Cycle club grows in tandem with burgeoning market

By He Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-05 07:58
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Ken Goh, the RNCC's founder, surveys the action on the streets of Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The COVID-19 pandemic brought some changes. Goh stayed in Singapore during the outbreak, and the RNCC was unable to continue its regular activities in Shanghai for a while.

"Fortunately, many event leaders volunteered to lead rides and keep the community active, which moved me deeply and allowed this 'family' to continue surviving," Goh said.

The pandemic was a double-edged sword, as it persuaded some people to leave the club, but many newcomers were attracted because the outbreak raised people's awareness of healthy lifestyles.

According to Guo Wenyu, chairman of the China Bicycle Association, sales of high-end bikes in the country rose by 30 percent last year from 2021, and they are expected to rise by 10 percent this year.

"While (the use of) such transportation has mostly been covered by shared bicycles, the people who buy high-end cycles are mostly enthusiasts," Guo said.

In addition, "RNCC" has become a popular search term on Chinese social media, which has helped attract many new members.

"I used to only post content on Instagram, but in May last year, I suddenly noticed that there were many posts about the RNCC on the life-sharing platform Xiaohongshu, such as our cycling routes, photos and activities. Later, I registered an official RNCC account on the platform and decided to manage it carefully," Goh said.

With the promotion on Xiaohongshu, more local cyclists joined the RNCC, marking a demographic shift and lowering the proportion of foreign nationals from 90 to 50 percent.

Now, in terms of social media, the RNCC has nearly 3,300 followers on Xiaohongshu, 3,700 on Instagram and 100,000 on Sina Weibo. Meanwhile, it has approximately 4,800 members on the exercise app Strava and it operates five WeChat groups, each containing nearly 400 people, including a newly established Singapore cycling group with about 100 people.

"The fastest period of cycling growth in China started in 2021. Our member numbers on Strava fluctuated between about 800 and 1,200 in 2020, reached 2,000 in 2021 and broke through 3,000 last year. This year, the figure has already reached nearly 5,000," Goh said, adding that he has been surprised by the rise.

At present, the club guarantees to hold six activities targeting different levels of cyclists every week to meet the needs of this growing group.

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