Despite the fact that it's both huge and incredibly convenient, sometimes the subway just doesn't cut it in terms of a stress-free commute or weekend gadding around. We've hit the road to round up six of our favourite alternatives to taking the train (or god forbid, walking), that put the fun firmly into functional and that'll get you where you need to go with panache.
Super Soco electric motorcycle
This British-designed two-wheeler
has got it all: sophisticated and intuitive controls, a design plucked straight out of your wildest sci-fi movie fantasies and an officially-quoted top speed of an impressive 45kmh (although someone we know claims to have got an almost excessive 60kmh out of theirs).
Although the cheapest Soco model only has a range of about 40km battery upgrades are available, and the 60V motor means that this badass bike has plenty of zip and easy, smooth acceleration that should leave lesser battery-powered vehicles eating your dust at traffic lights. We're in love with the colour options available, which range from Bond-baddie black to camo with shark teeth, and are pretty impressed by the fact that the motorbike clocks in at a relatively lightweight 72kg, with a 12kg battery that can be removed for charging purposes.
Price The Soco starts at a price of 5,788RMB, although models with more mileage can rush you up to 13,766RMB.
Best for Speed junkies, people who regularly make journeys of longer than 10km.
Buy it Tmall
, scooter shops around town.
Xiaomi MiJia electric scooter
If you want to return to the halcyon days of the razor scooter every time you leave your apartment, then this mean machine
has your name on it. Available in black or white and equipped to zip along at up to 20kmh, this affordable scooter is pretty durable and should be able to handle anything the city throws at it.
Xiaomi reckons that its baby should be able to travel up to 30km before needing recharging, but we reckon that this seems a little optimistic, particularly when a heavier rider is factored in. Nevertheless, it's so portable and lightweight at 12.5kg including the battery that we can see it being the wheels of choice for people who want a more gleeful option than walking to the subway station or who just want to have the most fun possible. Wheeeee!
Best for Big kids, people who are looking for a light vehicle to come on the subway with them or who regularly make journeys of less than 10km.
Giant Khan bicycle
Practically everyone in the office has ridden one of these at some point, we heart them.
If you didn't think that you could get your grubby paws on a brand name
, brand-new bike for less than 1,000 bones, read this sentence again; the Giant Khan cashes out at around an almost indecently cheap 700 kuai
and has an adjustable seat and handlebars as well as whopping 27 inch wheels, making it suitable for even the tallest of cyclists. There's also a Lady Khan, which is just as great but better suited to a smaller rider.
We love this particular model for Beijing commuting as it's practically indestructible and places the rider in an upright position, so that they can easily spot hazards and avoid being turned into roadkill along the side of a kuadi driver. It's not the fastest or the sleekest machine around, but in terms of practicality, it can't be beat.
Price Around 700RMB.
Best for Active types, people who regularly make journeys of 10km or less.
Niu M1 electric moped
This Beijing-based scooter company seems to be aiming to capture the hearts and minds of the urban market with its sleek rides, which are basically the Teslas of e-bikes and come complete with all the bells and whistles the dedicated rider could want.
We're particularly enamoured with the nippy one-person variety that is the M1 series
, which can hit speeds of up to 35kmh and comes in four models, each promising a different battery life. Niu is renowned for its excellent warranty and insurance schemes, which come as standard, and this particular bike is available in five glossy colours, although we'd naturally angle for Time Out
red. Wannabe mods can even visit a Niu store to take a test spin-cum-joyride, although chunkier or more hardcore riders might want to look into the more powerful N1 series.
Price The M1 starts at 3,999RMB for a bike with a battery lasting for around 60km. The budget-conscious might want to note that these scooters can be purchased on a payment plan if bought through Tmall.
Best for Design-conscious folk, people who regularly make journeys of longer than 10km.
Niu stores around town, via Tmall
Xiaomi Ninebot Mini Pro Self Balancing Scooter
Perhaps a slightly-less hip smashing option than the iconic one-wheel ride-ons that look like something from the future but also vaguely lethal, this well-constructed Xiaomi option leaves both hands free for carrying bags or gesticulating wildly at bad drivers and has stabilisers incorporated into the design to help riders avoid the shame and pain of landing on their bum in public.
Best for Space invaders, people who regularly make journeys of less than 5km.
Oxelo Inline Skates
Live your best life with these retro rollerblades
from Decathlon, which are supposedly designed for beginners and come in sizes up to a European 45.
Yes, the learning curve on these bad boys is pretty steep (we'd recommend getting some practice in at Tuanjiehu Park
's cheap 'n' cheerful roller rink before hitting the streets) and you're guaranteed to attract more than a few stares as you zip along like a Starlight Express
backing dancer, but skates provide a form of cardio that's way cheaper than a gym membership and a giggle factor about a million times higher than any other mode of transport we can think of.
Best for Sporty Spices, lovers of the xtreme, anyone brave enough to tackle the bike lanes on shoes with wheels.
Buy them Decathlon, via Tmall.