|Author: Lin Shujuan|
In a city like Beijing, with about three million cyclists on its special bike lanes, purchasing a bicycle is never a problem.
Keeping it, however, can be - bicycle theft affects almost every cyclist in Beijing.
So before you decide to buy a bike, you should take the risk of losing it into consideration.
There are more than 1,000 brands of bikes available in Beijing. As fierce as the competition is, four brands are still the most popular. Flying Pigeon (Feige), Phoenix (Fenghuang) and Forever (Yongjiu) are the most popular traditional brands among older people. For the younger generation, the Taiwan-based brand Giant is a winner.
Of the three traditional brands, Flying Pigeon seems to be better known internationally but differs very little in quality from the others.
These bikes are known for being solid and sturdily built. The frame and the rims basically last forever. The problems lie in the detailing work.
The chroming work is usually done only half-heartedly and sometimes the assembly of the bike is rather slipshod. You can't do anything about these flaws once you decide to buy a bike of this kind. Overall, though, for the price (usually less than 400 yuan/US$48), sturdiness and nostalgia, it is worth it.
Giant is claiming more of the market because its bikes are well-made and fasionable.
It makes regular, racing and mountain bikes. In 2001, after just seven years, Giant bikes ranked No 1 in domestic sales despite their higher prices.
They have more gadgets and gizmos than other brands. And they often change their bicycles to keep up with the latest trends.
Where can you purchase a bicycle?
There are three very good stores which have pretty good mechanics plus lots of gadgets (cargo carriers for the back, steel enforcements for the front) and extras (baskets for the front, very good Chinese child seats). Be prepared, though, to play charades as they don't speak English.
Flying Pigeon store (also carries different brands) at Chaoyangmenwai Dajie. About 200 metres west of Dongyue Temple. 飞鸽自行车销售维修部 朝阳门外大街，东岳庙往西200米
Giant Bicycle store in Dongcheng district at Jiaodaokou Dongdajie (tel: 6403-4537). 捷安特自行车总店 交道口东大街
This shop is more upscale than the one above and carries some bikes from Taiwan as well.
Xingrufeng Bicycle Store inside Chaoyang District Government Building (tel: 8562-2509)行如风自行车店，朝阳区政府内
During its 12 years of operation, Xirufeng has become a favourite among expats in Beijing. The shop carries an array of bicycles from stripped down, one-speed jobs to expensive racing bikes.
Biking gear including water packs and bottles, helmets, shoes, shorts, tools and lubricants are also well stocked.
If you hear strange noises coming from your wheels, pedal right away to your bike store. These stores offer a warranty and will fix minor things for free.
If you are very picky about who touches your bike or want some fancy parts, like a Japanese axle, go to Beijing Black Horse Bicycle Store at Jiaodaokou Dongdajie which is basically two stores away from the Giant Bicycle store.(北京黑马自行车专卖 交道口东大街4-13号）
The newly-opened store is run by a China's bicycle motorcross (BMX) champion.
He is an excellent bike-mechanic who builds his own bikes as well.
Once you've bought a new bike, you need to register it at the local transport department. An annual tax of 4 yuan (US 48 cents) must be paid.
To save trouble, you can head for the upcale bicycle shops since they provide a one-stop service for all such legal procedures.
Or to avoid other hassles, like disappearing bicycles, you can buy a second-hand bike.
Once you can't see the paint on your bike anymore, you have became part of the Beijing bike community and have earned the best anti-theft protection!
Second-hand bicyle shop
Beixinqiao Trust Shop
Location: 30 Dongsi Beidajie, Dongcheng District
Hours: 9 am to 6 pm
Other specialty shops:
Dahon, the world's biggest manufacturer of folding bikes, has outlets in Beijing with large selections of portable folding bicycles and accessories.
Location 1: 100 metres north of Lianxian Bridge, Haidian District
Tel: 8211-9833, 8463-5664
Location 2: 1 Heping Xijie, Dongcheng District
Location 3: 25 Beichizi Dajie, Dongcheng District
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