Transportation in China cannot be more different than that of the U.S. Chinese airports are newly built, and the system of bullet trains that crisscross the country is an astounding feat of infrastructure development. However, once you’ve arrived in a Chinese city, you have a choice to make- driving is inconvenient, walking is slow, and busses can sometimes get stuck in traffic.
It’s probably time to think about a bike.
Fortunately, there are many kinds of bikes to choose from, and that’s not just between normal bike and e-bike (electronic bike.)
We have profiled a few modes of two-wheeled transport that should get you excited to zip around China. Enjoy!
The Family Vehicle
Andrew Crook, GoGlobal founder, swore to me that he once fit his entire family (of 5!) on this bike. Instead of extra people, you could always rope a few boxes of stuff to the back of this bike. Bikes this size are the SUV equivalent of two-wheeled transport in China.
“I love our scooters- my family actually has two. They are great for getting our kids around- with a family of five getting cabs can be frustrating, because most only fit four people.”
The Light and Modern
Our friend Taylor has been in China for three years now, and this is her most recent two wheeled transportation purchase. The Factory Five brand is increasingly popular among Shanghai’s artsy crowd, and the super lightweight and slim frame means that if you need to, you can carry it up four flights of stairs to your apartment (which is what Taylor does every day.)
According to Taylor: “Biking through the city let’s me see a lot more of what’s going on around me, compared to when I’m zipping through traffic on my scooter.”
The Badass Option
Our good friend Ammon bought this bike on a whim when he saw it on taobao for a steal. The advantage of this bike is that you look like a badass. Also, if someone tries to steal it, they might not have the leg muscle to actually pedal it.
Ammon actually uses his other bike to get around the city, and this bike to go on biking trips to Shanghai’s surrounding mountainous area on the weekends. If you want to join him with an equally badass bike, you can get one for yourself here.
The Practically Disposable
These bikes usually go for around 100 rmb ($16). The advantage of these bikes is that they get you where you want to go, and if you forget to lock it up one day it’s not the end of the world. Careful though, they look like a lot of the other bikes on the road, if you leave it on a bike rack for a week you might have trouble differentiating it from the many look a likes that will pile up around it. I took this picture of a random bike in a Beijing hutong by Dongzhimen- they are literally everywhere.
We won’t give you a link to buy one of these because you can get them anywhere- just look for a pile of junky looking bikes with a guy standing next to it. However, if you do want to differentiate your junky bike from the rest, you can always taobao something like this.
No matter which option you choose, always remember to wear a helmet! Sure, it might be nice having the wind in your hair, but chinese drivers have on average less than two years of experience on the road, so it’s like the streets are full of 16 year olds behind the wheel. This will be evident from the minute you arrive in China, probably on the taxi ride from the airport. No matter how safe you are, you can’t count on others to be equally as careful!
To find out more about living and working in China, email firstname.lastname@example.org.