Lockdowns spark love of cycling in Beijing

STORY: The pandemic and its lockdowns have sparked new passion for a Chinese classic: the bicycle.

Though the city-dwellers that have taken it up as a hobby in the last year are splashing out on premium sets of wheels.

Social media and e-commerce platforms say sales of bicycles are booming.

Wang Yiou is a PR employee with RE, a biking lifestyle company - she says her own love of cycling has changed the way she looks at Beijing.

"I can discover many hidden corners in the city, places that I normally wouldn't realise are there. Even for some routes that I’ve been on for three or four times, I can still be surprised by little discoveries each time I ride past. That is why I love riding in the city,"

Cyclists like Wang are snapping up bikes from brands like Brompton, Giant and Specialized...

... the market is estimated to be worth around 16.5 million dollars by 2026.

Zhou Changching is in a cycling club with Wang... and says the sense of camaraderie people build up from sharing a common interest is key to the bicycle boom.

"It was really quick and sudden - I’ve seen a growing number of people riding on the streets this year, and now, I have many more friends too. There’s no gap among people who cycle. Everyone is with a different bike and we are all riding towards the same direction, so it’s very easy to become friends and chit chat. We often talk about each other's bikes, so it's very interesting and I really enjoy it."

China has had a long love affair with cycling and was coined the ‘kingdom of bicycles’.

But they fell out of fashion when a growing middle class turned to cars.

cyclists all together: Zhou says he got into biking to get fit... and to hit the open road after lockdowns.

This new wave of cycling hobbyists will pay more than eighteen hundred dollars for an inner-city high end foldable bike made by companies such as Brompton.

E-commerce platform JD.com last month said that road bike sales had more than doubled from June to August compared with the same time last year

-while cycling gear sales had jumped by a hundred and sixty percent.