D’oh, a deer

In other bicycle news, it seems the Chinese masses are increasingly trading in their classic cruiser-style Flying Pigeon bikes for cushy mountain bikes and higher tech road bikes (oh, and cars).

Not a huge surprise, as an increase in affluence often leads to a transportation upgrade. But nonetheless, the state-owned bike company has noted the changing demographics of its riders as well as a dip in sales.

Sales at Flying Pigeon, the state bicycle company set up after the Communist revolution in October 1949, have plummeted so far that the company is considering outsourcing to south-east Asia and Africa, to cut costs.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Although wages in Africa might be competitive or even lower than China’s, the real incentive for outsourcing is to avoid the 48 per cent export tariffs levied on Chinese goods by the European Union and America …

In a cut-throat market, the only bicycles selling well are racers and mountain bikes. Most up-and-coming Chinese would not be seen dead on Flying Pigeon’s sturdy 45lb bone-shaker with its reinforced crossbar to carry pigs …

[Flying Pigeon] sales have plummeted since the 1980s when four million cycles were sold each year. Last year 1.5 million were made, 30 per cent of which were exported.

But even as more-affluent Chinese abandon the classic cruiser for more modern bikes and other forms of transport, “it may only be the masses who can save the company as they gradually feel the benefit of China’s economic boom. The signature PAO2 model — selling at 240 yuan (about £16) — is increasingly affordable to the rural poor.”

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.