Translated by Lester Somera
Rent A Kobelin Bicycle To Freely Explore Kobe's Streets
Kobe has many hills, so walking everywhere is impractical. We'll introduce you to the Kobelin service, an easy and cheap way for tourists to get around Kobe.
Written by Kenji Hemmi
When sightseeing in a new place, some people like strolling around on foot to see where their mood takes them, while other people like renting a car and driving around to see as many places as possible. There are lots of different ways of travel.
If you’re not sure how to explore a city in Japan, how about using a cheap and swift rental bicycle? This time, we’ll introduce you to Kobelin, a convenient community rental bicycle service for visitors to Kobe.
Kobelin’s selling points are easy-to-use bicycles that feel as though you’re riding your own bicycle, and notably cheap rental fees. You can rent a bicycle freely via Cycle Ports located throughout the city, and use it as much as you like. When it’s time to return it, you can drop it off at any Cycle Port. There are 10 Kobelin Cycle Ports, so there’s no need to worry after your ride is over. Fees start at an hour for 100 yen, so you can plan how much to spend depending on your travel itinerary.
Kobe City’s topography has many steep slopes going northward. For that reason, tourists traveling between the north and south primarily take buses. However, on a bicycle, you can smoothly cruise to your destination. Your Kobelin bicycle is sure to become your best ally on the streets of Kobe.
Let’s Rent a Bicycle
Let’s actually take a Kobelin bicycle for a spin. We’ve divided the process into steps.
1. Register on the Homepage
First, you’ll need to register on the Kobelin homepage. You can register an IC card or get a new passcode issued every time you rent.
This time, we will look into the latter option, which is more convenient for tourists.
To register, you’ll need to input an email address and your credit card information. You can rent in increments of 100 yen an hour, but we recommend the full-day rental plan, which is a bargain at 500 yen. After registering, a list will be displayed on the homepage, showing the currently available bicycles at each Cycle Port.
2. Reserve Your Bicycle and Confirm Your Passcode
Make your reservation and an unlock code will be displayed, as in the picture.
The passcode will also be sent to the email address you registered with. Be aware that if you reserve a bicycle and do not activate it within 20 minutes, the reservation will be automatically canceled.
3. Go to a Cycle Port and Enter Your Passcode
Punch the passcode into the panel on the back of the bicycle to unlock it.
All Cycle Ports have information posted in English, Chinese, and Korean, so you can refer to them for assistance.
Hop on Your Bicycle and Go for a Ride
Kobelin bicycles are outfitted with electric pedal-assist motors, making it comfortable to ride them even for long distances. The battery charge is more than enough to last for a full day.
You can change speeds using the right handlebar, and there are three speeds.
A battery control panel is mounted on the left handlebar, with the power button (round green), light switch (yellow), pedal-assist power adjustment buttons (green triangles) and the battery gauge display. Twist the bell to ring it.
Be Considerate When Parking Your Bicycle
You can temporarily park your bike when dropping by a store or a tourist spot. Make sure there aren’t any no-parking signs (駐輪禁止) nearby, and take care not to block traffic.
Once you’ve parked in a safe spot, manually activate the wheel-lock on the back of the bike. When you’re ready to restart your journey, use the passcode to unlock the bike again, like you did when you first picked it up.
When Returning the Bike
You can return your bicycle to any Cycle Port, and the procedure is simple. Find an open space on the Cycle Port and push the front wheel all the way into the rack. Next, activate the wheel lock manually and enter your passcode. You will soon get an email notifying you of a successful return.
Riding a rental bicycle is faster than walking, cheaper than taking a train or car, and lets you easily make detours. All across Japan, more and more places are offering rental bicycle services, making it even easier and more convenient to go sightseeing. When you come to Kobe, by all means, try out the Kobelin rental bicycle service.