Biking is Back

10 Jul 2012|Cultural Insight Team

Ten years ago affluent Chinese wouldn’t have been seen dead riding a bike. Now they are dropping serious cash on bespoke bikes and all the gear that goes with it. Stand on a busy road for five minutes and you’ll see neon Fixies and souped-up racers fly by. Fixed gear bikes have been around for a while in the West, so it’s unsurprising that this trend was fuelled by the expat communities in Beijing and Shanghai – and now the locals have caught on.

Bikes in China
Adidas advert (adidas.com)

Fixies are not only great for getting around congested cities quickly, they are customisable in any Pantone shade imaginable – so perfect for hipsters wanting to showcase their creativity. Bike shops are popping up all over in Beijing,  Shanghai and Chengdu for the Fixie-obsessed to come and drool over the latest designs. Factory 5 in Shanghai has taken this cult to the next level and opened up a honesty bar in their workshop allowing enthusiasts to hang out and swap biking stories over a Brooklyn beer. Even Adidas Originals has used Fixies in their latest advertising campaign, so it’s a sure bet the trend is only going to get bigger.

Bikes in China

But it’s not just hipsters on Fixies. Mountain biking and racing is also growing rapidly as a fun way to exercise and explore China at the weekends. Last year saw the first Asia bike trade show in Nanjing and the government are actively encouraging bike riding as a leisure activity rather than a mode of transport to bridge the gap between the rich and poor.

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