Fixie Factory

An Outpost in Shanghai Reinvents the Wheel

Factory Five’s muted, stripped-down custom built bikes stand out among the cavalcade of vibrant hues that have come to define the aesthetic of fixed-gear cycling in Shanghai. The workshop's five founders are Canadian-born Tyler Bowa, Brit Drew Bates, American Jeff Liu, Swede Mattias Erlandsson and Shanghai native Karl Ke, all confessed cycling obsessives who started out retrofitting old Chinese frames to transform them into sleek fixies. The results were refreshing in a city where historic designs are often left to crumble in favor of the new. Conceiving, building and selling only the kinds of vehicles that they themselves would want to ride, Factory Five created the raw industrial look that is a constant throughout their range. Today, the crew's atelier includes a space where anyone who wants to can come in and work on their bike. “We’ve always been community-based,” says Bates, who along with his partners organizes weekly night rides as well as an annual beer-fueled alley cat race. Above all, though, the shop wants to carry on shaping bike culture in Shanghai. “If we sell a bike and we don't see that customer again,” they say, “in some ways we’ve failed.”

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