Saturday 5 April 2008

Electric Dreams Part III

Sadly that last electric bike didn't stay with me too long. Even shorter than the iPhone I lost at the APG awards in London last year which had the decency to stick around for 48 hours before bailing out. So after a splendid lunch with one of China's leading digital thinkers Kaiser Kuo I returned to an empty spot where the bike had been locked. Undeterred (because I'm well 'ard like that) I've gone out and bought a brand new one for about 150 Euros (10 RMB = 1 Euro). Only 20 Euros more expensive than the first one which was second hand. Here she is.

I've figured out why there are more electric bikes in Beijing than motorbikes. Beijing is unusually flat and thus quite suited for this type of low power mobility and also of course for bicycles too. Lately I've started to see roller blades and skateboards joining us on the bicycle lanes (perfect tourist transport for the Olympics I might add), as Beijing has the most bike friendly lanes I've encountered outside of say Amsterdam and specifically Groningen where although they are just as ubiquitous, they are not nearly so wide as here.

Just a quick photo snap above of the spelling or Engrish as its called because I want to make the point that the the English used here isn't for English readers. It's for the Chinese. English conveys an international sensibility (design, quality and innovation) and although it isn't spoken about much in the 'China will be the dominant language of the internet' discussion, Mandarin may have more users as a global language but its influence is mainly limited to its own country.

I'm reminded of the French spoken in Russian Nobility circles from my Tolstoy and Dostoevsky reading years. I guess it's less the quantity than the quality, and more about the influence. I should add that I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation or adoption of the English language globally, as is evident from my frequent spelling mistakes and poor grammar. It most definitely wasn't me!

Lastly the shop that sold me my new pimpin' wheels also sell these terrific bicycles that have that flat handlebar action going on (like the old Hovis ads) with a frame and brakes system that is straight out of the 1930's. I simply must have one these too as its exactly the type of bike I've been hunting down for years and years now. I expected to come across a second hand model but here they are in the 21st century still being pumped out new. I have no idea why anybody would want to sit in a car stuck in traffic (except of course a Hyundai or its contextual equivalent) when there are much smarter and cooler options as these for transport.


  1. very pleased to see that you have another lekki replacement mr frith. having recently joined the cycling militia, i'm totally on your wavelength.

    interesting point you make too on the value of english (engrish) in chinese language and culture. i love that shit! the japanese have been absorbing engrish for years in the same vein and i guess we do so with french and definitely german. hey, let's chuck an ├╝mlaut on anything resembling a vowel in order to make it oh so euro baby, yeah!

  2. Did you buy more locks this time?

    Also, what's the betting on how long you'll keep this one? I say less than a week

  3. Ha ha. That reminds me Lauren because there's this skin creme brand in Thailand with some ├╝mlaut action going on to give it some Euro creds and its never been anywhere near a Euro lab. The irony is that Asians age so much better then us Caucasians you'd think they'd have the bottle to develop a more indigenous brand?

    Also I forgot to add that Mandarin is actually spoken outside of China in the small plutocratic pockets of Asia that it runs!

  4. Now you're not just sulking with me Rachel because Lauren won the Mao/Charles Bronson prizes are ya ;)

  5. You'll be turning a few heads on that - lucky ladies of Bejing!

    As it's a replacement could one reasonably refer to it as a re-cycle?

  6. Bless you Mark. That's what I've been telling the lovely gals of Beijing.

    "You don't know how lucky you are" but still I gets nowhere ;)

  7. Cycling Militia... love those words Lauren.

  8. nice colour scheme.
    Hoping for an action shot of you on it pretty soon.

  9. Thank God for the Beijing Fashion Police ...

  10. I AM the Beijing fashion cop du jour Rob.

    Charlie - Are you 'ppreciatin' the heat grill above the Ectric bike sign... that's class that is.