HumanForest Vs TIER Vs Lime: Which London Electric Bike Is Best? (Updated October 2023)

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London’s electric bike revolution has transformed the way we get about the capital.

And with car ownership declining and the ULEZ expanding again to cover the entire city as of August 2023, London’s electric bike hire schemes are becoming increasingly vital.

All of which begs the question: Which of the London electric bike services is the best?

Having lived in London for over a decade, I’ve had more than my fair share of experience with London’s eBike services. There are currently three key contenders in the capital when it comes to shared pedelec eBikes: HumanForest, TIER, and Lime.

To help you sort the brilliant from the best-avoided, we’ll be comparing the three eBikes on:

  • The Contenders: Human Forest, Tier, And Lime
  • How Much Do London Electric Bikes Cost?
  • Which Of London’s Electric Bikes Has The Widest Coverage?
  • Which Shared London Electric Bike Is The Best Quality?
  • Which eBike Service Has The Best App?
  • The Verdict: Best Electric Bike London

Ready for the lowdown on London’s eBikes?

Let’s hit the road!

HumanForest Vs TIER Vs Lime: Which London Electric Bike Is Best? (Title Image)

The Contenders: Human Forest, TIER, And Lime

#1. HumanForest

The new(ish) kid on the block, HumanForest bikes hit London’s streets in the summer of 2021 after a trial period the year before.

The only London-specific service on our list, HumanForest, emphasizes sustainability. This focus is backed by an all-electric fleet of maintenance vehicles, renewable-only battery charging, and a commitment to zero-emissions operations.

HumanForest has also introduced a fleet of bright-blue “River” bikes.

These are functionally identical to regular HumanForest bikes, and accessed through the same app, but are intended to raise awareness of environmental damage to Britain’s waterways, with 5% of revenue donated to The Rivers Trust.

#2. TIER Bikes

European micro-mobility giant TIER launched in London with 500 eBikes in late 2021, having already run successful programs in over 150 cities across 17 countries.

TIER runs e-scooters alongside the bike service, and has committed to a climate-neutral pledge – not quite as good as HumanForest’s zero-emissions promise, but still nothing to be sniffed at!

#3. Lime Bikes

Remember the distinctive red Jump bikes that used to be dotted around London before suddenly disappearing a few years ago?

The Uber-owned brand was struggling on the verge of collapse until it was snapped up by Lime back in 2020, and their eBikes are now back on London’s streets with the new owner’s branding.

How Much Do London Electric Bikes Cost?

HumanForestTIERLimeTfL Santander Cycles
Bike Unlock Fee£1£1£1Free
Price per Minute23p
(first 10 minutes per day free)
23p27p£1.65 per 30 minutes
(5.5p per minute)
Non-Parking Zone FeeNone*N/A
(must be parked in zone)
(can be parked anywhere)
(must be parked in docking station)
Typical 20-Minute Ride£2.80 (inc. 10 free minutes per day and parking discount)£5.60£6.20£1.65
24-Hour Pass£3
(30 minutes total)
(60 minutes)
(60 minutes, lasts 3 days)
(monthly/annual memberships available)
*50p discount for using HumanForest’s Camden parking zones, + 2 minutes free for other parking zones.
(Prices checked in October 2023)

Based on the headline price for a single 20-minute journey, HumanForest is the clear winner when it comes to London electric bikes’ value for money.

Even when the free 10 minutes are used up, HumanForest rides still end up cheaper than TIER or Lime if you make use of the 2-minute free bonus (or 50p discount in Camden) for using a Green Bay parking zone.

That said, HumanForest bikes are a lot more expensive than they used to be. Until recently, there was no unlocking fee, and rides typically cost around 17p per minute.

However, if you’re less bothered about getting an electric boost, the trusty old Santander bikes can’t be beaten for absolute economy.

TfL has also recently rolled out the first batch of electric Santander bikes to complement its fleet, which are double the price of the regular Santander bikes. You can catch more on that here!

Which Of London’s Electric Bikes Has The Widest Coverage?


HumanForest Vs TIER Vs Lime: Which London Electric Bike Is Best? (Updated October 2023) 1
Credit: HumanForest

HumanForest’s operating zone (or ‘Forest’ as they call it) has expanded significantly recently to rival those of its competitors.

The Forest now extends southeast as far as Banstead Common, southwest to Brockley, east as far as Bethnal Green, northwards to Crouch Hill, and westwards just past Hammersmith.

The area includes Green Zones where you can park for a 50p discount (in Camden) or two free minutes (anywhere else) – there are plenty around central London, but as you push towards the edge of the zone they start to get a little spaced out, though still only a 5-minute walk or so.

If you can’t be bothered trekking to a Green Zone, you can leave the bike anywhere in the Forest for a £1.50 fee – but parking in a Red Zone can land you with a hefty fine.

Hackney is a significant miss from the HumanForest zone compared to its rivals. In Camden and parts of West London, parking is restricted to Green Bays only – but you can check where these are on the map.

The inability to reserve a bike can also be a nuisance for riders at busy commuting hours.

Coverage Rating: 6.5/10

TIER Bikes

Screenshot showing the TIER Mobility eBike operating zone in London.
Credit: TIER Mobility

TIER’s operating zone is slightly larger than that of HumanForest in most directions, but is much smaller to the southeast.

It extends a little further west, as far as Acton Town, and as far east as Bow, but stops at Tooting and Streatham Common. It’s also a little shallower to the north, stopping at Finsbury Park.

Unlike HumanForest and Lime, TIER eBikes don’t allow you to end the journey outside a parking zone, even for a fee.

Coverage and Convenience Rating: 7/10

Lime Bikes

Screenshot showing the operating zone for Lime eBikes in London.
Credit: Lime

Lime bikes have the best coverage of the three by some distance.

They extend further in every direction than any of their competitors, and with fewer gaps – although you’re sometimes left with a bit of a walk to find a bike when you venture out to the suburbs.

Note that in the boroughs of Camden, City of London, Hackney, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow, Kensington, and Chelsea you must leave your eBike in designated parking bays.

Coverage and Convenience Rating: 7.5/10

Which Shared London Electric Bike is the Best Quality?

Human Forest

Press photo of two people holding HumanForest eBikes next to London's TATE Modern.
Credit: HumanForest

One of the standout features of Human Forest is the build quality of their bikes.

They steer and accelerate smoothly, feel sturdy and durable, and deliver (relatively) consistent power regardless of charge level – plus the dark green and brown leather styling blows Lime and TIER’s bikes out the water in a beauty contest.

They also seem to be relatively well-maintained relative to other London eBikes – though they’re certainly not always perfect.

Speaking from experience, taller riders could do with being able to raise the saddle further to avoid sore knees, and the bikes are hardly forgiving as you jolt over bumps, but overall Human Forest’s bikes are the pick of the bunch.

Build and Ride Quality: 7.5/10

TIER Bikes

Press image of a couple riding TIER electric bikes.
Credit: TIER Mobility

TIER eBikes can be a bit of a mixed bag.

When they’re in good nick, they’re not far off the quality of the HumanForest bikes, if a little heavier. However, a glance at any user review site confirms our experience that TIER’s bikes are sometimes poorly maintained, even to the point of being unrideable.

They also have geo-located ‘Slow Zones’, where the bike will slow you down for safety. However, we found the sudden loss of power a bit dangerous in itself – especially when the GPS is off by a few metres and slows you on a road where it shouldn’t!

Build and Ride Quality: 5/10

Lime Bikes

The first generation of Lime eBikes to hit London’s streets were famously shoddy, but their standard improved when the company absorbed the old Jump fleet.

The current batch, which Lime has named “Gen4”, is decent enough to ride, though the acceleration and power delivery are more jarring than the HumanForest’s velvet touch.

As with the TIERs, Lime’s bikes throw up more reliability and maintenance issues than they should.

Make a mental note to check your Lime before each ride – people often steal the seats to “reserve” the bike for themselves, and I’ve even arrived at a Lime bike to find both pedals are missing.

Build and Ride Quality: 6/10

Which London eBike Service Has The Best App?


Screenshot of the HumanForest app.
Credit: HumanForest

The HumanForest app used to be slow and buggy, but has improved recently.

The majority of the time it works well enough, but every so often expect to have a frustrating time attempting to end a ride as the app “fails to connect” to the bike.

I’ve experienced this problem much less regularly in the last few months so it’s possible they’ve finally fixed the issue, but it’s something to be aware of.

Their customer service is at least friendly and quick to fix a refund when something goes wrong.

App Rating: 7/10

TIER Bikes

Screenshot of the TIER Mobility app.
Credit: TIER Mobility

TIER’s app is the most user-friendly of the three.

It’s the nicest to look at and generally gets the job done without too much fuss, though some users have reported problems with the app’s reliance on GPS technology which can be frustratingly imprecise.

App Rating: 7.5/10

Lime Bikes

Screenshot of the Lime app, showing eBikes in Peckham.
Credit: Lime

Lime’s app isn’t the prettiest, but the real issue is reliability.

There have been widespread reports of bugs preventing users from ending rides or allowing them to hire bikes that are out of service, while Lime’s customer service can be difficult to contact and are reluctant to dish out refunds.

App Rating: 5/10

The Verdict: Best Electric Bike London

(20-Minute Ride)
Coverage and Convenience6.577.5
Bike Rating7.556
App Quality77.55
Overall Rating7/106/106/10

Overall, HumanForest is our favourite shared eBike service for zipping around London.

With the quality of its bikes, value for money, and eco-friendly tilt, we’re willing to overlook the slightly restricted coverage and recent price hikes.

If you’re outside HumanForest’s operating zone, TIER and Lime are both still worth giving a shot. They won’t save you much money compared to the Underground or a bus – in fact, they’ll often end up costing you more – but they often work out faster and more convenient.

And at the end of the day, all of London’s eBikes are a much more enjoyable way to get about the city than wedging yourself into a packed Tube!

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As a UESCA-certified cycling coach, Rory loves cycling in all its forms, but is a road cyclist at heart. He clocked early on that he had much more of a talent for coaching and writing about bikes than he ever did racing them. In recent years, the focus of Rory's love affair with cycling has shifted to bikepacking - a discipline he found well-suited to his "enthusiasm-over-talent" approach.

1 thought on “HumanForest Vs TIER Vs Lime: Which London Electric Bike Is Best? (Updated October 2023)”

  1. As of today (September 2023,) a HumanForest’s ride cost me for a 3 mile journey
    21 min £4.99.
    16 min £2.14
    25:33 min £5.46
    19 min £2.90

    Times vary due to busy traffic and bad bike conditions.

    So averaging £5 a day compared to £3.50 using a bus. They are not cheap.


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