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Buying an Electronic Bike in Beijing

Nathaniel Brown

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Another guide that some of my friends asked me to write :-)

The original article is located at Buying an Electronic Bike in Beijing

Here's a copy:

So your interested in Buying an electric bike / scooter and while you've seen

them at the stores the manuals are all in Chinese and you've been around China

long enough to know that you can't trust a word that the salesman says. Well

you've come to the right place. I decided I wanted to buy an electric scooter

after I rented one during our holiday in Yangshuo, so when I came back to

Beijing I went online to find out what the deal was. Unfortunately most of the

information I found was really old and out of date. Normally that wouldn't be an

issue but originally the government was planning on banning electric bikes

inside the 4th ring road by 2005. That all changed when carbon pollution became

a hot political issue and now China is actively encouraging electric bikes. Up

until the beginning of the year there wasn't any information about electric

scooters because they weren't bikes because they didn't have peddles and they

weren't motor bikes either. That got cleared up in January when they were

officially classified as bikes because they have zero emissions.

After talking to a number of people the current situation seems to be that

electric scooter and electric bikes are treated exactly the same as bikes except

for the fact that you have to register them. Registration costs about 10 RMB and

if you buy it from one of the smaller shops they'll even do it for you if you're

willing to wait or come back the next day. If you want to get the plates

yourself then you'll need a letter from the store to prove that you bought it as

well as a residency permit and your passport. Unfortunately most of the bike

stores don't sell helmets so you'll probably have to go to Decathlon to buy one.

You'll also want to buy a lock so you can lock your new expensive bike to a pole

or something.

Now if all of this sounds like a lot of work there are a lot of reasons why

you might want to buy an electric bike:

1. No more taxi fares.

2. No more waiting on the sidewalk for a taxi.

3. No more sitting in peak hour traffic.

4. It's much more convenient than a car.

5. You have a lot more freedom to explore.

6. It's 100% legal unlike a motor bike.

7. They are really cheap and pay for themselves.

You are interested? Well now comes the hard part. Do you want an electric

scooter or an electric bike?

Feature Bike Scooter

Cost 1,500 to 2,500 (RMB) 2,500 to 4,000 (RMB)

Battery Weight ~15 kg ~25kg

Batter Style Easy to Carry Needs a trolley

Charge time ~ 6 hours ~ 8 hours

Range ~30km ~60km

Backup Power Peddles Pushing the scooter

Storage Basket/Rear storage Under seat + Rear storage

If you don't know what to get I'd personally recommend getting a high end

bike rather than a scooter because if you run out of batteries then you don't

have to walk it home and the batteries are so much eaier to carry up the stairs.

That being said I ended up buying a scooter because it takes me over an hour to

get to work every day and the electric bikes just don't have the range.

You can find electric bikes almost anywhere. Most bike stores carry a high

end model and a low end model and if you can't find a bike store then Carrefour

and Walmart have them. The electric scooters are still a bit hard to find

because they've only been available for about six months but I was able to find

a Xin Ri dealership at this

location. If you want to find out more about their products use Google Translate or Babel Fish.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll try to add to this post (including more

pictures), so if you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact


Nathaniel Brown

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When I lived in Beijing last year, I cycled faster than most electric bikes so I overtook them and they didn't get in my way.

These new scooters ... if they're as big as "normal" scooters and go as fast, then they're going to be majorly irritating in the bicycle lanes.

Do you know how fast they are?

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The smaller electric bikes tend to have a top speed of about 20 to 25 kmh.

The majority of the larger scooters max out at 30 to 35 kmh (mine maxed out at 30 up hill and 35 on the flat or down hill)

I know there are scooters that go as fast as 45 kmh (we rented them in Yangshuo) but I haven't seen them in Beijing yet.

Hope that helps :wink:

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It's winter now, and I sweat when I ride my bike. Then again it's not flat at all. Summer in Shanghai I lose multiple pounds in water weight a day (not because it's hotter than where I'm from, but because there is a lot less air conditioning and I guess it is more humid too), and that's just walking. I love riding a bike, but I'd go with the electric option. When in Shanghai I already have to take multiple showers a day. If I rode a bike, it would be intolerable. Of course I still find wearing shorts (when fashion doesn't matter of course) comfortable when others are in coats and claiming it is freezing.

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I have a bike as well as an Electronic Scooter. The reason why I bought the scooter is because there is know what that I would ride for 1:30 to get to work covered in sweat and then spend the same amount of time riding home.

I like riding the bike around but whenever I have to go shopping or god any long distances my scooter saves me from having to catch a taxi :-)

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I tried cycling fast (as I do here in London commuting every day) when I was in Beijing and I just scared everyone to death; especially the cyclists who like to cycle the wrong way up cycle paths. At night. In the dark. With no lights. Ninja cyclists.

Beijing isn't a place for fast cycling, although the scooters might change that if they become popular.

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Beijing isn't a place for fast cycling

Yes, this is not recommend! Drivers don't expect bikes to be going fast either, so it's actually quite dangerous. If you go too fast it messes up the car/bike yielding formula and there may not be enough time/distance for you to avoid a collision.

although the scooters might change that if they become popular.

Scooters are dangerous too - I've nearly taken out a couple of them myself!

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  • 8 months later...

electric scooters and bikes were hugely popular when I was in hangzhou a year ago... I looked into them a bit, but never bought one... One bad thing I remember is...their breaks go bad and make a terrible, terrible screech--which you hear a lot in Hangzhou.

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