Commuting on Two Wheels: Bike Leasing vs. Bike Subscription Compared

The bicycle boom in Germany continues due to the climate crisis and the shift in transportation modes. Additionally, the e-bike trend is growing. However, employees often have to dig deep into their pockets for e-bikes. But there are attractive alternatives: Instead of buying a bike, you can lease or rent it through a subscription.

For car commuters, leasing has long been known as an alternative to buying a car. Now, there are also increasing offers for bike leasing – keyword company bike. The employer leases a bike, an e-bike, or a pedelec, and employees use it for work or personal purposes. Such offers are not only available from companies but also increasingly in the public sector or for civil servants.

With a bike subscription, employees are more flexible: unlike leasing, which typically requires a multi-year commitment, a bike or e-bike can be rented for just a few months, for example, during the warm summer months.

We compared both options for commuting to work.

Bike Leasing vs. Bike Subscription: What Are the Differences?

For employees who want to remain flexible, bike subscriptions offer an attractive option. In contrast, bike leasing allows for a long-term commitment to a high-quality bike or e-bike. While a bike subscription offers more freedom in selection and use, bike leasing scores with a fixed monthly rate and the potential for salary conversion.

Employers can offer additional incentives to their employees through bike leasing and save costs at the same time. Company bike leasing models are diverse and customizable – from classic bicycles to modern e-bikes with extensive accessories. The decision between bike leasing and a bike subscription ultimately depends on personal preferences:

  • Flexibility vs. Long-term Commitment
  • Variety vs. Consistency

Companies should carefully analyze their employees' needs to find the right model and benefit from the advantages of company bike leasing in the long term.

Bike Leasing Through the Employer

Financially, bike leasing is handled through salary conversion: the employer deducts the monthly leasing rate from the employee's gross salary. Employers do not have to pay social security contributions on this part. Employees do not have to pay income tax on the amount – although the monetary benefit is taxed.

The leasing contract for the company bike typically runs for three years. After that, employees can return or buy the bike. Whether and how much money they save depends on the bike's price and their tax bracket.

Bike Subscription: Renting a Bike Temporarily

A subscription can be more attractive for employees because they are more flexible: they do not have to commit for three years, but can rent a bike or e-bike for a few months, for example, over the summer.

Subscription offers vary by provider. Some providers have a few models, while others offer different brands and types of bikes – from city bikes to cargo bikes to mountain bikes.

The monthly rates depend on the bike's new value and the rental duration. Often, insurance and sometimes maintenance are included. The possibility of buying the bike later is not always excluded.

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Flexibility and Costs: Pros and Cons of Bike Leasing

With bike leasing, flexibility and costs are the focus. Employers can offer their employees the opportunity to lease a company bike through salary conversion. This allows employees to use a high-quality e-bike or bicycle with accessories without bearing high purchase costs.

The flexibility lies in the fact that employees can also use the bike privately. However, they are bound to a long-term commitment and must commit for a certain period. The costs for leasing are generally lower than the purchase price of a comparable bike, which relieves both employees and companies financially. Overall, bike leasing offers an attractive way to promote sustainable mobility and save costs simultaneously.

Long-term Commitment or Short-term Subscription? Making the Decision

Deciding between a long-term bike leasing contract and a flexible bike subscription can be challenging. While bike leasing involves long-term commitments, a bike subscription offers the freedom to switch as needed. Employees should consider their individual requirements and preferences to make the right choice.

A bike leasing service can include attractive additional services like insurance or maintenance, while a bike subscription might offer more flexibility. Companies should also keep financial aspects in mind – such as salary conversion with company bike leasing offers. Ultimately, it is important that both employers and employees choose the option that best fits their individual needs.

Services Included: Which Model Offers More Comfort?

When comparing bike leasing and bike subscription, employers and employees should also consider which model offers more comfort. Bike leasing typically includes comprehensive insurance and additional services like regular maintenance and repairs, ensuring worry-free riding. However, many bike subscription providers now offer this service as well.

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Bike Leasing for Companies: Potentials and Challenges

For companies, bike leasing offers numerous potentials but also presents challenges. By providing employees with a company bike, they can contribute to health and the environment while also benefiting from tax advantages. Salary conversion in favor of a leasing contract can mean financial savings for both employers and employees – sometimes up to 40% compared to private purchase.

However, companies should also keep an eye on administrative efforts and ensure smooth bike leasing operations – providers like NAVIT can help here by digitalizing and simplifying processes.

Choosing the right company bike and providing accessories are other points to consider when implementing bike leasing. Ultimately, it is worthwhile for companies to consider the long-term benefits and potential costs to make a sustainable decision for their employees.

Conclusion: Making the Right Choice – Personal Preferences Matter

When deciding between bike leasing and a bike subscription, it ultimately comes down to personal preferences. While bike leasing involves a long-term commitment, a bike subscription offers a flexible option without long-term obligations. Employees can save through salary conversion with company bike leasing, while companies can remain attractive to employees through bike leasing offers.

The choice between the two models depends on individual needs: those who want to invest sustainably and long-term might opt for leasing, while flexibility and ease of use are prioritized with a subscription. Ultimately, the decision should be well thought out and best reflect one's lifestyle and needs.

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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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