Having a bicycle in Berlin is great. Berlin is very flat, and it has a big network of bike paths. In this guide, you will learn how to buy a bike in Berlin, what rules you must follow, and how to deal with bicycle theft.

Where to buy a bicycle in Berlin

Buying a new bicycle

There are hundreds of bicycle shops in Berlin. Here are some of the biggest ones:

  • Decathlon (Mitte)
    Giant sport equipment store. The main store is near Alexanderplatz. They sell cheap, medium quality bicycles.
  • Stadler (Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg)
    Giant bicycle store. They have two locations in Berlin.

There are also many small, independent bicycle shops. They can offer better advice. For example, they can find a bike that fits your body, customise a bike for your needs, or even build a bicycle just for you. If you have problems with your bicycle, they will be able to help you.

Buying a used bicycle

You can save money by buying a used bicycle. There are many places where you can find used bicycles:

Many used bicycles are stolen. If you are caught riding a stolen bicycle, it can be a problem1. Before you buy a used bicycle, find its frame number (Rahmennummer) or registration tag (Fahrradkennzeichen), and enter it in this database, this database and this database.

You should also sign a sales contract like this one. If the bike is stolen, the seller will often refuse to sign a contract1.

Renting a bicycle

If you only stay in Berlin for a few months, you can rent a bicycle instead.

  • Swapfiets
    Rent a bicycle for a few months. It costs around 20€ per month. Maintenance and repairs are included in the price.
  • Bikesurf
    Borrow a bike, pay what you can.
  • Bike sharing
    Some bike sharing services let you rent a bike for less than a day, only when you need it.

Bicycle repairs

There are many bike repair shops (Fahrradwerkstatt) in every neighbourhood. If you just need air in your tires, use this map of public bicycle pumps. You can also buy a bicycle pump for less than 10€.

Self-service workshops

If you want to repair your bicycle yourself, there are also self-service repair stations (Selbsthilfewerkstatt) around the city. Many of them have friendly people who can teach you how to do it.

Bicycle theft

Bike theft is very common in Berlin1. Over 30 000 bicycles are stolen every year1. Always lock your bike with a strong bicycle lock (Fahrradschloß). Do not leave your bike locked on the street or at a train station overnight. If possible, lock your bike in a private area like a courtyard or a cellar.

Bicycle registration

The Berlin police can label your bike, and register it in their database. If your bike is stolen, it will be harder to resell. If the police finds your bike, they can return it to you. This is is a free service. You can find bicycle registration events here.

You should also write down your bicycle's frame number (Rahmennummer). If your bicycle is stolen, you can use this number to report the theft. This page shows you how to find your Rahmennummer.

Bike theft insurance

If you have an expensive bike, you can get household insurance (Hausratversicherung) that covers bike theft, or just bicycle insurance (Fahrradversicherung). If your bike is stolen, your insurance will pay to replace it. If you don't speak German, Coya and GetSafe offer bicycle insurance, and they speak English.

What to do if your bike gets stolen

Report the theft to the Berlin police. You can do it online. If your bicycle is found again, they will let you know. You should also look at this list of recovered bicycles.

Bicycle requirements in Berlin

Your bicycle must have lights, reflectors, a bell and working brakes. The Berlin Police sometimes controls bicycles.

  • Lights (Scheinwerfer)
    Your bicycle must have a white light in the front, and a red light in the back1, 2. Blinking lights are not allowed1. If your bicycle does not have lights, you can get a 20 to 35€ fine1. You can get a fine even during the day.
    • Headlight
      One white front light, powered by a battery or dynamo.
    • Rear light
      One red rear light, powered by a battery or dynamo.
  • Reflectors (Rückstrahler)
    Your bicycle must have all the required reflectors1, 2, 3. If you don't have the correct reflectors, you can get a 20€ fine.
    • Front reflector
      One white reflector. You must also have a bicycle light. Many bicycle lights have a reflector inside them.
    • Rear reflector
      One red reflector. You must also have a red rear light. Many bicycle lights have a reflector inside them.
    • Wheel reflectors
      Two yellow reflectors per wheel. You can also use white spoke reflectors. Spoke reflectors are much more visible.
    • Pedal reflectors
      Two yellow reflectors on each pedal: one facing forward, and one facing rearward.
  • Bell (Fahrradglocke)
    Your bicycle must have a bell1. It must be attached to the handlebars and easy to reach1. You can buy a bicycle bell for less than 5€. If you don't have a bell, you can get a 15€ fine.
  • Brakes (Bremse)
    Your bicycle must have working brakes1, 2. The front and rear breaks must both work1. If your brakes don't work, you can get a 10€ fine1.

Some equipment is not required, and some equipment is forbidden:

  • Helmet
    You can ride without a helmet in Germany.
  • Lock
    In Berlin, you should get a strong lock for your bike. Bike theft is very common.
  • Panniers and bags
    Panniers and bags are allowed. They are very useful in Berlin.
  • Turn signals
    Turn signals are only allowed for multiple track (3 or 4-wheeled) bicycles1.
  • Action cameras and dashcams
    You can use an action camera on your bicycle1. You must still follow German photography laws.

Road rules for cyclists in Germany

These are some of the most important road rules for cyclists. Those rules apply for all of Germany, not just Berlin. If you break the law on a bicycle, you can lose points on your driving licence1.

  • You can't ride on the sidewalk.1, 2
    You must ride your bicycle on the street, not on the sidewalk. If you ride on the sidewalk, you can get a 55€ fine1, 2. Children up to 8 years old must ride on the sidewalk. Children up to 10 years old can ride on the sidewalk. Parents who accompany their children can also ride on the sidewalk. Pedestrians still have priority on the sidewalk.
  • You must use bicycle paths with blue signs.1, 2, 3
    If you see these blue signs, you must use the bicycle path. You can't ride on the street. If you ignore those signs, you can get a 20€ fine1. If you don't see any blue signs, you can also ride on the street. If you see this sign, you can ride there, but you don't have priority. If you ride in the wrong direction, you can still get a 20€ fine1.
  • You must use hand signals before you turn.1, 2
    Before you turn left or right, you must announce it with hand signals. If you don't use hand signals, you can get a 10 to 35€ fine1. Point left with your left hand, and point right with your right hand1, 2.
  • You can ride next to your friend if you don't block traffic.1
    You can ride two abreast if it does not block traffic. Otherwise, you must ride one behind the other. If you ride two abreast and block traffic, you can get a 20€ fine1.
  • You must give bus and tram passengers the priority.1, 2
    If you ride past a stopped bus or tram, you must slow down. You do not have priority. The passengers who enter and exit the bus have priority. In this photo, the bicycle must wait for people to enter/leave the bus.
  • You can't ride in the bus lane1, 2
    You can't use the bus lanes, unless there is a "Fahrrad frei" sign. If you ride on a bus lane, you can get a 15€ fine1.
  • You must stop at red lights.
    Cyclists can't cross the street on a red light, just like in a car. If you cross on a red light, you can get a 90€ fine, and lose one Flensburg point1. You can't turn right when the light is red, unless you see this sign1, 2.
  • You can't use your phone while riding.
    If you use your phone while riding, you can get a 55€ fine1.
  • You can use headphones while riding.
    You can listen to music on your bicycle, but it must not be too loud1, 2. You must be able to hear sirens and horns1. You can also make hands-free phone calls1. If you get in an accident, and you wear headphones, you might not get money from the insurance company1, 2. They can say that you are partly responsible for the accident, even if you were the victim.
  • You must hold the handlebars.
    If you ride without hands, you can get a 5€ fine1.
  • You can't ride your bicycle in some parks.
    When you enter a park, look for this sign. Sometimes, it will say that bicycles are forbidden. If you ride your bicycle in these parks, you can get a 15€ fine. This happens often.

Right of way

If you ride a bicycle in Germany, you must understand who has the right of way. This website explains it really well.

    Bringing bicycles on public transit

    You can bring your bicycle on the train (S-Bahn and U-Bahn), and on the N1 to N9 night buses1. You can't bring your bicycle in the tram, or in other buses. On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in the first carriage. Some carriages also have a "no bicycles" sign near the door.1 On the S-Bahn, only use the carriages with a bicycle sign near the door.1

    Bicycle trailers, bicycles with more than two wheels, scooters and motorcycles are not allowed on the train. Electric bicycles are allowed.1

    Bicycle tickets

    You must buy a bicycle ticket (Fahrradticket) for your bicycle. If you have a student ticket (Schülerticket) or an apprentice ticket (Ausbildungsticket), you don't need a bicycle ticket.

    If you have a folding bike, you do not need a bicycle ticket, but your bike must be folded in the train. You can also bring your folded bike on the bus or tram.

    On the S-Bahn, only use carriages with a bicycle sign near the door.
    On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in carriages with this sticker.
    On the U-Bahn, don't bring your bicycle in the first carriage.