How to fix an ofo dockless bicycle (and others!) - The Bike Share Museum

How to fix an ofo dockless bicycle (and others!)

You can throw away your conventional wrenches for this one.

Many charities, advocates, and individuals have wound up with these yellow machines, but few bike shops are willing to work on them in the rare cases when they do need maintenance.

As donated dockless bikes are now a lot more common than when this article was written in 2018, shops mistaking retired bikes for stolen bikes has become much less of a hurdle. However, many bike shops aren’t actually familiar with the specific tools required to repair these bikes, while a few have been fed misleading stories about problematic front brakes – likely relating to the story of Bafang hubs with Shimano roller brakes – and other tall tales.

As such, we’ve complied this tool guide based on the ofos here at the Museum. This should cover a great deal of examples deployed in the United States, and some of the UK models. Additionally, while the fittings may show up in different locations, the specialized tools here will also fit Spin Gen 3’s, some Veorides, Mobikes, and some other basic pedal bike share bikes.

Please note that we earn a small commission as Amazon and AliExpress affiliates from purchases made through the following links. This helps to support our expense of hosting the website, maintaining our bikes, and shipping retired bikes to the Museum.

Two oddball tools you will need:

The three-point bits on the left were developed specifically for dockless bicycles. They’re usually used on stem expanders, seatpost clamps, and saddle clamps. They’re essential to have if only for stem adjustments; putting the necessary torque on that particular bolt is impossible any other way.

The five-point penta bits are commonly found on pedals and crank bolts. Depending on which bike you have, you may not necessarily need them, but check to be sure.

You can get the three-point bits here, and the penta bits here.

The two less-oddball tool kits you need:

I have yet to find any dockless bicycle that doesn’t have 6-point Torx security bits on it. Not a day goes by where I’m not using either the T25 or T30 bits from these sets. They’re essential, as are the larger bits to reinstall kickstands – usually T45s.

Occasionally, you may come across pedals that require security hex bits. The set above is affordable and effective.

I prefer the socket drive versions seen here as they fit most hand tools. You can get the Torx security set here, and the Allen security set here.

If you find yourself in need of a 5-point Torx security set, they’re available too.

Axle nuts:

Most, if not all ofos use 5-point pentagon-shaped nuts to hold the wheels to the dropouts. The closest tool to use for proper servicing is a 12mm (sometimes listed as 12.5mm) penta socket designed to fit Nissan fuel pumps.

The 12mm socket is available here.

Fenders and accessories:

Almost all the secondary fittings on an ofo – primarily the fenders, front rack, and chainguard – use the aforementioned 6-point Torx T25 and T30 security bits.

Crankarms:

Tianjin Fuji-Ta – 8mm hex security bolt
Shanghai General – 5-point penta security bolt

All ofos use conventional, JIS square-taper crankarms and sealed bottom brackets, but the crankarms are held on with special crank bolts. Our Tianjin Fuji-Ta ofo from Dallas uses 8mm hex security bits, while our Shanghai General ofo uses the 5-point penta head with a security pin. These tools are in the sets mentioned above.

Pedals:


You won’t find wrench flats on these. Most pedals are installed with 6mm hex security bits accessed from the reverse side of the crankarm, but some bikes, like Spin Gen 3, will have security penta sockets.

These are particularly difficult to remove, as the torque necessary to remove threads coated in Loctite 242 can be quite a lot for a simple hex bit. I have broken one before.

Handlebar stems, saddle adjustment, and seatpost clamps:

This fitting looks like a tri-wing, but will not accept any tri-wing bit (though a Torx can be shoved in – not recommended, and especially not for torquing down). These bolts will only work properly with the bike-share specific, three-point bits linked above.

To access the bolt on the an one-piece ofo handlebar/stem unit, carefully pry up the circular yellow cap.

Keep in mind that on some ofos, the handlebar/stem unit is swedged. I’ve come across one case of a handlebar that was loose and spun on its quill, leading me to believe the quill expander bolt had not been tightened enough. If you can’t seem to lock down the bars no matter what, check to see if the bars are spinning on the neck.

Brake levers:

Can be either Torx T30 security or 5mm hex depending on model and batch.

Band, drum or roller brake adjustment:

Nothing special here. Service like any other band brake or Sturmey-Archer drum brake.

Note that band brakes tend to perform pretty poorly unless the band is set to be nearly touching the drum surface. However, they’re imprecise enough that they’ll likely rub the surface slightly in one spot. Believe it or not, this causes a fair amount of friction – enough to make the bike a bit exhausting to ride.

In experimenting with Karasawa band brakes specifically, I’ve found that they work surprisingly well if retrofitted with a linear pull/V-brake brake lever, like these:

You have to set it up carefully or you’ll risk locking up your front wheel, but you’ll be able to loosen the band a lot more at rest, and the lever will take up the slack. Easily.

Headset:


All ofos use a standard 1-1/8” threaded headset. Pull the cone cap upwards on the stem and you’ll see the conventional headset locknut and upper raceway. Service as you would any other headset of the same design.

Tires:


Tires are solid rubber. Solid rubber tires are usually installed by pre-softening them in hot water, but removal can be done one of two ways:

1. Destructively: Cut it off like this picture.
2. Non-destructively: Clamp the tire in a vise (use soft jaws to prevent marking the tire), and pull the wheel towards you until the tire unseats from the bead. Repeat until you can roll the tire off the rim.

Please note that the rims are conventional, with hooked beads. You can drill the rim for a valve and install a normal 26″ (ISO 559) tire and tube, if you wish.

Keep in mind that the solid Wanda (marked “WD”) tires on LimeBikes and ofos are extremely heavy, weighing 3.42 pounds each (!). The solid H2 Drogen tires used on Spin Gen 3’s weigh significantly less, at 1.54 pounds each. Converting to tubes isn’t a bad option for daily commuting.

Hubs:

Secured with penta lobe sockets as noted above. Rear hub cable and shifting assemblies are accessible by removing the Torx security bits that hold the scuff guard. Service as you would any other Shimano Nexus or Sturmey-Archer hub.

Kickstand:


Kickstands are sometimes fitted to the rear of the chainstay with security Torx bits.

When they’re not, you’ll find a huge Torx T45 security bit holding the center-mounted kickstand to the chainstay bridge.

Locks:

If your donated bikes are locked or beeping beyond human tolerance, and if you don’t want to drill out the factory rivets, the lock can be disassembled non-destructively by removing the six tri-wing screws recessed in the back of the lock assembly. These take Y0 or Y1 sized bits, available in this set.


The lower screws may be slightly difficult to access on the Shanghai General-built ofos, but you should be able to loosen them using a low-profile mini/micro ratchet wrench that uses hex bits. MulWark, Riddle Star, and many other fly-by-night brands offer these tools.

Note that the wheel lock will retract immediately when the top shell of the assembly is lifted off its base. However, when reassembled, the locking pin on the separate GPS/3G assembly could allow someone to re-lock the unit. The pin is part of a motor-operated assembly in the GPS unit and can be removed by opening the unit with Phillips screws. Remove the PCB and motor assembly to gain access to the pin, and carefully remove it from its rubber boot.

Posted June 9, 2019 | By Kurt - Bike Share Museum

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Ken Davidson

Thanks for putting this information together. Very helpful – and makes ongoing use of these bikes recommended instead of being unwise.

elaine

just bought some OFO’s aren’t they supposed to be 3 speed? how do i change the speed?

elaine salie

thank you

Elaine Starr
Helen Shepherd

This is so helpful thank you

Helen Shepherd

Can you buy the solid tyres anywhere please?

KC Speicher

Thanks for the detailed information on this page. I’m awaiting the delivery of my Broppe toolkit. In the meantime I purchased a Kincrome 33 Piece Security Bit Set, this has the tri-wing bits required to remove the lock housing. I got the bits from Homebase here in the UK, I’ve also seen them on eBay.
To your knowledge how many ofo variations are there and what distinguishes them?

Brett Moore

You can remove the handlebars by by using a regular 4.5 mm hex wrench. Just push it into the triangular hole.

And thanks for publishing this great info on ofo bikes!

Ric. Burslem

Just bought one of these in the U.K. Any idea how the front and rear lights work? The rear seems to be solar powered and isolated, the front has a wire coming out and going into the frame. Many thanks. Ric

Ric Burslem

Hi Kurt,
So to build on your advice: the front comes on when you pedal (maybe there’s a light sensor so it only comes on in low ambient light) sounds good! The rear? Does it come on at dark anyway? Maybe it has a motion sensor or maybe Bluetooth to the original lock mechanism?

Ric Burslem

Thank you Kurt. You are The Professor of OFO bikes 😀

Martin van den Berg

How long does it take for the rear light to be charged? Just bought a brand new Ofo bike with solar powered rear light. Left it outside for one cloudy day. Took it for a ride but no light on the rear.

Martin van den Berg

Thanks Kurt. Lukkely it charged in direct sunlight.

Martin van den Berg

Problem solved. Had the bike for a few hours in direct sunlight. Now looking for a cheaper penta socket so I can fit air tyres.

helen.shepherd80@gmail.com

The light on mine stays on a few minutes! Bought in louth Linconshire.

Michael

This is an invaluable resource, thank you! I recently bought an ofo (Tianjin Fuji-Ta variant, I believe) I’m trying to replace the crankset but I’m having a very difficult time.

I removed the pedal on one side, and also the crank bolt but the actual crank arm won’t come off, should it just lift off? Do both sides need to be done before that happens?

I would appreciate any tips!

Chris Green

Thank you for this really helpful article. I’m taking delivery of a new, old stock Ofo bike this coming weekend (there are loads in the UK that were sitting in storage, still boxed, but were never deployed before Ofo went bust, so they still have packaging on them and never had their GPS bike lock fitted). The UK model appears to be the Shanghai General version with the Penta security socket on the pedal arms, so the link to the tool set on Alibaba was a massive help (I’ve ordered a set). I don’t know if my brilliant local bike… Read more »

Anony-mouse

I haven’t been able to figure out which tool kit is the correct one to purchase. Can you provide the link?

Roland

Hi, I’ve just bought a new OFO, the chain is completely dry, should it be oiled or not?

Roland

Thanks Kurt, very kind of you. I wasn’t sure if it was some ultra tough amazing material that didn’t need it!

Jimmie Hardin

On the 3 speed ofo bike, is the low gear 1 or 3 ? I can’t tell that much of a difference except that it doesn’t seem to be a low gear!!

Jo Lloyd-Hennie

I just bought a new Ofo bike, how do I remove the tab from the solar back light to make it work?

Stephanie Hughes

We live in the UK. My husband has just bought a bike on ebay. The handlebars need adjusting. The link to the site you provide which sells the tool kit does not deliver to the UK. Can anyone help?

George Petrou

Thanks for this valuable post! I recently bought 2 brand new ofo from uk . Im wandering if i should upgrade the tyres or leave them as is.

Iris

How do I unlock and OFO bike #60286636

I bought this brand new bike in Bryan, Texas on 5/25/20 and my 5 year old pulled the button down.

Please advise.

Mel

I bought one, because I wanted something low maintenance, but in just 2 months of using daily for short rides – one of the spokes broke? A normal bike place charges a min. fee for a call out at $50 flat – and when I told them the model they say its toast because you have to cut the wheel off….. it’s a bit annoying.

Mel

Thanks for the tip I did get the spoke replaced the wheel is out of alignment now but will figure it out. I really love it. I even customised it with a paint job! So thanks!

Gerri Kelley

Would love to see the custom paint!

Brice

I have a 3 speed OFO, did a hard brake on the front wheel, now the hub makes a noise when the wheel is spinning, the faster i go, the more pronounced it becomes.

Emily

Would anyone would be able to send me a link as well? Hoping to purchase one of the Y shaped hex wrenches for the stem bolt. We had 5 donated to the community bike shop I work at and would love to get them out to people in need. Am having trouble finding the tools on Amazon or the Ali Express unfortunately. Thank you for any advice and for a sweet, well laid out article!

Genevieve

Where do you purchase the tires for the oof bikes? As well as the brakes and bike chains

Anony-mouse

I have looked for the Broppe dockless bike bits on Ali, but can’t tell which are the right bits. Any suggestions? Also, how do you raise the handlebars on the OFO? Thank you in advance for the advice!

Ripley Browning-smith

How do I re install the of bike solid tires

josh

hi was wondering if i could put drops on these HAHA thanks !

Hanifi

That’s amazing information. Thank you so much!
I bought an ofo bike from OfferUp (it was rarely used) but pedal crank arm (right one) needs to be replacement. How can I find this part?
Thank you in advance

Hanifi

I ordered 🙂 thank you so much👍🏻

Nuge

Thanks from Australia. Saved one from the tip and fixed int up for people in the unit block to ride to the beach etc. Need to change a couple of broken spokes. Couldn’t work out what the hell was going on with the tires!

Ronnie Lee Shanley

thanks for the information

Renfredo Parrenas

Where can buy ofo bike tools kit

Flash Gordon

I recently got a retired e-bike. Not sure what kind but the handlebar HUD has been removed and just has wire poking out. The bike still has its massive battery pack in the lower frame and I was wondering if there is a way to charge it to get the full e-bike experience. The 3 speed hub is great, but self propelled is even better!

Gan

Thank you v. much. Managed to order the Yamwe bits from Amazon Germany. Got a 2nd hand Ofo very cheap as I assume the kid I bought it from cba with finding the right tools!

I will likely have a frame (probably without fork) and the tyres/rims available as I intend to transplant the other parts onto other bikes I’m working on. If anyone wants to make an offer please get in touch – I’m in NW London.

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