Zhang Xiangdong was pacing leisurely along the walkways of Princeton University. He was taking a break from a roadshow at the campus, where he and his team were showcasing Sungy Mobile — a China-based mobile platform business that he co-founded.
For the past nine years, he had toiled at the company, elevating it from a startup to one that was listed on the NASDAQ, with a user base of 360 million spanning across 200 countries (according to its website).
The listing was a momentous milestone. But, as he soaked in the history and architecture of the 260-year old campus, he felt aching in the heart: it was a yearning for a brand new venture, one born out of a life long passion.
You see, for eight years, Zhang has ridden across five continents on his bicycles, and even published a book on his bicycle adventures.
His love for bicycles — and sense for a new business opportunity — led him to join 700Bike, a platform for the cycling social community, in 2014. As the newly-minted CEO, Zhang pivoted 700Bike’s focus to designing and making smart bicycles.
China is home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of cyclists. So naturally, many bicycle tech startups have sprung up over the past few years to tackle this market. But Zhang says he has adopted a different approach, which gives him a slight edge in cities, and that is the urban bicycle approach.
The urban bicycle
“In China, the market has a lack of urban bikes; there has been a strange emphasis in the domestic high-end bicycle market such as mountain bikes. The urban bike is far less popular than the mountain bike,” says Zhang.
“For mountain bikes or road bikes, the need of users are not satisfied. People want a bike that’s both good-looking and easy to ride, and they can use it to commute, go to date, and much more,” he adds.
Thus began the creation of The Galaxy by 700Bike, which was designed with the average urban dweller in mind and comes loaded with tech enhancements. These include integrated GPS and Bluetooth for real-time locating and data logging. By integrating with the 700Bike, the bicycle’s integrated waterproof display can be used to relevant specific information such as the location of the bicycle, cycle routes and mileage, time and calories burnt.
It also has a built-in GSM chip can be maintained online via GPRS (though not available for Singapore, yet), ready to synchronise data to the cloud, and ensure communication of relevant information such as the cyclist’s location.
Syncing the 700Bike app with the Galaxy not only allows recording data from their cycling trips but also share information online with fellow 700Bike cyclists.
Sleek and simplicity informed the design of the bicycle’s structure. The Galaxy is made entirely out aluminium alloy.
“The Galaxy has a sophisticated 3D forged frameset, as well as 3D forged one-piece headtube and fork, which makes Galaxy stiffer,” says Zhang.
The Galaxy is also foldable, making it ideal to be carried on trains, taxis and even buses.
“The Galaxy’s design was inspired by the doorknob in cars. It has 3D folding mechanisms with built-in automatic lock that seamlessly blends with the frameset, making the bicycle a smooth and simple aesthetic,” he
It may be on the price may be on par with a low-end mountain bike, but for avid cyclists looking for a better solution to navigate congested cities, this may be a viable alternative.
Image Credit: 700Bike