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.
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.
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.