Saddling up

Unless you’re riding a monkey bike there’s only one component that you’re going to notice after a long ride. We know that from Brooks to Kashimax at the end of the day the thing that will make you get off and not want to get back on is the saddle and nothing except going recumbent is going to change that (if you’re going recumbent then feeling a bit daft is probably going to have the same effect anyway).

San Marco’s designs are in our experience amongst the most comfortable and aesthetic. We’ve found a Chinese supplier which is close enough to their regal model to be comfortable without infringing too much.

Golden Rims

We’ve ordered a bunch of different colors for the first run of Classic Conversions but we’re particularly excited about this configuration. The dated matte gold rims on black hubs & spokes match the vintage frames perfectly.

We’ve chosen sealed bearings Novatech hubs. Weight is not paramount for these bikes and we’ve been riding these hubs personally for years. Even a ride through a Shanxi mining town wouldn’t require more than a rub down.

Lacing is black spokes double crossed until we can teach our craftsman how to do radial. Given that we’ve repaired enough punctures to know how every little aid helps, we’ve made the two spokes closest to the valve silver. You’ll thank us later.

The Forever Frame

Forever bikes are by no stretch of imagination an absolute classic. Supplied to the police, post office, foreign visitors and to a few hundred million Chinese they carry a heritage that would bring Raleigh to it’s knees.

Ironically though, they’ve been built over and over for 50 years into complete failures. Shod in appalling wheels, reigned by a terrible a breaking system and liable to break out in rust on sight of water – they’re verging on the worst bikes ever made.

But look at the frame; vertical dropouts, relaxed geometry and a beautiful finish. As a blank canvas they’re sublime… and that’s where we’re going.

Crossing the threshold

Right in the middle of Shanghai, down a lane off Donghu Lu, through a gate and across a garden we found what we were looking for. With a fresh coat of paint and a shopping list, Factory Five found it’s home. We handed a carton of cigarettes to the bao-an, gave Park Tools a call and rolled up our sleeves.

And by-jingo we’ve done it. A workshop in the front, studio in the back and a kitchen downstairs. It’s as neat as it’s ever going to be so better take the photos now. Now to order a gallon of grease and start choosing components. Bring on the rims!

Rolling out

The machines have started rolling here at Factory Five and the laborers are ready to concentrate their resources on creating some exceptionally unique builds.

We’re going to be pushing Shanghai into Spring with hand-reared custom rebuilds of Chinese classics and have spent the winter sourcing some awesome components.

For now keep an eye on our workshop and if there’s anything you like drop us a line at

We’ll be sourcing and building only the best and in very limited numbers (because rare means special) so let us know quickly to guarantee getting on our our shiny machines between your legs. Here’s to big rolls! The Factory Five five.

The Inception of Factory Five

In the wake of the most recent Alleycat, we spent many hours (outside our temporary office, the E-Store) working out the best way to build something for Shanghai’s existing, new and coming-soon riders.

Our solution is Factory Five; Shanghai’s Fixed gear collective. We found an awesome location at 56 Donghu Lu which can host our big egos, bike studio and plenty of outdoor space; perfect to kick start our new venture.

To be honest, finding the space was the easy part (Shanghai is full of great spots), what to do in it and in which order is the challenge for the coming months as the weather heats up and our brains get in gear.