oBike / by Muhammad Amir Ayub

I was up for some thrill-seeking behavior  yesterday, so I decided to try out the oBike  service. I’ve seen the bikes strewn out all over KL, but I didn’t want to try it out with full-blown KL traffic or with a recent rain.

In my quest to become healthy, wealthy, and wise (and failing miserably), I’m always looking for ways to increase my NEAT in an efficient manner. So I try to climb up the stairs and use public transport whenever possible. 

With me working in the PICU the past month,  it has become more convenient for me to simply walk to Quill City Mall from the hospital, go to the gym, and then go back. My usual option of going back home would be to take the monorail  followed by the LRT.  But efficiency is also important for me; I heard that cycling is faster than walking and riding the trains. As my gym session finished at 10:30 pm with no preceding rain, I felt that this was a reasonable opportunity to try out the service as the heavy KL traffic would be much lighter (but I’ll talk more about this). 

On the way to the gym earlier, I did see a bike  available near the Quill City Mall entrance. So when I left the mall, I went back to the place where I saw the bike earlier.  I then opened up the app:

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So I opened up the app, and that’s the first alert to come up. I’ll talk more about these designated parking zones later. 

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The app then displays locations of potential bikes and how to get there if you want to use/reserve it. 

Parking  areas are also displayed .

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You may choose to go directly to an available bike, or reserve one instead; you’ll have 10 minutes to reach the bike and unlock it for your use. 

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Once you choose to unlock a bike, you will need to scan the QR code of the bike (present at the handle or the mud guard) to finally unlock the bike. 

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QR code at the handle. 

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Bike locked. After a few seconds..

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...Bike unlocked. You can adjust the seat height but not much else. It is a single gear bike, at a relatively low gear (I’m guessing only 3rd gear). It is relatively at a better gear when going slightly uphill (for those who are not semipro cyclists), but definitely makes it a struggle when trying to cycle really fast alongside motorcycles and cars along Jalan Tun Razak and Jalan Pahang.

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Once the ride is over, you press the “End Now” button and ride ends. 

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When you end the ride, the app will lock the bike (via Bluetooth) and calculate the charges (I presume partially retroactively). 

 On the oBike map this area (near the Sentul Timur LRT station) is not marked as a designated parking area, but why not? 

On the oBike map this area (near the Sentul Timur LRT station) is not marked as a designated parking area, but why not? 

For the past 2 weeks I’ve used the bike to either go homefrom Quill City Mall (where I lift) or from the hospital. From Quill City Mall, the ride time is about 30 minutes, taking me through Kampung Baru, Jalan Tun Razak, Bulatan Pahang, then finally Bandar Baru Sentul. This is relatively comparable to the travel time by Medan Tuanku Monorail station to Sentul Timur LRT, or walking a few more minutes then take the LRT from the Sultan Ismail station; both take around 30-40 minutes. 

So how do I find it?

Pros: 

1) My usual travel fare is cut from RM 3.20 (I think) to 50 cents. Any form of savings is okay depending on your point of view.

2) It definitely increases my NEAT. With this, cardio is naturally incorporated. 

3) The service is available 24/7. Even when there are no more trains. This especially important as I like to go to the gym as late as possible (when the gym is as empty as possible). 

 

Cons: 

1) With the route I travel, biking during the safest times are paramount. It’s safe only if the traffic is light (midnight) or unusually very heavy (usually from nighttime construction work with the MRT); during other traffic conditions, you are at the mercy of the other motorists whizzing beside you.  The single gear is a real disadvantage when entering Jalan Tun Razak and further on as it’s really difficult to speed up.

2) There are too few designated parking areas (and you’re penalized if you don’t park in one). This is especially true near my apartment; there are none, not even near the LRT station which has dedicated bicycle parking areas. But the service is too cheap to make the penalties hurt anyway.

3) We Malaysians are just pricks; too many of the bikes have been vandalized. I see the service heavily used near the construction areas (where I presume mainly foreigners use them to get around). If you’re not keen on using the service, leave the bikes alone!

 

Overall, I think I will be using this service whenever it is available. Cycling as a different stimulus makes my thighs hurt (I do have a 34 BMI) in a way that deadlifts and squats never have...