Now that school is out and I have free time on my hands, I think this is a little side project that I want to do. There is a bike boutique/workshop called Factory Five out in Shanghai that takes classic Chinese bike frames and updates them with modern components. You can even do it yourself in their workshop. What you get is a beautiful retro-modern bike that you see in the picture above.
There are two classic bike brands that I have my eye on: Phoenix (凤凰) and Forever (永久). I’m partial to the Phoenix bikes and their China Post models which were used back in the day to deliver the mail. These frames are heavy, probably steel, and durable. These bikes are also “fixies” in that it cannot coast and usually has one gear, i.e., a lot of pedaling is involved. It’s not built to win races or climb hills. Perfect for the flat and congested terrain in Shanghai.
In doing a little research, a Phoenix or Forever bike can be hand brand new on Taobao.com (Chinese eBay) for about 400rmb ($62). The more expensive parts would probably be the rims.
I really don’t know the first thing about building a bike or what goes into it but that makes for a perfect distraction from the doldrums of summer.