Bike leasing, bike subscription and bike sharing at a glance

Cycling is in vogue. After all, a bicycle has many advantages: It not only gets you from A to B in a climate-friendly way, but also keeps you healthy. On short everyday routes, it is often the fastest means of transport and also saves having to look for a parking space. But high-quality bicycles, e-bikes or cargo bikes are not exactly cheap. Subscription, leasing or rental models can be a good and practical alternative.

Cycling becomes more and more popular

Cycling is enjoying steadily growing popularity around the world, and for good reasons. Whether for the daily commute to work, sporting activities or environmentally friendly leisure activities - the bicycle has become an extremely versatile means of transport.

At a time when the choice of the appropriate means of transport is becoming increasingly diverse, bicycles are undoubtedly coming into focus.

Bicycles are also becoming increasingly popular for commuting to work. 22 percent of employees now regularly cycle to work, according to figures from the Fahrrad-Monitor 2021 (Bicycle Monitor 2021) published by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. 

There are many reasons why people are increasingly switching to bicycles. The daily commute becomes not only more efficient on a bicycle, but also an opportunity for physical activity and fresh air.

Sports enthusiasts appreciate the versatility of the bicycle, whether it's road biking, mountain biking or simply leisurely touring. But the bicycle is not just a piece of sports equipment - it is also an environmentally friendly means of transport that helps to reduce emissions and improve air quality in cities.

The rapid increase in the popularity of cycling illustrates that more and more people are recognizing the benefits of this mode of transportation. The world is experiencing a veritable cycling renaissance, in which the bicycle is perceived not only as a means to an end, but also as a symbol of health, sustainability and quality of life. In this context, the choice of the appropriate means of transport plays a decisive role, and the bicycle occupies a prominent place in this selection.

Rent, subscribe, lease - The future of bicycle mobility

The future development of bicycle mobility is characterized by a wide range of approaches that offer people multiple ways to use bicycles in innovative and adaptable ways. This dynamic landscape includes not only traditional methods of purchasing bicycles, but also contemporary concepts such as bicycle subscriptions, bike leasing, and bikesharing.

The traditional practice of buying a bicycle undoubtedly has its place in bicycle mobility, as it emphasizes the ownership aspect and offers bicycle lovers the opportunity to select and personalize a bicycle according to their individual preferences.

But modern times call for more flexible solutions that better meet today's demands and lifestyles. In this context, bicycle subscription and leasing are gaining in importance.

These models allow people to use bikes on a time-limited basis without committing to a specific ownership in the long term. This flexibility is particularly attractive to people who want to adapt their mobility to changing needs, whether in an urban environment or for leisure.

In addition, bikesharing has sparked a revolution in urban centers. For short-distance mobility, it offers a flexible option conveniently accessible via smartphone apps. Bikesharing promotes a sustainable lifestyle and helps reduce traffic in congested city centers.

How does bikesharing work?

Bike sharing is a collective term for public bike rental systems from different providers.

Renting usually works with an app that allows users to check where the next bike is located. Users borrow a bicycle for their trip. On their next ride, they usually use a different bike.

In cities, there are two different bike rental systems:

  1. Station-based bike-sharing systems in which users rent a bike from one docking station and return it to another station.
  2. Stationless bike-sharing systems, where users can rent and park their bikes in larger zones.

Many providers now have e-bikes in their sharing fleet that can be borrowed. In some cities, there are also cargo bike sharing services.

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Subscription and leasing models at a glance

Bikesharing is not necessarily suitable for people who want to use their bike every day. Here there are alternatives to buying a bike with the bike subscription and bike leasing.

What is a bike subscription?

In many larger cities there are now bicycle subscriptions. For a monthly fee, you can rent a bicycle for at least one month without buying it outright. The advantage here is that repairs are included in the rental price. If something breaks on the bike, the provider's bike mechanics repair it or replace it with another model in good working order.

The offers for bicycle subscriptions differ greatly depending on the provider. Some providers have only a few models, but some have different brands and types of bikes - from city bikes to cargo bikes to mountain bikes.

In principle, a leased bike works in exactly the same way as a company car: In most cases, the employer is the lessee and provides the employee with a bike. Employees are then allowed to use it for both work and private purposes, but they must contribute to the costs. In return, a monthly leasing installment is deducted from the salary. 

After a defined term, usually three years, the lease ends and employees can either return the bike or take it over at its residual value. Similar to a company car, maintenance and wear parts are usually included. Whether and how much money can be saved on a bicycle lease depends, among other things, on the price of the bicycle and the employee's tax bracket.

In most cases, the bicycle is financed through deferred compensation. For the duration of the lease, employees waive their right to a cash salary in the amount of the usage rate and, if applicable, the insurance.

Employees do not have to pay tax on the monthly leasing installments in the same way as on the rest of their salary, because only the private use, i.e. the non-cash benefit, is taxable at 0.25 percent of the gross list price. In addition, the employer can contribute to the installments with an employer subsidy.

If employees receive the company bicycle in addition to their wages in the form of a salary supplement and the employer bears the costs incurred in full, there is no taxation of the non-cash benefit. This means that the company bike is free of charge and tax for the employee.

In order for a company bicycle to be recognized for tax purposes, the transfer must be regulated in the employment contract.

Forms of bicycle leasing

  1. Private leasing

Private individuals can lease bicycles for personal use. This gives them access to high-quality bikes without having to pay the full purchase price right away. However, a bicycle subscription could still be more attractive, because a subscription is more flexible, since you don't have to commit to several years right away, but can rent a bicycle or e-bike for a few months.

  1. Corporate Leasing

Companies can provide their employees with company bicycles by leasing the bikes, as mentioned above. This model is popular because it promotes healthy employee mobility and also offers tax advantages for the company. It also serves as an alternative to the company car.

  1. Fleet Leasing

Another form of bicycle leasing is fleet leasing. This refers to the leasing of bicycles for commercial purposes, such as for bicycle rental or bicycle courier services. Here, companies lease several bicycles for business use.

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For whom is what worthwhile?

The choice between bike leasing, bike subscription and bike sharing depends on individual needs and requirements. 


Bikesharing offers maximum flexibility. It is ideal for occasional cyclists who like to decide spontaneously whether they want to ride their bike. It is just as optimal for short trips or trips in the city, e.g. to the train station. In addition, bikesharing is particularly suitable for people traveling to other cities (e.g. business travelers), because it is available in many cities, and some providers are represented in several cities. Thus, with a single customer account, bikesharing can be used in different cities.

Bike subscription

Bike subscriptions also offer flexibility and are suitable for those who do not want a long-term commitment to a specific bike. For example, for people who only cycle during the summer months.

Bike leasing

A bike lease is suitable for people who value long-term stability and ownership of a high-quality bike.

In addition, leasing a bicycle is particularly worthwhile for companies and employees, because the company bicycle by leasing is up to 40 percent cheaper than the direct purchase of a bicycle. Employees benefit financially the more the employer contributes to the costs.

The company bicycle is a modern and sustainable alternative to the company car for companies and employees.

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Stefan Wendering
Stefan is a freelance author and editor at NAVIT. Previously, he worked for startups and in the mobility sphere. He is an expert in urban and sustainable mobility, employee benefits, and New Work. In addition to creating blog content, he also produces marketing materials, taglines, and website content, as well as case studies.
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