Archive for April, 2010

Beijing Today News Article about STC

Mittwoch, April 7th, 2010

Today we had a nice article in the Beijing Today newspaper. Here is the link to their online article.

Here is the copy of their article:
Cycling club says bikes solution to pollution, traffic jams
April 7, 2010

Smarter Than Car’s spring ride gathers 40 participants with fixed-gear bikes. Photo by Ines Brunn

Smarter Than Car’s spring ride gathers 40 participants with fixed-gear bikes. Photo by Ines Brunn

By Annie Wei

In a country where every household has at least one bicycle, you would think nobody would bat an eyelash at another cycling club.

But a group-cycling event held last Sunday to welcome the arrival of spring still attracted local media like Beijing TV and the Global Times. The organizer, Smarter Than Cars (STC), is promoting bicycles as an alternative to cars as a chief mode of transportation around the capital. As a bonus, STC members are also taught bike stunts.

The club was founded by Shannon Bufton, an Australian urban designer, and Ines Brunn, a German trick cyclist and owner of Natooke, a bicycle shop. Bufton and Brunn said cycling is the best way to get around the city: it is cheap, will not get you snarled in traffic and is kind to the environment.

According to official data, 4 million cars were registered in Beijing at the end of last year, which meant increased air pollution and traffic jams. Meanwhile, the city’s main roads have bike lanes just waiting to be used.

On Sunday, 40 local and foreign STC members set off from the Drum and Bell Tower at 11 am and headed toward Chaoyang Park for a picnic lunch.

Brunn, a former member of Germany’s national artistic cycling team and who has been performing around the world for close to two decades, said she liked best the route along the Liangma Canal where cyclists can occupy almost the entire road.

The participants all rode fixed-gear bikes – models that are not capable of coasting since they have no freewheel; the sprocket is screwed directly onto the hub. Whenever the rear wheel turns, the pedals also turn in the same direction. A rider can slow or stop the bike by resisting the rotation of the pedals without needing to use the brakes. Pedaling backwards will also move the bike in that direction.

This type of bicycle is uncommon but is available at Natooke, located in Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District.

After the ride, Bufton told reporters that STC is developing an iPod application that can help cyclists keep track of their distance, time and average speed. When ready, the software will be available at STC’s website, she said.

The club lines up one to two rides a month and welcomes new members. For more information about STC, visit

Nice Entry on Bike Forum

Montag, April 5th, 2010

A Chinese National team gymnastics coach came along to our Beijing fixed gear bicycle ride yesterday. It was very nice talking to him. He posted a nice entry about the ride and about myself on this bike forum. He also posted many pictures. Thank you so much! Below I attached just a few.









对她以前所从事的这个项目 ,和现在所推广的这个项目是无限热爱的。





Natooke Beijing

Riding Fixed Gear in Beijing

TV filming

Ines doing bike tricks for TV

Filming the Beijing Fixed Gear Group

Wheely on Track Bike

Bike Surfing in Beijing

JisuPK at Bohai or Bust

Samstag, April 3rd, 2010

The Schoolhouse at Mutianyu organization and the China Charity Challenge co-hosted a charity bike event at their Roadhouse near the Great Wall North of Beijing. The event was called „Bohai or Bust„. All of the 100.-RMB registration fee is going to charity to provide a dinner, program and gift packages for the community’s elderly residents of the villages around Bohai and Mutianyu.

Almost 200 hundred people signed up and over half of them came to the meeting point at the TREK shop near Chaoyang Park. The bikes were loaded into 3 trucks and there were 2 huge buses. Unfortunately we encountered some holiday traffic as most companies in China have the coming Monday off.

Charity Ride Beijing Meet Up

In the name of STC Shannon and I had prepared the JisuPK. JisuPK is very fun bicycle event where 2 competitors on bikes attached to stationary rollers race each other in front of a cheering crowd. Typically a race lasts only 30 seconds and the winner is the rider that covers the set distance the quickest. The progress of the race is projected onto a screen so the crowd can get behind their favorite rider. Participants can challenge a friend to a race, race a colleague, race someone from another country, even race their Mum!

Bikes set up for JisuPK

But first everybody set out for their bike rides. There were 4 different proposed routes: 10km, 26km, 60km or for the A riders about 100km. We set out a bit late and as there was a tight schedule the A riders could only do about 85km. But it was still a nice ride. I did not have too much time to take pictures therefore just 2 snapshots from the A ride:

Bike riding over a pass near Mutianyu

This picture I took at the top of Sihai mountain. That is a very great mountain to ride a road bike up.

Sihai Mountain View

Samantha Song came out with us. She did not ride bike but stayed at our Natooke shop booth, even though there were not many people until 1pm.

Natooke Shop Booth at the Bohai or Bust Charity Event

When I arrived back there was a dance exhibition put on by a local troupe of villagers. There was a barbeque going on.

Cyclists after Ride and Food

Then we started the JisuPK. It seems the bike riding in the fresh air and beautiful mountains plus the food made most people very lazy. But we did get some guys to race.

JisuPK at Bohai or Bust Event

Before the JisuPK semi finals for the mens:

JisuPK semi finals for the mens

My friend Anthony is planning a bike ride through South China. He has a website called and did a post about this event today.

The buses and trucks actually left for Beijing on time at 4:30. And the traffic back into the city was less bad as expected.

Max Flying Banana Fixed Gear Bike

Freitag, April 2nd, 2010

Finally today Max and I worked on building up the fixed gear bike for him. Unfortunately the drop bar he bought required a special stem with 26mm diameter that I did not have. So we temporarily installed a riser bar. He had his wheels built up with one reflective Velocity Deep-V back rim. I really like that rim. Here is how the Flying Banana bicycle of Max looks like without a flash:

Max Flying Banana with Black Rear Rim

And look at the amazing effect when taking a picture with flash. That is the same when the lights of a car shine on the rear rim:

Velocity Reflective Rear Rim on Max Fixed Gear Bike

Here are some more pictures of his beautiful new bike.

Beautiful Green Fixed Gear with Riser Style Handlebar

Front View of Max Fixed Gear Bicycle

This afternoon I was doing some bike tricks on a road bike. Unfortunately the second hand road bike of Benedikt – that is still standing around in my shop – is slightly too big for me and especially too long. So I could just do a limited number of bicycle tricks on it. But it was very interesting as in some moments I was on the rolling bike waiting for the pedal to come to my foot and then had to smile when it occurred to me that the road bike is not fixed gear so the pedals do not revolve by themselves.

Pat’s Fixed Gear Bicycle

Donnerstag, April 1st, 2010

Today we finished Pat’s fixed gear bicycle. I like his choice of purple Halo tires and purple chain.

Pat’s Natooke Fixed Gear Bike

Also the yellow double cages and the white toe strap go well with the frame.

Pat’s Urban Commuter Bicycle

Today we also took a picture of the Natooke pink urban commuter bike for girls that Elaine had helped put together a few weeks ago. It is a very small frame, just 46cm seat tube length which makes it perfect for cute Asian girls.

Pink Natooke Fixed Gear Bike for Girls

Global Times Article about STC Beijing

Donnerstag, April 1st, 2010

Today there was another news article in the newspaper. This time it was in Global Times and about our STC ride that Shannon and I organized last Sunday. Here is the link to the original article on the Global Times website.

But I also copied the article so it can be read here directly.

Speeding pigeons
Source: Global Times [00:45 April 01 2010]

Ines Brunn, co-founder of Smarter Than Car, performs a bike trick show last Sunday. Photo: Wang Zi

Ines Brunn, co-founder of Smarter Than Car, performs a bike trick show last Sunday. Photo: Wang Zi

STC (Smarter Than Car) is a Beijing based group which aims to promote cycling in the city as an enjoyable, healthy and sustainable activity and a much smarter alternative to driving a car or taking taxis.

It makes sense when Beijing’s car ownership exceeds four million. In STC co-founder Shannon Bufton’s words, we have more than enough reasons to go smarter and get more freedom to move around at least within the third ring road.

Congestion’s the first reason. Have you ever tried to get around on a Friday night or during the weekend and got stuck in the traffic? It is always stressful.

What STC has planned to do, as Bufton introduced, is to start to collect data by using GPS through an iPhone application on the average speeds of different transportation modes: bus, private car, taxi and bicycle, and publishing figures showing how much faster the bicycle is – and the time savings that can be achieved by switching back to the bike.

„That would involve our volunteers working for over a three-month period,“ said Bufton. „We will also aim to discover the most used cycling routes and allow users to rate the safety and efficiency of the routes they have just taken.“


Bufton, an Australian urban designer, has ridden in many different cities in the world and thinks Beijing’s one of the safest [to ride in the inner city]. Why? Because cars run more slowly. „And secondly, every person who drives a car in China has ridden a bicycle before so they sort of have more awareness of the bikers, like when and how they are going to turn left or stop,“ he said.

Beijing is flat as a pancake, making it a fantastic place for urban cycling. The cycling infrastructure is still here according to Bufton. The bike lanes on some routes have been reduced but overall most roads have a bicycle lane.

There are not many other cities in the world that can boast this. Cities like Melbourne and London are bending over backwards and spending millions to improve infrastructure in their respective cities and they are still no where near to Beijing’s level of cycling lane infrastructure.

STC just formed in January and the followers rose from a few to about 50 people. The idea chimes easily with some of the local popular cycling clubs like Beijing Si Fei (Si means deadly; Fei means fly, aka Beijing Fixed Gear Club).

Breathing air

Ines Brunn, another co-founder of STC, former member of German national indoor cycling team, has been living in Beijing for five and a half years. She just opened a small fixed gear bike store in Wudaoying Hutong near the Lama Temple.

She admits that she commutes by bike and „goes everywhere by bike“. She’s not a cycling activist but helps the new-in-town „roadsters“ like Michael Johnson, an American medical device company’s executive who just relocated from Malaysia to Beijing.

The night before the STC’s spring ride, Johnson received a call from Brunn telling him his new custom made fixed gear bike had arrived. „So here I am. I can’t believe that I am already in a community event even before I found a proper apartment. My other two bikes are still in the container and on the way to China,“ Johnson said. He is may be too new to hear about the air conditions in Beijing.

Regarding the air that the cyclists breathe in, Bufton explained that actually staying in a closed car in a heavy traffic is even more dangerous because the car’s ventilation system keeps blowing in the fumes spewed by the car in front of you. To add double security, wear a cyclist’s mask.

STC has started to attach blinking lights to their bicycles so they are a moving „blinged up“ bunch, also demonstrating to motorists they pass how much faster through the peak period of the week. Currently they are looking for a corporate sponsor to provide free lights to each rider.

Back on the Sunday spring ride: just before the group of 30 bikers of STC started off, Ines Brunn performed a short bike trick show upon request and within seconds pulled a larger crowd. A local pedicab guy, Lao Li, when told that these people are promoting using bikes to commute in city [instead of car], said: „Nice. Like us. It’s in China.“

Four tourists, young girls from England, happened to start their bicycle ride (recommended by a guide book) at Gulou plaza too and were amazed by Beijing’s community events involving both expats and local Chinese cyclists.

With their less smart-looking rental bikes parked by their side they said: „Of course. It’s a beautiful day to ride. But we want to have bikes like that,“ pointing at the colorful wheels.

STC meet in front of the Drum Tower and ride to a different destination each time on the last Friday of each month at 7 pm. More details see STC’s website: