China Rediscovers Its Love Affair With The Humble Bicycle

The initial burgeoning of the Chinese economy spelt good news for car manufacturers. But it struck the death knell for bicycles. Travel features on China show hundreds of Chinese riding their bicycles through the country’s main thoroughfares. However, things changed in the 1990s, as a generation of Chinese discovered their love for cars.

Ever since, the humble bicycle has had to take a backseat. So much so that the two-wheelers have been banned from some of the busiest streets of Shanghai. In recent times, however, there has been a change in attitudes. The bicycle is enjoying a sort of revival. Bike enthusiasts have formed groups and conduct moonlight riding expeditions through China’s streets during low-traffic hours. Big brands like Lee and Levi’s have also embraced the bicycle in recent times, by using custom-made two-wheelers in their advertising campaigns and window dressing.

Custom-made bicycles are all the rage in China nowadays. Chinese lifestyle magazines have picked up on this trend over the last six months, providing an additional boost to the country’s bicycle makers. Tyler Bowa, who custom makes fixed gear bikes in Shanghai, admits that even two years earlier, there was hardly any interest in bicycles. But things are changing.

Luxury bikes are in demand. Luxury brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini have jumped into this growing market. There are takers for Lamborghini bikes costing as much as £34,000. UCC offers a cheaper range of luxury bicycles costing between £500 and £5,000. In 2008, they sold only 3,000. This year, UCC has already sold 50,000. The growing tribe of serious bicycle racers has also been frequenting stores like Chain’s Sprockets in Shanghai to buy £2,000 bikes on an average. The store’s sales have increased by 30 percent in 2011. The humble bicycle has had a high-end makeover.

Via: The Telegraph

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