Category Archives: bikes

The road to hell is cycled down with good intentions

“All I heard was the sweet sound of cash.”

Chinese bike share graveyard a monument to industry’s ‘arrogance’ is an article from the Guardian about the latest plague affecting contemporary China – bike sharing schemes.

Outwardly, bike sharing seems like a good idea, but I must admit I don’t know what the original intention was. Was it to entice motorists out of their cars? (Good luck with that one.) Was it to encourage people to look at alternatives to public transport? Instead of waiting for the bus, they could jump on a bike and go. Or was it another get-rich-quick scheme, thinly disguised with a green veneer?

In truth, these things are a bloody nuisance. I guess that the bike companies have to get permission from the local council before they dump another load of their bikes around the city, but they take up parking space that the rest of use would like to use. At least they tend to be parking neatly and tidily.

After that, they tend to get parked wherever the rider likes, which often means that their are bikes in the least convenient places imaginable. For example, outside Centre 66, there’s a fence separating the cycle lane from the street in which there’s a gate just near the Blue Frog. This portal, which I often use, is typically blocked in part by hire bikes which have been left sitting there in a haphazard fashion.

The whole business is another instance of the infantile running-at-buses mentality in China, with no real thinking occurring at any point in the process, whether it’s the companies punting the bikes or the in­con­sider­ate users.


Time for a new bike?

Watch where you’re going, peasant.

I was on my way back to school from lunch, and had stopped at the junction where 香榭街 meets 人民西路 when some inattentive geriatric peasant on an electric scooter rear-ended me. It was just a nudge, but it was sufficient to break the rear mudguard of my bike.

As I correctly guessed, the service centre didn’t have a replacement mudguard for a Giant Hunter 3.0, and my thought was to replace it.

The bike still works, but the issue is the parts. I’ve replaced the drive train twice now (quite recently), which is an expensive proposition, and I’d decided that if that needed replacing again, I really would buy a new machine.

I went to the Giant bike shop nearby in the hope they might have a Hunter 3.0, but they didn’t, and they have such a plethora of bikes (which all seemed to be aimed at teenagers who are too stupid to appreciate the value of a decent set of mudguards) that I wasn’t really certain what might suit me, or what compromises I might have to make (e.g. stupid mudguards and no carrier).

I went over to the shop on 广瑞路 because I knew they’d had a Hunter 3.0, but that had gone. Sigh. I got them to use a tie to hold the remains of the mudguard in place.

When I went to the service centre, the boys didn’t have a mudguard, but they wanted to replace the rims instead. Yes, that would be cheaper than buying a new bike, but unlike the Chinese, I don’t believe in hanging onto something forever when it should’ve been retired long ago. I’ve seen a lot of bikes and electric scooters in the most dire state of repair because the owners have been too cheap to maintain them properly.

Giant no longer appears to do the sort of steel-framed bikes that I had when I first lived here, although I want something lightweight and with gears; and disc brakes. The Giant Escape is one possible replacement or the FCR 3100, although the Giant China website is coy about prices, which, I suspect, won’t be cheap. One of the Escape models appears to be carbon fibre, and the model I saw on the Giant UK website, which had mudguards and a carrier was £499. Eek! Or perhaps I’m just being cheap.

Later. I bought myself a Giant XCR 3700, which is the most expensive bike I’ve ever bought, and a bit bigger than the Hunter 3.0. It’s another bike with an aluminium frame, but this time black with orange highlights, and disc brakes (about time). The gears are a bit of a mystery, but I seem to have found about the right range for my particular tastes. The levers both hang downwards so that at the moment, I keep raising my finger to change up a gear only to waggle it ineffectively in thin air.

I had mudguards, a stand and a carrier added, although the lock is a liability because the carrier doesn’t hold it firmly in place, and it bounces and flips over if I hit any bumps, or rattles alarmingly (especially on the fake cobblestones on the lanes throughout Jinma). I don’t have an answer to that, and a bracket isn’t an option because instead of the lock being inline with the frame, it stuck out to one side, which would cause me to bash my knee against it unless I rode my bike in some ungainly, splay-legged style.

I seem to be able to push this machine along at a slightly faster pace than the old Hunter 3.0, although it seems less good at turning when I’m at speed.

Overall, I generally like the feel of the XCR 3700.