Upon arriving in Nanjing, I decided to get around the city by bike. After getting used to the transportation jungle that is characteristic of Chinese cities, I was instantly more than grateful to be able to cruise the city streets and get my errands done more efficiently. But as I soon discovered, biking in Nanjing doesn't come without its own set of challenges. Knowing some inside tips about the city's biking culture can go a far way, especially if you intend to make your bicycle your number one mode of transport. So, what is available for those hardcore bike lovers in Nanjing in terms of routes, equipment, and interest groups?
Where to buy your bikes and equipment
The most reasonably priced new bikes and equipment can be found on Jinxianghe Lu, east of Gulou Circle. At the corner of Hankou Lu and Jinxianghe Lu, you can find one of the better-known bike stores: Mountain Heart Mountain Bikes. This store has a variety of pre-constructed bikes, specialty frames (custom bikes), and a very large variety of mountain bike accessories. For non-Chinese-speaking expats, the staff and technicians speak English. Mountain Heart Mountain Bikes is also the current centre of the Nanjing recreational biking community. The store has a website where the social biking group posts their upcoming biking events. During the week, the destinations are usually nearby and within the Nanjing urban area. There are also long distance rides to Hangzhou, Yangzhou and other areas within the Southeast of China.
Jinxianghe Lu also has a few other bike and outdoors sporting stores along the road that sell related items for a cheaper price, however Mountain Heart has the widest selection of bikes and biking accessories. In addition to the stores along Jinxianghe Lu, there are a few branches of Decathlon, the French sporting goods store. For the widest selection of all sporting goods and for good quality, this chain is your best bet. Cheap, second hand bikes are available along Mochou Lu near Chaotian Gong/ Chao Tian palace, but the quality and origin of these bikes are questionable, and there is no place in the area for any other equipment you may need as a recreational bike rider.
Repairmen for bicycles can be found anywhere around the city (especially around Nanjing University), and while the technicians at Mountain Heart recommend to only get your bike fixed at street stalls if your bike is of good quality, in my personal experience the street stalls have been good for any type of repair on any bike, and their services were very quick and cheap.
Mountain Heart Mountain Bikes (山地情怀车行)View In Map
Add:2 6-8 Jinxianghe Lu, Xuanwu District, Nanjing
Tel: 025 8361 0003
Opening hours: 10:00-20:00
Good places for a bike trip
Nanjing can be a hectic city to ride a bike in, much like any other large city in China, but it is not lacking in cycle-friendly places for recreational riders. For a day long trip, the Pearl Spring (珍珠泉，Zhen Zhu Quan) is an undiscovered area in Pukou, a suburb of Nanjing. The ride to the lake area takes approximately three to four hours with breaks. The lake area itself is a great place for a picnic and a quick walk around an unpopulated part of Jiangsu province.
In Nanjing, the Purple Mountains (紫金山/Zi Jin Shan) and Qin Huai River area (秦淮河/Qin Huai He) are easily accessible and within the city limits. The Qin Huai River has a bike path along the river which provides a great scenic view for bike riders. Another interesting destination 70km away from Nanjing is Danyang (丹阳). This county level city is the home of some interesting Chinese folklore as well as beautiful traditional scenery. Other areas of interest include Mufu Mountain (幕府山/Mufu Shan), Sijin Mountain (四进山/Sijin Shan), Qinghai River (青海河/Qinghai He), and Southern Anui District (皖南地区/Wan Nan Di Qu).
Supplies, prices, and other considerations for biking in Nanjing
For hardcore cyclists who love to see China from the seat of their bike, Mountain Heart staff recommend the following accessories: a helmet, gloves, air pump, bike light, and protective glasses. In addition to these items, I would recommend a side mirror, and a check-up on the breaks, to make sure they're at their prime. This last point can't be stressed enough, as urban cycling can become extremely dangerous with even mediocre breaks.
Bicycles have a wide range of prices depending on their quality. Second hand biked can start at around 150 RMB and go up from there. Bikes at Mountain Heart Mountain Bikes can start at 1,500 RMB, and for higher “mid-range” bikes the price can range from 7,000-8,000 RMB. Cheaper bikes are available and can be quite adequate depending on your needs.
Other items to be aware of while biking are that to be a successful urban biker, especially in Nanjing, one must have great peripheral vision and reflexes. A good, flexible attitude is also a necessity. But most of all, biking in Nanjing is an adventure filled with the opportunity to gather new experiences and overcome your own fears.
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Keywords: biking in Nanjing summer activities Nanjing how to get around Nanjing buying a bicycle in Nanjing biking gear Nanjing
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