How to Use a YouBike: Taiwan’s Bike-sharing System

To use Taiwan’s bike rental service, YouBike, inspect the bike, tap your payment method against the bike’s dock, pull out your bike, and ride. There’s a bit more complexity, though, which I’ll cover in this guide.

I’ve lived in Taiwan for more than 5 years and have ridden YouBikes countless times. It’s easy. I put together this guide to help you get the best YouBike riding experience.


Important

All YouBike bikes in Taipei City are YouBike 2.0. They don’t have any YouBike 2.0 docks. However, you can still rent YouBike 2.0 bikes in New Taipei City, which is adjacent to Taipei. Do not ride YouBike 1.0 bikes into Taipei City.

Otherwise, you’ll have no way to return your bike.


Is It Worth Renting a YouBike?

So long as it’s not raining, I recommend using YouBikes to get around cities. If you stay on bike paths, it’s a relaxing experience and an excellent way to get around.

Certain cities that is. Taiwan’s working on having more of them throughout the country.


How to Rent a YouBike

Follow these steps to register for and use any of Taiwan’s YouBike models:

  1. Register
  2. Plan your route
  3. Find a YouBike dock
  4. Inspect your bike
  5. Grab/return the bike
youbike sign
Sign that shows how to use a YouBike (but it’s only in Chinese)

1. Register

You must register your EasyCard or iPASS to use YouBike’s service. You can’t register with an icash 2.0. And you’ll need the following items:

  • Taiwan phone number: Prepaid & postpaid phone numbers will work.
  • iPASS or EasyCard number

You won’t need to provide an ID number or passport number.

1. How to Register a YouBike Account

You’ll find large kiosks with YouBike’s logo at any YouBike docking area.

Upon reaching the kiosk screen, follow these steps:

  1. Pick your language.
  2. Tap ‘I want to rent a YouBike.’
  3. Tap ‘Join Member.’
  4. Scroll through & accept the Terms of Use.
  5. Fill in your information.
  6. Receive a confirmation number via SMS.
  7. Enter the received number in the kiosk when prompted.

You may want to register your smart card prior to picking up a YouBike. Do so online.

2. How to Register Online

Visit youbike.com.tw/region/main/register. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the large yellow button.

Screenshot of member sign up screen for YouBike's website.
YouBike website screenshot.

Scroll through their entire ‘Membership Terms’ section and check the ‘I Accept’ checkbox.

Enter your phone number, click ‘Send verification code,’ and wait for an SMS to send you a 4-digit verification code.

Afterward, they’ll require you to enter membership information.

Once created, you can do the following on your YouBike account:

  • Modify your information.
  • Change your password.
  • Set your iPASS or EasyCard.
  • Check your riding record.
  • Sign up for YouBike’s personal injury insurance.

Let’s continue to using your YouBike.


2. Plan Your Route

Plan your cycling path. Here’s a cool map of bicycle paths in Taipei and New Taipei that I found:


View Larger Map

Taipei City and New Taipei City have the most cycleways. That doesn’t mean you can’t ride off the cycleways. In many areas throughout Taiwan, you’ll find dedicated bike lanes on sidewalks.

That’s not always the case.

Sometimes you may find yourself dodging pedestrians on regular sidewalks. Or vehicles on the road.

Plenty of Taiwanese ride bikes on the roads. Though, it’s perilous due to reckless drivers. If you decide to go this route, maintain awareness of your surroundings.


3. Finding Bicycle Parking Stations

Find the station where you’ll pick off and drop off your bike. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and money hunting for YouBike docking stations.

You’ll find most YouBike stations outside of metro stations or around popular parks.

Want to know my favorite method to finding YouBike stations? The Google Maps app.

Here’s a map of YouBike 1.0 stations throughout Taipei City and New Taipei City:

Ensure you mark the checkbox ‘Update results when map moves’ in your map’s settings.

When looking at the results on your map, you’ll get a glance at the number of bikes available. I don’t know how often Google updates these numbers.

Here’s a Google map with YouBike 2.0 stations:

YouBike also has the locations of every YouBike 1.0, 2.0, and 2.0 E stations in each supported city on their website. It won’t let you enter specific addresses to find nearby stations, but you can enter certain locations.

For instance, type “Taipei 101.” From there, it’ll pull up the Taipei 101 World Trade Center MRT Station YouBike docking area. It’ll also present the following information:

  • Bikes available
  • Empty docks available
  • Address
  • Type of bike/s docked (e.g., YouBike 2.0)
  • Last time updated

Or there’s the YouBike mobile app. This is a pain to use, though. You must download separate apps to find YouBike 1.0 and 2.0 bikes. However, when Taiwan ever fully transitions into using YouBike 2.0, the 1.0 app will become irrelevant.

I like the app over the former 2 methods because it shows the number of bikes and docks free. Then a means to plan a route to the docking area. It appears the app updates instantly too, because as I typed this sentence, the numbers shifted multiple times.


4. Inspect Your Bike

Check the brakes. Ensure they don’t feel ‘spongy.’ You want to feel solid pressure. Not mushy. Doing this will help ensure your bike brakes stop on a dime, which could save your life.

Adjust your seats before you pay. Saves you a bit of money. Sometimes unpleasant folks will leave trash in the bike baskets. If it’s the only bike left, throw the trash away. If not, try to find a different bike.

Test the bell. It helps let people know you want to pass. I spray the handlebars with hand sanitizer. But I’m a germaphobe.

The seats are antibacterial (and water-resistant).

Squeeze your tires. Test their pressure.

Don’t rent a bike that has a reversed seat cushion. YouBike’s website claims this means it’s not safe [1]. 

Here’s how to rent each bike version.


5. Grab Your Bike

Follow these steps to rent YouBike 1.0 and YouBike 2.0 bikes. As the steps to grab each bike will differ.

How to Rent a YouBike 1.0

Follow these steps to rent a YouBike 1.0

  1. You’ll see a large metal “T” sticking out of the ground with a small screen.
  2. Hover your iPASS or EasyCard over the small rectangle that says ‘SENSOR ZONE.’
    1. You SHOULD see a green LED light. And you’ll hear a ‘beep.’
  3. Pull your bike backward & start riding.
  4. You may see a red light & a number. That’s bad.

Here’s how to read each error code and what you should do when seeing them:

Error CodeError DescriptionSolution
0Unable to read the cardTry to scan your card again or use a different one 
1Unregistered cardRegister your iPASS or EasyCard
2Card already in useWait a couple minutes & try the dock again, or try a different dock
3Balancing previous rentalFunds from an earlier unpaid rental are transferred to this payment’s rental
4Funds below $0Add more money to your iPASS or EasyCard
5Different cardYou used a different card than the one you rented your bike with
6Insufficient fundsGo to the YouBike kiosk & check your EasyCard or iPASS balance
7Card errorDamaged card; try a different card
8Renewals restrictionWait 15 minutes to try to rent another YouBike
9Facility and Communication errorTry another YouBike dock
AFacility and Communication errorTry a different YouBike dock
YouBike error codes.

Return your bike:

Find an empty YouBike 1.0 dock that has a blue light. Align your bike’s tires with the wheel alignment grooves. Push your bike back into the dock.

You want to see a flashing light and hear another beep. The screen will also display your card’s balance.

I always tug on the bike a bit to ensure it’s returned.

How to Rent a YouBike 2.0

You don’t need to interact with a docking area, as it’s built into the yellow box on the bike’s handle.

Follow these steps to use it::

  1. Press the green ‘Start’ button.’
  2. Tap your payment card against the sensor.
  3. Once you see a confirmation message appear “請取車,” pull the bike out of its dock.

To return your YouBike 2.0, push it into an empty dock. You should see the following confirmation message:

“還車成功請靠卡扣款”

Hover your card over the sensor again and walk away.


Cities With YouBikes

Cities and counties throughout Taiwan that have YouBike include:

City/CountyHas YouBike 1.0Has YouBike 2.0
Taipei City
Hsinchu City
Chiayi City
Pingtung County
New Taipei City
Miaoli County
Tainan City
Hsinchu County
Taichung City
Kaohsiung City
Taoyuan City
Cities/counties in Taiwan with YouBike access.

Taiwan’s working on adding more YouBike stations.


Costs to Rent a Bike

YouBike 1.0 and YouBike 2.0 have the same prices throughout all of Taiwan.

Here’s what you can expect to pay [2]:

PriceDuration
NT$5 ($0.17)First 30 minutes
NT$10 ($0.34)Per 30 minutes (for the next 4 hours)
NT$20 ($0.68)Per 30 minutes (for the next 4–8 hours)
NT$40 ($1.36)Per 30 minutes (after 8 hours)
YouBike 1.0 & YouBike 2.0 prices.

It doesn’t cost much to use these.

I just lied (a bit). Some cities have YouBike 2.0E [3]. An electrically-assisted YouBike. It’s the only city with this type of YouBike and it has different prices:

  • NT$20: per 30 minutes (for the first 2 hours)
  • NT$40: per 30 minutes (from the 3rd hour forward)

If you ride for under 30 minutes, you’ll still have to pay NT$20.

You must pay an additional NT$150 if you need roadside assistance for your bike.


1. Ways To Pay for a YouBike

You can pay for a YouBike rental with an EasyCard, iPASS card, and debit/credit card.

I recommend getting an EasyCard before visiting Taiwan—


2. YouBike Discounts

All YouBike riders will receive an NT$5 discount from the local government on the first 30 minutes of your YouBike ride. You must rent a bike and return it to claim the discount.

You can’t return your bike before the 30 minute mark expires to reset the bike rental window. The government caught on. They now require you to wait a certain amount of time before renting a new bike [4]. 

Get the TPASS and you can use YouBike 30 minutes a month for free. Prices for this pass will vary by region and residency. For instance, Taichung residents will pay less for the pass.

YouBike doesn’t offer any other discounts. They also don’t offer discounts to students.


Reporting a Lost YouBike

You’re liable for bike losses and damages up to NT$9,000 ($306). NT$15,000 ($510) for YouBike 2.0. If you lose the key meant to lock YouBike 1.0, you’re liable for NT$200 [5 website is in Chinese].

If you lost your bike (or the thing to lock YouBike 1.0) call these numbers:

Didn’t lose the bike? If it’s damaged, you’ll need to pay a NT$350 ($12) fee.


Injury Insurance Explained: It It Worth It?

You need a Taiwanese ID card or an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) to use YouBike’s insurance. You also can’t sign up unless you’re aged 20 or older. That means you’ll need to provide your date of birth.

They don’t provide many details about the program. If you’re in an accident while riding a YouBike, you can file a claim. It doesn’t matter if you or someone else caused it.


YouBike’s History

In 2009, the Taipei City government wanted to expand public transit away from the Taipei Metro [6]. They partnered with the manufacturer Giant Bicycles. The duo began the YouBike (1.0) bike rental program.

With YouBike 1.0, you use a bicycle dock to rent and return your bikes. You’ll also pay at these stands.

Giant Bicycles designed each bike to withstand 13 uses per day. Giant also equipped them with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to prevent theft [7].

Come 2020 they introduced YouBike 2.0 by testing it near the National Taiwan University [8]. Since then, the program has become successful.

What’s different between YouBike 1.0 and 2.0?

YouBike 2.0 bikes have built-in computers. They’re bulky. And don’t look the best.

But they make using YouBikes a bit more convenient. For builders. That’s a good thing, though.

This design makes it easier to add more YouBike support to cities throughout the country.


YouBike Bycycle Renting Alternatives in Taiwan

I haven’t tested any mom-and-pop bicycle rental service, yet. I can’t provide any good recommendations in this area. Look around.

I don’t frequently see these places, but typing in bicycle rental services will pull up a million businesses throughout Taiwan.


What is Taiwan’s YouBike Rental Program?

YouBike is a bicycle rental system in Taiwan. It provides an alternative method of getting around Taiwan’s cities without using public transportation.

It has 3 different types of bikes:

  • YouBike 1.0: The system’s first bicycle model.
    • Many of Taiwan’s cities are phasing out this model.
  • YouBike 2.0: The most common YouBike model throughout Taiwan.
    • Almost all riders will use this model
  • YouBike 2.0 E: 2.0 models with a motor to reduce riding fatigue.
    • Best for folks w/ extra money & for extended riding; available only in some cities.
YouBike 2.0 E
YouBike 2.0 E parked
YouBike 2.0 E dock
YouBike 2.0 E dock. It shows your speed limit & motor battery percentage.

None of these bikes include helmets. If you need a helmet, you must buy one.


FAQs

Do I Have to Wear A Helmet On a Bike in Taiwan?

Taiwan doesn’t have any laws requiring bicycle riders to wear helmets. I recommend wearing a helmet if you have one. You’ll need it.

Can I Bring my own Bike on the YouBike System?

You cannot bring your own bike onto YouBike’s system.