Green wheels keep on turning, in vintage style

Updated: 2014-04-03 08:21

By Deng Zhangyu (China Daily)

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Years ago, bikes were simply vehicles that transported people from one place to another. Today, fashion and vintage style have become part of bicycle culture and a cool pair of wheels is essential to a green lifestyle.

A group of bicycle lovers dressed in vintage clothing - from Western-style suits to Chinese Zhongshan jackets and traditional qipao dresses - and rode their classic bikes in the second Beijing Vintage Ride on March 28.

"We hope to attract attention with the vintage ride and to encourage more people to ride instead of drive," says Ma Anping, the organizer of the event.

Wearing a black wool coat, a plaid scarf, a pair of round glasses and a trilby hat, Qing Yutong looks like a man from 1920s Shanghai. His bike is 40 years old, a model commonly seen on the streets of China in the 1970s.

It takes about one hour for Qing to ride his vintage bike from his house to the party. That's no special effort: He usually pedals to work, a 45-minute ride.

Qing's outfit belongs to his father. The wool coat was bought in Italy in the 1970s, and his plaid scarf is what his father wore in primary school.

"I like riding. I like all vintage things. It's just my lifestyle," says the 25-year-old graphic designer.

Bai Jianhe, 58, another bike lover, dresses like a rickshaw puller from the last century. Wearing a white gown covered by a brown silk vest, with a long tobacco pipe in hand, Bai says his clothes were passed down from his grandparents. His old-fashioned rickshaw is about 20 years old.

Bai pulls the rickshaw with his nephew sitting on top to the vintage ride party. He is a vintage bike and rickshaw collector.

"I have different types of bicycles for different occasions. Sometimes I pull my parents out with my rickshaw to parks," says the 58-year-old, who runs a bike-repair shop.

The vintage ride attracts more than 200 bikers, including both Chinese and foreigners living in Beijing - each with a cool-looking vintage bicycle.

"In order to take part in our vintage ride, many bought a vintage bike just a few days ago. And some are riding their old bikes again. That's what we're happy to see," Ma says.

A longtime bike lover, Ma and his friend Xu Hu founded a website,, three years ago to promote the cycling culture when they both resigned from an Internet company.

Once, Ma held a get-together with bike lovers at a coffee shop and everyone was asked to ride to the event. It was snowy that day, and the idea to hold a vintage ride struck him suddenly.

The first Beijing Vintage Ride made a big splash last year, and then Ma duplicated the event in Shanghai and got plenty of riders and attention. That enthusiasm has strengthened his determination to continue the vintage rides.

"When people see that riding can be fashionable and stylish, maybe there will be more people joining in," says Ma, who rides from his house to his office almost every day.

"If people complain about the haze in Beijing while doing nothing to protect our sky, it will be a vicious circle. We'd like to invite people to ride more and to keep riding as a green lifestyle."

 Green wheels keep on turning, in vintage style

The Beijing Vintage Ride was about both the wardrobes and the wheels. Photos by Jiang Dong / China Daily

 Green wheels keep on turning, in vintage style

Many bikes shown at the event were once commonly seen on the streets of China.

(China Daily 04/03/2014 page22)