Here's the Deal:
Here's MUTE'S concept in its barest bones: download an app; select a bike and a monthly rental plan; upload your passport info; bike gets delivered to your door; hey presto, you have an ebike. No second-hand dealers, none of the pressures and stresses of ownership. If the bike gets damaged, they'll repair it or replace it. If it gets stolen, they've got built-in GPS. If the battery gets nicked, they'll replace that. It's pay as you go for however many months you deem you'll need the bike.
Sounds a little too good to be true, honestly, but feedback from users already signed up is that their service is working as advertised. Mostly.
So, the catch is that they're still scaling up and are struggling to meet demand. The app's in development, they don't deliver to your door yet, and they're gradually rolling out e-bikes (mostly Niu and Carletto at the moment, with a couple new Hondas) to a waiting list that is... sizable. The idea is, maybe unsurprisingly, already pretty popular. Licenses for each bike are just some of the hoops they need to jump through to bring you rentable e-bikes.
So, this is in the "wait a few months and see if it pans out" box. If you need to get on the waiting list, you can visit the MUTE Garage on Julu Lu, scan your passport, sign a user agreement and wait about two-three weeks to pick up your bike.
For now, they have one price bracket, around 280rmb per month payable via WeChat, but they've got plans for other tiers.
MUTE is a start-up founded in 2016 by Patrick Davin, a long-time Aussie expat who's worked in the industry for 20-something years. The idea was to provide a convenient, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly transportation option. Last year it raised around a million dollars on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, and they're also operating in Bali, London, and Perth.
We'll see if they can work out the kinks in the coming weeks, or if this turns into something like the shared bike fustercluck of years past. Hopefully not. Bicycles are so 2016.