The on going search.........
Looking for the bike
I only really got back into cycling when I moved back to Shanghai in 2005; I had a couple of bikes there. It was the time when folding bikes had just started to gain popularity. I picked up one that was just perfect for popping down to the shops. My second bike was a rather ill fitting mountain bike but nevertheless it did the job. It’s amazing the boom in bicycle shops in China since 2005. Whereas Giant really had a monopoly on bikes back then numerous other companies and more specifically local companies have really started to jump on the bandwagon. That said they have still failed in my opinion in particular when catering to us ‘taller’ riders. It’s common knowledge that most bikes that are sold around the world now are made either here on the mainland or over in Taiwan. I understand the fact that there isn’t such a great demand for larger sized frames in China and many of the larger manufacturers here don’t even carry larger sized frames in their catalogues. However there also seems to be a real reluctance here to even help get their hands on these frames. If it’s not in this year’s brochure, it’s not available. It’s all rather frustrating, perhaps it’s me, and perhaps I’m asking the wrong questions. I’m certainly not meaning to bad mouth Chinese customer service. I’ve met some real helpful and friendly bike mechanics here but I’ve also met people who have tried to persuade me to part with my hard earned money to buy something I know is patently not the right size for me. This I should also point out is something that also applies to shoes.
The trend though is perhaps beginning to change. Decathlon the French sports superstore seem to have been the first to tap into the increasing demand for outdoors sporting products. Furthermore not only do they provide “Western” sizing for both shoes and clothing but also for bikes. Their bikes have actually received some very good reviews in comparison to more household names and I’ve been really pleased with the purchase of my mountain bike from there a little over a year and a half ago.
I’ve thought many times of simply ordering a touring bike from back in the UK. It makes it all the more frustrating to know that if I were back home it would simply be a case of going into one of the numerous large cycling shops, having a browse around, trying out some and laying down my money on the counter, simple as that. Importing from the UK though is risky due to what appears to be a somewhat discretionary tax on items arriving in China. Apparently there is a 30% tax on goods coming into the country, I’ve heard stories of this being waived on some occasions but I’ve also heard the opposite in that it is strictly upheld. Do I really want to be saddled with not only £90 shipping fees but also a further 30% on top of that? I don’t think so.
A touring bike is a totally different kettle of fish and as I shall be spending a prolonged amount of time on it, so it has to be right. I have options and more importantly time on my side. I think I’m a naturally somewhat impatient person and when I can’t get my hands on what I need, well I get frustrated. I’d obviously rather get the frame as soon as possible and ideally have the bike up and running by the end of the summer. I shall continue to search and I’m off to Shanghai next week to meet an English guy there who has a small company that manufacturers a touring bike frame. I’m very interested to see what happens there but I’m not going to get my hopes up as they have already been dashed on numerous occasions. As the old saying goes “good things come to those who wait”