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  1. #1
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    上海 shanghai check-in (looking for bicycle advice)

    Hi to any in 上海!

    I'm back, and with my family in tow this time, living in 徐家汇, and more than ready to take the bicycle plunge since strolling with a 2-year old is absolutely anti-fun. Last time my wife and i were here we had no kid, and so getting about was easy-peasy. Now, it's not so, and taking a cab is not a reliable option for the short journeys to and from 菜场 fresh markets---plus, a stroller is slow and doesn't carry much.

    I want to just get a very local bike---absolutely nothing fancy, since it needs to be below the bike-thief radars for the most part, and if it gets stolen i don't want to shed a tear for loss of bicycle or the money invested (whereas my bike in the US i most certainly wold shed many a tear on both counts). I like the look of the 普通自行车 common single speeds with encased/enclosed drivetrains.

    Any suggestions of makes, models, or stores? Any tips on riding in the streets? Any suggestions on places to buy safety gear for the kid (ps: it's not an "if" situation---the kid will be come on the bike with me; it's a "how" situation, as in how will she be outfitted best)? All opinions solicited, as long as they're relevant to cycling in metro-Shanghai.

    I speak functionally fluent Mandarin, and have lots of local connections, so buying super local won't be a problem, so long as i know what to look for.

    Lastly, if anyone is in town and wants to chat bikes, let me know. Cheers!
    No slogans, just 14 facts.

  2. #2
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    replies to my own questions:

    1. biking in SH is awesome fun. flat and slow, but i can cut across middle distances in this town much faster than a car, and definitely faster than on foot; of course, it can be a bit sweaty, but it is a lot of fun. i find special fun in out-racing all other two-wheeled vehicles at the green light (125cc 4-stroke motors just don't have much punch).

    2. bought a new folding bike, which can be difficult to mount a child-carrier on. Nonetheless, OGK---a Japanese company that dominates the high-quality child carrier market here---does make a handle-bar carrier that can be adapted (which i did, much to my kid's delight). While i had wanted to buy a nice 永久 (Forever) bicycle, i got a Giant folder instead. Why? Well, mostly because it cost me US$100 and i can take it bake to the US with me (my mom will love it once i refit it with an Alfine IGH).

    3. but if you don't want to buy a new bike, and you can handle Chinese, check out the second source for Chinese bikes: http://shanghai.baixing.com/ershouzixingche/

    4. if you do want a new bike here are some options. 1) Google is mostly your friend, especially if you have an Android phone with Google Places; i plugged in 自行车 and voilą, a list of bicycle stores near me (all very small Chinese LBSs). There are some big fancy stores in SH, too; just Google "Giant," Specialized," or "Dahon," depending on your flavor; i went to the Giant store near 徐家汇 Xujiahui, and they were full of mis-placed arrogance and attitude—not my kind of customer service. 2) price-haggling for bicycles doesn't really exist the way it does for many other things, especially on the brand-name bikes; you can haggle for accessories, but only at the small LBSs, not at the fancy stores. 3) The 联华 super store on the south-east side of the SH stadium (上海体育馆) is also a good place to look for cheap bikes and accessories (i got my OGK babyseat there); they're better than the Carrefour, but then again, what isn't?

    My dreams of having my US bike here are a little bit like dreaming of driving a Ferrari in the same streets—that is, i see people doing it, but to no real effect or gain. It's the same flat roads and slow-moving traffic no matter what kind of vehicle you've got. Sure, sometimes i wish i had some gears (my folder is an SS), but it'd only make me more likely to have a crash with some slow mover—the mass of traffic dominates all other driving decisions. Nevermind the fact that my US bike is relative-bling just screaming to be stolen, whereas my current bike fits right in.

    Happy riding!
    No slogans, just 14 facts.

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