Tag Archive | "china"

WARNING: The Big China Rip Off

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WARNING: The Big China Rip Off


We’ve seen some shops trying to make money off of growing interest in cargo tricycles and bakfiets. However, a lot of them are either price gouging customers or they’re getting ripped off by their suppliers. These shops are selling Chinese built cargo bicycles for five times the manufacturing and shipping costs. How does a cargo tricycle costing $275/unit plus $100 (shipping, customs, & storage), retail for $2100?

To make matters worse, some of these shops are implying that these tricycles and bakfiets are Dutch built. They’ve got names like Dutch this and Dutch that with websites that imply the same. For example one shop we talked with didn’t even mention that the bikes were built in China until we asked them directly. They gave us an explanation of how they retrofit these tricycles with high quality US and Euro parts, yata yata yata. A week later that same shop updated their website to say that the bikes were built in China.

We did a group buy of ten of these same tricycles and bakfiets a couple of years ago and learned a great deal about the pricing, shipping, customs, etc. The conclusion, Chinese made cargo tricycles and bakfiets should retail to the consumer for at most $1000. Even with a 100% markup over cost and $50 to have someone assemble the bike, it’s realistic that these “China” trikes and “China” bakfiets could retail at $750 with profit.

If you’re interested in reading more about what we learned from our group buy experience, please let us know by commenting on this post and we’ll try to answer your questions.

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Tianjin Flying Pigeon

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Tianjin Flying Pigeon


The Tianjin Flying Pigeon is the most popular bicycle in history. They have literally sold billions of these bicycles since Chairman Mao established the company in 1950. Based on a 1930s European design, they haven’t changed at all over the decades.

The bike has classic looks, weighs a ton, and is built like a tank. Due to the “Classic” design, maintenance is a pain. Also, if you live outside of the developing world where they sell most of their bicycles, finding parts can be equally frustrating. While taking a tour of their plant, the factory rep told me that their biggest customers are in Central Africa.

Out of curiosity, I asked what a shipment of these bicycles would cost. They said that they can fit around 200 of these bicycles (unassembled) into a shipping container and that they would charge $45 USD/each. Pretty good price if you buy in bulk.

Another thing I learned is that the original Tianjin Flying Pigeon company split up over the years and that there are dozens of factories across the country still using the Flying Pigeon name and design to build bicycles.

If you’re in the market for a Euro style city bike, the Flying Pigeon might be exactly what you’re looking for. Imagine for the price of one Dutch built bike, you can have a flock of Flying Pigeons roaming the streets.

Check out my post about my tour of the Tianjin Flying Pigeon Factory.

Links:
My tour of the Flying Pigeon Factory
• Tianjin Flying Pigeon Bicycle Company (one of many)
• Flying Pigeon Los Angeles Shop
Flying Pigeon Enthusiast’s Blog

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Flickr Gallery: China Cargo Tricycles

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Flickr Gallery: China Cargo Tricycles


Here’s a nice photo gallery of cargo tricycles in China by BriColeurbanism.

Links:
• Photo Gallery of Cargo Tricycles in China
• Bricoleurbanism.org Website

Posted in Load Carrying, Places & Events, Work CyclingComments (0)

Air Pollution in China

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Air Pollution in China


air pollution china

air pollution china

I generally try to keep this blog upbeat and focused on bicycles. But, the other day I found a picture I took a couple of years ago during a business trip to China. The photo speaks for itself… The air pollution in China is awful…

This picture was taken in Ningbo City, about three hours drive from Shanghai. In the early 1990s, most people in China were still using bicycles or mass transit. Cars were a luxury for the rich. Back then the air was clean given the size of the population. But now in many of the factory towns across China, your eyes water as soon as you step out the front door.

The sad thing is we keep blaming China for all of this, but most of those poluting factories are making products that are bound for US and European markets. Basically we’ve just exported our pollution creating factories and jobs to China. Anyway, everytime I go to Costco, I always get a sense that I’m just adding to this cycle…

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Chinese Bicycle Factories

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Chinese Bicycle Factories


A few months ago during a business trip to China, my friend an import export broker invited me to visit some bicycle factories with him during my day off. Always on the lookout for new products and suppliers for his clients, he regularly visits Chinese factories. I jumped at the chance and toured three different bike factories with him.

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.

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China International Bicycle Show 2007


Just posted photos from the 2007 China International Bicycle & Motor Show in Shanghai. It was gigantic. There were 5697 booths in 9 buildings that covered 105000 square meters of convention hall. The manufacturers were definitely not holding back.

Many of the designs were based on European and American designs. However, there were bicycles and other products that were uniquely Chinese. I was pleasantly surprised at the huge variety of electric bicycles, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles that were on display. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

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