Life on two wheels

By Wang Zheng
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 15, 2021
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In China, you can find every type of motorcycle the world has to offer. Last year alone, the country produced and sold 17 million motorcycles, with 8 million exported overseas, making it the world's second biggest motorcycle producer and consumer, just behind India. 

When asked why they like to ride motorcycles, the top reasons given by most enthusiasts are convenience, freedom, escape from busy city life, passion for speed and a love of nature, although different people put different weights on each element. Here are the stories of three 30-something motorcycle fans in Beijing.

'Motorcycles are my toys'

Professor Kong Lingjin, a chartered linguist and descendent of the philosopher Confucius, works as an English-Chinese simultaneous interpreter and teacher, and also owns a translation and training company. With a father who was an automobile engineer, Kong developed an interest in motorcycles when he was young, taking his first ride at the age of 8, before frequently riding a 50-cc scooter from the age of 12.

Although his work is highly intensive, Kong's job as an interpreter provides him a good income and plenty of free time. He has a collection of nearly 20 motorcycles and other vehicles, including nine motorbikes (including standard, cruiser, café racer and scooter), three sidecar motorbikes, two ATVs, one three-wheeler, one RV trailer and two motorcycle trailers. 

For Kong, good motorcycles don't need to be expensive — safety, practicality and function are more important. He enjoys the comfort of his favorite Suzuki GZ150 street motorcycle, the sound and vibration of his Harley-Davidson 883, the reliability of his Honda CB190, the cuteness of his Honda Monkey minibike and Suzuki UU scooter, as well as the stability and safety of his Changjiang 750, Eagle King 350 and Yin'gang Mini 150 sidecars on the highways. 

Kong and his fellow riders — mostly other interpreters and expat teachers — even established their own motorcycle club, which advocates "Fighting Against Campus Bullying." From time to time, you might encounter this international posse in Beijing's suburbs, or else in the nearby city of Tianjin and Hebei province.

Kong Lingjin (front row, second from right) with members of his motorcycle club. [Photo: Courtesy of Kong Lingjin]

'Motorcycles mean freedom'

Having grown up in Beijing's mountainous suburbs, Yu Rongjie has a love of the outdoors. He worked as a limousine driver for years and is now a driving instructor in the capital. Like Kong, Yu also has an adventurous father and started riding motorcycles at a young age.

His current motorcycle is a light, agile and durable Husqvarna TE300i off-road bike — a classic Swedish motorbike made by the famous Austrian manufacturer KTM. With high front and rear fenders, long-travel suspension and thin tires, the bike is able to easily conquer mountains and forest trails. Off-road bikes are not commonly seen on city roads, and they require a strong rider, advanced riding skills, courage and perseverance. 

Yu Rongjie and his Husqvarna off-road bike. [Photo: Courtesy of Yu Rongjie]

One time, Yu got lost while off-roading in a forest, eventually emerging some eight hours later after having had to abandon his motorbike. It wasn't until two days later that he and some friends returned and managed to locate and retrieve his bike. 

'Motorcycling is a lifestyle'

Fu Weijian works as the manager of an arthouse movie theater in downtown Beijing. His theater is a hot spot for foreign film festivals and retrospectives of film masters, as well as a mecca for lovers of arthouse cinema. 

During the week, he commutes on his comfortable Yamaha NMax 155 scooter or fancy red KTM 390 Duke street bike. In his spare time, he likes to ride his powerful BMW R1200R sports bike through Beijing's suburbs and mountain areas with his wife and friends.

Fu is undoubtedly a motorbike enthusiast. He makes one or two short trips lasting a couple of days every month with his wife and friends, as well as five to six longer trips each year lasting three to five days. 

The number of motorists in Beijing has increased rapidly over recent years. Fu wants to remind new motorists to drive more slowly and carefully: "I commute by motorbike every day, and I've often witnessed motorbike accidents. Some motorists like to drive fast or make noise — that's no good." 

Fu Weijian on his BMW R1200R sports bike. [Photo: Courtesy of Fu Weijian]

(The author is a freelance writer based in Beijing. Email:

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