The Chinese factory which has long made the famous Flying Pigeon brand of sit-up-and-scan bikes is one of the beneficiaries of a surge in business thanks to orders from a new breed of app-based bike-share systems. The factory is now churning out 450,000 machines a year for bike-sharing start-ups such as Ofo.
Ofo is also expanding overseas (it is to soon drop 500 of its bike-share bikes in Cambridge) but it – and others – are fighting to gain marketshare in Chinese cities clogged with cars. The use of bicycles – once thought to be on the way out for China's upwardly-mobile citizens – is now very much back, especially with students.
China Daily is reporting that fleets of brightly-coloured bike-share bikes are becoming ubiquitous in Chinese cities.
Beijing-based BigData Research has revealed that the number of shared bicycle users exceeded 18 million as of the end of 2016, and is expected to approach 50 million by the end of this year.
Flying Pigeon executive Zhang Jinying said: "When there were no bike-sharing services, we had peak and slack seasons in production. But now, we are busy all year round."
Four Flying Pigeon factories are scheduled to produce 900,000 bikes in March, with half of the orders from bike-sharing start-ups, Zhang said.
And now the Chinese government – worried about the linked problems of traffic congestion and air pollution – wants to encourage the bike-share ecosystem and is backing both the bike factories and the growing number of bike-share providers.
China's Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng said in late February that bike sharing is innovative and should be encouraged and supported, reported China Daily.