Fixed gear bikes are perfect for cycling in the Shanghai area, thanks to their lightness and toughness. Here are five great places to have one built:
You may have heard of this shop under another name, as it was once known as Peeping Bomb. It’s now been rebranded to reflect the fact that the owners produce Airwalk cycles. These are made in Taiwan and are considered entry level machines in the fixed-gear market. They’re still very nice to look at, though, and they can stand up to being worked hard, making them ideal for taking you round town stylishly and quickly. These great examples of Shanghai fixie bikes will set you back around 3000 RMB, and for that you get a real rainbow look – even the cables and spokes have that look. You can also buy clothing like shirts and hip-hop garments from here, though they’re a little expensive: T-shirts start at around 300 RMB.
2. Factory Five
This is a place that is owned and operated by people who are truly enthusiastic about the fixed gear revolution in cycling. Of course you will be able to pick up Chinese brands, whether you’re in the market for recycled or new bikes. They can do more than that, though, right up to providing you with a custom built model from the ground up. Although its main focus is the bikes themselves, Factory Five also has a reputation as a bit of a social center, so you are welcome to simply call in and shoot the breeze with your fellow bikers if you want. The shop also runs quite a few events for bikers, and these include such things as Shanghai Alleycat, cycle polo, and night rides.
Some bike shops take a lot of trouble to look so clean that you start to wonder whether so much as a drop of oil has ever been allowed inside. This is not that kind of shop. Instead, Speedcat is an unashamed gearhead shop, run by people for whom enthusiasm for Shanghai fixie bikes most definitely means getting a little grimy sometimes. Although they are now pretty much concentrating on fixed gear models, they do still offer plenty of mountain bikes if you’re into customization. You can also get your machine tuned up quickly and cheaply, although Giant is probably a better bet if you just want something ready-made for an urban cruise. Xiao Du, the owner, is the semi-organizer of out-of-town jeep and cycle trips.
4. Fixie Franks
This one isn’t really a shop at all, more someone’s apartment. You can go on Taobao to find his fixed-gear cycles, but there’s the alternative of visiting him in person. If you do that, you can select the parts you want yourself, and within a day or two you’ll have a newly built bike. The great thing about going here is that the prices are really low; it’s definitely much cheaper than buying from Downtown Shanghai’s fashionable cycle shops. You can expect to pay anywhere from about 700 RMB upward, though 1000 RMB is a good general guide. Fixie Franks may also have second-hand bikes in stock. Before you visit, drop him a line – maybe via his Taobao store – so that he knows you’re on your way.
This is something a little different in the world of Shanghai fixie bikes, and also brand new in town. The guys here mostly use Mainland China-manufactured parts for their bikes, but there are one or two specialized items that are brought in from Taiwan or the UK. Launches are coordinated with the changing seasons, and there is a lot of importance placed on how good the bike looks; obviously, giving a fantastic ride is also right up there. Their great looks come from following Pantone colorways, with each new season bringing a new palette. Their studio is only open if you have an appointment, so phone them before you visit the studio. Their colorful bikes start at 2000 RMB but most models are 3000 RMB or so, with high-end bikes topping 10,000 RMB.
(Image CC: BNQT)