The story appears on

Page B1

December 17, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Wild ones rev up 2-wheelers for motorbike

WHILE Shanghai's congested streets are filled with scooters, electric bikes and motorcycles, an increasing number of serious - and well-heeled - bikers are revving up and hitting the open road or the race course.

From riding high-performance racing bikes to vintage cruisers, these motorcyclists want to leave Shanghai's crowded streets behind.

In recent years a number of clubs have sprung up. They include the Red Devils MC that predominately ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and the Black Bats and People's Riders Club who ride vintage bikes with sidecars, such as the Changjiang (Yangtze River) 750cc with sidecar (based on former Soviet Union army bikes that were based on BMWs).

The biggest local club for motorcycle racers is Club 51.

In addition, several informal groups organize longer rides.

The burgeoning racing hub is the all-season Shanghai Tianma Circuit in Songjiang District.

Three main racing events are held each year, attracting as many as 100 riders in major classes.

Racing varies from scooters to super-bike class, and racers can reach speeds of more than 140 kilometers per hour on the tight, demanding course.

Former American professional motorcycle racer Steven LaPlume has been involved in Shanghai motorcycle racing for the past six years.

He raced professionally in the 1980s, riding in the American Motorcycle Association's national racing circuit.

"The development has been phenomenal. When I came you couldn't even get a race organized, now there is a proper racing circuit throughout the year," says LaPlume.

A milestone for the racing community was the first Shanghai Festival of Speed and Culture held four years ago. Since then, it has gotten larger and is held three times a year, attracting crowds as large as 6,000.

Races are held for scooter, 125cc, 150cc Honda series and the open superbike classes.

LaPlume also manufacturers racing gear for the United States and has donated several racing suits and sets of knee guards to the Club 51 racers.

"It is just so important to get these kids off the street and on the track, I have seen too many people wrapped up on the street," he says.

The surge in interest hasn't gone unnoticed, with BMW, Harley-Davidson, Honda, and Italian brands Benelli and Ducati all opening outlets in Shanghai in recent years.

Ducati opened its doors in 2009, and along with Harley-Davidson aiming to use a brand club to build a community of riders.

Harley Owner's Club has a chapter in Shanghai and more than 1 million members around the world, while Ducati has its own international club that local Ducati fans will soon be able to join.

"The riding community is growing year by year and is developing its own sense of community," says Sara Falzolgher, Ducati's marketing manager for the Asia Pacific region.

Riding imported bikes is not only a status symbol for those seeking to indulge in expensive transport toys, but also a way of accessing a new social group.

"The next step for us in China is to form a club," Falzolgher says. "The club thing here is even more relevant because Chinese people have a strong sense of community and they don't like to see the bike as an individual tool, as in Italy, but as something that also makes them part of a larger group."

In Ducati's Jing'an District showroom, mostly wealthy young men are looking at various models of high performance bikes that start from 159,000 yuan (US$23,870) and have names like Monster 696.

"A typical customer isn't using this bike as a mode of transport, it is something that they might put in the garage next to their Maserati or Ferrari," the marketing manager says.

Along with forming a club, Ducati also offers safety training courses at the Tianma Circuit to help new owners handle the high-powered bikes.

While the latest high-tech bikes attract a certain type of rider, others look to the nostalgia of vintage motorcycles for their thrills, such as the Changjiang 750cc with sidecar.

A former local racer, Gary Chen, owns a number of bikes including two vintage sidecar bikes, a 125cc motorbike and a miniature motorbike or "monkey bike."

Chen used to race his monkey bike through the hair-raising bends at Tianma, but now enjoys longer rides in the countryside on his sidecar bike. Now that he has two sidecars, he likes to enjoy the scenery in Zhejang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, he says. He packs his gear in the sidecar, including inflatable kayak.

"We want to leave the city life for the countryside, the mountains and the sea," says Chen.

A year ago, Frenchman Thomas Chabrieres formed the People's Riders Club to cater for expatriate and Chinese sidecar bike owners. It now has 135 members and organizes rides and charity events. The club is a place where riders swap information and form a community.

"People's Riders Club aims to bring together people with a common passion and to create bridges between expatriate and Chinese society," he says.

"Sometimes it can be hard to mingle and meet here but if you have a common passion, it's much easier."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend