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Surprising Science

High-End Bike Sales Surge Among China’s New Rich

Largely out of nostalgia and increased health consciousness, executives are returning to bikes as a means of transport. The ones they’re buying reflect their new status.

What’s the Latest Development?

In what has now become the world’s largest auto market, some wealthy Chinese executives are going back to bicycling as their preferred transport, using some of the most expensive models available. For example, creative director Yu Yiqun rides to work on a $16,000 hand-made Alex Moulton, which he says “might be the only one in Beijing.” One financial firm has even purchased 1,000 bikes at an average cost of $480 apiece as a year-end bonus for its employees.

What’s the Big Idea?

Several things are driving the surge in high-end bike sales, which is expected to grow by at least 10 percent a year. A new health consciousness is motivating executives to ride rather than sit in fancy cars. Those cars themselves, as well as watches and other typical luxury items, have become relatively commonplace among the well-heeled set; one biking company director says of the Chinese, “[A] bike is a great gift that shows your unique lifestyle.” Perhaps what’s most notable is the fact that some choose bikes out of nostalgia. Yu says, “I remember my father used to ride me to the city in the winter….Back then, it was a means of transport that fulfilled your dream of travelling afar, which was relatively cheap but required brawn.”

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