Whether pedaling across the country in search of adventure, racing through the wilderness of Inner Mongolia or simply city cruisin', hopping on a bike is a great way to experience China.
Your trusty two-wheeled steed will take you wherever you need to go and at just the right pace to connect with the world around.
Often faster than a cab—in modern China's gridlocked cities, thousands of new cars take to the roads each day—there are cycling lanes everywhere and whizzing past the backlogged cars, skipping on and off the pavement, dodging past pedestrians, scooters, food vendors and slop carts while ringing your bell with a merry abandon that'd make your cycling proficiency instructor weep, is all an important part of the China experience.
However, as Charlie over at Chengdu Living points out "getting your bike stolen is generally part of the same experience" and so we are pleased to present his excellent guide on how to keep hold of your wheels in the country where 2 million bikes went walkabout in 2008—that's 50% less than in 2007!
This seems obvious but you’d be surprised at how many people go for the cheapest lock, which costs less than 10 yuan. Bicycle thieves love this kind of thriftiness because it means they can break through it in a heartbeat – literally.
You don’t necessarily have to drop a few hundred yuan on a fancy imported lock, but a good quality U-lock is probably your best bet. This should run you about 30 yuan at the bike shops which are ubiquitous across China. When you use it, make sure to use the lock on the frame of the bike, not just the wheel. Because returning to your bike to discover a locked up wheel sucks.
An alternative is the chain-style lock which will work great in combination with your U-lock since both of these locks require separate (and very cumbersome) tools to break through.
#4: Use the Lock, Always
Once you’ve got your lock in order and its key on your keychain, make sure you use it at all times. If you think your bike will be safe for a minute unlocked while you run inside a building to grab something, you are wrong. It’s not safe – not even for a minute.
[pullquote]If people are around, bike thieves are around.[/pullquote]
China is teeming with bike thieves and it makes virtually no difference where you’re located. If people are around, bike thieves are around.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I stepped inside a shop in my neighborhood to pick something up. The proprietor was expecting me and my bike, parked just outside the door, was left unattended for less than 90 seconds. When I emerge from the shop, the bike was nowhere to be found, even after looking in both directions. It was a dumbfounding experience. Click here to continue reading at Chengdu LivingMore on biking in China from China Travel:
China Travel Interview: China Outside Adventure manager Fiona Li
Biking in Inner Mongolia: The Genghis Khan Bike Adventure
Biking China in Search of Old Hundred Names
Cycling in Shanghai: 'It's the S**t!' factor
A Green Spin on China Travel: 5 China Bike Trips