Bikes get stolen in Shanghai. Sure, they go missing in New York, or Seattle, but Shanghai seems to have less respect for the lock than most metropoli. When our cute orange folding bike turned up missing last week, Shanghaiist went a bit crazy. While many bike theft victims purchase progressively cheaper bikes, following the theory that “this one’s so garbage no one could possibly want it,” we went the opposite direction. Walking past Speed Cat Bicycle (site in Chinese) every day might have been the reason. In a tiny little shop that would be comfortable in any US college town, Speed Cat is instantly recognizable by the pile of half-assembled frames outside.
Actually, in Shanghai, frames are half the appeal. Because most titanium frames are made either in Taiwan or China, the prices are a reasonable 5,000 RMB. Now, compared to the standard 200 RMB bicycles that flood the streets, that’s expensive. Shanghaiist admits that. But compared to the $1,000 they would cost stateside or elsewhere, Speed Cat is quite a deal. According to both the owner and Shanghaiist’s observations, the clientele is about half expat, half Chinese. Zhu Wei Du, one of the owners, speaks what he refers to as “bicycle English” and fields most of the questions from foreigners.
The crew at Speed Cat not only hooked Shanghaiist up with a snazzy new BMX, they were extra helpful, adding pegs upon request the following day and cutting down the handlebars for free. Founded by two friends nine years ago, the shop is the last remaining incarnation of a once prosperous chain. It sits tucked away under the trees at 404 Xiangyang Nan Lu between Yongjia Lu and Jianguo Xi Lu. When asked about the previous shops, Zhu Da, another owner, let us know exactly where riding lies on his personal scale of importance. “We just didn’t have any time, we had no life,” he said. “And now, with one shop, our friends can hang out, and we can have fun and actually go riding.” The Speed Cat crew organizes rides each weekend, renting cars and heading for the mountains outside Shanghai. Interested? Drop them a line. And no bike, no problem — bikes are available to rent. Cost for the day, including car, bike, and excellent company: 100 kuai. While Shanghaiist’s new bike may not be quite ready for the mountains, we’re glad to discover the option.
Speed Cat Bicycle shop is located at 404 Xiangyang Nan Lu (上海市襄阳南路404号). Tel: 64671586.
Shop Talk is a semi-regular feature on Shanghaiist that highlights noteworthy shops in Shanghai. Got a store you think deserves consideration? Email us at shanghaiist(@)gmail.com.