Ebike-sharing app Forest rides advert income to turn into ‘most cost-effective’ in London

Should you’ve been to London just lately you will have seen packs of darkish inexperienced and brown ebikes lining town’s streets. They belong to Forest, an aptly named startup that claims to be London’s most cost-effective and most sustainable shared ebike operator.  

It’s success stems from an promoting mannequin distinctive to the world of micro-mobility. 

Forest’s essential opponents within the capital are Lime and Tier. All three ebike sharing schemes work in a lot the identical approach. 

You open an app, discover an ebike bike close to you, scan a QR code, and get pedalling. You normally pay an unlock payment after which a per-minute payment thereafter.

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However Forest is just a little completely different from the opposite two. Firstly, it presents 10-minutes free on all rides. Whereas this may first seem like a brief tactic to realize market share, the corporate  maintained this characteristic because it launched in 2021.       

After 10 minutes, you’ll be charged £0.29 (€0.34) a minute. That is corresponding to the per-minute price of their opponents. 

My fellow TNW reporter Thomas Macaulay just lately took a Forest ebike on a 21 minute journey round central London. That is in regards to the average duration of a motorbike rental within the capital. 

Right here’s a breakdown of Thomas’ journey:


Thomas’ journey value £4.19, together with a £1 unlock payment. For comparability, Lime prices £6.09 over the identical distance.  

“We need to decrease the wall of entry to micro-mobility,” Michael Stewart, co-founder at Forest, tells TNW. “In the intervening time, it’s simply too costly.”  

Using on advert income  

Forest manages to undercut the competitors by permitting manufacturers to promote on its app. 

Adverts seem at the beginning and finish of rides within the app. Customers may even watch movies to earn free journeys. Should you watch a 30-second video you earn one minute free which you can redeem subsequent time you journey. 

Stewart says Forest is the one micromobility startup globally that makes use of promoting to subsidise the price of its rides. The adverts are likely to concentrate on sustainability-related merchandise and types. 

Right now, Forest additionally introduced that it has teamed up with UK startup Ecoswap to create a digital gift card.

“We designed the reward card so you’ll be able to simply reward rides free to your pals,” Antony Gutsa, founder at Ecoswap, tells us. 

You may load a minimal of £5 on the cardboard (for 60 minutes driving), and a most of £40 (for 1200 minutes). 

Like its opponents, Forest additionally presents a subscription plan. For £60 a month you get 1,800 minutes — or 60 minutes per day. Curiously, you’ll be able to entry this subscription for a reduced worth below London’s Cycle to Work scheme.     

Greener rides  

Forest’s ebikes, and the electrical vans that service them, are all charged utilizing renewable power, it says. 

The startup offsets its upstream emissions (created in the course of the manufacture of the bikes themselves) by supporting a undertaking that crops giant redwood bushes within the British countryside. 

Forest payments itself as London’s most sustainable shared ebike operator. Credit score: Forest


To keep away from hoards of ebikes blocking pavements and walkways, Forest additionally incentivises riders to complete their journeys at parking zones jotted all through London. Additionally they make use of teams of “Guardians” that patrol the streets to identify points, and transfer bikes if there are complaints.  

“London is likely one of the world’s most costly cities for public transport, so cheaper choices are at all times fascinating,” Thomas says. 

“Ebikes are a very engaging various to me, as my nearest tube station is a little bit of a stroll away. For brief journeys, they’re an important possibility — so long as the parking is handy.” 

As for the ebike itself, it’s a basic step-through design with a built-in basket, smartphone holder, and adjustable seat publish.

“The bike journey was fairly straightforward and felt protected,” Thomas says. “Acceleration was pretty sluggish however that’s most likely a great factor. I managed to briefly contact 27 km/h however it typically appeared to lock the pace at 25 km/h.”

“The kickstand was a bit fiddly at first and the basket rattled a bit however the seat was straightforward to regulate and the brakes labored nicely.

“The parking zones had been a bit distant, although, a minimum of in my space. That’s one draw back.”

Forest at the moment has round 10,000 bikes and half 1,000,000 customers in London, the one metropolis it at the moment operates in. The startup has raised a complete of £17mn up to now.

London’s public bicycle scheme Santander provides shared ebikes which are significantly cheaper than Forest however these are state subsidised and docked, so we discounted them from this comparability.