Confessions of an oBike technician: People think I am actually stealing the bicycles

Hariz Baharudin
The New Paper
6 May 2017

It is not uncommon for curious residents to creep up behind Mr Jefri Johari as he unscrews, tightens and adjusts various parts of a bicycle below a Housing Board block.

Although the 27-year-old is simply doing his job as an oBike service technician, he laughed as he recounted how people often mistake his intentions.

Mr Jefri, who has been with the company since it started in January, told TNP: "They think I am stealing the bicycle or up to no good, when it is actually me just doing my job."

Pointing to his shirt with the oBike logo, he said: "That is why I have to wear this."

Mr Jefri is one of four roving oBike service technicians who fix and maintain the company's few thousand bicycles.

For eight hours a day, five days a week, he travels around the island to investigate incidents and repair bicycles.

Mr Jefri attends to between 30 and 50 bicycles a day.

He said it is rare to come across a bike that needs repairing.

When he does have to do repairs, the pedals and handle bars are usually the parts that need work, although there have been cases where he has had to replace seats, bells and baskets.

He said: "I do not know why people can't just be nice and take care of the bicycles. After all, they are meant for everyone to enjoy."

Mr Jefri tries to carry out all repairs on the spot.

He travels on his motorcycle and carries a small toolkit that has "all that (he) needs". His motorcycle's box even has some spare bicycle parts.

Where more in-depth repairs are required or when bigger parts are needed, he alerts his colleagues, who travel in an oBike lorry to either bring him the parts or transport the bicycle back to the company's warehouse to be fixed.


Most of the time, Mr Jefri performs maintenance, which oBike carries out about once a month for each bicycle.

He said: "Sometimes, it is just a matter of tightening or adjusting a particular part. People report it as if it is a major problem, but it is usually not."

He is happy the public is taking an active role and providing feedback, as the oBike bike-sharing network is strengthened by users' input.

When a user of oBike makes an in-app report about a problematic bicycle, one of the technicians will be alerted to investigate and solve the issue.

oBike, one of three bike-sharing companies here, also has its own monitoring system.

"The bicycles are meant for daily use so we are notified when they are idle for a long period, about three to five days," said Mr Jefri.

Sometimes, he moves them from a place where they are indiscriminately parked to a proper area.

And as for the strangest place he has encountered a bike? It is the Singapore Zoo.

"There are not any parking stations there, so I was shocked to see one there during one of my days off," said Mr Jefri.

"I was thinking of bringing it back but I saw someone pushing it, so he must have ridden all the way in.

"As long as he made sure to put it back to a proper area, it is okay."

Have a look at The New Paper's interview with Mr Jefri here.

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