What's wrong with Chinese bikes?

Pro's and Con's of New Chinese Bikes

We're occasionally asked, 'why not just send money and let them buy a local bike?'.

Short answer, they are of such poor quality - built down to a price - as to not be durable.

The long answer? well...

Many of the new Chinese models made for the African market are very poor quality that fall apart in a week or two. Yes they're new, yes they're shiny but the quality is not there. I'd take a British bike any day. Indian bikes are better made but weigh 55 lbs!

David Schweidenback, Founder and CEO, Pedals For Progress, 14/6/05

Yesterday in Golokuati, 100 miles from Accra, a bike parts shop owner asked me to get him some used parts from North America/Europe. (NA/E) 'I have all these new parts, but they aren't any good.  I want quality.'  I hear this over and over again. Also, people in the business here regularly tell me that people will pay more for used NA/E parts than new Asian.

China makes good bikes, for North American/European market and utter garbage for the African market. Africa doesn't need any more of that garbage.
This trip to Ghana is largely about checking on the durability of the bikes in our programs.  I'm finding a lot of our bikes still in service after four years, and many people asking for more bikes.  Some bikes no longer have deraliers or even brakes, but many of the Chinese roadsters have no brakes either. 

David Peckham, Founder and Director, Village Bicycle Project, 18/6/05

People prefer home use [second hand] bikes and parts.

Samson, Bike Mechanic, VBP, Accra, Ghana, January 2005

While these new [California] bicycles, developed by ITDP and Trek Bicycles, are well suited to African conditions and have had few maintenance problems to date, their delivered cost is over two and a half times that of refurbished second hand bicycles.

Michael Linke, Founder and director,  (BEN) Namibia, June 2006


Used tubes are crucial! The new tubes from Asia are of such poor quality people will pay more for a northern tube with a puncture, than a new one from Asia.


David Peckham, Founder and Director, Village Bicycle Project, 23/1/08