Ofo bikes around Chaoyang Park in Beijing. (Photo/chinanews.cn)
Until fairly recently, bicycle production had been considered a sunset industry, but a nationwide resurgence caused by the popularity of shared bikes has given it a second lease of life.
Li Dewu, the manager of a bike production company based in Shenzhen says he never expected such a spike in demand.
Last year the downturn in demand had Li worried about his business, but an order for thousands of shared bikes just before the Chinese New Year turned things around. Li described the major deal as a second madness in his twenty year career that made him both excited and yet also a little nervous.
Hu Zefeng, who runs a cycle production company in Shenzhen, also had a busy few months with deals for over 1.5 million bikes received in total. “We have employed about 500 new workers and added 7 more assembly lines from Shenzhen to Tianjin.” Hu said.
The demand for bike parts and accessories has also seen a boost. Du Kaishan, manager of a bike saddle provider said: “my factory is over loaded now, with hundreds of thousands saddles having to be made in a single deal every month.”
The ubiquitous shared bikes are causing a stir in China. Companies such as Ofo and Mobike have over 10 million registered users and distribute cycles to every corner of cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
According to statistics from the China Cycle Association, over 2 million shared bikes have been placed in more than 30 cities in China since 2016.
The expansion in the shared bike market has, however, been accompanied by a rise in the price of cycles. Producers have raised their prices by 5 percent on average, according to The Paper.
A manager at a cycle assembly factory in Suzhou said the high demand for shared bikes had resulted in a shortage of cycle supplies, which influences the cost of the end product.
An industry insider said another element triggering pricier bikes is the rising price of steel and rubber, the raw materials used to make cycle frames and tires. Some types of steel have seen a 35 percent increase in prices over the last year, rubber nearly 70 percent.
Most of the cycle producers though said that they would continue with the original price of each bike or perhaps raise it a little for regular clients. Ofo, Mobike and new business entrant Bluegogo have all denied that the cost of their cycles has gone up.