Bicing: Barcelona's Bike-Sharing System

Ashkan Ahmadi

Complete Guide to Barcelona’s Bicing

Important notice: starting from the summer of 2020, Bicing has been incorporated into Smou. Keep reading below to find out more.

One of the best ways to get around Barcelona is riding a bicycle. Barcelona is one of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe with over 200km of dedicated bike lanes. You get to go around the city, enjoy the warm weather and the beautiful views and one of the best ways to do this is by getting your Bicing card.

What is Bicing?

Bicing has been Barcelona’s public bike sharing system since 2007. It is a simple, practical and sustainable way of getting around the city. It is available only to the residents since you need a national ID number, a NIE, or a residency card. It is not for leisure or tourists. Tourists can’t use Bicing in Barcelona.

As a Bicing member, you have access to over 6000 mechanical and electric bicycles and more than 420 stations found in most neighborhoods spread across Barcelona. All the electric bicycles have an icon of a lightning on the back of the bicycles.

The best best thing is that you can rent a bike from any station and drop it off at any other station. You don’t need to return it back to where you took it from.

All the bicycles and stations have been changed and upgraded since 2019. The new bicycles now have bigger front wheels making them more stable and they are made of aluminium instead of stainless steel making them lighter and more efficient.

Smou

Smou integrates different mobility services in Barcelona into one unified platform so that you can move around Barcelona faster and easier. You can access Bicing, pay the parking meter, charge an electric vehicle, rent out shared cars, and more, all in one app.

Smou covers also services in El Prat, Montcat, and Hospitalet, but Bicing will be accessible only within the city of Barcelona.

Soon the Bicing mobile app will disappear and all the users must use the Smou app to be able to use Bicing.

With the Smou app you can use all the functionalities of the Bicing service such as:

  • See the availability of bicycles and parking spots at every station in real time
  • Book and take a bike, check that you have anchored it correctly
  • Ask for an additional 10 minutes if the station is full
  • Check your journey history
  • Access your subscription information: status, days left for renewal or rate applied, among others

If you don’t have an account on Smou, you can create an account here to sync your Bicing account with your Smou account and if you have an account, you can log into Smou here.

How to get your Bicing card

Getting your Bicing card is pretty simple. All you need to do:

  1. create an account on Smou
  2. activate Bicing in the Services menu and choose your rate (see below)
  3. Download the Smou app to use the service immediately while the Bicing card arrives at your home, once you have it you must activate it in the Smou User Zone via the web.
  4. Start Bicing

How to activate your card

Once your card has arrived, you have 30 days to activate it. Go to the Activate Your Card page and enter the number on the back of your card and voila. You can now rent a bicycle.

You can use Bicing through Smou while you are waiting for your card to arrive.

Keep in mind that Bicing’s Terms and Conditions states that certain activities such as these ones are prohibited

  • taking the bicycle on any form of public transportation system (metro, bus)
  • using the Bicing bicycles for commercial purposes
  • riding the bicycles on unpaved surfaces
  • using your phone while riding
  • carry another person or an animal with you on the bicycle

How much does it cost

Bicing offers two plans you can choose from depending on how frequently you would use Bicing: Tarifa Plana and Tarifa d’ús.

Tarifa Plana

With this plan, you will pay more in the beginning (50€) but you get to use the mechanical bicycles for free up to 30 minutes and pay 0.35€ for the electric bicycles instead 0.55€ compared to the Tarifa d’ús plan. This is the right plan for you if you plan on using the bicycles regularly.

Tarifa d’ús

This is the right plan for you if you are rarely going to use Bicing. You will pay less in the beginning, 35€ instead of 50€, but you will pay slightly more later on when you use the bicycles.

With this place, there is no 30-minute free period. You will pay 0.35€ for the mechanical bicycles and 0.55€ for the electric ones for the first 30 minutes.

No matter which plan you would pick, you will be charged 0.70€ for the mechanical bicycles and 0.90€ for the electric bicycles after the first 30 minutes every 30 minutes up to 2 hours, and then 5€ every hour after that.

If the bicycle has not been returned after 24 hours, it will be flagged as stolen and you will be charged a hefty price so make sure the bicycle is returned back and locked correctly.

How to use Bicing

You can get a Bicing by using your physical Bicing card or by using the Smou app:

Using the Smou app

This is the fastest and easiest way. Every bicycle has a unique QR printed on it. You need to scan that QR code using the Smou app and you are good to go. If you have any issues, you can manually type in the text version of the QR code to unlock the bicycle.

Using the physical card

Every bicycle has a red section on the right side where it can read the RFID chip inside your card. Just tap with your card and that should unlock the bicycle.

Once you are done, find an empty spot and put the bike back into the slot. Make sure the green light turns on, you hear a beep and the bike is locked and anchored correctly.. If it doesn’t, try again. If you fail to lock it correctly and leave it like that, you will end up paying a hefty amount.

How are the bikes

Red, red, red! That’s the color of everything Bicing. You can easily spot them across the city.

All the Bicing bicycles are made of aluminium but they are sturdy and heavy especially the electric ones. If you are a small girl, it may be slightly difficult for you to even lift the bike out of its docking station especially the electric bikes. This is something to keep in mind if you are planning to go uphill (unless you are using an electric bike, then it’s a piece of cake).

Overall, the quality is good especially compared to the annual fee which is very affordable. Almost all the bicycles are regularly maintained and come with a standing jack, mechanical disk brakes, mudguards, front and back lights, a bell (not always working properly), and a three-speed shifter to make your ride easier when pedaling uphill (only the mechanical ones, the electric ones dont have shifters).

All the bicycles have disk brakes giving you reliable and consistent stopping power in every condition. You can easily adjust the seat height. There is also a front metal basket big enough for a medium-sized bag.

Every time you get a bicycle, always test the brakes and see if the shifter functions properly. If something doesn’t feel right, return the bike and take a better one. If you hear creaking, clicking or any kind of weird play, get another one if you can.

You have a 3-minute window to change your bike if it doesn’t feel right. If you decide to change after 3 minutes, you will have to wait 10 minutes before you can take another bicycle.

Summary

Overall, Bicing is an excellent way to get around the city, especially if it’s not too hot or too cold. The bicycles are comfortable and in good shape.

Barcelona is a very bike-friendly city and thanks to the city’s efforts in making more and more bicycle lanes, getting around the city is super easy. Enjoy your rides and be safe.

Let us know in the comments below what you think about Bicing.

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