Cycling Sentosa on an oBike

In 2016, Sentosa announced their that cycling and walking trails were revamped. The cycling trails start at the boardwalk near VivoCity, goes through a dedicated underpass and comes out at a booth that requires both motorcars and motorcyclist/cyclists to pay an entrance fee. For cyclists, you will need to pay 2 SGD.

A group of colleagues and I attempted this 2 weeks and ago – them on their foldable bikes and me on my oBike. This is my experience.

The oBike

oBike is a bicycle sharing services platform, allowing everyone to take short trips within the city. Other benefits include helping to reduce the traffic congestion, helping to reduce environmental pollution, and making the city better place to live in . ofobike and mobike are other bicycle sharing companies found in Singapore .

In order to use an oBike, you’ll have to first set it up using the app.

Setup using the app

Setup using the oBike app was relatively easy. The app has a GPS function with which you can track bikes that are around you. You are also able to reserve a bike for free using the app and it will be held for you for 10 mins. Once you find the bike, use the app’s camera function to scan the QR code found on the oBike to unlock it. The lock should automatically disengage.

For first time users, you will automatically prompt to pay a deposit of 49 SGD by keying in your credit card details. As of Apr 2017, you will also get a 3SGD reward after doing the deposit. According to the oBike website FAQ:

A deposit is required to use oBike. It ensures your responsibility while using a bike. This deposit is refundable.

To pay deposit, please enter “User center”, “My wallet” then click “Pay deposit”.

2. To get a refund for your deposit, which usually take 1~14 working days. Please go to “My wallet”,and click the link of “refund deposit”.

3. If you did not get your deposit back after 14 working days. Please report to us, and we will check and solve it as soon as possible.

4. You can refund deposit only once for free. If you refund deposit more than one times, an extra transaction fee will be deducted from deposit.

Pricing

For normal use, oBike is priced at S$ 0.50 /15 minutes.

Hardware

In terms of hardware, the oBike comes with several which I thought were pretty nifty.

oBike’s basket

Firstly, it has a large basket in front for you to place your items. However when encountering bumps on the road , items in the basket may be displaced.

Small Headlight

It also has a small headlight which is powered by dynamo in the front wheel which you can engage and disengage. This I thought was quite ingenious as it cuts down on maintenance by the oBike team while letting users navigate the roads at night safely. 

Engaging the headlight makes it abit more difficult to cycle due to the increased resistance. 

In fact, the whole bike is built for as little maintenance as possible. Another example is the bell configuration.

Ring-a-ling

These are installed so that theft is essentially not easily possible.  On the negative side, this configuration also caused me to ring it accidentally while riding.

Parking and locking the bike

oBikes can be parked at any designated public bike parking area near MRT stations, first floor of HDB or near shopping mall. However, I have seen the oBikes parked at other locations as well. In the end, it is the user’s responsibility to park responsibly. For the ride at Sentosa, I parked at the public parking area at the boardwalk.


Unlike unlocking the bike, the lock is manually engaged when locking the bike. Look for the catch on the lock and slide it through to the end.

Credits

oBike also just recently instituted a credit policy for users. For users who complete rides without flouting the rules, points are earned. If you were go above and beyond your call of duty and report a broken bike, you stand to earn more points. However for users who disregard the rules, for example parking at an undesginated spot , points are deducted. Some offences like violating traffic rules instantly reduce points to zero.

These points will then determine the cost of renting the bike.

The Trail

Sentosa Trails

As mentioned in the introduction, the cycling trail starts at the boardwalk near VivoCity. You’ll see a big cycling Sentosa sign there. It then goes through an underpass and upon resurfacing, you’ll find yourself on the roads. There is a 2 SGD admission fee for cyclists.

Using the Runkeeper app, I managed to track my ride there on the island. Below are the screenshots of the route we took with its elevation.

Our route.JPG

Sentosa elevation

Hills

As can be seen from the official trail map and the elevation map from my phone app, riding in Sentosa is in general not easy. There are many hills , with some of them rather steep. There are moderate and easy routes as well but if you were to scrutinise the map, you will soon realise that you’ll have to make it through at least a portion of the challenging one.

Given the oBike’s heavy body, it was challenging to cycle even gentle slopes, let alone steep hills.

Designated lanes

There were some parts of the trail where there were designated bicycle lanes marked in green on the left hand side of the tarmac road. I appreciated that that these were present but these can be found only in the first few kilometres of roads.

Eventually, cyclist have to watch out for themselves on the normal tarmac roads without the designated green lanes. During the time I was there , traffic was light and did not pose any problems even for a large group of cyclists.

Shelter

In terms of shelter, you’ll find sheltered pathways and tramstops every so often. These come in useful during a break or taking shelter from the rain.

Conclusion

While the oBike presented no technical problems during the ride itself and the bike construction seems to be rather sturdy, I found that there were some difficulties in using it to cycle in Sentosa – it’s weight and the lack of gears.

Weight

Probably built to have lower maintenance, the oBike is fitted with rubber tyres and beneath the sturdy construction is a heavy frame. Being heavy also made it difficult to push down staircases with grooves for bicycle wheels. Even with the brakes fully depressed , there were instances where the bike continued sliding down. This bring me to my next point…

Gears

This is what I opine to be the most glaring problem – the lack of gears. The oBike is not built to tackle slopes – not even ones with slight gradients. And as aforementioned, there were slopes aplenty in Sentosa. There were many parts where I had to stand up to pedal the oBike so I could get up to the top.

What I liked

I liked that the oBike has a basket infront and looks built to support a substantial load. While not very trendy looking, it is quite convenient to have installed on your bike.

The other thing that I liked was that oBike was giving free rides during the weekend I was renting it. I rented it for 4 hours essentially for free. This is probably a promotional gimmick and would not likely last the entirety of its service.

In short, what I don’t like: weight and lack of gears . What I liked: front basket and free rides.

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