Ped­al­ing around town smartly

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By PEI PEI peipei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Fan Fengqiang, a 26-yearold in Bei­jing who owns a gar­ment store, re­cently bought the Buz­zard, a smart sports bi­cy­cle for 5,999 yuan ($895). The made-in-China Buz­zard is so smart that Fan now uses it not only for ex­er­cise but to com­mute to work.

The bike, made by Tian­jin Fly­ing Pi­geon Co Ltd in col­lab­o­ra­tion with LeS­ports, has a num­ber of built-in smart de­vices that mon­i­tor in real-time not only his speed but blood pres­sure, heart rate, calo­rie con­sump­tion and other as­pects.

“LeS­ports pro­vides the smart func­tions’ de­sign while the80-year-old Tian­jin Fly­ing Pi­geon in­cor­po­rates them in the bike,” said Li Da­long, vice-pres­i­dent of LeS­ports.

Fly­ing Pi­geon hopes the Buz­zard can work as a “fly­ing hawk”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Shang­hai Univer­sity of Sport, there were 6 mil­lion sports bike en­thu­si­asts in China by the end of 2015.

Ac­cord­ing to data from AliCloud, a sub­sidiary of Alibaba Group, the num­ber of sports bike users has al­ready grown 20 per­cent this year. Users of sports bikes priced more than 5,000 yuan ($758) each have in­creased by 10 per­cent.

Fan, a bike en­thu­si­ast for four years, is one of 500,000 of his ilk in China. “Some friends ask about it the first time they see it. Then, af­ter know­ing its smart func­tions, they say they want to buy one. Strangers al­ways strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with me

about it when I stop at a red light on roads,” said Fan.

Such bikes have at­tracted the at­ten­tion of even Premier Li Ke­qiang. He vis­ited an out­let of Fly­ing Pi­geon in Tian­jin dur­ing the Sum­mer Davos Fo­rum in June.

The premier test-rode a top-end smart bike. Im­pressed by its de­sign and fea­tures, he as­sured sup­port for global pro­mo­tion of such Chi­nese prod­ucts.

The Buz­zard se­ries has three mod­els for city roads priced 3,999 yuan, 5,999 yuan and 39,999 yuan re­spec­tively.

The 3,999-yuan model is made of light­weight alu­minum al­loy. The other two mod­els are made of car­bon fiber. The most ex­pen­sive one, which Li test-rode, is equipped with Shi­mano XTR’s drive train.

Fan bought the mid-range model. “It is not ex­pen­sive com­pared with a good road bi­cy­cle. Its con­fig­u­ra­tion can record all ba­sic rid­ing data like speed, dis­tance and heart rate of the rider,” Fan said.

Mak­ing such bikes has been a grad­ual process for Fly­ing Pi­geon. Zhang Jiny- ing, pres­i­dent of the com­pany, said Fly­ing Pi­geon has been through three crit­i­cal phases in its evo­lu­tion into a top-end bike-maker.

As a vet­eran who has been with the com­pany since 1986, she has seen them all. Ac­cord­ing to her, the first phase was in 1990s, when China kicked off its eco­nomic re­form and shifted to­wards a mar­ket-ori­ented econ­omy.

The sec­ond phase started in 2013 when the com­pany es­tab­lished a bi­cy­cle in­dus­try park in Jing­hai district of Tian­jin. Ad­vanced pro­duc­tion equip­ment and a pro­fes­sional team helped the com­pany to up­grade its tech­nol­ogy and man­age­ment.

“The third phase be­gan with our co­op­er­a­tion with

The smart bikes are viewed as an in­dus­try bench­mark...”

Zhang Jiny­ing, pres­i­dent of Tian­jin Fly­ing Pi­geon Co Ltd

Le Sports to pro­duce the Buz­zard se­ries. The smart bikes are viewed as an in­dus­try bench­mark, and helped cre­ate for Fly­ing Pi­geon a new brand image of an in­tel­li­gent bike pro­ducer. That is a big trans­for­ma­tion for the old brand,” said Zhang.

Fly­ing Pi­geon has more than 2,000 em­ploy­ees and pro­duces more than 2 mil­lion bikes a year. Now, it has three main cat­e­gories of bikes: clas­sic mod­els, retro mod­els and smart bikes, which ap­pear in nearly 200 de­signs.

“The big data we ac­cu­mu­late helps us to cus­tom­ize the smart bikes. We’ll use con­sumer feed­back and con­sider mak­ing mini smart bikes to meet fe­male rid­ers’ needs, moun­tain smart bikes and road smart bikes, so on,” said Zhang.

The Buz­zard de­buted in the mar­ket last Au­gust. Since then, it has in­spired copy­cats to come out with sim­i­lar prod­ucts. Yet, Li of Le Sports is con­fi­dent the com­pany’s prod­ucts will pre­vail.

“We es­tab­lished a rid­ing com­mu­nity with a built-in sys­tem called Bike OS and a smart­phone app. It’s our core com­pe­tence. It’s pos­si­ble to make a bike, but it’s dif­fi­cult to build a bike-rid­ing eco sys­tem,” he said.

“Our smart bikes are tap­ping into over­seas mar­kets this year. We’re build­ing sales net­works in North Amer­ica, the Euro­pean Union, Japan and South Korea. For­eign cus­tomers will be able to buy the bike soon on our over­seas on­line shop­ping site Le Mall.”

SU YANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Two women ex­pe­ri­ence made-in-China smart bi­cy­cles in Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince.

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