my new bike
I currently live in China.
The easiest way to get around is by bicycle.
After I had been here for a few weeks I realized this and early last
October I bought a bike. I went to the local bike shop and I tried very
hard to get the cheapest bicycle in the store. However, they refused to
allow me to buy such a poor quality bicycle. "Not good enough for a
foreigner." Instead they wanted to sell me one at more than double the
price. I kept refusing and the price of the better bike kept dropping.
I wasn't trying to bargain or haggle but I succeeded.
I really know nothing about that first bike. It was an okay bike but
there wasn't really anything about it that could be called impressive.
The name on the bike, which probably means nothing to anyone, was CFoge.
I think the eventual purchase price (with basket, bell, lock and
luggage rack) was 220 rmb or about $25.
Before going on summer holiday to the US I loaned my bike to a friend.
By my standards my bicycle wasn't all that good but his bicycle was
terrible. When I came back I found that my bike had been stolen and my
friend had bought me a secondhand bike of similarly poor quality to
Within five days of returning to China I bought a new bike. This time I
didn't go to my local bicycle store but went to one nearly a kilometer
and a half away. This store also had a pretty good selection of Chinese
Giant Bicycles. I ended up getting a Giant Athena. Not a great bike,
but head and shoulders above what I had been riding. With bell, lock,
luggage rack, and an unexplained box containing 9 liters of green tea
this bike cost 496 rmb or about $58.
I really liked that bike.
I took that bike with me to Beijing.
I went out and got lost in the countryside with that bike.
I put as much as 60 klicks on that bike inside of one day.
It was a nice bike.
Monday morning I looked out my window at the stunning blue sky. I had a
distinct lack of headache. I had a distinct lack of sinus infection. I
had a distinct lack of toothache. I showered, got dressed, and went
outside to put my new bike computer on my bike. And I found that I also
had a distinct lack of bike.
My foul attitude in response to having my bike stolen from inside the
compound did result in finally getitng my drain fixed, my phone line
fixed, and my washing machine replaced. I don't much care for being a
bitch at people but, possibly because the bitch so rarely comes out, it
is an amazingly effective tactic. However, I got told that if the
school were to consider replacing my bike there was no way they were
going to spend nearly as much money as I had spent. $60 is a lot of
money over here.
I did not want another poor quality bicycle. I had gotten used to
having a nice bicycle.
I decided instead of buying a new beautiful bike after all of the
responses I recieved along the lines of "well duh of course this would
happen" I was going to get the ugliest bike I could find that was still
a nice bike.
It took a bit of effort to find a second hand bicycle market. If it
hadn't been for the piece of paper with the instructions for the taxi
driver I never would have found it. It looked to me just like any other
place in China with a lot of bicycles parked out in front. For example,
on the street near my school entrance, there are always at least twice
as many bicycles as there are visible staff and customers in all of the
Most of the bicycles at the market were nothing special. I found a few
that looked okay. However, the standard of quality in available second
hand bicycles was definitely not good. They were mostly the kind of
bikes were everything makes sound except the bell. Then, after glancing
at a few hundred bikes, I literally came to the end of the line and
found two good bikes.
One was barely distinguishable as an Emmelle bicycle under the dirt, and
the paint which had been badly applied with a heavy hand when repairing
rust damage to the fenders. The other was still almost shiny and had a
name unknown to me painted all over it in garish colors. The nearly
shiny bike had shocks and was definitely a fancier bike. But, I didn't
know if it was a better bike. So I went for the known brand name.
75 rmb. I ought to have bargained but didn't bother at that price.
They changed the ripped up seat for me for a seat which was easily the
most uncomfortable thing my ass has ever rested upon. And my ass has
rested upon some pretty uncomfortable things.
Getting the local bike store to understand I wanted this bike made good
as new was a torturous uphill battle. In the end they grudgingly
swapped the rear derailleur for a new one. However, they didn't have a
front derailleur. And they didn't have new gears. And they thought my
brakes were fine. As I am rather fond of having the bike actually stop
when I apply the brakes I had rather different opinions on the matter.
(When the old brakes were removed the rubber pads were so worn down that
the metal shoe was visible.)
So, I took the bike to the big Emmelle shop I had found a few weeks ago.
It was also a battle to convince them of what I wanted done. Didn't I
realize how much money this would cost? See you can buy a perfectly
nice new bike at that price.
But, after some effort on my part, they were finally made to understand
that I am a foreigner who suffers from minor bouts of temporary
insanity. Once they realized they could still profit from the nature of
my obvious mental afflications they were willing to take my money and
apply their skill to my bike.
I dropped the bike off at noon-ish and was told to pick it up around
5:30. They severely underestimated the amount of effort involved in
rehabilitating this bike and I got out of there around 9pm.
New rear derailleur. (Shimano)
New front derailleur. (Sunway)
One new shifter cable.
New wheel center thingybits.
New rear gears. (Shimano)
New front gears. (Shimano)
I did get to keep the tires. I also kept the rims, which, judging by
the rust spots, are probably steel. And I still have most of the same
spokes I had when I bought the bike.
I will still need to get the seat raised as I am pretty sure my knees
shouldn't be able to bump my elbows.
I also need to find a place to put the bell and get a decent bell. The
current bell (put on this morning) intereferes with changing gears. I
admit that the terrain is such that there is absolutely no reason for me
to change gears other than because this 10 speed is my first bike with
multiple gears and I CAN.
So far the bike has cost 428 rmb. And, even as a pretty nice bike it is
still just as butt ugly as it was when I bought it.
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