i live in chengdu, southwest china, and have been biking for a little bit here. i see there's not a lot of information on the chinese biking scene in english, so maybe this, and subsequent posts, could redress that somewhat.
first, any provincial capital will have loads of decent bike shops, run by bikers, stocking almost everything you could want, and often at really good prices. there's a lot of what's called shuihuo, which is a mixture of oem parts, parts that have probably been spirited out the back of some factory and more legit imported stough that comes without a warranty. generally these things are priced really well, and the bike shop will look after you if you have any problems with it.
you also have hanghuo, which is legitimately imported, comes with all the warranties and is generally at least as expensive as things are in europe.
for sourcing parts taobao.com is really good, even if you can't really read chinese. it's kind of like ebay, but generally the shops are also real physical shops, so that you can just use taobao to chekc prices and get addresses, then go there yourself. buying online requires a chinese friend who has an account, and orders often go a bit assways, even if you do speak chinese - i got sent bb7 roads instead of bb7 mountains once, and just last week i got shipped two xc717 rims despite paying for one(should really get on to them about that).
anyway, as long as you stay fairly mainstream you can get whatever you want, sram shimano, rockshox, raceface, giant, whatever. on the other hand once you start going for king, tune, formula or other luxury brands things stop being such a good deal.
there's also a good second hand market here: http://www.chinabike.net/newbbs/index.asp?boardid=35 but it's not always easy to sort things out with the sellers.
there's a great map of all the biker shops in my city, i'll try to post it when i across it again. there are around 15 bike shops not including the big corporate giant shops, of which there are a handful. most of the shops are pretty hard to find, so foreigners often assume the giant shops are all there is.
it's worth noting that people don't take much care when it comes to the subtleties of putting bikes together in the local shops: people rarely face bbs, cut cable housing roughly, do dodgy cable routing and build wheels without de-stressing spokes or greasing threads. i guess this is where the lack of a long tradition of biking is apparent; the whole scene is fairly new and lacks a few old heads who've been doing it for years. anyway, that will come i guess.
the nice part.
chengdu riders normally ride on longquan mountain 龙泉山 an area of vaguely Mediterranean hills with a lot of orchards. it's 20 k outside the city to longquan town, which sits at the foot of a long, narrow range of hills. there's load of nice singletrack, most of which is farmer path, up on the hills. expect a lot of winding stone stairs, big ditches and narrow trails that will try to drop you into said ditches.
possibly the best known trail takes you from above shanquan village 山泉镇,at the top， to the lake near the bottom of the mountain, singletrack almost all the way. to get there: climb dirt track from the village at the lake up to near shanquan, where you come back onto pavement,then up to shanquan, take the right turn in the village and go up another 2 k or so until you top the hill and within 50metres see a dirt track turn off to the right pointing down (i suspect this final pavement climb to shanquan and above can be done on dirt, but have yet to work out how). once you're on the track, root around and you should find the start of the singletrack. there are one or two points on the way down where you meet jeep track again, and you'll have to sniff out the singletrack on the other side. anyway it's there.
another trail that i'm exploring is to carry on the road that starts at the right turn at shanquan, go past the dirt track turn off, and ride the road to the next spur (less than one k) then take the dirt track that starts behind the houses there.
anyway the whole place is a maze of trails, the only thing is to find ones that are doable to the bottom and don't tear up farmers' orchards and pathways. this is important, because it's a busy area, and people live and make a livelihood there, so that has to be respected. actually the locals are pretty cool with bikers, and i hope that goodwill won't be eroded by people bombing around carelessly...
other trails in southwest china.
sichuan province - xichang. lots of trails, go to the giant shop in the old city and the guys there will point you in the right direction. there are some really nice forest trails but you'll have to do a lot of trail finding yourself. the locals are friendly and cool, but not so experienced
yunnan province - dali. there's a bike shop in xiaguan city, guys are helpful, but the best thing is to climb up the jeep road behind the 3 pagodas. it's an easy but long climb up to a small monastery high on the mountain (1-2 hours, or maybe we were just slow) and then root around for singletrack going down. pure forest trails made by local walkers, straight down the mountain. it's very narrow and slippy, but very, very nice.
if there's anyone else riding in china it would be cool if you could put trail and shop info up, especially trails. i'll add more when i have more.
well, hopefully that will help someone out there.
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Thread: china, trails and shops
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