Chengdu’s Fixed Gear Bikes: Interview with Jacob of Natooke Cycles

If you ride a bicycle around Chengdu, you might have noticed an exploding trend: fixed gear bicycles. Known for their minimal aesthetic and bright colors, these hip road bikes are appearing everywhere around the city.

What makes fixed gear bikes so popular in Chengdu and what does the future hold for Chengdu’s fixed gear cyclist community? I sought out Jacob Klink, American entrepreneur and bicycle enthusiast to answer my questions as he prepares to open the first foreigner-owned fixed gear bicycle shop in Chengdu.

Interview with Jacob of Natooke Cycles

CL: Who are you, and what brings you to Chengdu?

I’m Jacob Klink, originally of Albuquerque, New Mexico and my business partner is Larry Adamson. He’s from Lewiston in Upstate New York. We both recently moved to Chengdu from Beijing where we formerly worked.

Chengdu attracted us with its superior ride-ability: it’s near mountains; the weather is great; never too hot, never too cold; the atmosphere and the people are wonderful.

After visiting a few times we both couldn’t deny the fact we wanted to be here.

Jacob of Natooke Chengdu Fixed Gear Bicycle Shop
Larry of Natooke Chengdu Fixed Gear Bicycle Shop

CL: For those who don’t know, what is a fixed gear bicycle and why would someone want to purchase or ride one around the city?

Fixed gear is a type of bicycle that has a peculiarity. The first bicycles as we know them today were fixed gears. The cog on the rear wheel has no mechanism built in it to allow a rider to coast. This means if the rear wheel moves and the bicycle is in motion, the pedals will continue to move regardless of any effort to coast. A rider can either resist the motion of the pedals to slow movement or with a little skill and some muscle, lock the rear wheel entirely, causing the bicycle’s rear wheel to skid, helping bring a rider to a stop. Since the wheel and pedals move in unison, you can also perform a few interesting tricks. One such trick, a track stand, allows a rider to balance at a standstill. With a little more practice you can also ride a fixed gear backwards, but we don’t recommend using this trick in traffic.

There’s a million reasons why riding a “fixie” (slang for fixed gear) in Chengdu makes sense. One is simplicity. There are no complex gears, cables, shifters, or coasting mechanisms that need regular greasing, lubing, adjusting or replacing. Another is that for a city with no long or steep hills, gears aren’t really necessary. They’re convenient. No spending time or money for taxis or buses or having to figure out or explain how to go somewhere. They’re light and versatile. You can easily tailor it to your style and comfort. It’s a low impact exercise you can squeeze into any part of your day.

We could go on, but our favorite part about riding a fixed gear in any city is that it’s extremely fun.

Chengdu attracted us with its superior ride-ability: it’s near mountains; the weather is great; never too hot, never too cold; the atmosphere and the people are wonderful.
Natooke Chengdu Crew
Bicycle enthusiasts Jacob and Larry of Natooke Chengdu Fixed Gear Bicycle Shop

CL: I understand you’re knowledgeable about the Beijing cyclist scene – how does that compare to Chengdu?

There are some similarities in that there’s a growing group of younger people interested in cycling and seeing it develop. Beijing is a little bit more hip to trends, but the vast majority of cyclists are very utilitarian and see it as a Point A to B machine. This unfortunately means besides recreational enthusiasts more people would ditch the bike for a car. Chengdu’s cycling scene seems to have a longer standing tradition of supporting cycling as a recreational and social activity. This is something we’re super excited to be a part of.

CL: Is Chengdu conducive to cyclists? How does it compare to other locations in China or around the world?

Chengdu is very conducive for cycling. Unlike a lot of other cities in China that are developing rapidly, Chengdu has remained rather dense, meaning getting around is much quicker and easier on a bike, especially during rush hours. Additionally, unlike a number of other Chinese cities it still takes cycling into consideration with its development. There are bike lanes and routes almost everywhere, and where there aren’t, it’s easy to find another convenient route. A small hiccup is the amount of construction going on for the metro system and roads, but construction on that scale makes any mode of transportation hazardous.

As I said we were originally attracted to Chengdu because it’s a great place to ride. For getting around, it’s an easy city to figure out and fun to explore by bike, once you learn the flow of traffic it’s rather safe. If you want a reprieve from the pressures of Chengdu city life, it’s quick and easy to get into the countryside or mountains.

Night cycling
Night cycling in China

The only challenge in riding in Chengdu has been dealing with traffic enforcement. In that respect Beijing was pretty nice. The pace of traffic there was relaxed and usually people were very considerate of cyclists. Here it seems as though traffic management turns a blind eye to aggressive and inane driving while being curt with cyclists as a way to streamline the flow of traffic. What this means is that where some schmo is allowed to perform an impossible turn in an intersection and block traffic for kilometers in both directions, you’ll be more likely to land a ticket if you’re watching this unfold while waiting in an area not designated for bicycle traffic.

CL: What got you hooked on fixed gear bicycles?

When I started university I realized quickly that riding a 10-speed around was way more convenient than trying to skateboard everywhere. Pretty quickly I realized you really could ride a bike anywhere. The fact that I could maintain my bike, ride all over and not have to drive places was just too cool. When I wrecked it, I needed a quick and easy way to get a new bicycle. A friend of mine had told me about these bikes that only had one gear and no brakes. I thought it was strange and dangerous, but we built one and within no time I had my 10-speed’s replacement. After that I found myself riding more and more, spending more time with other riders. Soon I was living and breathing bicycles. I came to China not really thinking about my love for riding bikes, but my first year without a bicycle was a nuisance.

In Beijing I found a shop I could spend my time at and help out to earn a free rental. It was at this shop that I ran into Larry, my business partner. He was getting his first fixed gear after years of deliberating himself. He’d found much of the same joys and freedoms in riding a bicycle and had heard plenty of it. After doing a good deal of riding and touring in China, he finally took the bait and got one. Eventually we found ourselves both engrossed in the community and events happening in Beijing with a common interest in riding bikes. Everything, from tours through the mountains to hosting races, we were in on it. I was keen on getting a bicycle polo club going in Beijing and after that it was every weekend spent with the same old folks, playing an unusual sport with regulars and teaching new comers how to ride a bike and swing a mallet at a ball at the same time.

The reality is, we love bikes and fixed gears are at the heart of it so it’s only natural we try to spread the love.

CL: Fixed gear bikes are becoming more and more popular in Chengdu. Why do you think that is?

It’s not hard to see how rapidly China is developing. It’s not just infrastructure and standards of living, but everything. This even includes how people spend their time on recreation. China is internationally known as the bicycle kingdom so it only makes sense that one of the more popular and easily accessible activities for people here is cycling. And it’s not just here that cycling is seeing a boom.

It’s become cool and logical to ride a bicycle.
Chengdu bicycling
Fixed gear bicycles: equally effective in and outside of Chengdu

Around the world, more and more people are seeing the benefits of riding a bike. Bicycle culture is having somewhat of a renaissance in that all of a sudden it’s become cool and logical to ride a bicycle. The industry around it has also taken up the call and developed a number of new products to make bicycling more functional and stylish. Naturally, when you got a world glued together by the internet it only makes sense that trends change hands quicker than a rabbit procreates.

Fixed gear sits in a special position. People everywhere are happy to shrug some of the complexities of modern life. And the fixed gear, a machine that’s hardly changed in over a hundred years, is at the heart of it. You can feel it here too. Chengdu’s got its eye on the future and it’s finger on the pulse, and we feel like it will take to fixed gears like a kid in a candy store. The culture and history to explore the world by bike has a good foundation here and fixed gear is a fun way to breathe new life into something old-fashioned.

CL: How do you envision the cyclist community in Chengdu changing over the coming five years?

Our big hope it to facilitate the unification of all stripes of cycling. Sure, fixed gear is our stint and we think it’s a great way for people to get into bicycles, but we want to see people come together in the community and share the experience of riding bikes for the pure joy of doing so.

Another big part of this is seeing the community here develop and work to protect its interests. This is everything from seeing to it that motorists are held accountable for behaving on the roads as well or keeping the city from neglecting to take bicycles into consideration with its transportation. Living in Chengdu and seeing the pace of development here it’s really hard to say, so keeping these things in mind are important. Positivity can only breed more of the same.

These might come off as bright-eyed or lofty hopes, but the more people out riding and enjoying their time astride two wheels and preserving this interest, the happier we’ll be.

CL: Are there any practices, mantras, or rituals that are unique to the fixed gear community? To the casual observer, fixed gear bikes are the colorful ones – why is that?

A common practice amongst fixed gear riders that you’ll notice is the ride that doesn’t really go anywhere. Part of the fun of fixed gear is the social aspect. Often times rides will be organized to meet at a specific place, or go to a specific place then seem to stop. Most would imagine a ride as movement along a distinct course, but for fixie riders, sometimes it’s simply the experience revolving around the bike.

An easy way to spot this is to look for a large group of fixed gear riders in a single location standing over their bikes. Some may be riding there bikes, but be at a standstill, gently rocking back and forth in a trackstand. Some may even be practicing a method of slowing to a stop in an extended skid. As I said you’d expect them to go somewhere, but part of the fun is shooting the breeze, talking about bikes or other miscellaneous things and just soaking up the moment with friends, bound by your love of the bike.

Now as for colorful bikes, that’s up for debate. Some would say that as a postmodern society driven by narcissism that eye-catching, rainbow-colored iterations of one of its oldest functional industrial designs is an indication that culture has hit its critical mass. We however think that fixies, relatively simple and easy to build, just beg to be made bright. When everyone around you is riding one, it makes it easy to pick out. If it’s stolen, a friend will notice it right away. Usually it can also say something about someone’s character, or style, or interests. Like clothing. Just think of it like an enormous, highly useful accessory.

CL: How do you prevent your bike from being stolen in China?

The easiest way to prevent bike theft is to lock it, at all times. Sounds intuitive, but a quick trip into a convenience store and some false confidence can ruin your day.

Use a sturdy lock. Invest in a durable steel lock, U-locks (also known as D-locks) most easily render a potential thief disinclined. Otherwise a thick steel link chain functions well. Cable locks are reasonable for short-term use or in situations where you have a constant eye on your beloved bicycle. Go for locks that require a key before using a combination style.

Simply having a lock isn’t good enough. Thieves can be clever. Make sure you use your lock to affix your bike to something stable. Be certain that sign pole you’re using can’t be lifted out of the ground. See that the bike rack you’re about to use is actually bolted down or is made of material that’s as tough, if not tougher than your lock. Lock any part that could be easily removed. Spent a lot on a saddle? It takes a pocket-sized wrench and one minute to make it disappear. Fancy race wheels feel so smooth to ride on, right? The bolt and lever keeping them attached to your front fork takes 5 seconds and a pair of opposable thumbs to remove.

Furthermore, mind your schedule. This may seem strange, but the best cleverest thieves can do their work in broad daylight. If you plan to leave your bike locked up regularly for long periods of time in the same area, it’s quite easy for someone to figure out your schedule and know exactly when they need to come with the right tools to take your bike. What this means? At night, bring your bike into your apartment. At work, if you can’t bring your bike in, occasionally switch up where you lock your it.

Finally, sometimes there’s no way to prevent the misfortune of having someone make off with your bicycle. Just because it’s stolen, doesn’t mean it’s gone. I’ve handled a friends bike moments after it’s been stolen, only to let the thief slip away with it due to inadequate evidence of ownership. So, remember, with a bicycle, if you’re concerned about theft, keep your receipts and serial information. Further measures you can take include stashing a picture of yourself or an ID number in the bicycle frame or handlebars. Losing a bike once is cruel. Losing that same bike twice is way harsher.

Remember, investing in a lock isn’t like spending money on a paperweight. It’s insurance. It prevents you from having to deal with the heartache and financial burden of buying another bicycle. If you spend enough time riding your bicycle around you take for granted how close you become with it. Having it torn from your life because of carelessness just plain sucks.

CL: Tell me about your shop. When will it open, where will it be, and what can people expect to find there?

Natooke Chengdu
The Natooke Chengdu shop under renovation

Our shop is called Natooke. The original Natooke is located in Beijing and owned by the lovely and talented Ines Brunn. Her shop is actually the place Larry and I first used as a center for riding fixed gears and being a part of the cycling community. It was in that environment we felt inspired to take the example she’s provided, a bicycle shop that functions as a hub for all types of bicycle enthusiasts, and bring it to the cycling minded Chengdu. We’re working with her closely and should be up and selling bikes within a few weeks.

We should mention, a big part of Natooke is working with our customers to create a unique bike. From the ground up we offer a selection of parts to help you build a bike that fits your style and expectations while offering our wisdom and experience to answer any questions you got.

You’ll happily find us whiling away the time preparing our shop located on Xiao Tian Dong Jie 3 Hao Fu 26 Hao (????3??26?). Although our initial opening may seem a little quiet, we are already planning a grander opening ceremony of sorts that of course will be all about the bike so expect that in November.

If you can’t wait til then and are looking for something new to do, we also play hardcourt bike polo Sunday afternoons at 5 at the north end of Sichuan Gymnasium (??????). We bring the mallets and ball, so don’t be afraid to stop by and check it out.

A big thing for us in creating our shop is making a space that’s plenty comfortable for friends and strangers alike to come and relax. We hope that anyone, whether they’re big on fixed gear or not, will stop in for a chat and enjoy the Chengdu vibe we hope to perpetuate in this iteration of Natooke.

Bike Polo
Bike polo: a team sport similar to traditional polo, except that bicycles are used instead of horses

CL: Anything else you’d like to say to someone interested in fixed gear cycling in Chengdu?

Fixed gear or not we hope you can pay us a visit. Regardless of how you feel about hip, single speed bicycles, we think you’ll find our shop a hub of cycling activity and help you in your journey, exploring Chengdu and China by bike.

And if you’re new to Chengdu and are less than confident riding around, be sure to check out Chengdu Living’s Psykling in Chengdu: A 5-Point Guide. You’ll quickly become a traffic guru and avoid any painful lessons.

Ride safe, ride smart. Thanks!

47 thoughts on “Chengdu’s Fixed Gear Bikes: Interview with Jacob of Natooke Cycles”

  1. How is Natooke pronounced? like Na-too-ky?

    Anyways being new to the fixie scene, I’m excited to see shops opening up nearby. I expect to be coming by for upgrades or to just hang out soon.

    Riding a fixed gear has enlightened me about the depth of philosophy and technique to pedaling on 2 wheels.

    Most importantly, it’s made transportation more fun, cool, and interesting.

  2. Most similar phonetics are Nuh(as in nut) – too (to, two, too) – key (like the metal thing you use to open doors). I probably could explain this all more clearly.

    Honestly super excited to have people by, loiterers and shop rats included. Near done with renovations and the slow trickle of goods is sure to increase soon enough. We’ll be sure to let folks know when our bike shop has got some bikes.

  3. The cheapest buildup we offer is a hair over 2900. As far as I understand the other shops in town are about the same. All I can say is that unless you’re mechanically inclined or don’t expect to ride your bike at all, try to look for one above 2k. Below that is a dark and dangerous world of inferior quality.

    • I’m from Albuquerque, N.M. and know Jacob well. Congratulations! I just want people to know that you are very knowledgable about bikes, extremely honest, dependable, hard-working, sensitive to individual needs and will give them a quality product. He’s also fun and interesting to be around. Look no further – Jacob’s the best. Definitely go see him.

    • Jacob, I want to high school with your Aunt Betty. I found your post while researching an article about your uncle, Joe Corazzi, and his latest trouble with the law (not sure you know anything about it, but something to do with the U.S. SEC). Joe and his gang, which included Mike Abraham, Frank Coons, Jimmy Franchini and Sonny Johnson were all contemporaries. I now live in Hawaii, my wife is a champion Olympic-distance triathlete, and we’re lovin’ it here. Looks like you’re a long way from ‘home’, but having fun, too! Be well Jacob. Aloha, John M.

    • That bit was enlightening for me also and explains a lot. I know a few people with inexpensive fixed gear bikes but I notice that they don’t last. Although at this point my greatest concern is in safeguarding the bicycle against would-be thieves.

  4. Hope that you are going to run some courses/info sesh/workshops on fixie riding skills. The neon clad hipsters are hitting the streets in droves, very few possess adequate agility and riding skills necessary to keep themselves and other cyclists safe.

    Personally I think they are called “track” bikes for a reason as they were developed for indoor racing around tracks without obstacles and traffic. Yet I see the allure of the simplicity (in terms of components) and challenges of skill which attract experienced riders. At the end of the day I’m happy to see more people embracing cycling but I’d choose a nice Surly single speed or an early 90’s 10-speed Miyata over a fixie if I was riding the roads.

    • Bikes like music, are no so easily defined by the names applied to them. The first modern style, 2-wheel bicycles that used a chain to connect the pedal force applied at the crank to the rear wheel, were fixed gears. Track cycling is one of the first forms of races and at the time owed a lot of popularity to the fact that it made a fine spectator. Madison Square Garden in fact was originally built to house a track and staged the top international track cyclists.

      However, this doesn’t mean other bikes weren’t fixed gears also. The first Tour de France was done on fixed gears. The newspaper mogul Henri Desgrange designed the race as a test of will, to see who could ride thousands of kilometers over mountains on a single gear (granted, many races used what we now call a flip/flop hub with a gear on each side). He imagined no one would be able to finish.

      When I first started riding fixed gear several years ago, one of the old shopheads in Albuquerque was wondering what the boom in fixie sales was for. He couldn’t fathom the fact that all these people buying them weren’t planning on riding fixed wheels for winter training with the hope of starting in on the summer road race series. There’s no track in Albuquerque, but people racers had long used a fixed wheel for putting in miles as they say during off season months.

      Alas, certain bicycle frames are better designed for use as a fixed gear in the street. Track bikes were originally popular because track racing was not therefore making them more readily available for cheap (and at a quality that would outmatch say, a new mountain bike at the time). Nowadays the same can’t necessarily be said, but due to the simple lack of additional componentry, fixed gears are understandably cheaper.

      We know 3000 RMB is hard to swallow when you maybe use your bike to go to the market down the street twice a week. But for someone who enjoys riding and finds themselves doing so more and more, and wants to invest in the next step up, buying something simple and functional that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you don’t know how to ding nor blow, then a fixie is a fine option. Singlespeed to boot also, but for those who’ve made the leap understand the excitement of learning to ride a fixed gear. It’s different. Not in a life-transforming way, but enough so that it’s interesting and makes riding all the more exciting.

      I’m no a big spender myself. I’ve owned bikes for every imaginable variety of cycling and have never allowed myself to spend more than I felt necessary for my ability or pocket. We could easily sell you a 20,000 RMB world-class track bike, but only if it’s to your flavor. Is there a quality difference? Yes. Will you feel faster? Yes. Will spending that money on a bicycle change you in any way as an appreciative cyclist? Nope. That’s your duty, not the bike’s.

      So for what it’s worth we’re happy to stand by our price. We understand it’s an investment, but to us and for you we feel it’s entirely worth it. Not to mention you get to choose every piece of it to make it your own at a cost below most foreign brands without compromising quality.

      Finally, just to clarify, Natooke Chengdu is at a start but we’re really hoping to expand outwards and have more bicycles (not necessarily fixies and track bikes) to suit everyone’s style.

      Sorry for the history lesson but a bike is a bike and I’ll love them and explain them all the same.

  5. Don’t mind me, I’m a mountain biking TROLL from New England.

    My personal opinion is that the fixed gear bike is currently international fashion statement wheeling its way worldwide.

    However I do wish you luck with your business and hope that it spurs the vitality of the biking scene in CD.

    • I think there’s no question that it’s already beginning to have an influence. Yesterday after arriving from Beijing I met Justin at the Sichuan Gymnasium and there were 5-6 fixed gear riders playing bike polo. Never seen that before in Chengdu!

  6. Before landing in China I spent all my two wheeled time in the mountains (single speed, aka the fixed gear of mountain biking) or playing polo. I hardly rode fixed anymore save the occasional street sprint.

    Getting back into it here and seeing everyone else buy into the fashion reminded me how easy it was to convert cycling 新来的 into full blown enthusiasts.

    All that aside we’re hoping to expand the line into MTB pretty quick. But I suspects already hint they’ll be a good deal more expensive than the average fixie we send out the door.

    Finally! Less Internet chatter, more polo. If you got the time Sundays at 5 come out!

    • I tend to agree with Elias on fixies but I’m just a mountain biking troll from the northwest. But in all seriousness very cool you guys are spreading the bike love out here.

      Bike Polo sounds awesome, we used to play that after cyclo-cross practices when I was in college. Super good time!

      • I take it you played grass polo. When mtb became popular in the 80s it picked up favor and that lasted somewhat through the 90s and up til today.

        The variety we play, ‘hardcourt’, is a variety that sprung up about 15 years ago or so in the Northwest of the States.

        There’s still some dedicated grass polo players (Phoenix has a club and they’re best players are a family that spans three generations), but mostly people are into hardcourt.

        Rules are about the same but it’s a bit easier to get into. You should come check it out.

  7. We actually got a big shipment in yesterday. Currently we have most everything to build a bike as you’d like.

    Quantity is a bit limited on certain things but if we haven’t got it we can order it up in a timely fashion.

    Swing by and check it out and keep an ear to the ground for a little opening party.

  8. fixies are slowly ruling Chengdu but it won’t go pass winter. I’d love to spend 2500+ kuai on a fixie but that wouldn’t make much sense if I could just throw that on a Merida/Giant to get out of Chengdu and head to the mountains. Nonetheless, good luck guys. You got at least 3 fixie shop competitors here and a lot of them are night ridazz.

    • Slowly but surely. Bicycles are seasonal for sure, no matter the kind. We live by the bike though and use them rain or shine, hot or cold, flats or mountains. And if it’s particularly nasty you’ll find us riding rollers at our shop.

      We’ve currently got 2 similarly sized competitors and apparently 4 other smaller shops — these opened up within the past month. Can’t really say what kind of business our competitors do, but we sell our bikes with a custom fit and style with the shop support to help you feel good on the bike at all times.

      I tried to capture this idea in the interview, but fixed gear/singlespeed bikes for an urban setting like Chengdu are simple, dependable, versatile and customizable at a price where many entry-level mountain bikes can’t be. Although a good many of the people associated with our shop claim a mountain bike heritage (somewhat guilty myself), getting to the mountains can be tough for someone who just wants the ease of getting a good ride in between work and home, on the way to the store, etc.

      Now as for a dependable big box brand to get a mountain bike my money would be in Giant any day. Other foreign brands are too expensive or hard access. Plus if you go to one of their larger locations they’ve got a huge selection and generally great service. Merida for me is too much like Battle or Forever and just push out cheap flashy looking junk without any kind of consistent dependable service to support you as you ride the thing into the ground.

      And if you ever want to ride (even in the winter), keep an ear to the ground for rides we host, and no we don’t discriminate by the type of bicycle!

      Thanks for the well wishes!

      • The love for fixie is hidden not too deep in my heart. I’m just afraid I might cruise too fast down the road and end up stuck on the neverstopping buses. Looking forward for the bike rides.

  9. good article. they seem like nice guys. larry in particular ‘s got cyclist calves (mine are implants)…I’ll stick with my mountain bike, but i’m happy to see these hipster bikes around town: less chance of mine being stolen!

  10. @Jacob: gotta disagree tho: been a merida man for the last 5 years and been very happy. They’re pretty much the same level as Giant (both Taiwanese) but ive found them to be reliable and their after-sales service has been good in my experience. Their entry-to-mid-level bikes represent decent value for money. Dude, they are totally NOT Battle or Forever level (or even the shitty Rockriders sold at Decathlon). Anyway, good luck with the shop!

    • What I’ve found to be perhaps the greatest benefit of getting a bicycle from Natooke is that the shop is accessible and always available. I drop by most Sundays and clean my bike, ask questions, get anything adjusted if required, and this makes a huge difference to me. I just switched from single speed to fixed a few weeks ago and having attentive pros in a shop makes everything much easier.

      I can understand the need for a mountain bike on hills, though. I rode to Sanshengxiang a few weeks ago and even though there was only a single hill to climb, it’s exhausting without gears.

  11. Hi all. I just found this forum/article after checking out Sascha’s bike the other evening in the Bookworm – and very nice it is too….without being fluorescent green. I ride about 20-30km a day on my trusty Giant ATX 750 partly as a utility to get to work and partly to keep the stomach at bay… so its now got about 10,000km under its belt after 2 years. And I’m Scottish so still rolling through the winter 🙂 Anyway I’ve been examining the fixie principle for a while as I’m now fit enough to accelerate the MTB without changing gear much. So now that I know where to find you I’ll come round… But a question for the forum: what about brakes guys? I have discs with a bigger one on the front because basically Chengdu residents are highly unpredictable – whether drivers or pedestrians. So how about a fixie with a big front disc too? Much better stopping power than traditional v-blocks. Or too uncool? I found the Redline Urbis 2013 in the US but nothing like that here. Appreciate any thoughts. I’ve seen Premium Rush too and I dont agree with the idea of simplicity = survival in big traffic…. Thanks.

    • Hey Graham,

      Fixies are perfect for Chengdu seeing as the city is entirely flat and paved, so if you’re riding in the city I think there is nothing better. A disc break on a fixed gear bike is possible but highly unconventional and probably unnecessary. It doesn’t break any fashion rules as far as I know, but fixed gear bikes in Chengdu routinely break fashion rules so I wouldn’t be concerned about that!

      When I got my bike from Natooke it had front and rear brakes but I eventually took the rear brake off because it didn’t provide much stopping power at all. The front brake is essential though. The argument in Premium Rush that brakes are dangerous is of course ridiculous. If Jacob doesn’t come in here and answer you directly (or even if he does) it’s probably a good idea to swing by their shop and say hello. They’re super friendly and can answer any questions you might have. Here’s some info on how to find the shop: Natooke Chengdu

      • Thanks Charlie. Much appreciated. I definitely will visit the shop soon for a chat and explore options. And look forward to a reply. To help enlighten any others reading I do have a tendency to wait until the last minute before braking in case I can keep rolling, and I find that discs (primarily the front of course)really stop incredibly quickly compared with conventional brakes and also minimise the tendency to somersault… which is really not good… 🙂 Therefore my disc setup is essential for me at least – and 100% reliable in my experience… had one or two pivot bolts pop out or shear on conventional systems in the past and that results in pain and misery usually…. Now I only have to worry about who’s going to tail end me….

        • Charlie’s answered your question spot on. He also predicted I would chime in. That’s what we call being on top of it.

          We’ve done a fixed gear with a front disk before. It’s possible, but the degree of customization to make it happen drives the bill up. In the instance we did it the client/friend/rider had very detailed specifications as to what he wanted and we helped him actualize it.

          Best would be to swing by and chat. Best to get a handle of things firsthand!

          All the info you need to find us is most readily available on Chengdu Places. Or feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

  12. Hey Hey,

    this is a bit off topic, but i’m looking at doing some cycling ~2 weeks this May around Chengdu and surrounding areas and figured you guys might be able to give me some advice. I know it rains a decent amount there, any clue if that time of the year is good for going on a multi day trip or is the weather too wet? I’m mainly looking at flying into Chengdu and heading west.

    Any advice would be really helpful.

    • heading west toward Tibet is a good one. Road can be a pain with all the construction. Don’t know if this year will be that humid but last year around April-May was amazing and I took a three day trip from Chengdu to Ya’an. I’d suggest Xinduqiao or to Niubeishan for at least 4 days easy ride and a bus back if you want. Depends on time.

  13. I wanted to share the trailer for Deux North’s newest video with you:

    If you haven’t heard of us, Deux North is a cycling brand started by brothers James and Dylan Nord. We are out to tell a different kind of story. Using primarily short documentary films these stories aren’t just about racing or riding your bike; they are about the passion behind the obsession, the freedom felt while riding, and the things we learn about ourselves and others in the saddle. It’s the kind of story you have to go out and create, or HUNT.

    This trailer follows Hunt 3, a third in a series of ten trips around the world that involve beautiful roads, fast bikes, surprising people, and a natural setting that’s quite different from the brand’s home in New York City. This particular trip took a group of 5 riders, or hunters, to upstate New York. Setting up camp outside the small town of Boonville, we split time documenting the local lumberjack competition and hundreds of miles of gorgeous riding.

    we’d love if you’d give us a minute of your time to watch, share the video, or send your thoughts.


    Tailwinds –

  14. Dear Natooke Cycles,

    Read this post, good stuff.

    Question, any interest in opening a shop in Tianjin?

    Will the recent restriction on new car registrations and driving restrictions based on plate number coming in March, the bike market is getting bigger by the moment in Tianjin. Additionally, being virtually dead flat everywhere, Tianjin has one of the biggest bike populations in China.

    Please contact me if interested! Would love to talk more…

    info (at)

  15. I suppose everyone expects bicycles to be all over China, but living in China (not in Chengdu) I haven’t found that to be the case. Regardless, it’s amazing that Natooke has established itself in Chengdu as well as in Beijing, cultivating real culture. Good interview.

  16. Dear Jacob,

    Hi Jacob, my name Vera from Jakarta (Indonesia). I’m very enthusiasm about your opinion and also very proud about your knowledge that ride a bike is can fix quality of someone’s life.
    To be honest that i and my team have a project to overcome problems of transportation and congestion in this capital city now.
    I hope that someday I can go to chengdu to visit your bike shop and talk to you about bicycle further.



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