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I landed in Beijing on my birthday with barely 2 hour’s sleep on the 16-hour trip. I was dropped off at my hotel and had my hopes of a nap dashed with too many distractions. Dinner with my new colleagues followed and only after that was I able to see my girlfriend, whom I hadn’t seen in 7 months. Once we got over the shock of seeing each other in 3D we stopped off at a restaurant. She brought out a bag of presents for me, the one of which was a small tin box. Inside was a key. A key to what you might ask? A key to my first Beijing bike.

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Now if you haven’t had a bike bought for you before, then you don’t quite know the feeling. It’s better than any Christmas I can remember. I mean, for any cyclists to have the object of his passion given to him is pretty damn special. It’s by no means a PYGA or even a Schwinn for that matter. It hasn’t got any bells or whistles (that work, at least), and it isn’t flashy at all. It’s just a rusted up and squeaky commuter. But I love it all the same.

The famed Lotus Bike, that’s what this baby is. It’s a sort of hybrid of a classic city bike with a touch of mountain bike thrown in. A straight toptube and a slightly curved downtube mix together to give this frame its classic and sleek design. A touch of mountain bike is all it is though, and only is seen through the straight toptube. Other than that it’s through-and-through city bike, made to get you to work and back in the most mundane fashion.

But that’s actually not true. I’ve fallen for this bike – and not just because it was a gift from my beloved, but because it is more than meets the eye. Its basket is full of wobbles, the crank arms are well bent, I’m not entirely sure how the brakes are still functioning, and the kick-stand is so useless that I have to turn the front wheel in the opposite direction so it doesn’t fall down. So, in actual fact, mundane it is not.

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Yet, even with all these drawbacks, it still gets me to where I need to go. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of hiccups. On my one ride I decided that a stand-up pedal was necessary to get across an intersection fast enough. The Lotus didn’t agree and the rear wheel was pulled forward from its position. The result was that the wheel was set askew and rubbing against the frame. I needed to walk home, a good 3km or so with this heavy ass bike dragging. Not ideal, but it wasn’t winter so I wasn’t complaining.

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Most recently I’ve been sharing my Lotus with my girlfriend. Her bike was stolen outside a subway station – sometimes it’s just the way the game goes. If it happens that we’re both at the subway at the same time or leaving for it together, we usually ride it together: her on the rack above the rear wheel, riding side-saddle. Suffice it to say, it’s a workout. Being a flat city, hills are never a problem – that is, unless you have an extra person on your rear wheel. Then any incline whatsoever becomes a mountain.

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Even then, the bike just chugs along, with only me huffing and puffing and my girlfriend cheering me on. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better present than this old thing. I’ve considered giving her a once-over to sort out some proper issues, like the wobbly basket, or the brake levers that sit level with the handlebars. But I won’t – I like her the way she is, the way she was given to me. In fact, it’s possibly the best present I’ve ever gotten. And why change something like that?

Specifications

FrameLotus Bike

MaterialSteel?

ForkSteel(?), Lotus Bike

Wheels700C

TyresHanging in there

HandlebarsBy my estimate about 580-600mm with a 15° back sweep and a 10° upsweep

Stem25mm (?)

GripsQuite plasticy

BrakesDrums, rusted, squeaky

CranksetBent, rusted, flaking

Chainring[/spec_list_row]

ChainguideFull chain length, plastic

Sprocket

[spec_list_row=Pedals]Metal axle with plastic surrounds

SaddleGrey, big, with rusted springs

SeatpostThe only black item on it