pesos ( ~17 USD)
- 72 hours = 198 pesos (~10 USD)
- 24 hours = 99 pesos (~5 USD)
As you can see above, the cost for 1 year to use Ecobici is crazy cheap, BUT you need a Mexican R.F.C. number, which is the Mexican tax ID. You also need to go to one of a few special offices in person to sign up for the 1-year pass. I tried to get this and failed because I’m a foreigner and didn’t have an RFC. I was stuck with the weekly option, which is not ideal if you plan to spend more than over 1 week visiting Mexico City or if you are living there (then you probably have an RFC).
Despite the higher prices for shorter-term Ecobici usage, I still think it’s worth it if staying in Mexico City for a week or less. Most places you will want to see are accessible by bicycle with Ecobici so it is easy to get your moneys worth. The only drawback is Ecobici is not available in Coyoacan.
Ecobici recently introduced electric bicycles to their system included in the rates. The downside is you have to return them to specific electric-only stations. These stations are few and far between at the moment, but as time goes on I imagine more and more will keep popping up. For now, I recommend get the exercise and stick with a normal bicycle.
Just introduced this year, Vbike is a new kind of biking system to get around Mexico City. Instead of placing your bike at a station, you can leave it in an approved zone. This means you don’t have to wander around looking for a station to park your bike.
VBikes are much better bikes than the aging Ecobici fleet and more comfortable to ride. I would have used VBikes everywhere if I could, but because they’re new, you’re still limited to a smaller zone than Ecobici. VBike is only available in the Colonia Benito Juarez.
VBike is powered from their mobile app VBike. You can download this app on Android or iOS devices. Once you have the app downloaded all you need to do is verify your phone number, input your credit card information, purchase some credit and you’ll have access to VBike.
To find a VBike just look at the map on the app and it will show you all the locations VBikes have been parked. Once you find a bike, with the app open click unlock then take a snapshot of the QR code found on the back of every VBike. The bike should immediately unlock for your usage. To park a VBike all you need to do is make sure you are in an approved VBike parking zone using the map on the VBike app and click park. The bike should then lock and you’re free to go.
Vbike Costs (2018)
- *1 year = 399 pesos (~20 USD)
- *6 months = 229 pesos (~12 USD)
- *1 month = 49 pesos (~2.50 USD)
- Per hour = 10 pesos (~0.50 USD)
*Note: For these membership types you have up to 2 hours of time on the VBike per day, but with unlimited VBike trips. Above 2 hours and VBike will charge you their standard 10 pesos per hour.
From the prices above, it is easy to see that VBike can be significantly cheaper than Ecobici for smaller time frames. The only drawback is that VBike isn’t available in as many areas yet as Ecobici. I’m sure this will change soon though as more people start to adopt this alternative bike share system.
If you are spending a longer time visiting Mexico City, or are staying in the Benito Juarez area where VBike is offered, I 100% recommend trying out VBike. Their 49 pesos per month price is dirt cheap. I signed up to both Ecobici and VBike in Mexico City, which allowed me to cover a lot of ground. Every time I hopped onto a VBike it felt like a luxury compared to an Ecobici.
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Mobike is the newest addition to the bicycle sharing scene that you can access while visiting Mexico City. They operate pretty much the same way as VBike. There are no stations, you pick up and park your bike in a designated zone and off you go.
The main difference between Vbike and Mobike is that Mobikes can only be found in the Miguel Hidalgo area of Mexico City. This includes Polanco, so if you are staying around there while visiting Mexico City it may not be a bad idea to check them out. Also, Mobike has the best quality bikes out of the three options. They even have disk brakes.
Just like Vbike, Mobike has their own app for you to download available on Android or iOS. Once you download the app, verify your phone number and add a credit card to use Mobike.
All you have to do is find a Mobike on the map within the app, hit unlock, take a photo of the QR code under the seat and you’re off to bicycle utopia. When you want to stop, just leave the Mobike in a designated zone according to the map in the app and hit lock. Boom. Simple.
Mobike Costs (2018)
- *1 year = 399 pesos (~20 USD)
- Per 1/2 hour = 5 pesos (~0.25 USD)
*Note: For the 1 year membership you have up to 2 hours of time on a Mobike per day, but with unlimited Mobike trips. Above 2 hours and Mobike will charge you their standard 5 pesos per 1/2 hour.
As you can see from the above, Mobike and VBike are pretty much the same price. Mobike just charges you 5 pesos per half-hour instead of VBike’s fee of 10 pesos per hour. In addition, the year rate is the same. At 5 pesos per half hour, Mobike is still significantly cheaper than Ecobici if you plan to use it for a week or under.
To reiterate, Mobike is only available in the Miguel Hidalgo area of Mexico City, so it will only be worth it if you are planning to spend time in this area. If you already have purchased an Ecobici plan for a week or under I would not get the Mobike plan as well.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the bicycle rideshare options when visiting Mexico City. Ecobici is definitely the most far-reaching option, and probably will always be, but their bikes can often be in poor condition. VBike and Mobike are the fresh options for 2018 offering great brand new bicycles, but both cover smaller areas of the city.
The other caveat with VBike and Mobike is that you must be using the mobile app to unlock/park their bikes, so if your phone is dead you are screwed. Whereas with Ecobici all you need is to have your account number and pin written down somewhere (or memorized) and it will always work.
So there you have it. If you are physically capable of riding a bicycle, you have no excuses to not grab a bike when visiting Mexico City. Have fun!