How to fix an ofo dockless bicycle
You can throw away your conventional wrenches for this one.
Now that ofo is dead in the US and all markets except China, I can feel comfortable sharing this guide, without worry that someone will put this knowledge to nefarious use.
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.
While some shops may be reluctant simply because they are uninformed about which dockless bicycles are legally in private possession and which aren’t, the bigger hurdle is that many bike shops aren’t actually familiar with the specific tools required to repair them.
As such, I’ve complied this guide based on the two ofos I have on hand for the Museum. This should cover a great deal of ofos deployed in the United States, though there are some models I, personally, have not been able to see in person. Keep in mind that some of the UK models may differ, while some of the Chinese-based models are unique to their home market.
The one tool kit you must have:
This set of bits were developed specifically for dockless bicycles, including ofos. The tools of particular interest here are the larger Y-type bits and the 5-point penta bit. Both of these are unique to dockless bicycles, and some basic maintenance (tightening the stem expander or saddle adjustments) is not practical without them. The large 6-point Torx security bit is also difficult to find anywhere else, and is essential to tighten kickstands (when mounted to the chainstay bridge).
The kit is sold under the Broppe name from China, and @jhfrazier on Twitter let us know that they can be bought on AliExpress.
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 difficult to find on its own, but it is available in the following sets:
- JTC Auto Tools #49175 (four penta sockets + four RIBE sockets)
- CTA Tools #2752 (four penta sockets, one penta key).
Fenders and accessories:
Almost all the secondary fittings on an ofo – primarily the fenders, front rack, and chainguard – use simple, 6-point, hollow-tip Torx security bits.
- Craftsman’s #47486 includes a good selection of these bits, plus a bit driver.
- Harbor Freight’s Warrior #68457 / #62657 includes these and some of the hex security bits. Expect to buy the bit driver separately if you don’t have one already.
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. These can be found in the ATD Tools set #13795.
Our Shanghai General ofo uses a penta head bolt with a security pin, which is unique to the Broppe ofo tool set mentioned above. The Broppe set also includes the 8mm hex security bit used on the Tianjin crank bolts.
You won’t find wrench flats on these. Pedals are installed with 6mm hex security bits accessed from the reverse side of the crankarm. Some may require the penta socket. For better or worse, the 6mm socket in many security sets (including the ATD 13795) is often 1/4” drive, which means you have to take care torquing them.
The 3/4″ drive Wiha 76137 is a better option here for severely stuck pedals. Granted, the smaller ratchet is less likely to get you into trouble if the tool slips.
Also, the same 6mm hex security bit can be found in the aforementioned Broppe set, as a 1/4″ hex shank tool.
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 special three-lobe bit in the Broppe bike share tool kit mentioned above.
To access the bolt on the one-piece handlebar/stem unit, carefully pry up the circular yellow ofo 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.
Can be either Torx T30 security or 5mm hex depending on model and batch.
Band (or drum) brake adjustment:
Nothing special here. Service like any other band brake or Sturmey-Archer drum brake.
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 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.
The solid tires weigh about 6.5 pounds combined, so converting to tubes isn’t a bad option for daily commuting.
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.
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 tamper-proof bit holding the center-mounted kickstand to the chainstay bridge. The security T45 bit is available from CTA Tools and Husky, among others. It’s in the Broppe set too.
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, which both the aforementioned Craftsman and Harbor Freight security bit sets include.
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.