The factories were in Tianjin City about an hour outside of Beijing. Tianjin is a massive port and factory town. The city is drab and heavily polluted. You literally couldn’t see more than three blocks due to the air pollution. Tianjin is famous in China for being the hub of bicycle manufacturing in China. With over 200 bicycle companies in Tianjin, we only had time to visit three.
The factories varied greatly. The first was a former gov’t owned company that made sturdy low-end bicycles for sale in developing countries. The second was a state of the art OEM supplier for US bike companies. The last was a modern factory that made bicycles for the China market under their own brand name.
The first factory we visited, the Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company, was a former gov’t owned company. It is a fixture in Chinese society, famous for having made billions of bicycles since it was established by Chairman Mao fifty years ago. You’ll see their classic bicycles providing basic transportation for people all over the developing world.
What surprised me most about the TFPBC was how friendly the people were. They had an easy going rythmn similar to farmers working the fields and were always easy with a smile. The factory was run in an informal style and the buildings showed their age. There were even a couple of stray dogs that the workers adopted that were wandering the factory. The equipment was old, manufacturing techniques dated, and quality control questionable. I even saw workers smoking cigarettes while working the line. However for me the whole experience was like a history lesson. Entering their factory was like traveling back in time to the communist era.
The Factory Experience: Time proven manufacturing methods for the world’s most popular bicycle…
Although they manufacture other bicycles these days, they continue to build the classic Flying Pigeon Bike. Their biggest customer thesedays, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Photos: Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company Factory Photos I’ll post more about Tianjin City and the other factories later. Stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.