Find the bike for you in the old streets of Guancheng
Our city is full of cyclists. Be they locals riding beaters trying to find a way to beat the rush hour jams to get to work or foreigners taking their mountain bikes into the park on a weekend. With so many bikes available, it’s hard to choose where to buy from. John Acton visited one of the oldest bike streets in Guangcheng.
Located just over the river from the Ying’enmen Gate Tower are the winding streets of Zhenhua Road. There you can find antiquated buildings alongside tiny lanes, whilst bustling pavements creep under verandas, and alleyways stream and lattice throughout. Comparable to Dongcheng Middle Road’s high-end bike stores and much more specialised suppliers, this area in Guancheng is far more photogenic. For cyclists, it’s well worth a look.
There are around ten shops in a tight area, but still some wandering between passages and lanes is needed to find some of the quieter shops. Each store is crammed full of bikes and accessories. There are fixed wheel bicycles that are passable for velodrome entry level from 200RMB to suspension arrayed mountain bikes for around 1500RMB, to electric bikes claiming to be British brands. This is an area limited to frame type. If you’re looking for hybrids or racing framces, there are a few but you will need to look pretty hard to find them.
Frame sizes range from those for the height impaired to giants like myself touching nearly two meters. Bikes here come with traditional bar end shifters and grip release gear changers. If you want a “beater bike” (a bike you use in everyday to avoid wear and tear on a nicer bike) this place has plenty. The classic cycles here are perfect for casual cyclists riding in the city center, with prices to match. The odd BMX bike is available to pump up your BPM (beats per minute) or if you want something less adventurous like a fold up bike, there are Brompton-like frames starting from 300RMB.
The quality of the bikes range from fantastic for performing smooth pedalling circles to just the right ergonomics and wheels to avoid painful pedalling squares. Reliable names such as Dahon, the growing XDS (Shenzhen Xidesheng Bicycle Co., Ltd), Flying Pigeon (made in China since 1950) and other lesser known names sit around. For Merida, Giant, Specialized, Fuji and other major brand names it is best to go to more western-orientated areas.
Most Chinese bike brands believe is that conformity to the standards of Europe Union EN, American CPSC and Japan JIS is a major selling point. No longer do shops try to flog you half-finished shoddy workmanship. You can expect to find quality at a good price. I wouldn’t cycle to the U.K. on these bikes but I certainly would expect a sound investment for many a year.
The shops appear to be selling their bikes at a fast enough rate with rigid frames wrapped tightly in bubble wrap ready to ship. While I am there small trucks pull up and take away small and large consignments.
With regards to extra equipment, security locks, helmets, lights, panniers and other personal protection equipment sit side-by-side with passé arm warmers, cycling gloves and shirts. I spotted a few aero handlebars but I wouldn’t say they are suitable for the legendary Alped’Huez. Whilst there are no anatomic seats there are some colourful numbers to position beneath your extremity. The proprietor of one stall even stocked high-spec steerer tubes, cartridge bearings, cable cutters and other such goods suitable for even the best soigneur (professional cycling team support staff). I suspect overstocks from a supplier found a way here.
You can find somewhere to get your bike repaired too, usually on the pavement in front of the shop. There are cogs aplenty, tyres, tubes and all mod-cons to purchase for self-repair on long or short distance rides. Each item lines wonky shelves and hangs from improvised merchandising hangers. A cluttered, messy and oil-clad repair area doesn’t mean that service will be poor, quite the opposite. From my experience repairing my bicycle this way, the gears, disc brakes and suspension have been fixed to a high standard. This street, however, does not share the professional setup of the high end brand shops found in other parts of the city.
All in all, this area is fantastic for a rumble in the jumble. There are gifts to be found amongst the aging shops. Don’t be the poursuivant (those behind the leaders), be up there in a yellow jersey.
点此阅读中文: Chinese (Simplified)