After much deliberation, I committed to building a custom bicycle about one month ago after meeting (and interviewing) the proprietors of the Natooke Custom Bicycle Shop in Chengdu. The interview illuminated a lot of interesting points about bicycling in Chengdu which I hadn’t thought about previously, namely the advantages that this city offers to cyclists. Here are a couple.
Conditions Unique to Chengdu
- Totally flat terrain which means multiple bicycle gears aren’t required, reducing bicycle weight and maintenance
- Bicycle lanes along all major roads in the city which reduces the risk of being in an accident involving motor vehicles
- Temperate weather which allows for year-round bicycle commuting, even in the winter
- A resurgent and exploding community of cyclists in the city, upon the backdrop of a country that is famous for bicycles
- An increasingly serious traffic situation, due to major construction along the city’s arterial highways
With these factors in mind, it wasn’t difficult to commit to the bicycle as a transportation platform. Although the longboard (skateboard) that I got over the summer has been a blast, it isn’t practical for traveling distances of more than a mile. My goal is to commute to and from my office by bicycle daily, which is a trip of about 30 kilometers (roughly 19 miles). It’s no small distance for someone like me who’s not experienced in long range bicycling, but I feel that for the first time in my life, I’m up to it. This isn’t just a bike, it is a lifestyle choice.
- The brand of the bicycle is Flying Banana, created by a German woman living in Beijing
- This bike is the first one out of the new Natooke shop in Chengdu, located down the street from my house
- The frame of the bike is aluminum, it has front and rear brakes as well as front and rear lights (not pictured)
- The entire bike is matte black with blue rims. I selected the color scheme and wanted just a dash of color
- I spent over $100 on an imported lock from Germany that is serious business. I will be vigilant.
Here’s to a kind of health and enjoyment that I haven’t known before.