What it means to get picked up by a “tow truck” in China

Red Chinese Mianbao Che

A Chinese "Mianbao Che" or "Bread Car"

In Chinese, you call a tow truck a 拖车, or “Tuo1 Che1” which literally translates to “dragging vehicle”. However, as I recently discovered when I found myself in need of a “dragging vehicle” for my JinCheng 250, a tow truck isn’t quite the same in China as I’m used to back home. Looking back on it, that probably makes sense given that I can’t remember ever seeing an actual tow truck on the road in Beijing.

After being relegated to a bus commuter for nearly a week after my throttle some how disconnected in the middle of an intersection, I decided to call up my mechanic. Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about motorcycles with anything more than an electric motor, has to maintain operations far out near the 5th ring road (about at least 10km from the center of the city) due to the foggy legal status of motorcycles in Beijing. So pushing my bike was not an option, and when I took off the grip and tried to fix the throttle cable on my own, I noticed upon pulling it that there seemed to be nothing connecting it to the motor on the other side anymore.

So I texted my mechanic (easier than calling in Chinese) and told him my situation: “不能加油!不能骑车!” or “I can’t add gas! I can’t ride the bike!” to which he immediately responded that he’d send a drag vehicle (it was already about 8:30 at night and I wasn’t expecting to get such immediate service). Not too long after, I got a call from someone that said he was coming over immediately, quoted me a price and told me to send him my address. By 9:00 I got a call to come downstairs, which is when I saw that the tow truck was not actually a tow truck at all but really just a “面包车” which translates to “Bread Car” because, as you can kind of see in the picture above, it kind of looks like a loaf of bread. (These vehicles by the way are notoriously unreliable.) So the driver took down the back seat and told me to ask a security guard to help us lift the bike into the back. After two security guards had come over, we had removed both mirrors and the rear luggage case, and we performed some fancy wiggling with my bike to get her in properly, the tow truck was ready to go! I made sure to take a picture of the guy’s license plate (just in case) and paid the man RMB 150 (roughly $23)  for the tow.

So, as with so many other things with life in China, though it may have been done by questionable means, the kind that makes you lift an eyebrow and ask yourself “Seriously?”, the job got done nonetheless and for cheap. 300 Renminbi (150 for the tow and another RMB 150 for the actual repairs) and less than 24 hours later I was back on the road!

If any of our readers happen to be living in Beijing and either looking for a bike, bike parts, or bike repairs, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at buck@rubberonroad.com and I’ll get you in touch with my motorcycle mechanic. He’s been incredibly reliable, affordable, and he’s very friendly!

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Review of the First China Motorcycle and Parts Exhibition in Beijing

To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed by the expo. All in all there were certainly some very “Chinese” aspects about it. For one, the people running the more major sections didn’t quite seem to get the idea that the idea of having models at car and motorcycle shows is to actually accentuate the vehicles themselves. Instead, at one, for example, they just sort of set up a modeling show (see the the pictures below) where there was not a single motorcycle in site of the stage. Another had flare bar-tending, because of course what goes better with motorcycles than than a martini from a bottle that’s been spun around a lot! (In all honesty though, I kind of enjoyed the bar-tending)

There were some interesting set ups though, with some motorcycles with engines as small as 125cc but dressed up with fearing fairing made for a super-bike. Another cool one was a new Chinese company that had these cool retro-style and almost miniature (but still rideable) bikes.

Despite the show being a result of a trade talks between China and Italy it wasn’t easy to find the Ducati stand, but we eventually found it! Tucked away in the back behind several of the Chinese companies’ stages were several beautiful performance bikes including a massive one, the Ducati Diavel going for about 350k (Renminbi of course!)

There was supposed to be a dirt bike show out back too, which would’ve been really fun to watch, but unfortunately there had been some rain and so the show got cancelled.

Overall though, as with most things in China, it was a fun and interesting experience if for nothing else than to look at a whole bunch of motorcycles and to have a laugh at the difference between China’s version of a motorcycle expo and one that I went to back in New York’s Javits Center in 2010 (apparently Beijing’s Car Expo is much more impressive). I was disappointed that there was no Harley stand as advertised .

Below are some of the pictures I took of the show. And check out my intro write up for the motorcycle expo. Enjoy!

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The 2011 China International Motorcycle and Parts Convention

Tomorrow, July 2nd (Beijing local time), I will be attending the 2011 China International Motorcycle and Motorcycle Parts Convention, which will be held in the largest exhibition center in China, The China National Exhibition Center (or 国家会议中心) from July 2nd-4th. This convention is one of the major results of the China-Italy trade talks held in 2009. One of the major sponsors of the event is the China Chamber of Commerce as well as the Italian Motorcycle association and it will be hosted by the China-Italy Motorcycle Exhibition (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

Since this will be in such a huge exhibition center (located right next to the “Bird’s Nest”- The Olympic Stadium from 2008), there’s going to be no shortage motorcycle and motorcycle parts companies on show here. Of course there will be plenty of Chinese companies including Jincheng, the makers of my very own Chinese motorcycle, but the major global players will also be present including Ducati and Harley Davidson.

I’ll be tweeting from the show and trying to post as many pictures as possible. So for live updates of the exhibition tomorrow, follow us @rubberonroad08 (you can also click on our twitter feed in our sidebar), and if you like what you’re seeing, don’t forget to share the love and retweet!