Archive for März, 2010

Beijing Fixed Gear Bike Group for Shanghai Expo

Mittwoch, März 31st, 2010

This night we had a Beijing Fixed gear bike meet-up in the Dongdan bicycle tunnel. It was the first one this year and I have not been in the tunnel at night for a while. Beijing TV had contacted me 2 days ago and asked when it will start. I told them at 8pm. But yesterday one of the Beijing fixed gear riders Yao Fei called me and said that he wants to film a bit and I should really come at 8pm. Yesterday he said the time has changed to 9pm. So last night I called Beijing TV and told them that we start at 9pm. The Beijing TV lady said that it will be hard to change the time and asked if at least I could be there earlier. So I agreed to be there around 8:30.

Police cars and vans in the bicycle tunnel

I cycled there together with Shannon and Mike. When we arrived at the tunnel I was really surprised to see a police car, a police van as well as 4 Jinbei (vans). At first I thought there must have been an accident in the bike tunnel. But then I saw them taking heavy boxes out of the vans as well as things that looked like lights. Soon we had a huge camera focussing on the 3 of us. I was astonished to see more video cameras. I had to laugh telling the others that I now understand why Beijing TV said they do not like that we changed the time. Soon some more fixed gear riders arrived. The lady from Beijing TV said I should do some tricks and then I will get interviewed.

Beijing TV getting ready for the Interview

It was just amazing the amount of equipment they were setting up. They had huge lights that were powered by a diesel generator that they placed further down in the tunnel. Yao Fei asked the whole fixie group to stand in a line for some group filming.

Beijing Fixed Gear Riders for World Expo 2010

I did some tricks on my pink track bicycle. The other riders were asked to ride around me.

Ines doing bike tricks

It took a while for me to realize that almost all the camera equipment was organized by Yao Fei and not by Beijing TV. Especially as the lady from Beijing TV came up to me and said she will come for an interview another time as there is too much going on.

Liang Xing skidding his fixie for World Expo

It was then that I found out that Yao Fei was filming for a few minute movie that will be shown at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai starting on May 1st. That is why that had all this major equipment and also the approval from the security bureau to do the filming in this public tunnel.It was just amazing. They had the rails and a camera mounted on it to film while riding past. And of course monitor screens to review the current footage.

The making of the Movie for World Expo

The motto of this movie section is „love and share“. It shows what is going on in China right now with the growing fixed gear bicycle culture, which is extremely good for cities as riding bikes reduces the carbon emission. I might actually have to go to Shanghai during the World Expo to see this movie.

Reviewing some Footage of the Beijing Fixed Gear Group

They filmed all kinds of things and kept changing the lighting. They also filmed our friend Guan and his tattoos. It took them quite a white to get the 3 huge lights in the right position but in the end it looked great.

Guan and his Tattoo in teh Spotlight

I uploaded many pictures to my webalbum that you can see at this link. What a fun, unexpected and interesting evening! Thanks to our friend Yao Fei. And I am really looking forward to having a look at the China pavilion in Shanghai after May.

Beijing Fixed Gear Bicycles in the Spotlight

Fixed Gear Article in Global Times

Dienstag, März 30th, 2010

While I was in Taiwan 2 weeks ago a writer from the Global Times newspaper came to interview Samantha and random customers that came to my bike shop. Today the article was published on the Global Times website. Here is a copy of their article:

Fixed-gear fixation
Source: Global Times
By Paul Morris

Cycling appears to be devolving. Remember when you were young and needed training wheels to stabilize your first bike? Styles have not gone that far back but they’re not far off. „They’re very cool now. All the hipsters back in Japan have fixed-gear bikes,“ said Chinese fixed-gear enthusiast Liu Lin. „I often ride mine for 100 miles into the hills, but I’m in the minority. Most people hang out in cities trying and look cool.“

The fixed-gear – also referred to as fixed-wheel or single-speed – bike, unlike its geared counterparts, don’t allow the cyclist to freewheel or coast, i.e. you can only move forwards (or backwards) if you are peddling, as the sprocket is attached to the wheel’s hub. Although some still opt for them, this essentially alleviates the need for brakes; if you want to stop, you simply stop peddling.

Liu in Ines Brunn’s Bicycle Shop Natooke

I met Liu at Beijing (and China’s) only fixed-gear bike shop (which also doubles as juggling store), Natooke, in Wudaoying Hutong. German Ines Brunn opened the shop last year (though the official opening was early March this year). After over five years working for a telecommunications company in Beijing, she wanted to combine her knowledge of business with her true passion. „I had represented the German national team in artistic cycling and have been doing it for over 21 years,“ she said. „It is hard work going through all the paperwork to open a business in China but we finally have our shop.“

After founding a club in 2007, Brunn quickly realized there was a demand not being met amongst Beijing’s cycling community. „People couldn’t get fixed-gear bikes or equipment in Beijing, even though they are made in China, so I saw an opportunity.“

A growth business

Business is slowly taking off. „We’ve sold around 20 bikes since we launched, but we knew it would take time to build interest,“ said Samantha Song, general assistant at Natooke. „It is the same with many things, but as people in China get richer, they spend more on luxuries, like good bikes. And fixed-gear bikes are still a little too expensive for the average Chinese.“

Prices to purchase and assemble a complete bike range from 2,700 to 10,000 yuan, higher than the average standard bike in shops less than a stone’s throw from Natooke, though, as Brunn points out, no more expensive than a good quality road bike. And with the Beijing government’s new bike rental scheme (see page 9), it is difficult to see where fixed-gears will pick-up a market share.

So who is buying them in Beijing? The obvious answer is those who have money; it comes as no surprise that half of Natooke’s clients are foreigners. However, as with many subcultures, fixed-gear cycling is much more than simply riding a bike. „I saved for 6 months to get my first,“ said Kan Jiaming, a math teacher at a local high school. „It’s not simply about the cycling, but all the things that come with it.“

Custom simplicity

Each bike at Natooke is custom-made in the shop, with the customer choosing the parts and the colors; Natooke also converts regular bikes to fixed-gears. The shop is decked with couches and cupboards with peddles, spokes and other cycling paraphernalia. It has the feel of your grandfather’s workshop-cum-coffee shop, and is obviously intended to be a place for the community, rather than the sole purpose of selling things. The parts are imported from Europe predominantly, where fixed-gear bikes are already popular with hipsters and bike messengers, but Natooke also designs and produces its own brand in China: the Flying Banana.

One of the attractions seems to be their simplicity and their reversion from bikes cluttered with gears, brake cables, cogs and reflectors. A fixed-gear bike need not be much more than two wheels, a frame and a chain. When Qing is asked how many people use them in Beijing, she replies „100,“ matter-of-factly. She knows this because there is a club of sorts (with a Facebook site and everything) for Beijing’s fixed-gear bikers who like to get together once or twice a week and ride or practice tricks together. „The community will grow this year,“ said Brunn. „Fixed-gear cycling is getting bigger and once the weather warms, I’d say we’ll have a over 150 members, which represents a big growth.“

The increasingly fashionable bikes are beginning to show signs of straying from the territory of enthusiasts to the realm of the layman, „They’re better for city riding than normal bikes, as you have much more control,“ offered Andrew Cavanagh, the most recent of the 20 who have ever purchased from Natooke. „Beijing is a flat city, so you can move pretty quickly with more confidence about avoiding the city’s cab drivers.“

Cycle theft remains high and „if they want to take it, there is still nothing you can do,“ said Liu. Yet the big challenge will be getting Beijingers to move from seeing cycling as a means of transport to something that can be savored and enjoyed. „Life needs to be about having fun, and that comes once you’ve got enough money to feed your family and you aren’t worrying about rent,“ Liu said. „And there is nothing more fun than cycling.“

There was also another related article published regarding the Beijing government’s efforts to increase the number of cyclists. Read more here.

BFF Special Poster of Ines Brunn

Dienstag, März 30th, 2010

Online I found this nice poster done with a picture taken by the photographer Phillip Maisel when I was performing for the Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) 2008 in San Francisco. Such a cool poster. And I agree: BFF forever! And never forget: BIKES ROCK!!!

Ines Brunn BFF Special Poster

Anthony’s Raleigh Bike Conversion

Montag, März 29th, 2010

It is not a good idea to leave your bike every night in the same spot and just locked with a cable kind of lock. My friend Anthony Paglino, whom I had just given a U-lock for his birthday 2 days ago, had his bike stolen last night. And it was his mountain bike that he was getting ready for his long distance bike ride through South China. But he also has a second hand Raleigh road bike that he was once thinking of converting.

Anthony Stripping his Road Bike some Weeks ago

So he came to the shop today and started working again on the stripped down frame and building it up as a fixed gear bike. It is really a very nice British Raleigh road bike frame. Here is how it looked after we converted it in my Natooke shop.

Raleigh Road to Fixie Conversion

Raleigh Emblem on Anthony’s converted Bicycle

Natooke Converted Fixed Gear Bike

And here is Anthony with his new bike:

Anthony Happy to have a Bike again

After we finished his bike we went to the Beijing Juggling workshop. It was nice to see many people. And I particularly enjoyed that a lot of them were in to acrobatics or handstanding 🙂

Beijing Jugglers talking about Acrobatics

TREK Cyclo Cross Bike Race in Beijing

Sonntag, März 28th, 2010

Finally I could join my first cyclo cross race of the 2009/2010 season in Beijing. TREK had already organized 2 cyclo cross races and this one was the last of the series for this winter.

TREK 2009/2010 Beijing 3rd Cyclo Cross Bike Race

Last season I was racing on loaner bikes from TREK. Last summer I bought the TREK entry level cyclo cross bicycle hoping for many races. But today was the first time I raced on it.

My TREK Cyclo Cross Bicycle

The race was organized well. There was an A group, a B group, the women and the children. The A group started first and the B and women started 1 minute afterwards. So we were all racing at the same time which made it more interesting.

Cyclo Cross in Beijing organized by TREK

The course was shorter than last season and there was only a very short part on the road, the rest was on the extremely dry (dry Beijing) and hard fields. Of course there was no mud anywhere. I am not sure it was good to be on a road bike with cyclo cross tires as it was really uneven in most parts of the lap. A suspension fork like on some of the mountain bikes would have helped to absorb the shocks. Actually most of the contestants were riding mountain bikes this year. With the barriers and the jumping on and off the bike you really feel your heart working. Half way through it started getting really tough, I felt my legs get softer and my hands having hard time to keep a firm grip with all the shaking of the bike vibrating over the corn field. It was a big relief to hear the bell for the last lap.

Two Winners of the TREK Cyclo Cross Race

Jenny from Canada was fast and fit as always so she won and finished way ahead of me (2nd place). The Chinese girl that won 3rd place was actually quite fast. But unfortunately I lapped all the other girls – that means there had been more than an entire lap slower. Why are there not more fast Chinese girls participating? For the A riders our French friend Tony came in first place and Piers had a problem with his pedal so he only came in 3rd place.

TREK Cyclo Cross A Ride Winners

The bus on the way home was stuck in massive afternoon traffic jams. I should have just ridden my bike home as that would have been much faster. But I do not know where I could have ridden my bike. In many places the cars (traffic jam) was blocking the bike lane. On the one stretch there were two car lanes in one direction and on each side a bike lane. But all 4 lanes were filled with cars.

Car Driver Driving in Bike Lane Hitting an Electric Bike

One car that was incorrectly driving in the bike lane hit an electric bike. Instead of saying sorry the car driver got out and started hitting the electric bike rider. But he did not foresee that the electric bike rider was more fit (as he does not drive cars) and was soon in the superior position.

Car in Bike Lane in Beijing

I just remembered when I did the test for the Chinese driver’s license in 2005 we first had to listen to a 20 minute video instructing us that any disobedience of the Chinese traffic rules and laws will be followed with punishment. They showed how they have cameras every where in the city tracking drivers that do not follow the rules. I complete forgot about that because living here you experience so many people breaking the traffic law all the time. Maybe it is just too often to actually be tracked. But I really would hope that the cars would stay out of the Beijing bicycle lanes. That would make it less dangerous.

My ankle that I twisted in Taiwan which doing some tricks on somebody’s bike is still not fully healed. But now after the race I might take the tape off.

Taped Ankle

Smarter Than Car Spring Bike Ride in Beijing

Sonntag, März 28th, 2010

STC Spring Bike Ride Flyer

The motto of this „Smarter Than Car“ (STC) bike ride today was: We are taking the audacious step of announcing that spring is here! Despite the sandstorms and late snow the temperature is rising quickly and the weekend is forecast to hit 18 degrees. About time! So dust off your bike and get ready for a leisurely Sunday morning ride through the city. We will meet between the drum and bell tower at 11am and ride a scenic 1 hour route through the city and arrive at Chaoyang Park for a picnic lunch. Please bring your own blanket, food and drinks.

春天骑行: 我们斗胆宣布一下春天到了. 抛开沙尘暴和春雪不说, 气温正快速回升,预计周末能达到18度. 好不容易熬出来了. 所以把你的自行车擦干净, 准备好周日下午的快乐骑行吧. 我们上午11点在鼓楼和钟楼中间的空地集合, 然后骑1个小时, 享受城中美景, 最后到达朝阳公园野餐. 请带上毯子,吃的喝的.

STC Spring Ride Meet Up

It was nice to see my fixed gear bike friends come meet us at the Beijing drum and bell tower. That was particularly good as we had a woman and a camera man from Beijing TV station come to take footage of the event. I thought they would film this spring bike ride which has the idea to encourage people to ride their bikes in Beijing as a low carbon emission and fun transportation method. But no, Beijing TV was more interested in me doing a trick bike performance. I had come to this ride with my cyclo cross bike and outdoor shoes as after the ride I was heading to the TREK cyclo cross race. As I did not bring any one of my fixed gear bikes I said that they should film someone else of the Beijing fixed gear group. So we first asked Liang Xing aka Ryo to do some skidding on his fixie.

Liang Xing Skidding behind Gulou in Beijing

That was okay until he skid into a barrier. But he bent it back and it actually still worked afterwards so the guards were not too upset. Well then I grabbed a 56cm Natooke fixed gear bike (which was way too tall for me) off one of the guys and did some tricks for Beijing TV. And after some more photos for Global Times we could finally set out for our STC spring bike ride.

Smarter Than Car Spring Ride

In the beginning of the ride there were a lot of people on the streets in this beautiful weather. As we cycles along the side of one of Beijing’s canals we came past a group of people watching 3 people pulling a guy that probably could not swim out of the canal. I have no idea how he could have fallen in the canal, maybe he was already drunk. But it was good to see that he was still alive.

Cruising along the Beijing canal by bicycle

I love this route along the canal, you have almost the whole road for cyclists. Once in a while there is a car but it is amazing how empty it is despite in being in the center of the city.

STC Spring Ride with Sunshine

Cycling on almost empty cycle paths in Beijing

More of my pictures are in this webalbum of our Smarter Than Car ride. The group arrived at the Chaoyang Park. But as we could not bring our bicycles inside (only kids are allowed to do that and we were considered too old) the majority of thd fixed gear guys headed off. I unfortunately had to go to board the bus to head out for the cyclo cross race. And the others locked their bikes and went inside the park for a spring picnic. Shannon Bufton and I are looking forward to more people joining us for the next STC bike rides.

STC Arrived at Chaoyang Park

Mike’s Fixed Gear Natooke Bike

Sonntag, März 28th, 2010

After a long time waiting for us to find a place to repaint a frame Mike finally got his fixed gear bike from my Natooke shop this morning. I like the color combination with the little bits of red.

Mike’s Fixed Gear Bicycle

Natooke Aluminum Urban Bicycle

Street Riding Fixed Gear Bicycle built up by Natooke

And here is the happy and pleased smile of Mike after the first few kilometers on his first fixed gear bicycle.

Happy Mike on his new Bike

Saturday at Natooke Bike Store

Samstag, März 27th, 2010

I actually wanted to go on a nice road bike ride but I had to finish building up 2 bikes in the shop. Cristina and Philippe came to my shop to get the black stems that finally arrived today. But after looking at Cristina’s bike we all agreed that it actually looked better with the silver stem. So we only switched her brake from the right to the left hand side.

Cristina’s Beautiful Fixed Gear Bike

Red Silver and Black Bicycle

Philippe wanted more exchanged, not just the stem and the brake from the left to the right hand side. He changed his style form the drop bar to the aggressively short straight handlebar. I like this style better.

Philippe’s Black Fixie

New Handlebar matches Bike Style

Then a new Beijing fixed gear rider dropped by. I installed carbon looking bar tape on his fixed gear bike. He said that he had donated an old Flying Pigeon bike a few days ago by leaving it unlocked in front of our entrance. I remembered that bike but I had moved it to our neighbors because I thought it might be one of their bikes. Too bad: now it is gone.

Bar Tape for Fixed Gear Bike

Another friend of mine came by on his very interesting vintage Colnago road bike. It has a very strange extra neck extension on the fork. And unfortunately the down tube was broken so it had been welded.

My friend and his Road Bike

Interesting Vintage Colnago Fork Extension

And it is amazing, just 10 days after installing the new shop signs the main one is broken. For another 10 days the company that made the sign had been refusing to drop by. Finally the manager came today and claimed I would need to pay for the repair. I was really upset with him so in the end he said okay he will do it for free. But he did not say when he will do it…

Broken Natooke Shop Sign

We had dinner with friends at a nice Sichuan restaurant. And then we headed over to the 30th birthday party of Peter as well as the 24th birthday party of Anthony. It seems we missed the great dinner that Peter had cooked but we did not miss the birthday cake.

Nico’s Flying Banana Fixie Bike

Freitag, März 26th, 2010

Some weeks ago Nico fell in love with the one frame we had in our Natooke shop. It is this beautiful Flying Banana track bicycle frame with full chrome plated vintage style front fork.

Beautiful Flying Banana Track Frame

The rear drop outs are nicely done.

Flying Banana Rear Drop Outs

And these old school lugs of this chromoly steel frame are classy with the chrome plating. It just gives the frame a vintage look.

Chrome plated lugs on track bike

Traditional Lugs on New Bike

The Beauty of Vintage Lugs on Steel Bike Frames

And the logo is only done in glossy finish on the matt frame.

The Flying Banana Logo on Track Frame

So it was not just Nico, other people coming in the shop really liked this frame. But today was the day, Nico came to change out his current frame to this beautiful one. He kept all his former parts, except for the head set and the stem. So this is how his Flying Banana bike now looks:

Nico’s new Fixed Gear Bicycle

Nico’s Flying Banana Track Bike

And just for the records, this was the second day of the year that we had lunch outside. It is slowly getting warmer and I hope it will not snow again this spring.

Eating Lunch Outside in a Beijing Hutong

TEDxBeijing Ines video on

Montag, März 22nd, 2010

I also found a video of the end of my speech at TEDxBeijing on the Chinese site It shows the tricks that I did on my bike. Unfortunately the video is distorted which makes me look ultra slim.