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

person in taipei city, taiwan
Travel Writer

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To use Taiwan’s YouBike rental system, 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 several years and have ridden YouBikes countless times. It’s easy. I put together this guide to help you get the best YouBike riding experience.

To teach you how to use a YouBike rental system, you’ll want to know:

Keep reading, and you’ll be on a YouBike in no time.

How to Use a YouBike?

Using YouBike 1.0 and 2.0 isn’t the same.

It’s simple to use both bikes. But you’ll want to ensure you do everything right.

youbike sign
Sign that shows how to use a YouBike (but it’s only in Chinese)

Plan Your Route

Figure out where you’ll get your YouBike and where you intend to drop it off.

Here’s a cool map of cycling paths 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. It’s perilous due to reckless drivers. If you decide to go this route, maintain awareness of your surroundings.

Finding a YouBike Rental Station

Despite the vast number of YouBike stations throughout Taiwan, they’re not everywhere. You’ll need to figure out where each station is.

Find the station where you’ll pick off and drop off your bike. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and money.

You’ll find YouBike stations outside of metro stations or around popular parks in many scenarios.

Want to know my favorite method? 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 and 2.0 stations in each supported city on their website (all in Chinese characters).

When strolling through the city, you won’t have a problem finding YouBike stands. You’ll see a lot of yellow bikes lined up in a row.

Sometimes, you’ll see no bikes.

Register a YouBike Account

This point covers registering at a kiosk. You should find these at any YouBike station.

Once you see the screen, select your language. First tap ‘I want to rent a YouBike’ then tap ‘Join Member.’

Now you’ll see a Terms of Use screen. Scroll through that. Once you’re done, you’ll need to fill in information, which includes a LOCAL phone number.

The kiosk will send you a text with a number you’ll need to enter on the kiosk

Set your card.

How to Register for YouBike Online

The website used to have an English portion. Apparently, they redid the website and removed the translations. Now you’ll have to use the Google Translate browser extension.

I’ll do my best to guide you.

Visit Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the large yellow button.

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.

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

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

Once you create your account, you can modify your information, change your password, set your iPASS or EasyCard, check your riding record, and sign up for YouBike’s personal injury insurance.

Inspect Your Bike

Before doing anything, inspect the bike you want to use. Check the brakes. Ensure they don’t feel ‘spongy.’

You want to feel solid pressure. Not mushy.

Adjust your seats before you pay. Saves you a bit of money. Sometimes dicks 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.

Fun Fact: apparently, 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]. 

Now that you’ve found an ideal bike, it’s time to ride.

YouBike 1.0

You’ll see a large metal “T” sticking out of the ground with a small screen.

Hover your iPASS or EasyCard over the small rectangle that says ‘SENSOR ZONE.’ You SHOULD see a green LED light. And you’ll hear a ‘beep.’

Pull your bike backward and start riding.

You may see a red light and a number. That’s bad.

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

  • Unable to read the card (0): try to scan your card again or use a different one 
  • Unregistered card (1): register your iPASS or EasyCard
  • Card already in use (2): wait a couple minutes and try the dock again, or try a different dock
  • Balancing previous rental (3): funds from an earlier unpaid rental are transferred to this payment’s rental
  • Funds below $0 (4): add more money to your iPASS or EasyCard
  • Different card (5): you used a different card than the one you rented your bike with
  • Insufficient funds (6): go to the YouBike kiosk and check your EasyCard or iPASS balance
  • Card error (7): Damaged card; try a different card
  • Renewals restriction (8): wait 15 minutes to try to rent another YouBike
  • Facility and Communication error (9 and A): try another YouBike dock

Are you done riding 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.

YouBike 2.0

It’s a lot easier to rent YouBike 2.0. Press the green ‘Start’ button.’ Then tap your payment card against the sensor.

Once you see a confirmation message appear “請取車,” you can 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:


Hover your card over the sensor again and walk away with a smug look.

a youbike 2.0 bike
YouBike 2.0 parked. Don’t ride them when you see the seats reversed. That means there’s an issue.

What Is Taiwan’s YouBike Bike-sharing System?

Taipei has terrific public transportation. But in 2009, the Taipei City government wanted to expand public transit away from the Taipei Metro [2].

So 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 [3].

Come 2020 they introduced YouBike 2.0 by testing it near the National Taiwan University [4]. 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.

What Cities Have YouBike?

Cities and counties throughout Taiwan that have YouBike include:

Taichung CityHsinchu CityTaipei City
New Taipei CityChanghua CountyMiaoli County
Taoyuan City
Cities in Taiwan with access to YouBike.

Taiwan’s working on adding more YouBike stations.

Costs to Rent a YouBike

YouBike 1.0 and YouBike 2.0 have the same prices throughout all of Taiwan. Here’s what you can expect to pay [5]:

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)
Rates for renting a YouBike.

It doesn’t cost much to use these.

I just lied (a bit). Chiayi City has YouBike 2.0E [6]. 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.

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.

Are There Ever YouBike Discounts?

If you buy the All Pass Ticket for the Taipei Metro (MRT), you can rent a YouBike for free. Throughout the first 30 minutes of your ride [7].

An All Pass Ticket gives you unlimited MRT rides for 30 days. It costs NT$1200 ($41).

But you can only get the All Pass Ticket with an EasyCard. Sucks for icash and iPASS users.

And you can only use the All Pass Ticket in Taipei and New Taipei City.

I’ll update this post when discounts pop up. But if you’re a student, ask the people who give you your student ID whether you get a discount for YouBikes.

Also, pay attention to Taiwanese news websites like Taiwan News or Taipei Times.

Fun Fact: there used to be a loophole to get free bikes for longer. They’d return their bike before the free period expired, then rent another one to refresh the period.

Taiwan’s government caught on. NOW you have to wait 15 minutes after returning a bike to rent another one [8].

Ways To Pay for a YouBike

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

Taipei EasyCard Guide: Taiwan’s Smart Card

taipei mrt easycard

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.

What You Need To Use a YouBike

To register for a YouBike 1.0 and 2.0, you’ll need a local phone number and your payment method (iPASS, debit card, or EasyCard).

I recommend using an EasyCard. Whether you’re a tourist or expat.

You don’t have to sign up for a Taiwanese cell phone provider for a local number. You can use a pre-paid SIM card number.

Report a Lost Bike

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 [9 website is in Chinese].

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

  • 1999: extension 5855
  • 02-89785511: YouBike 1.0
  • 02-89788822: YouBike 2.0

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

YouBike Injury Insurance

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.

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.

Are you traveling to Taiwan? Or are you moving here? Check out some more guides I created based on my experience.

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