Text by Tan Xingyu Photographs by Chen Jian
In 1968, Robert M. Pirsig and his son, Chris, left the Minnesota Twin Cities to embark on a cross-country motorcycle trip across America, full of curiosity to explore the wild fields covering the west. Their excursion was later documented in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that quickly attracted a strong legion of fans. In 2006, the bestseller’s Chinese version was released by Chongqing Publishing House, and the book soon earned extended readership in China. When questioned as to his motivation for releasing the book, the publisher claimed that it marked an important cultural step in building Chongqing into China´s motorcycle capital.
Last August, Foreign Policy magazine released its 2010 Global Cities Index, dubbing Chongqing “Chicago on the Yangtze,” and recommending it as the “biggest city you’ve never heard of.” Home to western China’s largest volume of automobile production and the country´s biggest motorcycle production base, the mountain city is sated with biking silhouettes. Since 2002, Chongqing has annually hosted the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition, the largest of its kind in China.
The Ninth China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition was recently presented at a venue covering over 60,000 square meters, larger than all previous events. In addition to dazzling new models, organizers also provided a merchant platform for manufacturers of name-brand motorcycles and auto parts. For the first time ever, the event even attracted producers of motorcycle-related cultural items who came seeking new business opportunities. Meanwhile, nearly 500 foreign dealers visited the exhibition, with purchase orders in hand. During a summit forum running alongside the exhibition, domestic and foreign officials, experts, and entrepreneurs spoke and shared experiences and concerns about the industry.
Unlike previous installments, this year’s cultural activities, such as “Motorcycle Capital, Happy Chongqing,” a motorcycle riding activity especially designed for fans of Chinese high-end, fuel-hungry heavy cycles, delighted visitors. Motorcycle enthusiasts came from around the country to share their passion for the vehicles, creating an event not unlike a national motorcycle carnival.