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Uber-style cycle hire business launches Kickstarter campaign (+ video)

AirDonkey smart lock and kit allows users to share their bike and earn money from it

A Copenhagen-based start-up is well on the way to hitting the Kickstarter funding target for its bike sharing project. Similar to Uber, the basic premise of AirDonkey is that it allows its users to rent out bikes that are not in use via a ‘smart lock’ and mobile app.

At the time of writing, Donkey Republic has raised 186,000 Danish krone of a 250,000 target (around £24,000) with 21 days still to go.

On the Kickstarter page, it says:

“AirDonkey is a lock and a platform that, together, allows bike owners to rent out their (spare) bike in the simplest way possible and allows renters to find and rent a bike by the click of a button. To get on board the bike revolution, get a Donkey kit, mount it to your bike and start renting out your bike whenever you don’t use it.”

The team is also keen to hear from anyone who might want to run a rental business using the AirDonkey platform.

Before a bike can be made available for hire, it must be ‘donkified’. This is expected to cost around £55, but the kit is available via the Kickstarter campaign for 400 krone (about £38). For that, you get a special rear-wheel lock, an information panel which you affix to the handlebars, stickers marking the bike and a listing on the website.

The website keeps a track of available bikes’ locations via the lock and users can then release them via the mobile phone app.

AirDonkey concept video from Donkey Republic on Vimeo.


Much hinges on the security of the lock, of course. It’s built around a 3mm thick iron plate and there is a video of a ‘hammer test’ being carried out on the Kickstarter page. Make of this what you will.

Although any bike can be converted into a Donkey, "Donkey the Original" is also available, a bike that has been purpose-built for the project by Kildemoes.

Donkey Republic says it has tested its lock and platform in and around Copenhagen and has had more than 300 paying users since June. The firm reckons a rental price of around 10 euros is viable in place like Copenhagen and London with Donkey Republic taking 20 per cent and the bike owner the remainder. However, you can set the rental price yourself using the app.

The idea is similar to existing rental scheme, Splinister, which differs from AirDonkey in that bikes are collected from and returned to their owners rather than being left out on the street. The challenge for both projects may be to get enough people involved that bikes will be readily available for those using the app.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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