Picture of the Day: My favorite bike in China is this fake Ofo


Here’s a pleasant surprise. On my way to a bilingual book club meeting, I came across this “Ofo” in Chaoyang District in Beijing. Everything seemed normal, until my eyes were drawn to the handlebars. It had no hand cushions!

With my curiosity piqued, I examined the bike and soon found that it not only lacked the luxury of proper handles, it was also missing the locking mechanisms and QR codes that usually accompany a shared bike. Best of all, it was left next to a No Parking sign. I happened to be running a few minutes late, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and relocate the Ofo to a more suitable location.

I quickly realized my mistake. Remember, this bike was missing its handlebars, which necessarily implied that it had no brakes. Thankfully, the wheels were crooked as well, so it could quickly come to a halt. Carefully cycling down crowded Beijing sidewalks, I deftly avoided oncoming pedestrian traffic by balancing the wobbly bicycle and relying on its own heft to stop when necessary. Though these few minutes of cycling were unnecessarily strenuous due to the wonky mechanics of a rickety bike, I arrived at the book club on time and without injury.

Yet my sense of curiosity persists — Why did this bike even exist? Perhaps it was a counterfeit. But why would anyone create a counterfeit Ofo, especially one without a lock? Alternatively, maybe it was on its way to a bike graveyard and was simply cannibalized for parts.

Whatever the reason, this fake Ofo will forever be my favorite bike in China. So the next time you’re walking around the neighborhood, take a minute to look at the surrounding Ofos. Maybe you’ll find a rare treasure.