Newcastle's Scratch Bike operator has new tech on offer; Sunderland, Oxford and Galway have reportedly snapped the system up

Three cities to pick up Grand Scheme bike share tech

Newcastle bike share company Grand Scheme has launched Byker – a new low cost bike hire system available to other hire scheme operators.

Grand Scheme is the firm behind Newcastle’s city bike hire ScratchBikes scheme. Since its launch two years ago, over 2,500 members and 8,500 rentals have been completed.

BikeBiz first reported on the patent pending system in May, but since then pricing details have been pinned down and three hire schemes have been revealed to be taking up the system – in Sunderland, Oxford and Galway in Ireland.

The Byker system costs around £1,500 per bike, compared with the cost of traditional infrastructure for heavy bike schemes of up to £4,000, said Grand Scheme.

CEO and co-founder Rob Grisdale said: “We’ve turned the traditional hire system on its head. By providing intelligent bikes with no heavy infrastructure docking stations, we’re able to offer a very efficient and affordable solution that is extremely flexible for both users and operators. Users can ride to the shop and lock the bike up outside while they buy a newspaper and stations can be moved around easily to meet demand.”

The Byker doesn’t require docking stations and is touted as being quicker and cheaper to install that the heavy infrastructure systems deployed in cities like London. The technology integrates with any style of bike or hire station, according to Grand Scheme. Members tap their access code into the solar powered handlebar unit to retrieve the security tagged key for the bike lock.

All bikes communicate wirelessly with a cloud management system. On-board GPS is used to ensure that the bike is returned to a designated hire location and to measure how far the bikes are being ridden. Accelerometers like those used in smart-phones will inform the operator when a bike moves without authorisation.

Grisdale added: “Traditional infrastructure heavy bike share schemes cost up to £4,000 per bike just to get it on the ground. By using cutting edge technology and a more pragmatic approach our systems cost around £1,500 per bike, even for small numbers of bikes. We’re here to make it much easier, cheaper and quicker for anyone to set up a bike scheme on any scale from a single station for an office or hotel to a full city-wide scheme. We’re really excited to get our first three BYKER™ powered schemes out there.”

The UK-produced Byker system is being produced in the UK and is available now. Find out more at or email

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