A few weeks ago, bicycle company to the stars Electra opened their industrial-chic (of course) doors on Tianping Lu near the The Mix Place mid-May. This spot with a facade that looks like it could belong to an Italian Bistro is the only store in China that carries some very trendy two-wheelers: Electra, Pashley, and Shulz bikes. Their main squeeze and the store’s namesake is an indie cruiser brand, originally designed in San Diego by some surfer dudes who figured the board industry was over-saturated. 24 years later the boardwalk bike has made it to the city, reinvented as a kind of status symbol, with bikes ranging from around 4,900rmb to a whopping 25,900rmb.
Generally speaking, for in-roads into their brand identity, Electra specializes in bikes that look really good and ride really smooth. The bikes are beautiful, like worthy of being hung above Giorgio Armani's bed beautiful. So without further ado...
Electra Bikes on Bikes on Bikes
The shop is two floors of shiny bikes, about 200 frames, and mostly ‘cruisers’ -- a take on an American classic designed for casual riding. These bikes have wide tires, which if inflated completely can make you go real fast, and if not can provide a slow-chill ride. The bikes are engineered to sit you in an upright position and have a snazzy internal gear system (like the gear switches in this little magic box at the center of the rear tire, so the chain never moves). The guys at Electra are also real excited about their flat foot technology® (patented!), which allows for a 'relaxed riding position' and lets you plant your feet on the ground without dismounting.
It's hard to explain the the 'flat foot' thing, but it basically feels like you're putting in minimal effort and still moving. I might end up writing comfortable 100 times in this one article here, but that's the word; the bikes are very very comfortable.
On the second floor of the shop, you'll find exposed beams with bikes fashionably perched on top, several rows of shiny-shiny product, and 'fashion cruisers' mounted on the wall reverently like works of art.
Electra also does kid's bikes for hipster kids, that in addition to being real freakin' cute are designed for safety. So that's nice. Most of the weight is distributed to the back of the bike to avoid falls and the seat is angled so it takes kids longer to outgrow it. Another neat product the shop's got are foldable Shulz bikes. There's about four chillin on the second floor right by the staircase.
Pashley, The Queen's Bike
Electra carries a third brand called Pashley, an English company which has been making bikes the same exact way since 1926. They're extremely British. They're the 'let's go for a ride in the countryside and bring a picnic of brie and jam' kinda bike. Also extremely beautiful, with handmade features, and Brooks leather seats. And yeah the Queen of England has one, Princess Di had one in bright pink, and David Beckham gets his sweat on with one from the athletic line. Those are all the famous British people ever right? I don't think Daniel Radcliffe has one...
But Like, What If It Gets Stolen…?
Yeah it's a cruel cruel world, and the first thought you may have after fixing your eyes on your dream bike is: how long before it gets stolen? For precaution they offer a line of special handmade 8mm metal-leather-locks and more importantly can install a GPS tracking device if you so desire.
The Wall of Fame
At Electra, they're all about that celebrity endorsement. Harrison Ford (<3), Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis, and Kristen Stewart have all been spotted peddling Electras. The store's got a cork-board in its stairwell to prove it. Recently, Yili Ma was in the shop IRL, browsing like a mortal human; there's also proof on the wall. Oh yeah, and Giorgio Armani really did hang one over his bed, it's the red one in the rafters on the second floor.
The Pope himself had an Electra specially made. That's a huge GET for them. The Pope!
You can test out a bike for yourself right outside the shop, anytime from 11am-9pm (Mon-Fri) and 11am-10pm (Sat-Sun); and check out the whole collection here. Word on the street is there's a sale on 'The Verse' this month (originally runs 4,900-5,900rmb) but will be 'significantly' discounted. So yeah, I guess ask about that too.