Article „Are There Really No Hipsters in China?“ About Natooke in SLATE

Wow, there was an article about fixed gear in China and about my bike shop in Slate online magazine. Here are some sections of the article:

Are There Really No Hipsters in China?
Irony-resisting Chinese bicyclists have skipped the fixed-gear trend that has swept the rest of the world.
By J. David Goodman

BEIJING—A multicolored messenger bag slung over one shoulder and short-brimmed hat cocked to the side, Nie Zheng parked his brakeless bike in the corner of a trendy cafe in the Beijing Central Business District before settling into a molded plastic chair to chat about his particular obsession. „It’s been a dream since I was a kid to get a bicycle like this,“ the 40-year-old fashion photographer told me. „But no one sold them here.“ It took nearly nine months, he said, to get a track bike he wanted sent from England in 2007.

Such devotion is something of a rarity among the fashion-conscious in China, where bicycles are simply not mainstream cool. In fact, this bike-saturated nation has—so far—managed to skip entirely what is arguably the biggest global bicycle fad in a generation: the fixed-gear.

And the absence is notable. Despite the rise in car ownership, China remains the world’s largest bike market, with 51 million sold in 2009, according to the China Bicycle Association. With so many bikes, is it really possible that, apart from a few devotees like Zheng, no one in China got the trend memo? …

An homage to cycling style at Ines Brunn’s shop, Natooke, in Beijing

… Still, despite the odds, a handful of devotees from the West believe that now is the time to import the fixed-gear trend to China.

Hanging in the window of Ines Brunn’s new fixed-gear bike shop—Beijing’s first—is a Flying Pigeon that’s been converted into a fixie, a literal link between the past and what she believes will be the future.

„People ask: Why do you open a bike shop in Beijing? I think, well, you can do anything here,“ said Brunn, a German-born physicist and acrobatic fixed-gear rider. In a year, her riding group has swelled from seven to 70. „I am optimistic!“ she told a Beijing audience in November. „I see signs that the perception of the bicycle is changing.“ …

I cannot remember having made such a useless comment to why I opened the Natooke shop. I love bikes and bicycle culture. And I love riding fixed gear. In the past it was hard to get parts for fixed gear bicycles in China so by opening a shop I could enable more people to enjoy riding these bikes. And of course our fixed gear bike group in Beijing had grown now to over 150 people. Because fixed gear is more like a fashion trend it inspires the young generation to get on to bikes. I am happy to see that my shop also attracts the elderly Chinese bicycle lovers. There is still some remaining bicycle culture in Beijing and I am optimistic that it will not die out.

The article was written by J. David Goodman who writes about urban cycling for the New York Times. He writes about cycling and bike culture. It is really interesting. Thank you for this article 🙂

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