It’s amazing to believe there are, today, over three hundred million bicycles in China. A far cry with their popularity as late because the 1940’s when there were only around fifty per cent of a million bicycles in the whole of the country.
What is peculiar is that the Chinese bicycle industry, in accordance with Internet research, seems to have begun in the same way that the British bicycle industry finds itself today. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the bicycles available for sale in China were of good quality and imported from Britain, Germany and the U.S., with British bicycle producers exhibiting their machines in China. ร้านจักรยาน สุวรรณภูมิ Early production lines setup by the biggest Chinese importers were all from imported components and in very small quantities set alongside the numbers of bicycles being ridden and sold in Europe and America.
Today, we have gone full circle. Where Britain and Europe used to supply every one of the Chinese market, China has become producing around a staggering 64 million bicycles a year. Surprisingly, though, their export rate is showing some signs of decline. The largest manufacturer of bicycles is Taiwan. Where Britain was once the supplier of high-quality bicycles into China, it’s the imports back in Europe which can be good quality, with prices to match. In years gone by, anything imported was always considered of inferior quality and price premiums could be expected on British-made products. While cheap bicycles significantly less than 100 GBP can be purchased online, or within high-street catalogue shops, most high street bicycle shop prices are far and away above this. A recently available search of both independent and high street chain bicycle shops showed bicycles priced between 400 GBP and 1,000 GBP, nearly all of which result from Taiwan, or America.
So what about the humble British bicycle manufacturer? Do they still exist? British production rates have declined year on year from 325,000 units in 2003, to approximately 80,000 units in 2007. Compare this to the imports of around 3.5 million, and we get a huge contrast to true British production. Where they exist, they be seemingly, typically, made-to-order and appear to cater for the specialist markets of, for example, Sports, Special Needs, industrial heavy-duty work bicycles – for deliveries, etc. – or the high-end, hand-built classic leisure market.
What did surprise me when searching the values was the apparent not enough knowledge concerning which of the stocks were British. Most of the opinion was – probably quite rightly – that most the stock was imported or, if of some British origin, then only assembled in Britain from imported components – exactly because the China market started at the turn of the twentieth century.