China's largest ride-hailing company is investing in bicycles

Didi Chuxing's newest partner is an app-based bike-sharing service.

CDIC / Reuters

The largest ride-hailing service in China just made a big investment in a different kind of transportation program: bicycle sharing. According to a report from TechCrunch, DiDi Chuxing is kicking off a "multi-layered partnership" with Ofo -- an app-based bicycle sharing outfit with a network of over 70,000 bikes in 20 cities. The details of the investment are pretty bare, but DiDi Chuxing says the companies will "explore strategic cooperation in urban rideshare, including offering a quality bike-sharing experience on DiDi's platform." In other words, the company's ride-hailing app may include a bicycle rental option in the near future.

Bike sharing in China is nothing new -- the country is actually the world leader in bicycle share programs -- but a lot of those are state sponsored. DiDi Chuxing's investment in Ofo casts the company in a new light, pitting a major transportation firm as privatized competitor to the nation's public bike programs. Can a private bike sharing program integrated into a major platform outperform state-sponsored sharing services? At this point it's hard to say, but it'll be interesting to see how Ofo fares in the long term.