Tag Archives: scooters

eBikes on Boai Road

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The salesman pounded the chassis with a steel bar. For all his fury, I was surprised that the long, distended ash didn’t drop off his cigarette. He then rattled off a few excited words in Chinese before dropping bar and letting it clang against the floor for dramatic effect. My Chinese friend gave me a broad smile and translated, “He wants you to know the body is very strong. Very resilient.” I took a closer look, and she was right, the body showed no signs of scratching or cracking. This was the very first shop and the first sales pitch while hunting for an eBike. To use a word I hate, I knew the afternoon was about to get interesting. (I hate the word, by the way, because my university students abuse it and use it like a crutch when speaking English.)

This was also two years ago, and it was my first ride I was searching for. I am currently on my second. My Chinese friend had come along for two reasons: argue the price down and ask a very specific question. I wanted an electric scooter that had enough battery life to be able to go from Wujin’s College Town to Metro in the north of Changzhou. I got exactly that. Only, the resulting CenBird had to be charged after each time I made the trip like that. Sure, I outgrew the vehicle, but it served its purpose nicely for awhile.

I mention because, well, there are many places to buy eBikes in Changzhou. Finding the right place requires a little research and a little help. But, there are some places where you can window shopping. 博爱路, downtown, is one such place. There are many shops next to each other from CenBird to NKNY and more. However, these are mostly just show rooms. Many of the brands in the area might not be equipped for maintenance. For example, when I returned to the CenBird shop to get a tire replaced, I was told to follow somebody down the road to a separate location near Hongmei Park. Apparently, that was where all the replacement parts were sold.

The point, however, is this. If you live downtown, and you are thinking of buying your first eBike. The shops on Boai are a good place to look. As for me, I bought my first one there. I had never ridden one before, and I had to ride my new purchase all the way back to Wujin and the College Town. Talk about trial by fire in Changzhou traffic.

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Window Shopping at a Tianning eBike Market

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People usually say you always fondly remember your first car. The same could be said for China and your first electronic vehicle. The new sense of freedom is immeasurable — especially when you are no longer sweating to death on a crowded BRT bus during summer. The other thing revolves around not having to buy gas. It’s a big deal if you’re an American and you’re used to having to budget for such things.

My first eBike was a 60 volt scooter. It largely got me where I wanted to go, but it the more I got to know the city, the more limiting this bike became. If I was going slowly, I could get from Wujin’s college town to Xinbei and back. However, the battery would be dead after the return trip. Essentially, I could only go 30 kilometers before I had to turn around.  After awhile, that became really limiting, and I started to pondering getting a new ride.

At first, I thought seriously about getting a motorcycle — even if were to burn a fossil fuel. However, the more I asked around, the more of a pain they sounded. Getting a motorcycle license is not exactly easy, they bikes are not cheap, and they are forbidden in certain parts of the city. A motorcycle can easily get impounded if you are in the wrong part of Changzhou at the wrong time of day.

This became a huge concern, especially since I actively thought about leaving Wujin for a job in Xinbei. Eventually, I gave up on motorcycles completely. I realized that if just bought an electric motorbike and paid for extra batteries, I could go the longer distrances I desperately wanted.  Good decision. I also took a job in Xinbei anyway, and a motorbike would have been out of the question.

Of course, this meant paying a lot of extra money than your standard to-the-store-and-back set of wheels. Such things are never bought on impulse, and usually you should have a Chinese friend in tow. However, I wasn’t sure as to what I actually wanted. I did a lot of window shopping, and I used the experience to practice asking questions in Chinese.

Of course, there are plenty of places to look for these vehicles. One of them is in Tianning, right over the bridge from Wujin’s Injoy Mall. The Auchan supermarket is also nearby. It’s a massive market of intersecting roads, and nearly everything can be bought here from bike models to parts and accessories. They even had plenty of specialty bikes with custom designs and decorations. I was specifically looking for 72 volt rides where extra batteries could easily be added.

In the end, I bought my second eBike for someplace other than here.  I opted for a smaller shop near my old employer in college town. Turns out, they had exactly the thing that I was looking for. However, if you are looking for buy a new ride, this huge market would be a good place to start — especially if you live in Hutang. It’s the same B1 stop as Auchan.

I would love to see a guy justify this purchase to his girlfriend or mother.
I would love to see a guy justify this purchase to his girlfriend or mother.